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notMyName

Some career advice needed

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Hi all, I need to pick the brains of you delightful fellows a little bit. Due to circumstances over the last 10 years I seem to have ended up without any friends to bounce ideas off, so I thought I would ask here, due to the mix of people and also as OT is a bit like the local pub that I lack the use of :(

Apologies if I ramble a bit as I have tied my mind into knots a bit over the last few weeks thinking this through, and I figure I would be best just asking for the advice of the OT hive mind, as I realise the people here are smarter than the average bear.

Here's a bit of history to shed some light on my situation.

I'm about to hit 40 this year and I am starting to think about the direction my working life is heading. I basically bummed about in my early 20's and finally got my act together at 26, and went to uni to do an HND in Multimedia, which I followed up by starting a degree in software engineering when I was 29. I managed to have 2 kids by the time I started my final year, and was holding down a full time job at weekends (security) when it all just got on top of me, and I dropped out. Due to me having previous studies, I cannot get my fees paid, and with the massive fees now, completing my studies is out of the question.

My missus went back to work (teaching assistant), so I have been more or less doing the house husband thing for the last 8 years, although I do run a lawn care business during the growing season, but it only works out as part time over the year. My basic plan for the business is to keep scaling it up as my kids get older, until I am full time. I figure that there will be more and more need for gardening services as the boomer generation retires and get to the point that they struggle with the lawn etc. I also figure that the younger generations are strangely happy to pay people to do the most simple things instead of getting their hands dirty.

My issue is that I kind of feel like I am wasting my knowledge of coding etc by not doing it and I also know that I could make a better living doing something that most don't know how to do. I think my earning ceiling doing lawns would be about £30k, and that is being pretty optimistic. Any further earnings would involve taking on staff etc, and I'm not sure I want the hassle. I have also come to the realisation that if I injure myself, I lose my job. This is what worries me the most.

The plan I am formulating is basically to spend the next year skilling myself back up in coding. I haven't really bothered much with it in the last 3 years except for doing my business website, which is just HTML, CSS and a bit of jQuery and php. I figure that I could maybe stick to the web dev side of things, as that's what I enjoy but also learn a new language or continue where I left off at uni with java, and build a few things for a portfolio, and then try and get a job. Another option is to go freelance, as I know how to run a business, but there would obviously be a learning curve on dealing with clients in a less tradesman kind of setting.

The sensible part of my brain is telling me to stick with the lawncare, and just build apps etc in my spare time, in the hopes of building a separate income stream, that I could go into full time if/when the time comes.

Maybe I'm having a mid life crisis, or just sick of being poor :mellow:

I suppose a good question is, is 41 too old to get a first/junior job in software?

I realise that most people starting off in software development would probably be in their early 20's so I am wondering if you would chose an older guy, above the fresh young talent in the interviews (for the guys that do interviews) or is age not really an issue?

Should I just work my bum off and try to get to the point where I am running a lawn care business from behind a desk, with others doing the physical work, and forget about software?

As you can probably tell I am a bit of a mess, but I just need to finally follow a direction and stick to it as I have been dicking about not knowing what I should do for half my working life now.

Sorry for the giant brain fart ;)

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I'm sure ccc will have some excellent advice! He charges a shedload for making an Excel spreadsheet, and then goes off to Thailand to impress ladyboys!:o

 There is no "career". There is only you, and you seem bright.

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Will be interesting to see people's thoughts on this - I've been doing software for 11 years, straight out of uni.

In my opinion your age will not be as big a disadvantage as the fact that you've chosen not to work in software for 8 years after graduating. By that I mean if you'd just gotten your degree at 41 and were looking for your first job then, it would look better IMHO.

Having said that, you can use your business website as an example of your work.

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6 minutes ago, DEATH said:

Maybe manage a few websites of local businesses?

Any good at SEO stuff? Seems plenty of that about.

I manage to get my own site on the front page of Google, so I know the basics.

1 minute ago, MrPin said:

I'm sure ccc will have some excellent advice! He charges a shedload for making an Excel spreadsheet, and then goes off to Thailand to impress ladyboys!:o

 There is no "career". There is only you, and you seem bright.

Yeah I get what you mean. I suppose you don't have to do just 1 thing. Variety is the spice of life and all that. Food for thought.

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3 minutes ago, JoeDavola said:

Will be interesting to see people's thoughts on this - I've been doing software for 11 years, straight out of uni.

In my opinion your age will not be as big a disadvantage as the fact that you've chosen not to work in software for 8 years after graduating. By that I mean if you'd just gotten your degree at 41 and were looking for your first job then, it would look better IMHO.

Having said that, you can use your business website as an example of your work.

Yeah that's my fear I guess. I essentially wasted my education at this point. I would have to show some experience etc. Also I didn't finish the degree, so I essentially have an HND and a cert of HE for my time spent on the degree.

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4 minutes ago, The Masked Tulip said:

Don't ever think that you haven't got anyone to talk to about stuff - always come here and rant away.

