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Ask HN: What did you do after quitting the IT industry and how have things been?
289 points by winteriscoming on Jan 6, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 210 comments
There's currently a thread going on where people are discussing what they would do if they quit their IT career. I have been in software industry for more than a decade now and since some years now have been thinking of what I would like to do when I quit the industry and how soon I can quit. I no longer have the immense passion I used to have some years back when it comes to software problem solving.

It's been a while since I have been thinking about it but haven't yet been brave enough to quit the industry (mostly financial reasons).

My question to others here is, have anyone of you quit the IT industry to do something that interested you (not necessary a job) and how have things been for you after quitting the industry?

I guess I should answer this one. I quit computer programming to teach public elementary school during the summer of 2015. I had been planning my exit for five to maybe ten years ago. The pay is nowhere near what one can make as a programmer - but I didn't really need all that money anyway. I teach a technology class - every kid in the school takes it for an hour - some of it involves programming, some of it is letting the kids explore tools like Twine, some of it is programming my own apps for the class.

For me - I can't see myself going back to an office. To teach kids is such an antidote to the self-loathing and looming pointlessness that I felt as a programmer. I'm not saying those feelings apply to any of you or to the profession as a whole - I just needed people in my life. And I guess I was tired of feeling like other people were using me for their projects - I want to use me for my projects.

I'm still in a bit of transition - do I continue experimenting in the classroom and attempt to release the apps I develop there? Or do I stay focused on teaching and improving my community? I think I'm set on the latter - I'm happier when I'm not chasing some impossible dream. But who knows - one still has ambitions that are impossible to repress anyway. Either way - it's great to have this kind of choice.

I left the tech world to teach high school. Two years in I felt the same as you do now. Five years in, not so much - and I returned to programming.

I still like teaching and still do it part time, but would not want to be a full time public school teacher again.

I'm not sure if I would feel quite the same about high school - one time I showed up to work and there was a green construction paper heart in my mailbox that had YOU CAN HANDLE THIS SITUATION sloppily printed on it.

No - you're right, this is all still fresh to me - second year has been even better than the first. Let me know if you ever write up your feelings, I would love to hear about your full experience.

You know, sometimes I could use one of those hearts at my job.

Can you elaborate on why you "would not want to be a full time public school teacher again."? Thanks!

Here is a prior comment with an explanation: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8862793

I am fortunate to work at a public school that gives me autonomy, so the only issue I share is the salary issue. Which I genuinely could care less about - thanks in large part to the autonomy.

Just read that and concur that it rings true for many of the negative aspects of teaching I've experienced as well. Plus I work in a private school environment where there is the complication of parents being to a certain degree customers whose satisfaction matters to the financial success of the school. And then there are the big donors who see themselves as some kind of local nobility.

I did something a little similar. After one too many Microsoft reorgs (5 managers in one year, including a VP fired for sexual harassment) I left to do other things including teaching tech to middle school students, mostly Scratch, Lego Mindstorms, and MinecraftEdu. It is very rewarding but also often frustrating.

The one overall guiding principle I have now is that if I am going to spend time on something using my tech skills, it is going to be something that leaves a positive legacy and isn't just in the pursuit of shareholder value or making a buck as its primary goal.

I will never forget the day a student gave me a handmade note saying simply "thank you for teaching me", and the many students who similarly thank me at the end of a class, or who simply show their passion by signing up for every single thing I do at the school over their 3 years in the middle school grades (roughly age 11 to 14). On the flip side there are parents who just sign their kid up for my after school elective programs so they can put it on the high school application (or, even worse, because we priced the activity fee too close to the after school extended daycare fee and they just see it as a little nicer program to park their kid in rather than paying the nanny), and the kid clearly doesn't want to be there or engage in the program.

I have a very high degree of autonomy over how and what I teach. I could tear up all of my curriculum every year if I wanted to, and I do make significant changes every year. I also get zero feedback or suggestions other than "you're doing great!" -- I would say I most miss working with other high performing technology professionals and the virtuous feedback loop that pushed me to achieve more.

The classroom can be a tough work environment, especially when you get just one or two students who really don't want to be there and are more interested in pursuing destructive rather than constructive activities. Both my parents were teachers so I already had a high regard for the profession, but working side by side with professional accredited teachers for a few years now I have even more respect for what they do. I feel pretty competent at the process of effectively teaching the subject, grading, making it fun, and providing feedback and encouragement, but I've become more and more aware there is a whole slew of skills I lack around classroom behavior management and cracking the tough nuts, the students who will just glide through with no engagement unless you really focus on their individual needs and situation.

I became a full time father and results have been stellar. My boy is now one year old and turns out to be very clever... And very strong. He could crawl at seven months and started to learn how to walk at 11 months. His first word was 'hunger' (in Dutch, it sounds virtually the same) at two months, maybe it was imaginative but he was happy to eat after we we heard him say it, haha. Now he can also say 'mama' and 'papa', but it appears that he is deferring the rest of his vocal development until later because he can manage fine by using the Dutch equivalent words for 'that' ('die', sounds like 'thee') and 'food' ('eten', sounds like 'aitan').

His mother is happy that she can focus on her career while leaving him in my care at home, although it's harder than she imagined because she does miss us dearly while away from home and is counting the hours at work... probably because we're two very cool froods (wink). After the infamous initial "post-natal bumpy ride" our relationship is back where it used to be - at 100%.

I'm the happiest man ever and wouldn't want it any other way.

I've been developing in C, in the finance industry as a high frequency trader as well as being a father. My son is home schooled and is typing elementary level sentences at 3 years old, he can also strum the guitar playing notes C D E F G A B on request.

The down side is I work 10-12 hour days, but I get a performance bonus between 400k and 800k every year. I'm hoping I can retire in my late 30's, but I do miss out on a lot of time with my son and I always ask myself is it really worth it... Who know's though, I'm going to ride out the HFT route as long as it exists.

Personal opinion... You can always work a few more hours/weeks/months/years when your kid is an adult and living their own life but you won't ever be able to get those childhood years back. Also 50-60 hour work weeks are not healthy for you in the long term unless you are very vigilant with how active you are and take regular (every hour) breaks.

Also anecdotally I know several people who planned/hoped to retire in their late 30s/early 40s. None of them did and are still working now in their 50s and even one in their 60s. Mixture of reasons from health problems in the family to financial issues to just not knowing wtf to do when not working now their kids are adults and living their own lives.

Just to help with feedback, I'm one of those who retired before 30s. Not rich but enough savings to live on a (humble) tropical island until old age.

I wasn't able to stop. Applied my savings in day trading, everything went well until 2009 happened and most of it washed away. Applied what remained on the tuition of a top university to up my academic credentials and then went on try other tech industries (e.g. aerospace). Today have a small startup (Europe). Life is hard (empty bank account at the end of the month) but the plus side is that your brain keeps active.

If you really like writing technology, in my opinion it gets difficult to stop doing what you naturally enjoy doing.

It is also easy to lose sight of the fact that once your kids are in their teens, they really start living their own lives much more so than in the past. You don't see that you are going to say goodbye to your days as the family's benevolent dictator, waking up in the morning and declaring "today we go to the museum" (or on a hike, or to the workshop to build something together, or ...) so make the most of those formative years while you are still the sun their world revolves around!

How have you not retired yet with a 400-800K bonus is the better question?

It takes about $6M to retire at that standard of living at such an early age.

Because, the IRS.

I retired in my early 40s. It was surprisingly boring.

I'm not on the same wavelength as retired people who complain about boredom. If I retired today, I literally have a >5000-line list of ideas, topics and activities I want to pursue, most of them inexpensive or even free to pursue financially for developers, but time-consuming.

You could develop software to largely automate the municipal bureaucracy of a village in your nation. It takes a surprising amount of paperwork, and manual labor, to perform even the minimal amount of compliance work to maintain a village.

You could work with leaders in each tax levying jurisdiction to agree to publish tax data in a standard online format.

You could develop a backyard automated chicken coop, Creative Commons the plans and see what improvements everyone else comes up with.

You could develop a vanadium redox battery-powered lawn light, and save landfills from the garbage disposable lights the big box stores inflict upon us today.

There is simply an endless sea of opportunities to imbue life around you with increased cognitive density.

My head fills with an idea or two every day (usually about improving something I run across in daily life), that acts like an earworm, which I have to write down to "purge out of my mind". It got much "worse" with the advent of search engines; when I was "stuck" with school/university libraries, I would often run into dead ends researching ideas, and could quell the earworms with the thought that I gave an honest effort to run down a thread of an idea. I thought everyone thought like this, but was just better at focusing upon the task at hand and banishing these idle thoughts. I much prefer the situation today with search engines: I'm much faster at running down enough of an idea and putting it into writing to purge it out than before.

