Possibly burned out from IT work at 35, what careers to transition to?
October 1, 2016 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Hello, ask MeFi. I've searched for proper advice on this, but I'm coming up with blanks. I've come to the realization that I'm losing interest in IT support work. Sometimes I feel I have no choice to work IT, but I want to see if I can do another type of work. I'm currently searching for jobs, and most IT jobs that I'm finding are either lower paying temp jobs from staffing agencies or job that take skills or certs that I don't have.

Quick background information.
*POC who is a 35 years old, cis male.
*Lives in the northeastern part of the US in the suburbs outside of a major
*Has over ten years of combined customer service and IT work.
*Does not have a college degree, in the process of finishing it online at an online university (not a ripoff school like UofP, DeVry)
It will take me about a year to finish. I'm going for a b.a. in communications because my major was originally that. If I chose anything else, it would take me longer to finish.
*No Certifications. Considered getting A+ cert at first and then possibly working
on Network+ and Security+. In the middle of studying for my A+, I had the realization
that I'm not interested in this type of work anymore, yet I feel that I have no
choice because it's what I'm currently good at doing.
*At my current job, I do help desk type of support. I dabble a little bit in SQL and active directory. I'll be honest that I'm not too good at it.
In the past, I worked for an ISP and did a lot of connectivity support at a call center.
*I currently earn about $45k a year. I'm looking to get at least $55k a year or higher, although I'm not sure
if I can get at that level doing a career change.
*Networking skills are not that great. I can barely figure out linked in and I don't use twitter. Activity on facebook is almost non-existent.

I am currently doing some of the exercises in the book "What color is my parachute." I find
them to be quite exhausting. I am currently in the "Holland Code" training portion, and I'm not finding something I can transfer my existing skills to.

I thought about getting my degree and possibly going for a master in Library science.
From my research on MeFi, I hear that seeking a library career is lower paying and not worth the additional student loan debt.

I'm wondering if there are any other career changers, mainly coming from IT was able to assess their skills to transfer to other jobs accurately.
posted by 81818181818181818181 to Work & Money (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I went through a career change, though not from IT. I found my current field by doing informational interviews--speaking to friends of friends and then their acquaintances about what they do, what they like and don't like about their jobs, and how their personalities shape their interests. This process helped me to figure out the field I wanted to go into, and helped me to answer job interview questions intelligently. I would encourage you to think about "networking" as something that takes place offline, through in person interactions. Contact people. Buy them coffee. Chat.
posted by monkeymonkey at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2016

The Rockport Institute has a very thorough assessment program and a good reputation. It was founded by Nicholas Lore, author of The Pathfinder. Their full program is pricey, but valuable.

You might also want to look at this book, about finding satisfying work.
posted by Altomentis at 11:24 AM on October 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Activity on facebook is almost non-existent.

Fix this! Go through your phone and add everyone except coworkers. Concentrate on growing your network in your area (unless you want to move). Don't think of it in terms of just career stuff. Genuinely interact with people. Go to events with them, join some groups. Add everyone you talk to for more than 15 minutes at these events. Again, does not need to be career or professionally related, but talk to them about their jobs, see what sparks your interest. Advice from people who know you is going to be a lot more valuable than from strangers on the internet. I've grown my "network" by about 100 people in the past year, almost entirely local, and if/when I look for another job, it will be extremely useful.
posted by AFABulous at 11:47 AM on October 1, 2016

One other thing to think about is if doing the same sort of job in a different setting might alleviate some of your burnout. I know a lot of people who really enjoy doing instructional technology positions at universities. It can cover a broad range of things, but usually you're helping a single department of professors and grad students work with the software they need for their courses and research. So it's help desk-ish, but with a small set of people and a lot of in-person contact instead of email or phone.
posted by MsMolly at 11:55 AM on October 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Do you like to help people? Do you like to make things? Most people I know with comm degrees are customer service reps for small-to-mid-sized service or manufacturing firms. They act as interfaces between paying clients and the teams who add value to the products or services the client requires. These jobs require some people-pleasing and technical production skills and are positions generally open to recent grads regardless of age. But you don't have to be an executive sales schmoozer or a hypercaffeinated certified coder—you just have to know how to communicate to both of those types.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:06 PM on October 1, 2016

