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Ask HN: I want to quit coding professionally but keep it as hobby. What now?
42 points by tlm2020 15 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments
I'm a web developer and I'm working in a small web shop.

Actually, i'm bad at coding, but I like to code when I can build something for fun. I'm burnt out.

I'm a generalist, have a degree in supply chain, i'm pretty good with coming up with solutions for problems, I can design know a good ammount about UX and Design, I like to learn.

I like the web shop life (working hours, home office)

I live in europe.

I'm a newcomer in coding and lack in fundamental programming skills but don't want to learn it, because I see no future for me in coding professionally.

Because i'm newcomer it's pretty hard to switch to something else with my working experience and degrees.

What would you suggest? What jobs are open for newcomers where my skills are helpful?

// I like to code when I can build something for fun. I'm burnt out. // I'm a newcomer in coding and lack in fundamental programming skills but don't want to learn it, because I see no future for me in coding professionally.

Before you quit and do something else perhaps it's worth exploring your situation a little?

Are you feeling burnt out and see no future in programming because you're new to programming and still overcoming the learning curve? This can lead to impostor syndrome which is often mistaken for burnout, but just takes time to get through.

Perhaps it means you just need more support at work, more time for training, more freedom to talk about your anxieties and get some advice?

Is your work situation just quite difficult right now because of market conditions or lockdowns etc? For some time yet, although not forever, this will persist even if you move on so it's vital to learn techniques on how to deal with it now.

If any of these are the case you would find it much less disruptive to have an honest conversation with your boss rather than to quit.

However, if you truly made a mistake with your career direction then do look at other opportunities. There's no shame in that.

BTW: It would seem that global supply chains are very brittle in the face of pandemics and perhaps people with your training could help innovate supply chains to help us weather similar things in the future. Programming may play in to this innovation.

Good luck!

Thanks for this response.

I'm a former biz analyst turned boot camp developer. After a couple of years slogging through, I started applying for jobs these past few months, with little to no traction, and as such have been feeling burnt out because I don't know the fundamentals, have little to no support at work, and felt like I had no future professionally.

So this encourages me to keep on learning, building, and hacking as best I can until I can get to an environment that helps me succeed through mentorship, product vision, and a capable leadership team.

> This can lead to impostor syndrome which is often mistaken for burnout, but just takes time to get through.

Man, I feel this. I feel burnt out basically all the time. Maybe it is imposter syndrome, maybe I'm still overcoming the learning curve, or maybe there's a third option: I just don't have much aptitude for programming, and never will.

I identified a lot with the OP's question. I still feel like a complete beginner, even though I've got a few years of experience under my belt now. I guess what I actually have is one year of experience, a few times over. I think I've actually reduced productivity in all the teams I've been part of.

It's so tough to know whether to cut my losses and get into a different career, or keep plugging away and hoping I somehow become competent one day. Feeling so useless really knocks your confidence in other areas of life. Maybe the OP should actually cut his losses and get out now, and maybe I should too.

This industry has a habit of labelling anyone who is struggling as having "imposter syndrome". It's well intentioned, but misses an obvious truth. Programming is really hard, and most people don't have the intellect for it. Are we doing people a disservice by encouraging them to stay in a career they have little aptitude for?

You like coding but you're bad at it.

It sounds like you either have impostor's syndrome or you lack practice/experience.

you are burnt out?

As others suggested you can try to look for another job, hopefully this would fix it.

I would suggest to look at it in a different light tho. Try this.

Download OBS studio. Record yourself doing your regular day to day coding tasks. Pretend you are some big shot coding sensation with thousands of viewers.

This will help in many ways than one but the most important thing is it will help keep/make it more interesting for you as it did for me.

Welcome to the club! There's tons of us.

Some people recommend starting a lifestyle business https://www.indiehackers.com/ There's a lot of business that use Zapier for automation and are low/no code

If you like the web shop life, some people find freelancing (Marketing, UI design, Squarespace consultant) gives them what they're looking for https://www.moonlightwork.com/

Sorry to hear about your burnout. I think a lot of us are looking for relief from that as well. Wish I could help more there.

I left the industry for the exact same reasons as you. I like like solving problems conceptually, but don’t actually care for the hours of bug fixing and learning syntax. I stopped pursuing it because I don’t think I have the drive to make it my career.

However, I do like tinkering on my own time and not feeling pressured to do better because it’s my job.

In my current non-programming job, I get to go home after finishing my tasks and I still get paid the same 8 hours a day. So, I made a little Shortcut in iOS that tracks my arrival time, what time I finished, what time I left work, and the workload that day. I plan to write another script to parse the data and graph it.

Another example, if you like cooking, you can write a program that calculates cost per recipe given parameters like how much you bought the ingredients for and how much you used.

What is your non-programming job that pays the same for 8 hours?

Believe it or not, I became a letter carrier (mailman). It’s not the most glamorous job or what I expected to do, but it’s the most enjoyable job overall I’ve had. I get to enjoy the outdoors and push myself physically while listening to podcasts.