I too have a to-do list that I will never drain. The 24 hours in a day are an immutable tyrant governing all of our choices. Ask anyone who has taken a sabbatical for a month or two...most people spend the year leading up to sabbatical dreaming of all the hobbies, back-burnered side projects, house repairs, travel, etc. they will tackle during their sabbatical. Then reality hits and you only get 1/4 of them done before having to go back to the grind.

I find you very fascinating. Is there some way I can contact you?

Put string "thereal" in front of my username, then direct towards Google Mail.

Emailed you.

I think there's a reason lots of famous billionaires keep working. I've been hearing from my parents how boring retirement is, and from my own experiences of extended vacations I've come to the conclusion we evolved to work.

"Man's Search for Meaning" by Frankl graphically illustrates the importance of having a sense of purpose, which I think a lot of people lack when they retire to live the dream of doing nothing.

I think the key is to be able to choose not to have to work for some asshole boss, or do work you don't generally enjoy.

I've become very disillusioned by the dream of insane wealth and the ability to retire early. Instead, I want to work on something I feel will make a difference and that interests me for the foreseeable future.

Which B is he playing? B7? Cause if he's barring his chords already... man you did a great job.

Is this an outlier comp package? When acting as an employee, I make far less, am only there for the money, and still work 10-12 hour days.

Do you mind if I contact you offline so I can pick your brain about HFT and how you got into that? hn@lj3.me

Not this again. Someone will always make a post about earning a ridiculous salary that will ruin my entire week. I just don't believe people can add 800k of value to an organisation.

When I find myself thinking along similar lines, I go back and read a quote from The Conquest of Happiness[0]. Perhaps it may resonate with you.

"The habit of thinking in terms of comparisons is a fatal one. When anything pleasant occurs it should be enjoyed to the fun, without stopping to think that it is not so pleasant as something else that may possibly be happening to someone else.

With the wise man, what he has does not cease to be enjoyable because someone else has something else. Envy, in fact, is one form of a vice, partly moral, partly intellectual, which consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations. I am earning, let us say, a salary sufficient for my needs. I should be content, but I hear that someone else whom I believe to be in no way my superior is earning a salary twice as great as mine. Instantly, if I am of an envious disposition, the satisfactions to be derived from what I have grows dim, and I begin to be eaten up with a sense of injustice.

For all this the proper cure is mental discipline, the habit of not thinking profitless thoughts. After all, what is more enviable than happiness? And if I can cure myself of envy I can acquire happiness and become enviable. The man who has double my salary is doubtless tortured by the thought that someone else in turn has twice as much as he has, and so it goes on. If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon. But Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed. You cannot, therefore, get away from envy by means of success alone, for there will always be in history or legend some person even more successful than you are. You can get away from envy by enjoying the pleasures that come your way, by doing the work that you have to do, and by avoiding comparisons with those whom you imagine, perhaps quite falsely, to be more fortunate than yourself."

[0] http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51783.The_Conquest_of_Hap...

Thats all well and good, but I hate to earn peanuts. I doubt someone has 10x better skill than me, so why do they earn 10x as much?

Because they asked for it?

I agree with most of that, however...

My aim is not to work for someone else, so I can decide to spend my limited time doing what makes me happy. When I'm getting paid peanuts there is no prospect of being able to have that choice.

I find it very difficult to just try to be happy with whatever "the man" has decided he wants me to do today.

In my experience it's a bit of a catch-22. I find by working for people I respect, I learn more about how I can get to the point of having the freedom to do whatever I want. But until that day comes, I have to keep my head up and my attitude positive. If I don't, I find I learn less and I become less productive, and thus less valuable to "the man", thereby pushing my goals further away.

But you're absolutely right; it's not enough to "just try to be happy." I may be reading too far between the lines - apologies if I am, but it could be that you need to start looking for new opportunities. That said, even if you are mostly happy where you are, the best way to get a substantial raise is to have another job offer in-hand. It's the clearest signal there is to your employer what the job market thinks your value is (as opposed to what you think it is). This is where networking comes in.

Ultimately, it comes down to the question, "What can you control?" You can control how much value you provide (how hard you work, what you work on, how much initiative you take, ...). You can control your living expenses (cheaper rent, home cooking, no partying, no tv/video games, ...). You can control how you spend your free time / what you learn about in your free time (How much do you know about investing? Tax law? Corporate/economic/governmental trends?) Anything you can't control, is not worth fretting over.

At the end of the day, beating the system is hard fucking work. Sometimes it seems like the universe conspires against you, and others, if you have the mental clarity to see it, it hands you golden opportunities. I'm not "there" yet, but in my experience, confidence and positivity are the first steps. (I quote "there" because as Emerson and others have said, "Life is a journey, not a destination." And that applies equally to happiness.)

Anyways, hopefully there's something in there that's helpful :)

Nice post. Thanks for that.

> You can control how you spend your free time / what you learn about in your free time (How much do you know about investing? Tax law? Corporate/economic/governmental trends?)

Good advice, there is always stuff to learn. It feels like my problem is that work drains so much out of me that I am too tired/unmotivated to do anything else when I get home. I know it's a discipline issue but that doesn't make it easier. It's hard to come from a day spent working "for the man", straight into more work for yourself at night.

Good luck, I hope we both end up beating the system.

Have you honestly figured out what make you happy? For most people it turns out that answering that question is a lot more difficult than it sounds -- at least long term. A cookie would certainly make me happy right now, but then what happens once the cookie is gone?

Without really knowing what you want in the long term to make you happy, it's gonna be a struggle to figure out how to get to that point in your life. :)

> Have you honestly figured out what make you happy?

I'm not 100% sure, because I haven't lived it, but I'm pretty sure I don't need that much. I like quiet and space, the city's not for me. I need a very quiet property quite far from the hustle and bustle (and goddamn leafblowers!). Also a couple of thousand per year for gadgets/technology. I'm a people person but I hate the fakeness and superficial contact with people that seems to come with jobs in the city ("how are you today?" grrrr), so I feel like a sour puss most of the time, which is actually not my personality so it feels dissonant.

At the end of the day I've just kept the machine running for another day. I work in an important industry, so my job is indirectly important, but I can't ever point to a physical thing that I've created or a particular person that I've helped, and most people don't even understand what I have achieved. I think that makes me feel a bit empty. It's just other people's problems all day with a lot of irritating bureaucracy and "professionalism" but a bag of money attached.

Maybe I'm just lazy but I don't want to work as some people seem to. I have many hobbies that could easily occupy all my time, so I don't feel I need work to be happy. I have heard about studies that say that people are happier working but I really don't think that I am (or maybe I just haven't found the work that makes me happy yet).

Unfortunately I haven't worked out how to make an income away from the city yet, but I have thought about quitting and getting any menial job I can find in the country because the rents are cheap in rural areas. Just can't bring myself to pull the trigger, my current job has a lot of pluses and good pay, and I'm not sure if I could come back to the IT industry if I did ever want to after leaving and getting behind.

But who knows? Maybe after a couple of years with a quiet rural lifestyle I'd miss the city. I don't think so though...

I always feel like people telling me to be happy with my piece of the pie and to not compare it to others is a ploy by those with a bigger piece to keep me docile and content. Do our feelings of envy not serve a purpose? Would Napoleon have become Napoleon had he not envied Ceasar?

"Comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt.

Really? That's a bit short sighted. I have worked with numerous teams that have produced far more value to the organization than that, and I wasn't in high frequency trading. For example, at HP my team of 10 individuals (1 sales, 1 marketing, 1 PM, 7 engineers) produced a well known SaaS product which produced about $800MM in gross revenue at about a 60% margin for HP. That's a whole lot of value per employee.

Did you get appropriately reimbursed?

The quick answer is no. The funnier answer is we received an award for this particular piece of software (which is still in use and sold for phenomenal profits to this day). We were invited to go to an HP board meeting and receive the award directly from Meg. Unfortunately our entire office was shut down and we were all laid off before the reward date so that our division could save on overhead. Our division manager (who I met on the day we were laid off) accepted the award graciously.

If there's any better example of why the business world sucks than this story, I'm yet to hear it.

I hope you found something else to do that you enjoy/get paid appropriately for.

Funny, perhaps HFT is an industry you should consider if you wish to be generously rewarded.

I bet if they were paying $800k they were making at least $8M.

May I ask, would you consider your pre-fatherhood period as ambitious? If so how do you deal with deferring that ambition to be a full-time father? I sometimes feel like this might be the path I take, but I worry about regretting it later down the line.

