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Ask HN: Have you ever left tech to do something completely unrelated?
37 points by throwaway58295 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments
What was the experience like? Do you regret it or feel happy you did it?





I quit a couple weeks ago. I've been a developer for about ten years and I could probably do a lot of different types of development jobs if I really wanted. These last three years though I just loath working on development teams. I decided if this next programming job didn't work out I should quit programming. ...thats was TWO jobs ago, lol.

After that I took a break and lived day to day. I worked pretty much all day and night for months and it felt so much better than working in tech. For example, I would flip cars by buying broken ones and fixing them, I built a table and sold it at a flea market, I drove for Lyft, I drove for Doordash (which by the way was great for getting me out to see new places since I'm a bit of a loner. I'm serious, it was good for my mental health). I started work on a patent for an invention I intend to sell. I learned how to use Blender to create 3D models so I could 3D print a case for the afformentioned invention. All while being high as a kite whenever I wanted (and it was safe, of course).

So when this last job didn't work out I wasn't nearly as afraid. You know, I've basically been pretending anyways. Like that meme of the dog in the house on fire. But being a programmer and making more money doesn't magically make me happier.

Right now I'm flipping cars again. After I flip a few I'll drive for Lyft. My long term goal, the only one that matters, the only one that is going to get me into the life I want, is completely unchanged. In fact, hustling like this lets me optimize for bootstrapping a business with my invention. I'm not afraid of failing. Ill get up and try again. There's no point in pretending anymore. I want a better life than this. Programming is not going to get me there.


May I ask a bit more details of what you didn’t like about development teams? I am feeling very similarly to you in the sense that I see Uber drivers and grocery store clerks and feel truly envious of them and am considering taking one of those jobs once I reach a certain level of financials (disclaimer: I have done plenty of blue collar jobs in my youth so I know what it feels to do manual labor).

I hate how knowledge matters less than social standing. I could read ten programming books and work hard at improving myself as a programmer but it wouldn't ever matter. The only thing that matters is the heirarchy on the team. Plus it's a pyramid. Fight it out at the bottom until a hand reaches down to you from above and pulls you into a senior dev or management position. No thanks. I hated having some other person tell me what my skill level and self worth were. I know my skill level and self worth and rarely as a developer did I ever get to live up to my potential because either I was in a feature factory or I was on a project with constraints that forced me to write terrible code. I hated looking through other people's god awful code and being judged because I had a hard time understanding it. Like they always measured and judged me with the wrong metrics. I hated going into meetings and being an expert (or at least best in the room) on some topic and having other people not listen to me. I hated not being listened to when I was trying to improve code or feature quality. I hated code reviews where the only point was to make the reviewer feel like he'd accomplished something by forcing me to make some inconsequential change. I hated the little bs politics people play about what comes back as a bug. I hated not being respected as a human but just being the stupid programmer who turns all of our genius ideas into reality. I hated not being able to use my own brain eight hours a day because I was renting it to someone else. I hated two hours a day in rush hour traffic. I hated sitting inside in a dead quiet room on a beautiful day. Perhaps more than anything I just hated working in a terrible code base.

If you wait until you're financially ready you might be missing out. Part of dropping the golden handcuffs for me was living with less. I wasn't living sustainability anyways and it was better I dealt with it before I got too old and found myself unable to deal with the change.

Good luck!


How are you going to make money from your invention? I’ve got promising idea s and prototypes but no idea what the next step is. I’m too shy to go on Kickstarter.

I don't know exactly. I'm just going to try it and see what works. If it fails I'll just try another idea. The basics steps I imagine are:

- getting local supporters. This will be useful for bootstrapping the Kickstarter

- gorilla marketing. Basically just think of how to promote the product in low cost high impact ways.

- traditional marketing like google and facebook. Maybe a couple expirements and demographic research before going all in on a campaign

- do the Kickstarter. It'll be a modest Kickstarter. My goal at this phase is to have a successful Kickstarter, not to make money.

- if Kickstarter succeeds fulfill the orders

- Turn it into a business or maybe just a passive income. All I'll have to do is order more boards and cases if orders for the product come in. Plus, the patent itself will be worth something.

What do you think? Does it sound doable? Too shy for Kickstarter? That seems like too small of a thing to hold you back.


Sounds like a good plan. Drop me an email if you feel like chatting. I’m always interested in this stuff.

I originaly went to tech school for computer programming, cnc, cad/cam c++. After third tri-mester i was done and later became a butcher.

When I was 25 I quit because my current role wasn't giving me any more opportunity to progress, and I'd just sold a house after a relationship ended, so I had the financial freedom to coast for a few months for another opportunity. I spent about 6 months working in a bar, which paid considerably less but was a lot of fun. I ended up going back into tech within a year or so, but the experience helped me appreciate the balance between pay and enjoyment a lot more.

In short, it's worth taking a pay cut for a less stressful, more enjoyable job, provided the pay cut doesn't introduce another avenue of stress into your personal life.


I’m not sure I would call it quitting tech, but after studying computer science at university and dabbling in some start-ups that went nowhere, I was a property developer for a while.

Learnt an incredible amount from it, not least how punishing physical labour can be (demoliton, being the first and probably least-skilled job on a project, made up most of the hands-on work I did — the rest was left to professionals).

I’m not a founder (yet), but now working at an early stage startup, I’m finding so much that carries over to the business of tech. Assessing the market potential of properties available for auction, the poker game of the auction itself, making profit projections on the back of extremely shaky estimates of the time and resources needed to complete a project, the difficulty of scheduling myriad interdependent tasks, to be carried out by a small army of subcontractors.

On that last point, an especially memorable lesson was learned after uncovering hidden structural instabilities that needed immediate repair (huge cracks in the back wall of a 100 year old row house, caused by an undersized window lintel, covered by a suspiciously low false ceiling — I’m sure there’s a lesson in there about hiding mistakes). Dealing with the cascade of jobs that had to be rebooked was extremely instructive in the need for slack in a schedule.

Clear specification is another thing I now value highly. I taught myself to use architectural CAD software in frustration at a number costly mistakes, which traced back to misinterpretation of imprecise verbal instructions or freehand sketches. Especially when people are proud of their abilities, they’re inclined to read between the lines of the directions they’re given, which won’t necessarily line up with your vision — especially if you haven’t actually communicated that vision.

I could go on, but in short: absolutely no regrets. And something I’ll almost certainly do again, when I hopefully have more capital to work with, and can hire a project manager to execute my vision!


I'm currently slowly building up a print shop in my basement. For now, it's just something to keep my retired dad occupied, but should it be successful I'll have no qualms about jumping in to it full time.

Importing wine (Italy->US) and writing a book. Not exactly ready to leave tech, but a setting the bases...

Not yet but have plans to leave tech and do fish farming someday.

Where? And why?

Can you give details like ocean/lake/pond and species?


What's stopping you?

When I hit 40s I plan to retire as a lawyer.

Retire and become a lawyer, or retire from being a lawyer?

What kind?

patent troll



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