If you have a good route, you can probably finish in 4 hours and get home by mid-afternoon and have time to actually enjoy life and hobbies.

If you really want, there’s plenty of opportunity for overtime. I don’t know if I’ll be a lifer, but at least there’s a pension building up while I decide what to explore next.

I thought that paid less than $60k per year? Plus, those are tough to get without civil service points (like military service).

I’m from Canada, so while we don’t have civil service points that I’m aware of, it sounds like the wage is similar. There’s a lot of overtime so people can definitely pull in more than $60k.

I was never part of the 6 figure startup scene commonly seen on HN. Plus, I worked for a super small company that didn’t pay well for my web development work so the letter carrier job is actually a horizontal move. At the moment, I think of it as a more enjoyable job with similar pay.

I made the switch over to “customer facing tech savvy person.” Think Sales Engineer, Solutions Architect, Technical Account Manager.

Pays slightly less (until you get 5+ years experience, then tends to catch up if you’re good) but my lord it’s so much less taxing on your brain.

You’ll realize that most customer facing folks may be charismatic, but they aren’t very organized or willing to learn on the job. It’s easy to be top 1% while coming in at 9 and leaving at 5, with plenty of time and mental energy leftover for whatever hobbies you want to pursue. Including programming.

Worth checking out if you feel comfortable communicating verbally for a living.

If you want to chat, feel free to reach out at evan dot hellmuth at gmail dot com

Consider product management - a generalist, problem solving skillset is perfect, particularly at early stage startups. Being able to understand developers and communicate with them, even if you're not a good developer, is a really useful skill.

Shameless (but relevant) plug for a book I wrote about how to find/get your first PM job: https://www.amazon.com/Product-Management-Interview-Manager-....

Try technical writing maybe? You get to code smaller proof-of-concept apps and teach others how to use specific pieces of technology to solve problems.

I have a GitHub repository[0] with some resources to get started. It can be pretty lucrative too after building some reputation.

[0] https://github.com/sixhobbits/technical-writing

Working in a CNC shop was pretty fun. There wasn't a ton of actual coding, but you 'write' a lot of programs. I'm not sure how it goes everywhere, but if you can find a place willing to train you, it's a fun environment. You get to make things everyday, everything you do is practical and hands on and what I found the most rewarding, there are immediate tangible results to your programs. Your programs literally create real life things. That's a pretty cool feeling.

Much of the 'programming' these days is done visually through cam software. The high end ones are fairly intuitive and it feels more like building something than programming.

I ended up doing a little bit of everything. I learned to do maintenance and a ton of mechanical stuff. I learned the hand work and learned the basics of a trade. It's one of the few times i've ever got to do both manual work and computer work on the same job. If you have inclinations towards making things and still enjoy working with computers while wanting something different, it's something to think about.

This is a cool idea. I'm in a somewhat similar position to the OP. I might look into this.

Start thinking about what you actually want to code for fun.

Write an outline of it, and the skills you'll need to accomplish each piece.

Focus on learning those skills while you are working professionally.

Keep learning until you feel comfortable working on your own project. It may take switching a few more jobs before you are that comfortable.

Then, start writing your project, and eventually quit working professionally so that you have more code juice for your own pursuits.

Office work may seem miserable, but if you play it right, it's like a more effective university that you also get a pretty good stipend for attending.

Good luck!

Maybe look at something where the technical skills are there, but take a second row to the business side of things - something like an RPA (robotic process automation) where the important part is working through the problem with the customer, a bit of process improvement, then automating what's left (with what's essentially easy-mode programming tools). Direct business value that's easy to measure as it's directly impacting customer processes and saving them time, rather than more nebulous improvements.

I think it's worth reflecting on it the profession is burning you out or if a switch in jobs could help. I myself have felt this burnout but reinvigorated by a new role.

This can be food to try, but doesn't always work. Over time, the honeymoon phase will get shorter and shorter as you realize most problems with the job are universal. At least that has been my experience.

Consider part time like 20 hours a week. That's what I do and I love it. Steady pay check and no burn out.

I did this too but it has its risks.

You have less work experience than someone else with the same number of years. This is even worse if you are working in a role where you are basically working a very narrow niche and most things you learn will make you irreplaceable but also don't provide much value at other employers. In an industry that contradictorily values youth but also experience with the latest toys, it can be a tough place to put yourself.

Just worth keeping in mind. You can alleviate this by staying up to date with personal projects but sometimes it's difficult especially if burn out was the issue and you want some time away from the desk, or your experience skews corporate and those kinds of systems aren't what you want to work on at home.

Sounds like you might enjoy a role of a business analyst. Less coding, like to solve the problem, understanding supply chain.

Have you considered art and design based programming languages like Processing and the p5.js library?

I'm in a sector that might be of interest to you. How can I contact you?


You're an asshole

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