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Old 05-29-2008, 04:31 PM   #21
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I feel your pain. I was an engineer for 12 years, but the last time I looked at some code, I could no longer muster the enthusiasm to fix the stuff. There's no reason other than the fact that the human brain needs variety.

Burn out is inevitable. As corporate slaves, we look at the entrepreneurs and think, "Wow, it's so cool to make a crap load of money and be your own boss." Then I get on the phone with some very successful ones who are selling their business, and I can hear the tiredness and burn out in their voices.

As long as you don't mind being the new guy again at 39, then by all means take a different job. BTW, there are jobs in which being under 40 is actually a disadvantage. (No, I'm not talking about being a pro Bocce baller.)

Business is more exciting, but are you ready to deal with all the shades of grey and the constant dread of being sued or being on the wrong end of an investigation? Oh, there are even more assholes in business than in engineering because in engineering the morons get washed out very quickly.
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:34 PM   #22
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Sounds to me like it's time to bail--or at least start putting some serious time into looking for something new. The benefits of your current job aren't that great, especially since you don't seem too fond of the two people you work most closely with. I always say a job is only as good as your supervisor and coworkers, and if you don't respect one and don't like the other, well...

If I were in your situation, the only thing that might keep me at the current place would be the *in town* part. I'm not sure how big your hometown is, but small towns of course equal fewer job openings at any given time, and a move doesn't seem very likely given that your kids are nearby.

Good luck!
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:23 PM   #23
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Dude.

--You've got upwards of 30 more years of work ahead of you.
--You have excelled at every job you ever put your mind to.
--You graduated with high honors in the middle of huge emotional turmoil.
--You've got an ideal combination of technical and business experience / training.

IMHO, and FWIW... quit overthinking this!! Or more precisely, start thinking like the WINNER that you are. You've worked hard and deserve more than a boring, dead-end gig.

The world is your OYSTER, guy -- quit worrying and go TAKE what you want.
Bravo! Well said for the OP.
You gotta focus on the positive and make things happen for yourself. No one is going to do it for you.
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Old 05-29-2008, 10:28 PM   #24
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? I would love to find a job that is more interesting (something in business rather than technology) *and* pays better than what I'm paid now *and* is located in my town *and* is flexible with me and my kids' schedules. Am I asking for too much?
What kind of business are you thinking about? What are your interests and strengths? Do you enjoy managing people? Do you like planning and directing others? What is an ideal job?

One way to boost your pay is to become a project lead or manager. As far as work hour flexibility, you just have to find a company that offers work-life flexibility.

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? Several things hold me back from looking to find another job. I don't believe I can find a job in a different field without taking a large pay cut.
It depends on what kind of work or job for which you are seeking. You might to able to find a higher paying job for which your skills and experience will be applicable despite different field or industry. Start identify what kind of job you want and the industry you like. Arrange informal interviews to get more info and see how your skills and experience will be of value to those jobs. Find out if they have any upcoming projects to which you can contribute.

I made a transition from electrical engineering (medical device) to marketing (computer equipment) after an MBA in my late 30s. The pay cut was minimal (about 5%). The job was very challenging and stressful. I had to deal with R&D, manufacturing, sales, customer service and business management. They made big demands -- R & D wanted to know what products to develop and why they are important. They wanted to know the exact requirements and justifications for them. Manufacturing wanted to how much inventory to hold. Sales demanded more product features and better pricing. They complained about the lack of sales training, sales support, marketing strategies, and so. Customer Service complained about product returns and pricing. Business Management demanded revenue/profit growth, increases in market share and new markets. After 3 years of glut punishments, I decided to return to engineering. It was a wonderful but tortuous learning experience. I had no regrets and was glad that I tried it.

Good luck.
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Old 05-30-2008, 12:04 AM   #25
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2Cor,

There's been a lot of great replies so far so I'll only add this little bit. I got totally burned out after doing Comp Sci for 20 years. I made the transition into program management a couple years ago. It certainly didn't fix all the problems at work but it has made it much more tolerable for these final couple of years. Technical ability is an asset in the program management job that I have as I manage techology-focused programs, so I could leverage my extensive experience there. I didn't have an MBA like you (you're one up for that) but I got a mentor to guide me and I took classes on the job. Program management turned out to be a pretty good fit for me because I don't have to deal with the people management issues -- I manage programs, not people. Instead I get to use my organizational, communication, and analytical skills to provide value to the company now.