You know, actually I was very ambitious. But during one of the conversations I had with my girlfriend shortly after we became a couple, I started to realise that my ambitions were motivated by all of the wrong reasons.

See, even though I love doing the things I'm skilled at (Linux/BSD system and network engineering) I felt ambitious due to the extreme pressure I felt society had on me; like "if you don't have a job, stable income, lots of friends, and great social profiles, your life does not count and you are a useless eater." Almost everything I did was to not let this be so.

When my gf who was then still at med school said that she had no problems with the idea of her being the one to provide for us while I'd take care of our personal lives (and kid(s) later on), and that she loved me for who I was and not for what I'd do, it was like this huge weight was lift from my shoulders and stomach. With tears from being relieved I asked if she really meant it because I almost couldn't believe it. And indeed she did. She wasn't against the thought of me having a career. it just wasn't important for our relationship. All she wanted/wants is for me to be happy.

When all of this sunk in, it was like my whole future outlook recalibrated. For the first time I felt safe, and like my MO turned from 'surviving' into 'living'. When she became pregnant I immediately knew that I'd made the right choice.

It's nice to think about all of this. Thank you for asking.

This was enlightening. I've met many women who couldn't articulate it, but have described the same feelings after meeting a husband who supported them becoming stay at home moms.

Ambition isn't only related to a career. You can focus the same ambition on fatherhood and strive to continually progress as a parent.

This is very true, and a beautiful point to make. Thank you.

I took two breaks from tech. One was for grad school, which I dropped out of after 3 semesters. Like some others in the thread I found academia to be pretty bad. You're paid shit and treated like a peon. The work was actually interesting, but I knew I could just go back to private industry and make 5-10x as much doing the same type of work.

I took a break from "everything" at one point and became a nightlife photographer in a large urban area. It didn't pay much. It mostly involved drinking and doing drugs, on someone else's dime, until the early morning. It was a great time for the most part, and I met lots of interesting people. After about 6 months I got tired of it and went back to tech. Note: having a professional camera in a club is a great way to meet women.

I'm considering leaving tech again, or at least ending my engineering career. I no longer find it personally enjoyable to build systems. Building systems that other people want, instead of ones I'd want to build, has jaded me. I've worked at several companies, large and small, over the years. And I've found that as a tech shop matures, that exciting feeling of creating a product dulls. It dulls to the point of becoming anesthetic. The longer you stay, the worse it becomes. I wouldn't mind staying in the tech field. I just don't want to spend all day in front of a monitor anymore.

> The work was actually interesting, but I knew I could just go back to private industry and make 5-10x as much doing the same type of work.

Don't you have much more freedom in academia on what you want to pursue though since it doesn't have to make money or am I mistaken? I'm considering going into academia because I'd like to do research more on the theory side for which there don't seem to be (m)any industry positions.

Short answer: no.

Long answer: Yes, if you can find a PI/project that's solving the exact problem you want to solve.

The work doesn't have to make money, but it has to make papers. And if your publications aren't landing in high profile journals, your funding (and career) will dry up.

You'll have freedom to do the things that are fashionable in your field which you are qualified to research and are popular in your department. That's very different from "what you want to pursue" in many cases.

If those things match up with your desires, it will be great, otherwise you're going to be seriously miserable and feel penned in by the work that you're "allowed" (for on-campus political reasons) to do. In a lot of ways industry actually affords more opportunities, depending on the field.

I didn't find that to be true. As a grad student and also as a postdoc, you work on whatever your PI can get grants for, which means you work on whatever the big grant-funding agencies think is fashionable.

Also in academia there's less ability to pivot when a project isn't working out -- if the results will be "novel" (i.e. you can get a paper out of it), you're pretty much stuck continuing in a line of work until you publish it, even if you've already concluded it won't be useful in the real world.

In industry, as soon as I determine that a piece of work won't be useful, I can drop it and work on something more useful. Personally, I much prefer the criteria of "usefulness" as a reason to continue a project, rather than "novelty". Other people may differ on that preference.

Autonomy in academia depends entirely on the field, the funding situation, and the advisor. If you choose wisely, you can build a highly autonomous career. But it is hard for the inexperienced to figure out how to make the right choices.

have you ever tried technology sales? i can turn on the social charm like a light switch but it requires significant effort so i wasn't able to do it long term but it might be a good transition for you.

I was considering that. I don't have any sales background, but I can communicate what's good and bad about software/systems fairly easily. In my career I've also had to "sell" complex ideas to management, and I've had pretty good success in getting permission to execute those ideas. Interacting with people can tire me out though. Nevertheless, I can power through anything with the proper motivation.

I'm currently trying out management, but the management atmosphere at my company is pretty bleak. None of the managers seem genuinely interested in launching products. They just kind of kick cans down the road for a few years hoping to fail upward. Over the past two years I've seen effective managers leave the company while the mediocre ones stick around. I probably just need to explore companies whose work ethic suits me better. However, it's hard to know beforehand if the company/team you join is going to fit you.

The other option is starting/founding a company. To explore that I've been going to monthly alumni events to network. There's so much money being thrown around in the Bay Area, I might as well try to tug on the brass ring. And it's not entirely the money that's the attraction, but the opportunity to call the shots.

> They just kind of kick cans down the road for a few years hoping to fail upward

Never heard this one before. Really made me laugh. Thank you

How do you make the transition? I can turn on the charm and getting tired of corporate IT.

I know a couple people who've done it but they always knew a former co worker who got them jobs.

I was thinking sales or sales engineer.

interview for open positions. ask your friends if their companies are hiring. be honest, tell them you want to transition.

but ... i mean, if you can't sell yourself into a job, you're not going to be doing much sales.

As someone with basically zero talent for salesmanship, from my outside perspective I'd describe the sales process (and thus the process of getting a sales job) as anticipating, identifying, or manufacturing a need in someone, and positioning yourself to fill that need. So I imagine the parent commenter could use that to decide if/how to transition to sales.

that's marketing + sales but yeah, a small organization 'sales person', or an above-median good one that works in a large organization will have to understand (or even do) both.

How did you became a nightlife photographer ?

I did photograph for one night and it was pretty hard to prevent people from spilling theirs drinks on my camera :S how did you handle that ?

Cocaine makes you very vigilant.

I became a photographer because I had some friends who were socialites and had VIP access to clubs. Their various club owner friends liked my photography, so I just started showing up with my camera all the time and I'd get in free and drink all night.

I quit my Software Engineering job and am now spending two years driving my Jeep around Africa.

I'm working while on the road, writing for magazines, selling photos and filming a YouTube series.

I am having the time of my life, and am extremely happy I made the decision I did. IMHO, sitting at a desk is just not worth it. Life is too short. I'm meeting a ton of people who agree, and are living the kind of life people spend their lives dreaming about.

If you're interested in my trip:

Facebook: https://facebook.com/theroadchoseme

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theroadchoseme

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dangrec

YouTube http://youtube.com/c/theroadchoseme

And my website: http://theroadchoseme.com

Visit the Land of a thousand hills(Rwanda) while on the trip.

All the way up to Lake Kivu! As safe as Rwanda is, you need to be wary of the neighboring countries: DRC and Burundi.

Yeah, I'm wary of DRC, but I have to cross it on my way South on the West coast. I'll go fast.

My research says Burundi is pretty stable.. I was planning to go there. Do you recommend otherwise?

You're planning to cross the DRC, and you're going to do it "fast"? Please tell me that was a joke, because this is what awaits you:


Update: Ah, I take you're going to cross north to south, meaning you only have a (comparatively) tiny slice to go through. Then you'll likely survive, good luck getting the Angolan visa though...

Angola transit visa has not been a problem for any overlander in the last 6 months.

30 day Tourist visa seems to be issued to about 50% of people that ask.

From what I remember, the southeast corner, bordering Uganda and Rwanda, is/was the most unstable. Burundi had issues because of the election. Not sure where it stands now. I did not go to Burundi since the travel visa was expensive. I was traveling on public buses, so even a three day visa might not be enough.

Thanks for the info. It seems virtually every country on the continent has issues around elections, and should be avoided. DRC, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali, etc. all have recently been not-good places to be due to elections

Enjoy your time. I dream about going back to Africa. If I had to do it again, I would do it exactly like you are doing, using self-transport. Besides setting your own schedule, you get to pack your own food. Much of Africa simply does not have stores. However, I would travel with others.

I love getting advice like this. Now added to my list! thanks.

Cool stuff man, love the youtube videos.

Nice Jeep, what was the total cost to have it configured like that?

How do you sell your photos, if you don't mind?

I pitch to magazines and other publications.

