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Career Switching

I've been a web PM for 7 or 8 years. Statistically, I should be totally burnt out by now. I'm not. I still like what I do, but lately I have been thinking more seriously about thinking about what might be next. I know how to manage things, how to ensure the quality of things, and how to talk to clients and manage teams. I need to be passionate about my work/field, when I'm not passionate, quality takes a hit. Oh it also needs to pay enough to be an adult portlander that likes to take a vacation. Thoughts? What on earth should I do with my mid-adult life? I wish there were realistic options in the world of synth or musical repair/creation, but that isn't really a thing and musicians are the worst clients.

Have any of you switched careers in your 30's? Most burnt out PMs I know just become bakers or something.


  • edited March 2016
    I'm at the beginning of switching my career in my mid 30's, but it's so early on that I don't think I have any advice to give. Those folks who work at the synth module manufacturing places in town seem to be happy, but I'm sure they're pretty broke as well.

    I was tired of dealing with millions of customers/users/community members, which was frequently a daily stream of deep ingratitude. I also wanted to focus my attention more on Portland itself, instead of working with teams in distant cities.

    Being a baker sounds nice.

    The standard advice is that if you're not already meditating, you should start, in order to get in touch with your "true self" and seek guidance there. Any books or exercises you can find that resonate with you and have a goal of contacting you with your "true self," "higher self," etc might be helpful for clarifying your path.

    Also, if you will solder a replacement knob onto an Alesis Micron for me, I'll do a Tarot or I Ching reading with you. I have the knob, I just keep putting it off.
  • The main thing that has transformed my career - within the same firm and field, but still, a pretty major change in my role - has been working with a coach to understand my true strengths and weaknesses, and then reshaping my role at my company to let me do more of the former and less of the latter. I am way, way happier at my job than I used to be, because I spend all my time on big-picture strategy, managing staff, and winning work, instead of on project/budget management. For me, that's been revolutionary. I can imagine that a similar process of inquiry might lead you to a better understanding of what you want to do next.
  • that's awesome!!!!! I remember ages ago you expressing a lot of unhappiness about your organizational skills in certain kinds of tasks. Amazing that you identified exactly how to overcome this issue. Similar to how you overcame your needle phobia!!!! Identify the problem, identify who and what can help you with it, then work on it logically and diligently.


  • I didn't know I was "allowed" to just do less of what I'm bad at. I always thought I had to get better at my weaknesses until I was allowed to move on to other things. Of course, because I'm genuinely bad at detailed project management work, my chances of succeeding at getting better just through dint of flogging myself were ... not that great.

    This has really changed my approach to my staff's professional development. I focus a lot more on what people love to do and are already good at, and how we can help them do more of it.
  • very legit
  • edited March 2016
    Whatever you do, don't get a design degree because from then on, no matter how much you try to change careers, you'll always be that new career + designer.
  • Unless that sounds cool. Then do that.
  • Kind of a puff piece for his current employer though?
  • Matt is a very nice guy and I'm happy that he's enjoying his job, but reading his description of his work just reminds me of how empty that exact same work made me feel. Because in the end it was always to serve something that didn't really seem meaningful to me (a random company).

    Horses for courses.
  • If you want to learn how to switch careers 1,000 times and be really embarrassed about it/harbor a lot of shame about it but still keep on keeping on trying to find and do the thing(s) that feel right...I'm your girl. Hit me up.
  • It's funny/sad how the two top threads are so deeply intertwined (Career Switching, Job Bullshit) right now
  • That being said I've been enjoying making websites for the greater part of 15 years, and I love working at Instrument (been 3 years now!). Only thing I would change would be the possibility for working remotely more often, but you can't have EVERYTHING.
  • @Flossy I need it! I need a non-pm option that is something I can feel passionate about, but the things I am passionate about don't pay the bills. Right now I am honestly looking at trying to run 3-4 low maintenance niche passion businesses, which is stupid and crazy. The company I'm with right now is distributed, so there is less opportunity for just switching roles.
  • edited March 2016
    I accidentally did something this year where I stopped doing the part of my job I hated and started doing the stuff I cared about more instead, and I don't know if I was just insulated from consequences, but I'm getting a new title and now we're hiring someone to do the stuff I hated?

    I'm not sure if I'm ethically comfortable with this tactic, it reminds me of the Shel Silverstein poem about drying the dishes. But if it means never having to write another email newsletter...
  • How do I become a Farmer?

    - gary
  • Just lurk around the farmer's market and then casually slip into the back of a pickup when everyone's heading home. Once you're on the farm, just start slopping hogs and stuff and you'll probably just get accepted into the fold.
  • If there's one thing farmers do a lot of, it's hog sloppin
  • my husband wants to be a farmer.

    He actually got a subscription to the corny bourgie urban agriculture magazine and is a little ashamed. He likes the pictures of goats, but not the artisinal handsaws and $400 canvas jackets.
  • I want to be a weed farmer, but like outdoors, not in some weird bunker.
  • Outdoors is tough in Oregon. I was a smart home install guy for a year and a half. In Oregon there are three months (worth) of the year where it is amazing to work outside, but winter is cold. Like really cold. Weed farms are all going inside just for the vertical space/control of strain :( Maybe we can set up a biodome (buuuuuddy). I will be the weasel to your mummy.
  • Yeah, biodome works for me :)
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