Best wishes in whatever you decide to do.

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Old 05-30-2008, 12:21 AM   #26
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I've been in similar but not quite the same situations and seen others in them. In my experience there's a lot of nuance in the details that can make a huge difference. If your current company knows you want to be an employee and are keeping you contract, then they value your work (and likely experience) but are not interested in investing in you or thinking of you for future career growth. That's okay, but let's you know where you stand. Some folks do very well as permanent contact employees. Job security isn't much different from the regular employees any more. Contract work often pays better than the same job as an employee. Employees have a different point of view about the work they do: being on a project that cancels or doesn't get used can be frustrating or lead to deep resentment and feeling of being devalued. In the same situation, a contractor can feel good about building whatever the company asked for as well as could be done: what the company did with it after that has much less emotional impact. The goal is more focused and immediate.

I note you have a very flexible work arrangement. Might have something to do with you being overqualified for this work and they are delighted to have your specialized expertise on your flexible terms. Never the less, this can be a hard thing to arrange and should be worth a lot with kids.

You don't seem fond of your manager and coworker. Too bad, because working with good people can make other issues much less important and life is too short to let the turkeys get you down. You'll probably have to decide how important this is to you. For me, I'd rather work with good folks than use my specific degree or even what specific job (programmer, project mgr, etc) I do. I've been lucky to be in situations with excellent coworkers and managers a few times. Unfortunately they never lasted too long before (stupid) company decisions changed the workgroups and personnel and then the best people all left. This makes me think that good folks to work with is very valuable, but not necessarily lasting in high tech so while it's a great thing to look for or try to arrange it's not reliable enough to give up too many other advantages in search of it.

I don't have any specific advice what to do. I think the little details of your situation matter so much it's hard for anyone except you to have enough info to make choices. Usually it's easier to see what's wrong with a situation becuase the negative things leap out at you. Before you actually do anything, I'd strongly suggest you carefully think through the positives about your situation as well, such as flexible work schedules for kid issues, long history and "expert" reputation (let's you have a lot of latitude for some things), salary and benefits, work you know, location, commute or other factors.

Good luck. Whatever you decide will be on partial info at best, so while you want to consider all the factors you can, you will never know everything so maybe will just have to make a guess at some point what you value more.
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Old 05-30-2008, 01:27 AM   #27
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Everyone,

Thank you all for the replies and thanks to some for the very kind words. The former reminded me that y'all are the smartest group of people I know, and the latter really warmed my heart and encouraged me. I got something from every single reply and many of you were uncanny in how spot on your comments were.

I'll reply in more detail later, but I have tentatively decided that the "burn out" factor trumps everything else except location because of my kids and that I must begin to look around for something different and hopefully better.

I also wanted to add that after further reflection what I wrote about my coworkers being like a family didn't convey precisely what I meant. What I meant was more that I don't feel valued as an asset to the company. I may have been spoiled by my 11 year stint, but there they treated employees as valued assets of the company to be maintained and developed, not interchangeable engineering units that cost a lot of money.

Anyway, thanks again to everyone.

2Cor521
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:18 AM   #28
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2Cor, I think you've had plenty of great comments so far. Just one thing to add: the working world is becoming much more "contingent" year by year...more temps, more contractors, etc. Even permanent jobs are no longer really permanent, and corporations no longer value loyalty, even though many give it a lot of lip service.

I hope you are able to find something to be able to use the significant investment of time and money that an MBA represents, but I suggest not getting your hopes too high for reciprocity in the loyalty department.

FWIW

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Old 05-30-2008, 09:42 AM   #29
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You have so much to offer professionally (geez, MBA with honors and departmental scholarship on top of your years of experience? There's your first talking point in your first interview) and personally (to a new family of friends who are waiting for you to find them when you're ready). Don't hide your light under a bushel.
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:05 AM   #30
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I also wanted to add that after further reflection what I wrote about my coworkers being like a family didn't convey precisely what I meant. What I meant was more that I don't feel valued as an asset to the company. I may have been spoiled by my 11 year stint, but there they treated employees as valued assets of the company to be maintained and developed, not interchangeable engineering units that cost a lot of money.
2Cor521
I don't really have anything unique to add that has not already been said (and you did get a lot of good replies). You really do have a lot going for you.