Please next time take me with you

I have toyed with the idea of running some kind of "competition" where someone can win a couple of weeks on the trip with me. Fly into some airport, I will pick them up, tour them around a country or two and drop them off again.

I have no idea if people would actually be into that, or stay away because I'm nuts.

Serious question - would you go for that if I offered it?

I'm about to start a deep-dive into Africa in Namibia in March. I'd totally be interested to learn the ropes from someone more experienced as a way to get my feet wet before heading off solo. For some reason despite having been to 90+ countries, the African continent is still daunting. So a hands-on practical intro would be more than welcomed if it wasn't outrageously expensive.

These guys (https://www.patreon.com/LaVagabonde) were/are running a competition to invite a handful of paetrons on board for a week or two. Seems like people go for it (https://youtu.be/zKwjPr9vINM?t=13m42s). GL!

that could actually be something people could pay you for as well. airbnb on the road with scenic views.

let me know if you ever try that.

I think they call that a "tour company".

Ripe for disruption. It'd probably look just like a tour company but with less insurance and amateurs at the wheel.

You could look into providing airbnb experiences, though I assume they are generally repeatable and not once off.


I quit and will be starting my first of a two year pre-law program in two weeks. I'm quitting for a reason I haven't seen represented in the thread: "It's not even what I wanted to do as a career when I finished college" I only ended up in IT when my first job at a law firm as a file clerk nearly ended due to workforce reductions at a mid-sized law firm-an attorney I had helped in a big way solve a rather mundane word processor problem vouched that the company should keep me on and assign me to the help desk.

I found that I was very good at the work, thirteen years later I woke up one day really wanting to actually use my humanities degree (PoliSci and Public Policy) and that my joy of doing computers for other people was gone, and I didn't have the patience to keep up with where tech was going to stay competitive.

That, and the current state of affairs for people in my social group (African-Americans) compelled me to go back and do what I wanted to in college: fight for better laws and fair access to public resources.

nb4 "The legal profession isn't what it used to be, you [probably] wont become some rich attorney" to which I say "Good. Because that's not what I want to be. I don't want to be rich, I want to be good at what I do and give my kids something to be proud of come career day that isn't "he fixes computers at the local call center".

tl;dr - I have a humanities degree and I got tired of not using it for almost fifteen years.

I'm disappointed you are leaving tech. I wish there were more opportunities in tech that fulfilled your desire to fight for better laws and access to public resources. I suppose I'm happy you aren't leaving because of discrimination (making the assumption your social group represents your heritage...)

Thanks. On the one hand, there are opportunities just like that; they don't appeal to me however-or perhaps more clearly, many of them exist in a different context of practicing law than the one I'm interested in (public defense and mitigation). As I said, I only ended up in tech when early in my career I almost lost a job with a great law firm after I finished my Politics degree.

I got complacent on the help desk because the position paid more than being a file clerk and just never really got back to the legal world. To be honest, I'm going-pure and simple because this is the track I wanted to be from the beginning. As time went on, my legal skills stagnated to the point where I couldn't even get call backs because it had been more than a few years since working in a legal services capacity and the only experience I had was a resume full of help desk work. At 23, I was chasing money and girls and not really thinking about building a career.

Ah. Youth. :)

Here I am now a lead DevOps engineer who is legitimately and thoroughly burned out on tech-although I love the company I'm with right now. They give me time to deal with school stuff, and I've been talking with our CEO who is more than interested in my career plans about changing roles to work under our legal council in a few months-who could really use a 2nd-hand.

I suppose I'm happy you aren't leaving because of discrimination (making the assumption your social group represents your heritage...)

Honestly, not terribly much or at least none of it overt; I did a reasonable job of learning to pick battles when 'those' sort of moments happened-but there honestly weren't enough of them for me to remark on as something that stands out in my career. There were definitely your obtuse, bloviating managers who thought they were God's gift to the workforce, but that's not unique to working in tech, and I've seen that type of attitude transcend race and ethnicity so... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Edit: I will mention this: I was VERY often the only black person at many of the companies I worked for, but Austin also has a crisis of African-Americans fleeing the city at astonishing rates.

Me too. I'm looking for ways I can apply my technology skills to further social progress.

Does your city have an open data initiative? That's a good start; Austin is working on turning a lot of paper forms into webforms to make it easier to request various city resources.

Curious why you're doing a pre-law program. You can just take the LSAT and go to law school...

Mostly for personal fulfillment reasons, to be honest.

I think for a lot of new people in the legal profession, the concern is not so much that one won't get rich, but more that one will have trouble finding well-paid work at all- not that you personally will encounter that issue, necessarily. But I take your point of course.

That's a solid point. I brought up that particular topic because it's something a lot of people have told me (curiously, none of them worked in law or even anywhere near it so I smiled politely and listened to their points).

That said, it's not like that very thought isn't something that's on my mind, because it is-every day. It's a leading reason for why I have my eyeball on the University of North Texas' Law School and their current struggles receiving an ABA accreditation-without this, even should I graduate with a JD, I wouldn't be able to sit for the bar. UNT has a very affordable program that so far has been receiving positive remarks from the legal community and her students.

Plus as an Austin resident with extended family in Houston, well it's more than an ideal location.

Nonetheless, the concern you highlighted is definitely a valid one and it is one that's definitely influencing decisions through this career pivot.

It's a shame we won't hear from the people who left and never came back to IT. They're likely no longer here to answer your question! Nevertheless, it's interesting hearing people's stories.

At 25 (4 years as an engineer, games, DTP) I felt pretty burned out so I took a year out to travel the world. I saw incredible places, had new experiences, met people from a wide variety of backgrounds who I'd never have encountered in a provincial 9-5 office job. It was amazing. When I returned I moved to a new city and got back into tech, my passion for which had been reignited during my time out. I hadn't missed it, but I was keen to get into a new job in a new tech area and learn new things.

Burn out it a common problem in tech. If it were possible/affordable, taking a six month sabbatical to do something entirely different – travel, charity work, teaching, writing, whatever! –might be the best thing anyone could do to keep their passion and enthusiasm for tech burning. Maybe it's something you do every 4/5 years.

If you're good at your job, valued by your employer and have saved a bit of money, it might even be easier than you think...

I'm a senior in uni right now, and also a member of a business frat so I know a ton of people in finance/consulting, the classic poster child professions for early burnout.

We had a guy come give a talk two years ago about his work, and it ended up being sort of a life/success story and it was absolutely fascinating: he had done a variant of exactly what you describe, on for a few years, off for one or two to reset and explore passions, rinse and repeat.

The applause he got from our graduating seniors was very telling.

Well, personally, I tried to escape by going and getting a Master's and a PhD. Unfortunately for me, I didn't bother to really LOOK at academia as a career path, so when I finished and started looking into it ... well, it's pretty crap, being an academic, no matter which country you're considering. Also, academia only considers the work you've done post-PhD as being of any worth, so I'd be competing with kids who'd gone straight through, rather than those who'd spent 20 years in industry first.

I've considered a wide variety of things, but always come back to this: if I keep on saving at my current rate, I can not have to make any profit whatsoever, whereas if I start out now with something (a bakery, say), then I'll need to keep on making a profit, so that I can retire some day. I've got another 10-15 years in software and then I'm done and can do whatever. Check out http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-sim... to figure out where you land on that scale.

Mr Moneymustache's first assumption is not supported by historical data.

"1. You can earn 5% investment returns after inflation during your saving years."

In Investing, It’s When You Start And When You Finish http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/01/02/business/20110...

That chart, I believe, does not take into account dividend reinvestment. I picked their worst datapoint on a twenty year horizon, '61-'81. I plugged January '61-January '81 into this calculator [1]. With CPI adjustment turned on, the annualized return with dividend reinvestment was 2.3%. That's the worst twenty year period in history.

Another difficulty with this analysis is that retirees do not withdraw lump sums twenty years after they retire. They withdraw smaller amounts each year. I have created a spreadsheet to simulate a retirement starting in 1961 [2]. You were probably feeling a bit nervous in '81, with your nest egg down to two thirds of its original size. But even in this terrible, terrible scenario, by following the 4% rule, you arrive at the same amount of real wealth you started with after thirty years. If you were lucky enough to live for forty years of retirement, you're two and a half times as wealthy as when you began.

Please let me know if you see any errors in my calculations. I've made notes on how I arrived at each number in the comments on the columns starting in year 1961.

The actual worst year for early retirement was '65, when a pure 4% rule portfolio would have failed after twenty five years. But, if you build some engineering tolerances into your spending plans, then even that was survivable [3]. Engineering tolerances in this case are meant to refer to leaving yourself room so that you can spend less if you must.

