Alternative Careers for Website Developers

I learnt to code HTML when I was 15. A friend of my at school had a website domain name and had created a website. I used Photoshop to create graphical buttons with rollovers and used tables to create a simple layout. Then I discovered alcohol and girls and my attention span reduced to about 10 seconds for a number of years. When I went to university I studied a huge range of things in my course from ecological fieldwork to coastal zone management and forestry management. In my third year of university I attended some classes about business and I became convinced that starting a business was the way forward.

I decided to start a website selling custom t-shirts.I still knew basic html so I created a simple site. However, there was a huge amount of stuff I wanted the website to do that I couldn’t do myself and I ended up spending a huge amount of time trying to learn php, mysql and the intricacies of website development. Truth is that its not an easy learning curve and I could have been much better off hiring someone else. Instead I went deep into the technicalities and began a process that has lead to me know having a very hard earned craft over the years.

I'm someone who really values other people's company and the outdoors but maybe the reason I do so much is because I have mainly earnt money from working as a developer for the last 10 years. E.g. the job has low levels of this so I desire it more. I have, and still, would like to change career from programming.

Entry level developer position

Talk about the problems that need to be solved and the objectives that need to be achieve. Figure out what needs to be done. Break problems down. Draw on previous code and experience. Keep things simple and efficient. Meet with clients. Translate technical information into deliverables.

I've tried other things including:

landscape gardening.

Do what you are told. Lift, shovel, dig, drive, rake, brush, carry, roll, walk. Listen to the radio. Eat at break times. Breathe fresh air and use your body.

Pros:

  • Outdoors
  • Get fit
  • Learn handywork skills

Cons:

  • Poor pay
  • Still low level of people interaction
  • Not that interlectually engaging

Mountain bike guide

Pros:

  • Outdoors
  • Exciting
  • People interaction
  • Nice landscape
  • Following a passion I have

Cons:

  • Turns my passion into work
  • Low interllectual engagement
  • Poor pay

I also tried running my own company doing this which was a good experience. Problem with it was that it is difficult to make as much money comparing to programming. Also above points apply.

Photographer

Pros:

  • Outdoors
  • Technical
  • Creatively engaging

Cons:

  • Loads of digital images you have to work with becomes a bit of a burden
  • Regularity of work
  • Amount of competition

Writer / Blogger

Pros:

  • Fun
  • Built the blog so learnt web development
  • Good for learning content marketing

Cons:

  • Difficult to make money
  • Really competitive
  • Lots of alone time (I wrote a few books)
  • Effort/ reward ratio can be quite low

Estate Agent

Pros:

  • Met people
  • Look round lots of houses
  • Out on the road

Cons:

  • Pay
  • Image
  • Office based
  • Can be boring

Exhibition worker

(technical support, building the stands)

Pros:

  • Travel (I worked in UAE, Paris, London)
  • Working with your hands
  • Money can be good

Cons:

  • Can make a lot more money as the event organiser
  • Long hours
  • Intense

Artist

Pros:

  • Travel (residencies around the world)
  • Meet interesting people doing interesting work
  • Intellectually engaging

Cons:

  • Difficulty to make a lot of money
  • Your lifestyle will be out of sync with anyone else doing a normal 9-5
  • Snobbery
  • Networking

Designer

Pros:

  • Interllectually engaging
  • Many different disciplines (eg visual, service, UX, etc)

Cons:

  • Need a portfolio
  • Very competitive
  • Lots of low level crappy work if you cant get the interesting stuff

Teaching English

Pros:

  • Meet people
  • Command position of authority
  • Interesting, engaging work
  • Lots of opportunities to mix tech and education

Cons:

  • Money not as good as developer

That's my experience of other work, partly. Of course you can also try to make your career as a developer more interesting.

Ways I have tried to do this:

  • Earn more money
  • Remote working
  • Change stack
  • Change scale, size, length of project, whether public or private sector
  • Develop other things not websites eg. a game
  • Get really disciplined about your dev time. Eg. work the way where you can be the more productive, get a pomodoro timer, go outside, try different types of desks.

Conclusion

To conclude this rant, developer / programmer is one of the job roles of the age. Douglas Adams said something along the lines, that each era has its own new industrial revolution and you are lucky if you can make your living out of it. However, it poses challenges but it is new and everyone is in the same boat trying to make it work for them.

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