As far as employers go, I suppose there is a broad range of how employers treat employees relative to contractors. I contracted at a place fulltime for 2 years then took an employee position. My expectation was that I would be more valuable. My perception (my reality) is that how I was treated as a contractor vs. an employee did not change at all. I now suspect that the employer made me an employee mostly to protect himself from using a contractor like an employee, having to pay payroll taxes, etc. May be different in your environment.
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:35 AM   #31
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I don't think you'll find it much different in another setting ... just different walls and people, same issues.

So unless you're ready for the career change (e.g. start a small bussiness), I'ld suck it up for a few more years ... save like hell to maybe bump the date up. Then get the heck out.
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Old 05-30-2008, 02:09 PM   #32
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I think that burnout is rampant in the computer industry. I've been a programmer for about 28 years now and am down to my last 4 weeks before I ER. I don't have any intention of doing a programming job ever again unless the money and/or conditions are fantastic. I spent the first 14 years as an employee and the last 14 years as a contract worker. Both have their pros and cons. As an employee I felt trapped at the end. As a contractor I sometimes felt undervalued and a little unstable job-wise. Overall though, I preferred the contract world because as an hourly employee, I either got paid or I didn't work (i.e. no overtime unless they came up with the extra money....that convinced alot of employers to keep me at 40 hours a week which has been nice). Also, no on-call as a contract worker...also very nice. But eventually the work has become boring and I have a very difficult time getting motivated. So I understand your situation. The only advice I can give you is that you must figure out for yourself what is causing your unhappiness. Is it job burnout? Is it career burnout? Is it work burnout (maybe a few months off would refresh you??) Is it company burnout? Is it boredom with your work? (would a different job in the same company be better?) I think it takes alot of soul searching to figure out exactly what is making you unhappy. I'm on my 2nd contract within a 3 year period where I'm extremely bored and non-motivated. I finally came to the conclusion it's career burnout for me. I don't think I'd be happy being a programmer at any company at this point.

Good luck trying to figure it out.
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Old 05-30-2008, 03:26 PM   #33
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2Cor - sorry I am late to the party - busy few days at work. I am glad to see that you are going to start looking for another job - I think it is the job, not you! You have long enough until FIRE that you don't want to just "wait it out". The journey to get to FIRE is just as important as getting there. You don't want to go through the next 7 years feeling like you are waiting for something else (at least, I wouldn't)

Looking for another job while you have one makes it less stressful and gives you time to look around and feel things out. And keep an open mind. Apply for jobs you don't think you are qualified for, or ones that seem totally out of left field. You never know what will turn up.

After I got my CFA charter, my agency yawned. I applied for a job in another agency that I wasn't really qualified for, and the interviewer said they brought me in because of the CFA. I didn't get that job, but they did create a different job for me and I have been here for 3 years now. You never know where talking to different people will lead.

Others mentioned career counseling or life coaches. I think they may be worth looking into in your situation.

Keep us posted, and good luck!

Karen
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:42 PM   #34
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Funny how it seems like a lot of these "I hate my job posts" (including mine) are from people working in the computer industry.
That is curious.
Do you physicians and lawyers ever feel burned-out or find that you hate your jobs?

Maybe a transition from technology to getting a JD/LL.D would be a wise move. Then,even if you hated the w*rk, you'd be making so much money that you could stay motivated. Money (in sufficient quantity) can add it's own magic sparkle to the dullest activity. At least until you make enough to retire.
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Old 05-31-2008, 10:48 AM   #35
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Maybe a transition from technology to getting a JD/LL.D would be a wise move.
What is JD/LL.D?
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Old 05-31-2008, 12:47 PM   #36
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What is JD/LL.D?

A law degree.
Having a BS or BA (and getting a high enough score on the LSAT exam) could get our techie into law school and put him a lot higher on the food chain.

He might or might not cotton to the w*rk, but at least his pay, status and leverage would be much better.
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Old 05-31-2008, 08:58 PM   #37
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It's a JD/LLM, the LLM really isn't necessary though except for academic purposes.

Many types of law pay very poorly, actually, a large majority of starting positions for lawyers only pay in the 40-50k range. The type of law that often interests technical types who happen to also be good at reading/writing is patent law. This is actually one of the most, if not the most, lucrative types of law, with the starting pay in the 100-160k range, depending on the CoL of the area and how many hours are required. Patent law requires a ridiculous amount of time, it is also rife with burn-out, the average work week is in 60-70 hours/week range.

