I'm good at programming computers. But I don't want to be a software developer. What can I do for a career and what should I be doing now to make it possible?
I like coding. I have a natural aptitude for it. It's one of the few things in life that comes easily to me. But this
segment by Zed Shaw really rings true to me. I'm pretty sure I don't want to be a professional programmer or software developer. I've heard enough horror stories about long hours and impossible deadlines that it doesn't sound like a particularly great job. (I'm a pretty type-B person, I want my work to be chill.) More importantly, there's more to life than just doing the one thing that comes easily to me.
My question is technically two parts, but they're very connected to each other.
First: any suggestions for fields I could work in? I know research science involves some programming, but it's difficult to get research jobs, plus I don't have any idea what field I would choose. Academic CS would be interesting but limiting, again because I don't want to live my life just doing the one thing that comes easily to me. Finance pays well and you get to solve really interesting problems, but I'd feel sort of dirty, and long hours with a bunch of super-competitive alpha males sounds terrible. These can't be my only options; I'm sure the hive-mind knows fields where computer skills are useful, where I could solve interesting problems, and that don't have to be stressful or miserable.
Second: what should I be doing now in terms of classes and internships? I'm going to be a sophomore at a liberal arts college. I thought I would major in physics, but the lab portion of E&M showed me that I don't want to. Now I'm leaning towards a math major (I actually like it, this isn't just a fallback). Our CS department is acceptable but not great (plus again I would rather expand my mind than get really good at this one thing). also, where should I be aiming to work in the summers?
(There are a lot of previous questions that are very similar to this one, some from programmers who want to get out of software development, which makes me think my intuition here is right. But none of them seem to have very concrete suggestions about what to do.)