[1]: https://dqydj.com/sp-500-return-calculator/

[2]: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VXYx12gBECG537mswqRM...

[3]: http://www.gocurrycracker.com/the-worst-retirement-ever/

I've been following the Money Moustache type approach for a while now myself. I highly recommend it, but the closer I get to the goal the more I realise I need something else constructive to do if/when I jack it all in.

I've known a few people who've successfully retired using this approach. For me I don't see the point, who wants to spend their lives just saving every penny, they seem to get great satisfaction out of it though. Personally I've found a better way is to find work you enjoy and people will pay you for, find somewhere you like to live and enjoy the rest of your life without counting pennies on bars of soap.

I'm doing all of the above: living in a place so like, working at a job that is interesting and pays well. My new job has tripled my salary, and so rather than inflating my lifestyle, I've just been saving & investing the new money. I'm happy spending the same old amount based on my old salary, and just taking a couple more vacations a year.

good on you, living the dream :-)

I would think long and hard about leaving an industry you're established into, before doing it. I left in 2008 because, after two mergers, I had run out of steam and felt I wasn't wanted. I lost money because the crash caused the options I had to be worth less than I had hoped, but I attempted to make a living making wood-fired pots. I'd been making pots for ages, but they weren't good enough, and I didn't know how to build a business. I've been fortunate to have had a friend who employed me twice, but I now find myself living on dwindling savings but nine years out of date.

I would suggest that if you are running out of passion, then find an unrelated but expensive hobby, or find something related to IT that you can get passionate about.

And if you're certain you want to leave, start planning now.

> find an unrelated but expensive hobby

Why expensive?

so you need to turn up to the job you hate!

I thought so. What if I don't hate my job yet? Should I just give it more time? :)

The first time I quit, I was 23. Took everything I had and went to travel across the world. When I ran out of money, I cam back and did some odd jobs, ran a small ebay business, and played poker, while trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Eventually, that stopped being realistic, so I moved to a bigger city and got a job.

After about two years of that, got fed up, and quit again, and went to grad school to get a PhD. After two years of that, I realized I was working 2-3 times as much for about a tenth of the pay I could be getting. I finished my masters, bailed from the PhD, and got a job back in tech.

My plan now is to use this time to make as much and learn as much as possible, and eventually pivot into something else at some point in the future, while always having the ability to fall back into tech if need be.

How was traveling until you ran out of money? Do you regret it? Also, what do you mean by 'pivot into something else?' Do you intend to take your Grad school knowledge and start a business?

No regrets at all. I only had about 2k + another 3k off credit that I spent. It seemed like a lot then, and it can go a long way when you're 23 and cheap.

By pivot, I mean my end goal is to open a beach bar in the Caribbean.

I'd try working in one before actually trying buying one :)

Wow, any particular places already in mind?

I read it surprisingly often that someone wanna open a beach bar somewhere.

Also my coworker wanna do that too! :D

After about 20 years of computer stuff, I've found a new interest - sailing. I spent most of the money gained from computer stuff on a boat, learnt how to repair it and sail it (repairing being the far more extensive subject), and am about to set off for a long trip. While doing this I've been using my newly gained skills and combined with my existing skills (computers, networks, electronics) did some work in the marine sector (mostly for the odd dinner, some of it paid) - turns out boats are full of special purpose computers and most of the "specialists" fixing them are uhm, not the best. My skills found quick appreciation. Might continue down that road once I run out of money.

I guess my advice is to do a bunch of things and see what you enjoy, new opportunities will happen as you do. Having an IT background is helpful almost anywhere, and more valued outside of core IT areas.

Having an IT background is helpful almost anywhere, and more valued outside of core IT areas

I tested this theory by getting an IT job at a food company. I was treated way better as an employee but the tech was too old (almost treated as the factory machinery). It was painful to leave that job but I felt I wouldn't be able to get a job anywhere else, that my skills would stagnate. I guess this constant anxiety is another argument for quitting IT.

Maybe working in non-pure IT setting AND being in charge of tech might be the answer. A small consulting company for non-IT companies comes to mind (if clients trust you, new exciting tech wouldn't be so difficult to introduce).

Check out Hold Fast by Moxie Marlinspike, "…a video zine three friends and I made about finding a derelict sailboat, fixing it up, and sailing from Florida to Haiti." https://vimeo.com/15351476

You ever watch svseeker on youtube? He's a DBA building a boat; I've been watching him for years now and he touches on how his job is just a means to an end in his goals.

Nope. I do watch a few sailing vlogs though: DrakeParagon, Untie the Lines, La Vagabonde and Sail Life. Each have a very different approach to the subject, ranging from extensive preparation and fitting redundant systems (Drake), to buying a beat up boat and just casting off on a round the world trip, figuring it out as they go (La Vaga).

Can confirm somewhat. Handle IT for various law firms and get to build sites and come up with solutions with any stack I believe fits best. Of course, I lay out pros and cons with attorneys but usually they defer to my judgement. Lots of pressure but I enjoy the freedom.

Where'd you learn how to sail?

In the English channel, off the coast of Sussex. I learnt programming by doing it and then reading about it. I learnt sailing by reading about it and then doing it. This is because when programming it hurts less when you screw up, when sailing it's best to have a basic understanding of things before you set out so you're not a risk to yourself and others :)

The actual sailing bit isn't really very difficult. If you have a basic understanding of physics, you'll soon grok it. Navigation is a bit more involved, but not for a programmer, especially if you've done any GIS coding and remember your basic geometry. Oh, I also had to do a very simple radio exam.

Now picking the right boat, that is difficult as hell ;-)

I've always wanted to sail, but everyone I know who's actually done it said "you think it's going to cost X, but once you've spent X you keep spending and spending."

That is certainly true for boat ownership (although you can save and learn a lot by doing everything yourself). But you don't have to buy a boat just to sail. Plenty around already!

I quit my career for 4.5 years while I did other things that I wanted to do like teaching, writing, and traveling. It was definitely worthwhile and I'm grateful I was able to do it, but the same things that I disliked about my experience in the IT industry end up showing up in other jobs and things I did. I came back to IT with a different perspective and I got a lot better at making my job what I want it to be.

If you're going to quit, I think it's better to have clear goals and ideas of what you are going to do next and why you want do to those things. The act of quitting will give you immediate satisfaction, but long-term finding that thing that gets you up every single morning is more rewarding.

What did you write?` I am genuinely curious as I never had an urge myself.

I taught English in Korea for a year. I absolutely hated it. I was teaching mostly elementary-school. I never got the hang of creating order in the classroom or keeping kids interested. Every second was just torture.

In retrospect though I'm glad to have done it. Glad I stuck through the contract, though sometimes I wonder if it'd have been better for the kids if I had bailed and let someone more qualified come in my place.

The one nice thing about it is when you're done for the day, you're done. (At least if you're not a very good teacher). With software you're always thinking about it even if you're not actively working on it (or at least I am), it just invades your whole life. So it was great having nights and weekends completely free to do whatever you want.

The one adult class I had was fun. But you've got to get lucky to get a position teaching only adult classes, and the hours can be worse.

All that said, I'm back in software now.

I bailed out of the industry during the dot-com crash -- actually, almost exactly the night before! -- and eventually became a climbing instructor and indoor climbing center manager.

I ended up in debt but to this day it's still the best job I ever had and despite all the work I've had to put into getting my life back on track financially, I'm still glad I did it.

I came back to IT about 10 years ago, but now I have a whole pile of non-IT skills and interests that I can dive into whenever I need a break, so burnout is much less of a problem overall. Working as a climbing instructor and gym manager also helped me learn how to talk to people and have a little bit of fun now and again.

Recently picked up an interest in caving after a successful trip. I can say it might be the way out of my periodic burn out. It's exciting planning new trips and then coming back relaxed and ready to take on the IT challenges. I wish I had discovered this earlier.

Left the industry after 15 years, bought a garden store with existing customers and an online site. The freedom and family time was nice but burned through my savings and sold one of my paid off cars to pay the mortgage. Had a second child and needed to get back into the industry after 3 years. Sold the store, broke even, and went back to the 9-5.

This time the exit is being more thoughtfully executed. While making a good salary, I am slowly buying rental properties. Up to 3 so far. Fingers crossed that the second time is a charm.

Many in the industry say an IT job comes with golden handcuffs. Most other professions don't pay as good. IT workers often times make what management from other departments make.

I quit during the first dot-com bomb. I was a UNIX sysadmin for a large company. I had been interested in geodesy and GPS/GIS for a long time, so I became a land surveyor and GPS/GIS technician. I also did a lot of hydrography and even LiDAR work.