 

Hehe, thanks. I can only bore the missus so much with my ponderings, and if I try and talk thinks through with the kids, they look at me like I have gone insane. The dog isn't much use either, he just wags his tail and bring me a ball :)

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I suppose what has focussed my mind is a bout of tennis elbow, which luckily happened at the end of the season, but then I managed to strain my shoulder trying to work around it. It is still painful now nearly 3 months later, so I am now worried about future issues, as I don't seem to heal as quickly as I used to.

You really do need to be in peak condition to work manually, which I now realise I may not always be.

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I think it's pretty good if you can do part time gardening stuff and part time IT.

Not sure why it seems so weird that someone does two totally different jobs as it should be normal!

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40 minutes ago, Reebo said:

Yeah that's my fear I guess. I essentially wasted my education at this point. I would have to show some experience etc. Also I didn't finish the degree, so I essentially have an HND and a cert of HE for my time spent on the degree.

Just because you are not following your education like the herd doesn't mean you have wasted it, and the fear of wasting it shouldn't drive you on a path back towards it. You also shouldn't compare yourself to all those following their education as a sole occupation, many or whom are probably miserable doing so, nor should you compare earnings as contentedness is paramount. Your education will always be a part of you and it's why you are where you are today, so it's not 'wasted' per se. It does sound a bit like a mid-life crisis; been there, and I'm probably still there if you ask my gf.

As a personal example, I still use my education and I still practice my field of study every day, but in an unconventional way compared to former colleagues who are 'in the system' and many of whom resent my 'freedom'. To give an example, I spend a lot of time out walking, or reading HPC (the only website I visit), or earning money doing things unrelated to what I'd consider my 'field'. However, while doing all those other things, I'm 'recharging batteries' or 'thinking' so that when I'm doing my 'field' of work I'm much more productive (or at least as productive) than those who do it all day long, as most of their day is spent drinking coffee waiting for some inspiration. So lawn care does not exclude another business following your IT training as a freelance.

You don't have to follow the crowd. You must just do what you want, and not what you think you should be doing. And certainly, don't worry about what others think.

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Just now, DEATH said:

I think it's pretty good if you can do part time gardening stuff and part time IT.

Not sure why it seems so weird that someone does two totally different jobs as it should be normal!

 

Quite, I knew of one university lecturer who would drive buses at the weekend. He'd grown up poor, and recognised that the good fortune of being a lecturer might not stay with him. Plus I think he actually enjoyed bus driving. 

As someone who hires developers for my company, I look for skills, experience and aptitude.  At least a couple of developers I have hired purely on the basis of aptitude and it has paid off marvellously.  How can you demonstrate this? Develop cool stuff in your spare time, perhaps get involved in open source projects and try to participate in the community.  If you have any ability, there's a good chance of getting approached at events etc. 

 

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10 minutes ago, Reebo said:

I suppose what has focussed my mind is a bout of tennis elbow, which luckily happened at the end of the season, but then I managed to strain my shoulder trying to work around it. It is still painful now nearly 3 months later, so I am now worried about future issues, as I don't seem to heal as quickly as I used to.

You really do need to be in peak condition to work manually, which I now realise I may not always be.

Been, there done that with a mix of work, desk based and the more labour intensive side. Need to look at the benefits of both. Aches and strains come and go. You've been self employed a long time, could you sit behind a desk for 40 hours a week and be at someone else's beck and call and whims? Are you good at attracting new business? Could you manage others? Are you limited purely by the number of hour you personally can put in? Could you diversify your business and deliver other services on top? If you have tech skills too all the better as high promotion and a good website presence gets extra business and customer confidence. Bottom line is a lot in business and trades are not good at either promoting themselves or their business  and if you can make 30K with the right clients/operating area and a bit of diversity plus employing/subbing a few others you may be able to make a lot more.

 

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My best friend is an IT software developer in his early 50s and works from home.

The negatives are that he is socially isolated. The benefits are, apart from occasional visits to clients, he gets out of bed in the morning and has no stressful commute. In the past couple of years he has gone down the ultrabook model and makes sure that, at leasr a couple of times per week, he goes to a cafe, pub, etc, with goood free wi fi and works from there for several hours.

When he first started down this road he made very little money but now he is basically making London IT rates working from Swansea - the secret is to get 2 or 3 customers and to focus on quality of life rather than cash.

I used to work with a 'TV Director' who took early retirement and set up her own lawn-mower service. Within a year she had a bunch of blokes working for her, had far less stress and enjoyed the work much more.

In my part of the world there are plenty of people who make a very good living just being summer gardeners - and, boy, don't they half charge. They work their ballls off in the summer and then have virtually nothing from end of October until Aprilish. Many of them go off travelling in the winter months.

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Its the holes that worry me as an employee.

You dont have a cv with holes in. You have a hole with a cv in!

My rule of thumb is i give anyone 10 years from 18 to decided what they are going to do. that allows time for a couple of fckups.

