Have 2 IT degrees, but want to do something else. How to go about this?
November 26, 2013 3:48 PM   Subscribe

I have a BS degree in Information Science/Technology and have just completed a further post-graduate degree in the same field. I was awarded my degree with distinction and could most likely go on to a PhD if I wanted to. I am also currently looking for work in my field and am confident to find a job. The thing is, I really don't like IT. I try to convince myself that there is something I would like, but in all honesty, I am not excited about any of the jobs I'm looking at much less continuing on with more education (although that would at least allow me to explore something I may somewhat like).

I've halfway decided IT is not for me and I would really love to get into something else. I'm not sure what exactly, but I am creative and enjoy writing. I have work experience in an art gallery, teaching and a little bit in marketing and sales. However, the work experience mentioned was mostly gotten as a student, but now that I've graduated it's a bit harder to just get "any kind of job". I live overseas so I can't use the contacts I had from previous jobs to find further work. I'm in my mid 20s if that's relevant.

My question is: How do I go about getting into something else? From what angle should I write my resume and cover letter? Won't it be weird I'm not looking in my field? Also, should I go the PhD route? I do like teaching and a future in academia doesn't sound too bad, but I'm really not sure. Maybe I am expecting too much from a career?
posted by deeba to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When you say a PhD, do you mean a PhD in your established field or something technical but not specifically in your BS/MS field (though maybe, which would use some of your skills)? I would think you could find something more interesting if you looked wider, and you would likely be qualified to do so. Don't feel you have to be trapped in a very narrow academic groove at this stage.
posted by biffa at 4:04 PM on November 26, 2013

Response by poster: I mean a PhD in my established field. Probably something continuing on from my previous work.
posted by deeba at 4:06 PM on November 26, 2013

Best answer: I'm not an academic in IT, but my impression of academia in general is that you should only pursue such a career if it is something you are pretty passionate about, because there are a lot of hoops to jump through and it's a lot of work to go through for something that you don't really care about, as opposed to, for example, getting a job that you don't really care about but at least it pays well.

People change fields not infrequently, so I think as long as you can articulate what your current goals are and how your background in IT could be useful, you'd be able to get a different kind of job. I imagine there are many jobs where a background in IT would be at least partially relevant (for example, it's very relevant in medicine, which is my field).

The problem at the moment is that you can't articulate what your goals are. My suggestion would be to get a job for the time being that seems to suit your needs (i.e. will pay the bills and you don't hate it), save some money, and while you're working that job, explore other fields until you figure out what you enjoy or are interested in. Since it sounds like you've never had an IT job, maybe you'll find that you like it more than you think you will. It can be very difficult to know what a job will be like before you start working it.

Having that job will buy you time to do things like interview or even shadow people in other fields that intrigue you, to find out what working in those fields is like (the good and the bad, especially make sure you know about the bad parts), or volunteering - you can volunteer to teach classes in something you enjoy, for example. Think about what you're looking for in a job - you didn't mention a lot in your question, but some things to consider would be whether you like working closely with other people/on a team or solo, whether you like doing customer service type work, whether you'd like to be self employed or be an employee.

I think if you just give up on the jobs you're currently pursuing and try to pick some other job or degree without doing more research/soul searching, it would probably be more of a struggle to find the alternative job (because you don't really know what you want and therefore can't focus on the goal you hope to achieve) and you run a significant risk of finding that you don't like your second choice of career either.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:20 PM on November 26, 2013

Maybe try something completely different for a while to give yourself some perspective i.e. a construction worker.
posted by defmute at 4:20 PM on November 26, 2013

What do you not like about IT?

Have you considered things like working in marketing at an IT consultant firm? You'd be selling consultant services to other businesses. There may be other peripheral IT jobs that might be interesting to you. Would help to know what you don't like. Is it interacting with users? Actual running/planning of network lines, planning infrastructure?
posted by MadMadam at 4:21 PM on November 26, 2013

Response by poster: I'm not sure exactly what it is I don't like. It's just I don't feel excited about any of it, although I would be interested in something like technical writing or something along those lines as I think that's where I could contribute the most. The only problem is there are not many of these jobs around which will take someone without experience.