In 2008, when the subprime mortgage crisis hit, everyone thought that the crash would only affect residential real estate, but that turned out to be false—it also took commercial property down, since nobody was buying and selling. The civil engineering firm I worked for laid off all 12 staff surveyors, including me, on the same day. We all ended up down the road at a pub, and the senior surveyors were buying the drinks and we reminisced for a while. But that was effectively the end of two-man survey crews and traditional total station/transit instrument tech. Now it's all robotics and scanning which means one man operations.

I then travelled for a while. I went to Israel and a few other countries in the Middle East, met a new girlfriend there, and got married. Before getting married, I decided to go back into technology and become a web developer and slowly move back into DevOps. Unlike some of the people in this thread, I enjoy working in tech a lot more now than I did when I started. I find that working conditions (remote, &c) and pay have improved a lot, and public understanding of what developers do has increased dramatically.

Bought a restaurant with family in hopes of staving off then-impending tech burnout - nothing fancy, so it's been a fun and mildly profitable side project. Was just about to hop on the med school path but I got pregnant at the worst time. Thinking I'll take a year to parent and maybe do some contracting while thinking about what to do for the future. Tech definitely pays well but I lost much of my interest in the past few years, so it's a bit of a dilemma. I am partially waiting it out and doing other things in hopes that taking a break will make me feel better about going back.

How do you run a restaurant as a side project? I'd heard that this business requires a huge amount of time.

It does, even for a quick serve restaurant. I share the load with my mom. She plays a day-to-day managerial role so she isn't bored while "retired" and more than covers her needs with what she takes home. I do stuff from afar (from ordering food to payroll) plus I go in person 1-2 times/week (maintenance/repairs, one-off shopping trips, playing bad cop).

If my parents didn't want to work there any more then we'd have to hire a manager type full-time and I'd have to go over there half the week at least. It's still profitable enough to live okay in the Bay Area though, so I can't complain!

If it wasn't a QSR I'd definitely have to sink more time into it. Most places need a lot more labor or specialized labor (especially something like sushi or finer dining) and the labor costs end up being so large that restaurants doing 2x my volume make the same profit for the owner while being more stressful... silly. I'd rather run two restaurants of what I already have than to run a bigger, fancier place. Working on paying off the last of the loans and replacing/remodeling this one before I look for a second, though.

Quit development, became a voice actor. A lot like a freelance developer or designer is a hustle, but damn do I love being behind a mic. If you need a voice for your explainer I'm still pretty comfortable with tech lingo terms, although I could not tell you what a tensor is!

Quit voice acting, became a developer. Your voice is good for commercial and promos and that's where all the well paying work is, so good move on your part!

Voice acting is one of the super rare meritocracies left. You can't sleep your way to the top or bullshit your way to the objective. Networking really helps (especially at the upper echelon of agent representation) but on your way there, you can either do it or you can't.

Hey do you have any resources like books or youtube that can help someone work on their voice?

Im not looking to get into voice acting at the moment, but I do love what some actors are capable of doing with their voice. For example James Gandolfini, his voice is completely different as Tony Soprano from his real life voice. Granted, he has voice and dialect coaches, but ANY book or video that can help me even begin to learn how to manipulate, open up, free my voice etc would be helpful, thanks! And, good luck with your new career.

Pick up any reading material.. a magazine, newspaper, anything.. and just read it in a different voice. Create a character in your mind with an accent and just read it as that person. Then start having conversations with other people you don't know, introducing yourself as that character. You'll have to invent life details on the fly, but that's fine as long as its consistent. Do this for about a year.

It's really the acting part that matters in the end. :D

Thanks! Acting and "inhabiting" a character is critical. The person you're pretending to be has to feel as real to you as you are to yourself. Staying in character is very challenging.

You might find "Singing and the Actor" useful. IIRC it covers anatomy and is more than just about singing.

I have a very deep voice, it's usually the first thing people notice about me. Strangers will comment on it in public and ask if I do any voice work. I've toyed with the idea of getting into voice acting but I'm not sure where to start? Do you have any advice on getting started part time?

Sure! Read aloud into your phone. Try and make it sound like you're NOT reading. Listen back, and do it again. If you want to do fiction, you also need to learn how to act. Which is significantly harder.

And a shameless plug for my YT channel accessible at boothjunkie.com which is all about home studio setup for voice work

I would love to do this too. Congratulations, sounds like a lot of fun.

Thanks. I do love it. Sometimes when I'm working it feels like I'm stealing money I'm having so much fun.

I quit in Summer 2015 after working 5 years as a front-end engineer. I did a ton of camping and reading first. Then I worked on some farms in the Pacific Northwest for a few months. After that I moved into my family's second-home in Utah and started a part-time job as a cook at a farm-to-table restaurant.

I started a company with the mission of improving food systems. So I'm working on my second prototype app for this area. It's definitely a struggle to not have a salary and not be around a company of talented people every day, but I'm still enjoying it. I don't love writing software, but I just feel like what I'm working on needs to exist--so that's what I do now.

I didn't, and I should have.

I have been programming for 49 years. I lost my government job in an agency downsizing, worked for a university for 3 years until I could buy into a small pension with health insurance. I bought a house in Mazatlan, Mexico for the winters and am a camp host for the Forest Service during the summers. I'm still hacking.

I didn't have the balls to leave the profession even though I wanted to. Now, I'm comfortable, but I regret not having done something adventurous and feel too old for an adventurous life now.

I feel the same way you feel. Growing up I was absolutely fascinated with computers and knew I wanted to be a computer scientist since the age of 12 or 13. Now that I'm in the industry (and not in academia like I initially thought I wanted) the magic is gone and I want to get out, hopefully within the next 5 years or so. It's not that I dislike programming, in fact I still love it, but now that I'm solving other peoples' problems instead of working on my own pet projects it's just not the same.

As far as what I'd do afterwards? I'm kind of at a loss. I've had ideas that range from opening a bar to buying a plot of land and farming it, but they all seem so crazy and out of reach.

I'm buying a sailboat with my wife and daughter and sailing the world in 18 months (waiting for the last of my options to vest). Think about it! It's ~$60-100k to get the boat, and you can live on ~$24-30k/year doing it. There's a huge community out there of cruisers who do it full time.

I hope your daughter doesn't suffer from boredom after the initial novelty.

From the other families I've talked to who have traveled the world with their children by boat, or countries by caravan/RV/Airstream, boredom doesn't seem to be an issue (compared to a lackluster childhood in Suburbia).

Lots of people out there breathing who aren't living.

Sounds fun. How long have you been sailing? Where did you learn how to sail? Is that what you plan on doing forever or is this a temporary excursion?

> How long have you been sailing? Where did you learn how to sail?

I took classes at a yacht club in March/April, so a little under a year.

> Is that what you plan on doing forever or is this a temporary excursion?

Who knows. Maybe forever? Maybe only for a few years? If you want to hear the gods laugh, tell them your plans.

You feel confident sailing the world after sailing for under a year? That's fantastic, I figured it required a lot more experience.

I met two different couples who literally sold everything, drove to Florida, bought a boat, had an instructor on board for a week, and sailed away with no previous experience. Neither has gone past the Caribbean but they both did fine. One of them now runs a day charter on a catamaran.

I spent several years learning and improving sailing skills before heading off. 2-3 years of weekends and a few vacation weeks would probably do it if you started with that as your focus. It takes a lot of people that long to find a boat and get it set up the way you want anyway.

>> "Neither has gone past the Caribbean"

That doesn't sound like a bad thing to me. What a fun lifestyle if you can pull it off.

This is my plan! What kind/size of boats are you looking at?

Originally, we were looking at a Lagoon catamaran, 38-42 feet. Due to personal circumstances around an elderly parent (can't sell our house, they'll need to live in it while we're out sailing), we're now looking at a Beneteau 381 (and a few others, needs to be blue water capable but would also like to have a lot of guests on during passages).

I'd love a Lagoon, but unless my options are worth >$100K at a liquidity event, its not in the cards.


I will do so!

This pretty much mirrors my feelings. I've only been developing professionally for 3 years now, after more than a decade of hobby projects just for fun and learning. And I can't remember the last time I felt the motivation to work on a pet project on my own time, and I don't get the same enjoyment out of my work. It's pretty important and fulfilling work, but it ultimately just isn't mine, and I miss being self-directed with my hobby. Now I get when people who love cooking say they would never want to become a chef.

As far as getting out, I've put in my hat for an Air Traffic Controller position, and I'm crossing my fingers and waiting on that. I figure if I can make it there, it will pay well enough, use some of my critical thinking and tech skills, but hopefully free up the creative load to allow me to regain my drive for programming as a hobby. Plus, can't beat an early pension.

I was exactly the same!