If you are doing communications, and since you have IT experience to fall back on, get Security+, and a few other certs and then look into doing security awareness for larger companies. It combines comms as well as some technical ability. Some project mgmt stuff and the money is generally good too.
posted by gregjunior at 2:08 PM on October 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

You don't say where you're currently doing IT work, but if you're in the corporate world, you might want to consider exploring doing IT work in non-profit or academia. With a non-profit you might find the atmosphere, pace, and the fact that you're supporting a cause you care about more fulfilling. Lots of large non-profits that would likely pay more than you're earning now are probably looking for someone with your skills. In academia you'd have the opportunity to get free or low cost tuition, maybe work in different departments, and be part of an institution that has other stuff going on.

At the very least you could continue your career exploration and education working in a possibly nicer environment.
posted by brookeb at 2:59 PM on October 1, 2016

First and foremost, you have accept the drop of your income if you are making a career change. $45k a year is a very good, for me at least, with the experience and knowledge you have acquired plus without a college degree. I have a couple of degrees but I am still getting $30K when I had a full time job.

I would suggest you to finish your degree that you are working on first and get as many as certifications done. Contact school or better if they have physical office that you can visit and ask about career opportunities. Social media doesn't work if you don't have many friends already.

If you do have passion in Library Science then I would suggest you to pursue it, that would literally make your life easier. Back to what I mentioned in the beginning though, you have to accept whatever you learned about it earlier.

If you don't have a passion on something other than IT and the company is not leaving you anytime soon, I would suggest you to stay in IT and save as much money as you can, and then invest or start a "business." Make that business to be your career change.

Wish you all the best!
posted by lanhan at 3:18 PM on October 1, 2016

I was you five years ago. Burned out on doing IT infrastructure work. Went to library school for a semester (because doesn't that sound like a really cool job?) and quit because of my impressions of the librarian job market. I lucked into another type of IT job (Web Administration\Development) that's completely different from help desk/infrastructure support.

You might spend some time taking some web development courses - HTML, CSS, Javascript, SQL and either PHP or C#, and see how much you like them. It really is a radically different job, assuming you're not working in sweatshop. You're solving bigger problems that take longer to focus on and your day to day life is not so demand-driven. You're also not sitting around worried about which thing is going to break next. You have more control over how well things go. I'm much happier, though a lot of that is that the pressure in my job comes from me and not my employer. Really worth trying, I think.
posted by cnc at 6:54 PM on October 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are there other opportunities available at your company?

If you have any sort of interest in doing something outside of support, you may have better luck making the change at your own company, getting a few years of experience, and then moving to another company with a proven track record in the new job. Make sure to let your supervisor know that you're looking for other opportunities internally, as they may be able to help, or they may be able to suggest other job opportunities for you in support as well.

For example, I manage a technical writing team, and every once in a while we hire a support agent out of our own helpdesk. Our requirements include excellent working knowledge of our products (gained from supporting our customers), as well as keen analytical skills, and a natural ability to write. We train for the rest of the skills needed to succeed in the job. When we've transferred a support agent to our team, there is often an adjustment in salary similar to what you're looking for.

Another opportunity may be QA/testing, if that's something that you're interested in.

Good luck.
posted by mattybonez at 10:56 AM on October 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

"You don't say where you're currently doing IT work, but if you're in the corporate world, you might want to consider exploring doing IT work in non-profit or academia. "

I forgot to say, but it is for a corporate office. It is quite conservative, to say the least. I'm going to see if there are any non-profits/schools out there who need IT help.
posted by 81818181818181818181 at 7:00 AM on October 3, 2016

« Older How can I make sure to get a good assessment of a...   |   Is there a way to print via WIFI on an... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.