I think a large part of my problem is I absolutely hate the interview process. So many companies give me various competency tests which usually include some random programming problem that I need to solve in real time. While I can program just fine, I can absolutely not do it under pressure for some reason. During my undergraduate degree we would have these practical tests which were essentially timed programming tests. I usually did well, but would literally have to memorize the code line for line beforehand as I would get nervous to the point of almost vomiting before these and would not be able to think at all while taking the test.

I think I'm finding the whole interview process really discouraging and realizing that I'm torturing myself for something I really don't even really like.
posted by deeba at 4:49 PM on November 26, 2013

Best answer: If you hate interviewing, then you'll hate that for any job. Don't toss out 6 years of schooling and expense because you don't like the interview. Get a job in your field - even if it doesn't seem to be your passion - and give it a few weeks. IT is as really big field. You may land in consulting, logistics, health care, management.

Right now, you in the midst of a frustrating process with an unknown timetable. I encourage to to ride it out. If you get past the interview process and the new hire orientation and you still hate IT? Then bail.
posted by 26.2 at 5:39 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The traditional IT interview process, for better or worse, is nothing like a real IT job.
posted by kelseyq at 5:51 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

"IT" is a lot, lot broader than jobs that come with programming interviews. Have you thought about getting a project management qualification? It sounds like you'd enjoy it more, and your degree background would be very relevant to potential employers.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:01 PM on November 26, 2013

It sounds like you're applying for the wrong sorts of IT jobs, to be honest. It's a huge field. Maybe look for something more on the administration/planning side and less on the coding side.
posted by empath at 7:32 PM on November 26, 2013

Response by poster: Even when I apply to jobs that have nothing to do with coding they still insist on these tests. I had one job that involved almost no coding give me not only a series of typical tests, but they also insisted on giving me an Excel test even after I told them I had not done any of my statistical analysis in Excel and had always used a different program. I failed the Excel test and as a result was not hired. This was after answering 18 out of their 20 databasing questions correctly, answering the majority of their Java and C++ questions correctly, being forced to do timed logic puzzles, and passing through three interviews with flying colors.

I don't know if this is just a string of bad luck with companies overzealous to test potential employees or if this is normal? I see former classmates getting hired who I used to bail out by giving them my code and assignments and I just don't get how they are making it through but not me.
posted by deeba at 8:42 PM on November 26, 2013

1) I agree that you should get a job in IT before you decide you don't like IT.
2) since it sounds like you like the communicating aspect, maybe consider IT project management. IBM does a boot camp for this, with six months of training and then they send you out to manage various client projects. Requirements are a graduate degree, but not much work experience is required. You can also get a post-graduate certificate in IT PM - DePaul University does one online,

I work in IT/business intelligence and am pursuing a graduate degree in IT Management. I really think the two are completely different. Every corporation is compleltely different.
posted by smalls at 6:00 AM on November 27, 2013

Best answer: There is no requirement to match your education to your job duties.

IT, like anything, can get you in the door to promising companies. The rest is up to you.

A PhD can work both ways in industry. It's also expensive in time and money, and defers progress in a job. Unless you have a plan for it, it seems a waste compared to equivalent time in a promising company.

OTOH, teaching as a profession with a PhD in IT? Why on earth would it be less competitive than the real world? The trend is away from full professorships with tenure and towards easily exploited adjuncts who never get the full time gig, benefits, freedom or security. I have several friends trapped in that hole. As a plan, it's like hunting for a mountain lions. They exist, are widely separated, hard to find, and for the most part, invisible. Deer are a better bet.

An MS segregates you nicely over the BS/BA crowd. If you are looking for votes, I'd vote go with it as is.
posted by FauxScot at 6:41 AM on November 27, 2013

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