In the opening posters case, I would NOT advocate getting a JD, it is a six-figure investment, school costs+lost opportunity costs would be about 150-300k, the opening poster is too close to ER to make that sort of switch worthwhile, even with a large scholarship from doing well on the LSATs. It takes 3-4 years to get a JD, depending on whether you work during law school. It would then take at least 4-5 more years to recoup those costs.

While law would certainly be a change of pace, it would not pay off by the time the OP wants to ER, and while extremely interesting and intellectually challenging, there is a huge amount of pressure to get work done as fast as humanely possible in addition to very long hours, resulting in widespread burnout, though patent lawyers do tend to enjoy their work significantly more than in other types of law.
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Old 05-31-2008, 09:19 PM   #38
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It's a JD/LLM, the LLM really isn't necessary though except for academic purposes.
It really is LL.D plex. This was the more common form of doctor of laws degree not too long ago. Now the same eduction earns the JD at many law schools. I'm aware of the specialty-oriented masters that may follow additional study beyond either of these.

New graduates from the top schools who practice "big law" are starting at around $170,000. Some of these rascals are probably reading these very words. Maybe they could add to the discussion.
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Old 05-31-2008, 09:32 PM   #39
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Biglaw is still set at 160k for the max, though there are sometimes class bumps at some top firms for those practicing patent law, which can result in base pays of 170-185K, this is generally kept a secret though, as it can cause resentment within the firm. There are also bonuses depending on the firm, they are very dependent on how many hours over the minimum one puts in.

Looked up a quote to best explain the difference between types of law degrees, pay attention to the differences depending on the country, especially the U.S. (to sum it up, a LL.D is a honorary degree in the U.S.):

"Apart from the Juris Doctor (JD), the Legum Doctor (LL.D.) is another doctorate degree in law. In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, this degree is normally earned following a very insightful publication of original and important contributions to the study of law. The LL.D. in South Africa is the highest degree in law based on research and completion of a dissertation equivalent to a PH.D. However, some schools like the University of Oxford award a Doctor of Civil Law instead. In Canada, the LL.D. and Doctor of Civil Law degrees are given as a substitute of Ph.D. in law. The LL.D. may also be given as an honorary degree based on an individual’s contribution to society. In the U.S., the LL.D. is mostly given as an honorary degree. The Doctor of Jurisdical Science (S.J.D. or J.S.D.) is the degree granted for research, the same as a Ph.D. in law.

While the Juris Doctor is the professional degree needed to be able to practice law in the U.S., the SJD leads to a career as a law professor or other legal scholar. Many legal scholars who earned their degrees outside of the U.S. enroll in the doctoral program with the aim of being able to teach in the American soil. Most of the degrees they hold are considered equal only to the bachelor’s degree in the U.S. rather than a master’s or JD. Graduates of other doctorates in law, usually the so-called non-bar JD program, use their degree for personal fulfillment, consulting, authoring, speaking engagements and other endeavors that do not require the need to pass a bar examination."

Doctor (title - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia explains how the LL.D became just a honorary title in the U.S.

JD is the normal type of law degree, and by far, the most useful for non-academic purposes. An LLM is a specialty degree in the U.S., usually focusing on a particular type of law (there is a patent law LLM). SJD is a doctorate type law degree (and it is not offered at many U.S. law schools), which is what I think you were confusing the LL.D with.


Regardless, it is a moot point, the farthest the OP would need or want to go would be a JD (which is commonly called a LL.B outside the U.S.) and, it isn't advisable to even get a JD in the first place.

Whew, that took some research, I am a law student and had no clue what you were talking about.
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Old 05-31-2008, 10:42 PM   #40
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I just bought "Life's a Bitch and Then You Change Careers, 9 Steps to Get Out of Your Funk and On to Your Future" by Andrea Kay. It looks interesting and includes exercises to help you figure out who you are and what you would enjoy doing instead of doing things based on of how you have been defined by others.

I've just started reading it but you might find it worthwhile in helping you determine what type of career change would be positive for you. I'm getting bored and burned-out in my current position. I want to pick the job this time instead of the job picking me.
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