But I still wanted to keep working in IT.

Now I do consulting.

Maybe that's something you might like?

I'm not sure it it completely applies but here it is anyway. I wasn't working software development but as a evangelist at my last job and as a software engineer before that. 1.5 years ago I decided I wanted to change career paths and get into energy and renewables. I had two options in front of me, either go back to school or jump head on in. I quit my job at MSFT and moved to Rwanda, to join a small off grid solar energy company. I woke up everyday driving out to rural health centers and building things that actually changed peoples lives. I had to pinch myself almost monthly to let alone believe this was a job and I was getting paid to do it. In the end I got back into writing code but learned so much more while doing ii. So from my experience, I would highly recommend it. Just zero in on something you find super interesting.

I'm back in the industry at the moment, but I did quit my job a few years back. I hired an allotment, grew a lot of vegetables, taught myself to bake bread and did a few other projects.

How was it? It was just great and it taught me about living on much smaller amounts of money, which is very helpful now that I have children and I work for a charity.

So maybe that's slightly off topic, and more of a career break than quitting the industry, but I'd still recommend it all the same.

How does one go about renting a small piece of land for hobby farming?

I'm not sure where the parent poster lives, but I've read about this system (called allotments) in kids' fiction; it was apparently common in the UK (and may still be). Some of the characters in the stories used to be growing vegetables in their allotments :) It's something like small plots of land in or near the edges of towns, so easy for the renters (town-dwellers) to reach after/before work or on weekends.

I've done a good amount of gardening myself, and it is great fun (apart from being a good way to get fresh vegetables etc.)

Yes,it's a UK tradition which, if I'm correct relates back to WW2 and growing your own stuff in harsh times. It's still really common in the UK and one can get a good plot of land (within London boundaries, maybe about 100 sq mt) for less than GBP100 per year, often within 1 or 2 miles from your house. It's a fantastic deal.

Depends where you are. Look into community gardens in your area.

I don't think they are on hacker news anymore :)

Definitely, but they could have friends here that can report about what they're doing now. It would be interesting to know.

I started writing some apps and then quit my tech job to do them full time. I took a big risk in quitting my job, I was making $3 a day at that point. I was EXTREMELY burned out with the work though (Java/Oracle dev) so was for my mental sanity. I learned how to make money quickly from the apps, I make 3 sometimes 4 figures a day so support myself. I chose evergreen apps, they are always popular. I delivered my first app 6 years ago, quit job 3 years ago. I have done apps enough, I am looking at getting back into other fields, likely that I will do tech again this year. First goal to achieve this year is a mortgage free home, then will consider how I feel about things. Apps are now passive, I am burned out on devving new ones, I like keeping the UI's on the existing ones up to date if I feel like doing something. I feel I am in a good position but indie apps has been lonely and has warped my social life - working for others has a social advantage. Apps also now 100% passive so want to have the advantage of earning $ while I can - make hay while the sun shines.

Congrats on your successful transition.

May I ask what do you mean by evergreen apps? How did you pick what to work on? I'd love to read more on this subject.

Been trying to at least have 1 app/product that's more or less passive income, but find it hard to get there. Any advice or links?

I haven't quit altogether, but I have left my job every 18 months or so to take a few months off. Spent 3 months in Europe this past time and now just starting up a new job search. When working I save more than enough money to cover the cost of the months without work.

So far it's provided a very relaxing pace of life giving me a nice break from the office grind every time I start to get fed up with it.

I figure sooner or later it will get hard to find jobs with a work history like that, but we'll see how this round goes.

I quit working in tech to become an EMT and now a Paramedic. I was completely burnt out with the M-F 9-5 drag that IT jobs kept me in. I was not at the developer level, more support/sysadmin roles. And all of them over the years just burnt me out.

I make way less than what I used to. However, I'm happier. I enjoy my job so much more. I still do tech stuff as sort of a hobby and I keep my small web hosting company, maintain some sysadmin skills that way.

Would I go back? Yes. Mostly for financial reasons.

I'm also certified as a firefighter, but at the age of 41, the chances of me getting on with a fire department full time are very low. I am frequently disqualified from jobs because of age limits (legal in fire service jobs, unfortunately) and that (like it or not) I am not a protected class that would be exempt. On paper, younger candidates are much more preferable. I work for a private EMS agency (not all 911 services are provided by fire based EMS) instead, but am still at least applying for part time smaller town fire departments.

I feel like my skills with server administration are kind of stagnant. A lot of places aren't self hosting things anymore. The big push to outsource and virtualize services cut into the market I was in substantially. I have been looking at some desktop support jobs, and they are not only more rigid with hours, but pay less than what I make now. And we don't make a ton in EMS, that's for sure....

I don't know yet, but after leaving my last job about 4 months ago, I'm thinking about getting out. My last job was great fun, but led me straight to Nowheresville, as the skills I was using are not in great demand. ~2 years of doing that and my other tech skills are basically obsolete. Nobody is even looking for Angular anymore, and the jobs I see that use a LAMP stack look terribly boring to me. I'm going to take a React class and try to get a roster of clients that will let me work remotely. I've been hesitating to do this, because I really do not enjoy building systems for the web anymore. The only saving grace would be working remotely.

Eh? I've had 3 Angular contracts in a row, the most recent started a couple months ago. Indeed shows over 500 openings in Chicago. I get the burnout, though. JS frameworks are just exhausting. I've been browsing Rust docs for the past hour, wondering if a side project would make the burnout better or worse.

This is why I think the best play is to work about 6 month contracts, take a month off to decompress, take another month learn a new hot technology, then jump back in

I also had been in software for over a decade and was bored with most of the problems I needed to solve. I switched to security about a year and a half ago (largely pen testing) and I'm much happier. When I code, I care about the problems I'm solving. I also get to break things which is a lot of fun. Switching to security might be something to consider for you as well. It's a change, but it doesn't require huge pay cut or lifestyle change.

I've thought about this, as well as forensics. How did you present yourself to your first potential security employers?

I got burnt out doing JS apps development during the past 2 years. I got laid off and knew I did not want a desk job anymore.

I took what skills I had woodworking/web development and started a business. Its called Stump Crafters I build "stumps" to hammer nails in to its a pretty fun game and is not as dumb as it sounds. The game is in much the same vein as Cornhole, washers or other backyard games.

I even made a custom Node.js for a local meet-up group I go to often. https://stumpcrafters.com/pages/custom

I have not fully bailed on IT yet. But I don't think I will be touching any code in another few months.

Now I spend most of my time working in the shop and running the store. It's awesome.

Check it out at:





edit: Spelling

Your stumps reminded me of a challenge of skill called "hunker hauser". Might be a different audience/market for a similar product.

Thats looks like a lot of fun. I'm going to have to make a set and try it out.

It's an idea I have entertained, maybe some day will pursue.

Those I know who have bailed out tended to go in three directions:

- Teaching public school

- Diving instructors

- Owning a bar/restaurant in some touristy location

From observation, the teachers seem most fulfilled, and the divers seem to have the most fun.

We need some meta analysis done on these threads for sure )

To follow on from the little thread from my comment over there [0]...

I was getting far too jaded and cynical about the constant reinvention of the wheel that was never better, just different. Along with the ever increasing crap masquerading as the next must have with added lock-in. We have far too much stuff and need to make less. The dissonance had me feeling part of the problem not the solution.

I'm less wealthy, but the dot com bust taught me to be frugal (or starve). But I'm spending a lot less too. I'm orders of magnitude happier and satisfied. I feel like I'm doing something substantive and feel good about what I do. I have more options and interesting choices in how the second career develops than I expected. I feel fitter and healthier, and I get to see daylight rather more!

The idea of side project or two to keep my tech neurons active appeals, and after 3 years or so out, appeals rather more. If it makes some extra £ so much the better.

Overall probably the best thing I've ever done.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13334774

Went to medical school. It's about as much fun as going to medical school can be, but I'm much happier than I was in software (I think?).

How long were you working for before you decided to go back to medical school? I'm thinking about it, but the long schooling time is putting me off.

How would you compare the two fields? What do you look forward to in medicine?

You know, this is a question I frequently ponder. I don't know if I have a good answer.

Interestingly, I think coming from a software background, where things are (generally) predictable and orderly, can help establish some of the most important foundations of practicing medicine. In writing software, we generally have a good idea about what's going to happen when we run our code. In medicine, we follow the same blueprint when approaching every patient. This ensures that we're both better able to recognize patterns when they are present, as well as making sure we are consistently thorough in collecting all the information necessary for a diagnosis.