I dont expect people to know what they are going to do at 18. I do expect them to hae somd udea by their late 20s.

The comment about not getting on in a work environment us true. I wont touch anyone over 35 who has not held down a job for few years. 35+ with now 5 year strect of work screams unemployable loon.

At your age, with your setup , you ought to concentrate on self employement. Its going to be expensive and sh1tty.

 

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1 hour ago, StainlessSteelCat said:

Quite, I knew of one university lecturer who would drive buses at the weekend. He'd grown up poor, and recognised that the good fortune of being a lecturer might not stay with him. Plus I think he actually enjoyed bus driving. 

As someone who hires developers for my company, I look for skills, experience and aptitude.  At least a couple of developers I have hired purely on the basis of aptitude and it has paid off marvellously.  How can you demonstrate this? Develop cool stuff in your spare time, perhaps get involved in open source projects and try to participate in the community.  If you have any ability, there's a good chance of getting approached at events etc. 

 

Id like to drive a bus.

Id prefrr a train but there are more bus jobs.

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11 minutes ago, spyguy said:

Its the holes that worry me as an employee.

You dont have a cv with holes in. You have a hole with a cv in!

My rule of thumb is i give anyone 10 years from 18 to decided what they are going to do. that allows time for a couple of fckups.

I dont expect people to know what they are going to do at 18. I do expect them to hae somd udea by their late 20s.

The comment about not getting on in a work environment us true. I wont touch anyone over 35 who has not held down a job for few years. 35+ with now 5 year strect of work screams unemployable loon.

At your age, with your setup , you ought to concentrate on self employement. Its going to be expensive and sh1tty.

 

So you think Reebo is an unemployable loon?

For the record I disagree. I think he's smart. Successful self employment and looking for other streams of income relative to his skills to date. 

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Thanks for the replies. I'm already starting to feel more settled. I think I had got myself into a bit of a state really, thinking too much, over analysing things.

Some very valid points have been raised. I have been pondering if I could work in an office and get told what to do, and I think it may be pushing things after being self employed for a while. I think the getting a job idea, is a bad one.

As Spyguy said, my cv does suck now really, but I suppose on reflection I never really like regular jobs. The only job I stuck for a long time was security, but I think that's because the only time I saw my boss in 4 years was when I got interviewed. They were happy to just let me know the shifts and let me get on with it, as that's what I do really. I just get on with things. This with the other things now probably makes me unemployable, in a career based industry.

So, that leaves me with self employment, which is great really as I'm able to be flexible which helps with the kids. I'm leaning more towards restarting my coding as a hobbie, and then try and monetise it.

I have a half built multi player role playing browser game (remember them), which with a bit of work I could bring up to scratch and maybe turn into an app as well (do people still play browser games?) which could create a income stream (micro payments) for me. I would need to update my php knowledge though, as I just looked on my git, and I was last updating all my sql to prepared statements. Not sure if that's still the best way etc.

I do actually really enjoy mowing lawns, which is most of my work, and I have a couple that are nearly an acre in size. It kinda chills me out really. I put spotify on and just follow the mower round. I guess I was losing sight of why I went into the job in the first place.

Thank you for the input, I have some thinking to do, but it is more focused now :)

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Economic Exile said:

So you think Reebo is an unemployable loon?

For the record I disagree. I think he's smart. Successful self employment and looking for other streams of income relative to his skills to date. 

I always employ loons anyway! I'm never the chief interviewer. I just make grunty noises, and spit and swear a bit.

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28 minutes ago, Economic Exile said:

So you think Reebo is an unemployable loon?

For the record I disagree. I think he's smart. Successful self employment and looking for other streams of income relative to his skills to date. 

No.

I have to work on the evidence given to me.

I get a cv. i look to see if the education majes sense. i look to see if the employment tallies up.

I know lifes not perfect and stuff changes but im only spending a few hours researching someone and a afternoon taking to them.

I reoeat, anyone whose not held a ft job down for a few years by 30 rings alarm bells.

Sure i might be overlooking a good candidate. But im also avoiding a lot of loons.

Im an employer not a mother!

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Anyone with blank spaces on their CV, as just a "civil servant", is probably more spy than our very own 007

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6 minutes ago, spyguy said:

No.

I have to work on the evidence given to me.

I get a cv. i look to see if the education majes sense. i look to see if the employment tallies up.

I know lifes not perfect and stuff changes but im only spending a few hours researching someone and a afternoon taking to them.

I reoeat, anyone whose not held a ft job down for a few years by 30 rings alarm bells.

Sure i might be overlooking a good candidate. But im also avoiding a lot of loons.

Im an employer not a mother!

Yeah.

I haven't had a cv... ever. Waste of time for people like me and reebo who like to be in control of our destiny. ?

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2 minutes ago, MrPin said:

Anyone with blank spaces on their CV, as just a "civil servant", is probably more spy than our very own 007

My brother put 5 years as 'adventurer explorer' to cover up his mercenary past.Thats a literal mercenary.

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