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Years ago, my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I moved states. During this time, we needed jobs so one of her family members gave me a job as a Jr. Programmer at their company. During the years, programmers have come and gone to where it is only myself doing development for this company's software and has been for some years. Essentially, I am the Lead Software Engineer. However, recently I have come to realize that I programming is not a profession I truly enjoy and something I struggle to see myself doing for 30+ years. However, I have found after some very serious consideration that the field of nursing is something that ignites a bit of a passion in me. I have always wanted to go into the medical field, but I never truly made any action to do it.

This move will involve me going into nursing school for a 2 or 3 years. During this time, I planned on continuing work with my wife's family member at their company. Given the very intensive schedule of nursing school, I will need to notify my employer that I will need to change up my schedule and for what reasons. I will also be notifying them that I will be leaving the company when I complete the program to pursue the profession. Essentially giving them notice as long as I am in school.

Here is the problem. I am a developer being paid roughly half of what an equally experienced developer would be making, with no health insurance, dental insurance or 401k/retirement plans. For me? These aren't huge issues, I've always made a decent living between me and my wife's income. However, at the rate I am being paid, I suspect another developer may be less keen on taking this position once they hear the offer. So getting a replacement developer may prove to be a challenge and without a developer, I am unsure about the longevity of the software without a developer to keep making changes and supporting the software.

On top of the above mentioned, I am nervous that the family member will take my leaving quite personally and result in some fairly large fallout because I sense some aspirations that they are wanting to give me the company. This fallout could certainly result in some resentment/malice from an entire segment of the family and I certainly do not want to cause my wife any drama.

What should I look to do during this period of time?

Edit: Just to clarify, I am very grateful for the opportunity and job that was given to me and I will make every effort to be deliberately tactful and easy as possible during this event.

  • First you say that programmers have come and gone, then you fear that they won't find a replacement because of the low pay. That's contradicting, could you clarify it? – Chris Apr 15 at 4:54
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    Be very sure you will like nursing before you make the decision to switch or proceed, do interview a few people in the profession and ask them what is the job really about, ask what they like and dislike, be sure you are not being sold on what nursing promises to be, but what it actually is, I have an aunt who went into nursing and sometimes gets very frustrated, because her job is basically charting and helping people to the bathroom, rarely is it contributing to saving someone's life, the reason she signed on for. I know this isn't what you asked, but is still something to seriously consider – anand_v.singh Apr 15 at 5:38
  • @Chris Sure, I understand where the contradiction lies. Programmers have come, but only one or two have truly stuck around for any extended period of time, they have all left for the same reason. There is much better pay to be had. – FamOb Apr 15 at 11:23
  • @anand_v.singh - Thank you for your contribution. I have spoken to a nurse quite extensively about their experiences and we have been very deliberate on speaking about the positives and negatives of the job. I am going to be shadowing this nurse this summer at the hospital to try and truly get a feel for the job. – FamOb Apr 15 at 11:27
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    @FamOb it is so unfair that you are being paid half your salary, that, yes, if you think about it - incredibly - that would actually be better for everyone. I would urge you to politely leave that position. They surely care about their daughter, so they would SURELY want their husband to double his salary. You know? The current situation sounds incredibly unfair. I would get a new job at market rates, and only in a year or two consider your life-change career move. – Fattie Apr 15 at 14:10
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I feel like this is not really a workplace answer, but I think it is the correct answer to the question asked.

In this very specific case, ask your wife, not the internet. She's the one who should know her side of the family best and according to your question she's the one that would have to cope with the consequences. She's also the one paying for the both of you if the owner fires you right now. So... as it seems it's all on her, no matter what the best way might be theoretically, practically, it should be her way. Whoever has to carry the burden should be able to make the decision.

Who knows, maybe it would be better to discuss that with said family member over a nice dinner family-style?

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    Perhaps some of us had assumed that SWMBO was already in the loop... – Solar Mike Apr 15 at 5:32
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    I disagree with that. Yes, going back to school, change careers,... is a big decision impacting the couple, so they should talk about it. But no, the wife doesn't have a final say in this. In the end, it's OP's life and career. Wife can say she won't support this, and it might mean they separate over this, but she doesn't get to dictate OP's life. – MlleMei Apr 15 at 9:23
  • And also, a big fat no about "discuss that with said family member over a nice dinner family-style". The best thing you can do is keeping the professional and personal separate. OP is worried they'll take it personally, talking about it at a family gathering will make things very personal. The wife shouldn't intervene for OP either. He needs to handle his professional relationship by himself. He can ask advice on how best to handle it from his wife, but than it's up to him. – MlleMei Apr 15 at 9:28
  • I know people that would be personally offended if you treated them "professionally" and just like any other employer, when they are family. But I don't know that specific person in question, that's why there is a question mark and that's why my advice is "ask someone who knows that person". And as far as we know, that's the wife. – nvoigt Apr 15 at 10:02
  • @nvoigt Good thinking! I should have mentioned my wife's position in the initial post. We have talked quite extensively over the last couple of weeks and from the onset she was supportive; she still is. As well, we have given considerable thought to the event that I might get preemptively fired/let go and have a pretty reasonable plan for attack on that, I feel. Only time will tell there! Thanks for your answer! – FamOb Apr 15 at 11:39
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All you can do is sit down with the company owner and just tell them what your plan is and why you are changing your own personal direction. You can't control any potential issues they may have in having to replace you. Any reasonable adult would respect this.

  • Really can't see any other possibilities... plus 1. – Solar Mike Apr 15 at 4:18
  • Wish I could upvote that answer multiple times. That's really all OP can and should do. – MlleMei Apr 15 at 9:30
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Agree with other answers both that you should speak to your wife first, and then openly and honestly with your employer.

I also think you can sell the long "notice period" as a really helpful advantage for the company as it tries to replace you, and to adjust in general. It gives them to the opportunity to start financially planning now if they're going to need to pay more to replace you, and when you're closer to moving on it gives them the time to get the recruitment process right and for you to have a longer handover with your replacement to bring them up to speed.

Although I'm sure he won't be pleased for the company, you may be surprised by a positive reaction if your employer knows you are following your dreams.

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