There are also tremendous differences - probably the biggest is what could generally be called variability. In software, we generally want the product to run identically for every user - it is quite frustrating when it works differently on every computer. In medicine, we don't end up with much choice on the matter - everyone is different. And so we need to take those differences into account when we are formulating our diagnoses and are when we decide to prescribe (or not prescribe) a medication for a patient. I enjoy the challenge that this variability brings to the practice of medicine.

As a paramedic for many years now, I've had the pleasure of practicing (albeit in a very limited manner) medicine. I think what I most look forward to in becoming a physician is being at the top, directing patient care on a larger level. I also look forward to seeing more of a patient, rather than just the hour or so that it takes me to treat them and transport them to the hospital (unfortunately, paramedics in the USA are not yet look upon as definitive care). I hope to stay involved in prehospital medicine as a physician and help it grow to be considered a true career and as a source of definitive medicine.

Good for you, medicine is a noble pursuit. Are you going to specialize?

Yes, hopefully into emergency medicine, but I start rotations this summer so we'll see where my passions truly lie.

I'm not sure if this counts, because I quit before my career started. I learned programming in high school, ca. 1981, and I had a summer internship at a large data processing shop with an IBM 370 and several timesharing minicomputers. Also, my older brother was in the programming business, and I was able to look ahead to the typical CompSci coursework at the colleges in my area.

I loved programming, but it seemed like both the coursework and what programmers actually did for a living was pretty dull. Of course I wasn't exposed to the full range of possibilities, and it was just before the computer industry exploded, which nobody in my circle (parents, advisors etc.) predicted.

I went to college and majored in math. It seemed like the things that attracted me to programming were going on in the math and physics departments, so I was happy, and ended up with a physics degree. Today, I use programming as a problem solving tool, but have never held an actual IT job.

My life since age 30 has been a slow odyssey away from a tech career.

After many years of software engineering, I switched to part-time in order to dabble in board game design on the side. It was fantastic - enough money to live comfortably, lots more free time - but also a little bit like golden handcuffs: in order to switch tech jobs, I'd have had to find another place OK with me working 3 days/week.

After doing that for 6-7 years, I talked it over with my wife and quit my tech job to do househusbanding instead. It got her more time (fewer chores) and me even more time (household work didn't take nearly the 30 hours/week that 3 days work + commute had), which let me ramp up the board game design. My wife works in tech, so one income was more than enough for us, even socking away plenty for retirement. It took some psychological adjustment on my part, but she was really good about vocally appreciating the work I did, which helped a lot with the transition. (Plus, I got to give a big middle finger to gender stereotypes, which was a source of satisfaction. :)

Then we decided to have kids, and I became a stay-at-home dad. Help from family and babysitters means I'm still able to spend some time pursuing game design (note: this is not cost-efficient - either "I parent full-time" or "daycare" would be cheaper - but it works for us, for now), and parenting is fantastic. Also frequently exhausting and frustrating - there's a heavy tradeoff of immediate-gratification happiness for life-arc happiness - but very rewarding, and the sound of my kids laughing together is pretty much the best thing in the world.

I still love programming, I just don't do it much. (Little side projects for fun every once in a while, or simple tools supporting my game design.) And I think I enjoy it more when I do, because I'm doing it intermittently of my own volition. Once both kids are in school and I have a little more time, I'll probably start messing around with mobile development - I find it slightly disconcerting to look at a computing device and not have the bone-deep certainty that if I chose to invest the time, I could make it do just about anything I dreamed up.

With financial reasons as your main barrier to quitting the industry, much of my experience won't apply to you - my wife's salary is the only reason things work as they currently do. But if you can fix your budget so that you can live (and save!) on 40-80% of your current income, you can try to find/make opportunities to switch to part-time work. I found that when I did, the benefits of the extra free time made me more focused during my working hours, and happiness with my life situation made me more excited about my job in general.

I took a 5 year journey into grad school and finance. Came back to tech on the services side. I found my programming skills got dated very quickly, but it's been fun learning new things on the side of my day job.

One suggestion - look into new domains to apply your tech skills.

i quit the industry for nearly a decade in my mid 20s. i went to work in the film industry in various on set roles (carpenter, painter, setdec, grip). i got to the point where i was mostly middle management and the hours were long and the money good-but-inconsistent so i got back into programming and returned to dev full time 2.5 years ago

i don't regret leaving dev but i'm also glad i returned

I quit high tech in 2001 and got my masters in education. I taught science in the East Bay - across from San Francisco.

I ended up going back to high tech. Teaching took too much out of me - emotionally. In no way do I regret the move to teach - it was a vital piece of my growth as a person. Plus, I am still in touch with some of my former students, including a young woman that my wife and I helped get through nursing school.

As I get older I tend to approach things differently - I dare say better? The passion I felt towards technology in my 20s has changed. What I bring to my career in my 40's is more personal and meaningful now. It's about doing good work that I can be proud of with people who treat one another with kindness and respect. It's still important for me to love the products I am are building, but my reasons for loving them are broader than they used to be.

A friend worked in software dev for a city in the area, for a few years. He left that job to become a professional photographer. I think he's been doing that on and off for at least the last 5 years. He's doing that, but also some software work.

He seems happy. He bought a house for his wife and son. At least from the outside, he seems to be doing well.

I've never understood how photography is still a viable career. Everyone is a photographer nowadays, and everyone takes good pictures, just look at Instagram!

Maybe if they niche, wedding or something?

Phones take "good enough" pictures, but not great pictures. Instagram filters are fun, but kind of crap (this applies to algorithmic image enhancement in general, IMO, at least to the extent that every algorithm has inputs that it'll do badly with). There's a jump in quality from most of the pictures that non-professionals take, to the quality of images produced by people who know what they're doing.

Point of order - most of us don't work in IT. We work in "tech."

I love my IT brethren but not all of us do desktop installs and tech support for a living.

Hear, hear! I left "Enterprise IT" and went into embedded systems. The first 2-3 years were exciting and exhausting because it felt like I needed to recall everything I ever learned from my Comp. Sci. education and from my early career -- I had to became a real software engineer again. Rather than some application on a framework on a virtual instance....it's now board bringup, bootloaders, and kernels. I now love my career again, and the work I do is far more challenging and interesting than any IT assignment. More power to those who do it, but no more Hibernate mappings or soupe-du-jour frameworks for me!

I spent some time in embedded space after high school and really miss it in these days of drawing pretty pictures on whiteboards to attempt to explain exactly why management can't have what they want when they want it, political negotiations with people that hold the keys to the kingdom (e.g. salesforce admins) to try to be allowed to do my job, etc.

Do you have any recommendations for someone trying to get into tech engineering and out of Enterprise IT in regards to credentials they should seek out, groups in their city they should look into?

Yup, you're in that world. Sympathies!

It's good you have the background -- that's what you can leverage. Maybe start playing around with a Raspberry Pi for a refresher on the HW and basic software, and go from there. I jumped into it by learning Android from the inside out (via AOSP), and was then fortunate to then be forced to learn it more deeply via client who needed a customized version for their new hardware. This was not according to a grand plan of mine though -- I was just so done with IT that it felt worth the risk. I lowered my hourly rates by 50% for one year in order to get a gig in that space. I looked at the loss as an investment in education. If I didn't make it happen within one year then I'd consider going back to what I had been doing. Paying for food+shelter is a great motivator (the carrot), but the horrible thought of "going back" to IT was even more motivating (the stick).

As for the above, YMMV of course. Good luck!

My current contract as a web developer is up at the end of the month and I want to go into more freelancing and have embedded projects in the future. I usually use side projects to learn initially. In this case I'm working on a Weather Sensor.

http://kokonautweathersensors.com/ https://www.instagram.com/kokonautweathersensors/

I think it's pretty successful so far, but it's all new territory in finding work in embedded systems and even harder representing myself (Been doing full-time and contracts for the last 6 years. Would like to fully represent myself as a development shop as soon as possible). Any advice?

So jealous. I'm in a similar boat re awful Enterprise IT work. Do tell how you got into that!

osteopathic medicine, high problem solving to meeting ratio - must like people, financially a lifetime wash due to cost of education

Travel the world. Read Hacker News.

purchased a c-store. loosing money, working my ass off. weather is a problem, landlord isn't fixing equipment fast enough (latest is our UPC scanner has been down since Christmas, every day I hear, 'it's been ordered' Well, yea? what's the tracking #) I'm rather stuck and short on capitol. It's tied up in Real Estate which, listing agent hasn't shown the property once in 4+ months. It's going to hell. :-( I fucked up. Nobody will hire an old geek. Not sure what's next.

I quit the industry, but IT doesn't know yet or maybe IT just can't tell the difference. Pretty much my karma goes up and down as I correct strangers on HN.

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