would like to forget everything i've ever learned about data, please!
December 19, 2021 2:55 PM   Subscribe

CareerChangeFilter: Did you leave data-oriented careers for something else? How did it go? Specific snowflakes within.

Hello! I would greatly appreciate your collective career thinking on this! The tl;dr: is that I'd like to take a decent leap away from my current career trajectory in data science/engineering, and I'm OK if that takes a couple of years. but i'm having trouble figuring out what's next. Have you made this kind of leap? What did you find? How did it go?

Since grad school I've had three roles
> data librarian in reference dept
> data educator at a research center
> data engineer in government

as you can see, i've wiggled closer and closer to the technical/code every day side, and i've also been able to increase my salary over time. i've also.. enjoyed my work less and less in the process! and now i'm feeling completely burned out with coding, dreading every time i have to go back to work, disappointed with my inability to wrap up projects successfully, and cynical about my long-term prospects in this field.

here's what i've learned about what i'm good at and enjoy, in my career:

good at and enjoy: pair coding, working with people 1:1 and helping them identify a solution, creating welcoming/convivial vibes in meetings and collaborations, creative/lateral thinking; interacting with ppl with diverse technical backgrounds (i love finding and connecting with strengths of ppl who are not typical self-assured IT types); helping onboard new ppl
good-ish at, don't enjoy: some parts of programming alone (as in, i'm OK at designing solutions alone, but really don't like solo hyperfocus coding time); training with groups (exhausting and stressful, but again creating a welcoming learning space feels quite good)
bad at, find stressful: being detail oriented/missing bugs/not thinking thru things systematically (SO BAD at this often); the middle and end of projects (bad follow thru and history of languishing in final third especially); interacting with IT culture (both from a personalities perspective and stuff to do with databases/service accounts/vendors/policies/servers make me want to go to sleep for a million years)

things i think i'm good at and enjoy from other parts of my life: writing; making vlog-style videos; learning; puzzles; being on my feet; hopefully being a kind and welcoming person in general

as i mentioned up top, i'm definitely leaving heavily towards something that doesn't have anything to do with a computer or data. i would POTENTIALLY consider somethign computer/data-y if i could drastically shift my focus (like i can see the argument for something for mangament/training where i don't have to code. i just... i don't know if i can sustain it for the next decade yall..) I know for sure that I don't want to work in relation to a development/software/automation/IT cycle of any kind, however.

thank you!!
posted by Sock Meets Body to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Business Analyst?
posted by dg at 3:20 PM on December 19, 2021

Making better computer systems means that the better computer systems change how people work -- few people help adoption of new features and capabilitiesm. Merely sitting with people training them is huge, human-centric training task.

I don't have a list of names of good employers for this or a short playbook for weeks-long embedding, coaching and upgrading workflows -- I'd like that kind of job myself!
posted by k3ninho at 4:00 PM on December 19, 2021

A lot of what you like seem to like involves teaching or mentoring. How about becoming a teacher at a data science boot camp?
posted by mmmmmmm at 4:25 PM on December 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Have you thought about how moving away from computers/data will impact your salary? I moved from staff development/training to data work and it created significant opportunities for better pay. And being a data engineer is going to be the most code-intensive. If you moved in an analyst direction you may be able to do less of that and more of work mediated by an analytics/visualization platform.

Have you thought about project management (Agile) or product management? Maybe these are bad fits if you don't like IT culture and personalities, but it would leverage some of your strengths around working with diverse groups of people. Management is also an option, and it's where I have landed. I have some similar strengths, and I'm never the most skillful or talented coder on a team. But I am good at leading people and all the various things that being a manager requires.
posted by jeoc at 4:30 PM on December 19, 2021 [6 favorites]

I'm not a data engineer (though my title has data engineering in it). I'm more of a Project Owner/ Delivery Lead/ Business Analyst. BA would be a good 'Next" try. there is coding involved in some cases, but it's never the systematic design that is inherent in real coding, and you are always constantly helping developers and testers understand 'why. You get to keep your high salary, you don't have to go through years of second guessing in changing your career choice etc. The low hours high pay is not nothing. -Signed someone in similar place who tried to leave and came back.
posted by sandmanwv at 5:54 PM on December 19, 2021

"Devrel" (developer relations) or being part of an open source software community management team might suit you. There are open roles for those positions that you could apply for, and many of them are remote -- you probably already qualify in terms of skills, although you might want to put together a portfolio to help demonstrate those skills, and that might involve doing a little more blogging or similar writing in public (in case all your technology-related writing so far as been behind closed doors).
posted by brainwane at 4:30 AM on December 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

It’s kind of hard to give you recommendations because you say you don’t want anything to do with data but don’t tell us much about your other skills or interests. Nevertheless, if you live near a college or university, you might enjoy supervising student workers. IT departments tend to have a lot of workers, and it takes someone who really enjoys mentoring to work with them. Supervising students is sort of management lite in many ways, but you have to hold their hands and spell basic things out to them at times. I used to work at a college whose IT department took pride in hiring students who didn’t have extensive tech experience when they started and building them up. I think there would be a lot of room for creativity in training, etc.
posted by Comet Bug at 9:56 AM on December 20, 2021

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