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just looking for some advice really as I don't know where to turn.

I am currently working for a fairly large tech company, working as an application software engineer. I've been here for a couple of years since I graduated from a CS masters. This was after working in a different sector for a few years when I decided that I needed a career change that would challenge me.

I was first placed into a data engineering team, which I learnt stuff from but got very bored, so I moved into my current role, working on Java microservices. I was hoping that this change would be a lot more "code-y" and that I'd find it really exciting and learn a lot more. But almost a year down the line and I'm still as bored and unmotivated as ever. I barely get anything done in a day because the work I'm doing is boring, and when I get stuck I get bored too. When I was studying I loved coding and solving problems but now it doesn't excite me anymore. I've thought about starting a side project in my spare time but, again, I don't care enough to want to do that.

At work I tend to get involved in "extra-curricular" things like organising socials, holding interviews, working with outreach programmes and I always seem to prefer spending my time on these things. On the other hand, sometimes I will actually find myself working on a coding task that I enjoy and get on with. It's not black and white which is why it's confusing.

I have several theories for this and I constantly bounce from one to the other, meaning I'm never sure what to think or believe about my situation. My theories are:

  • I'm not "meant" to be a software developer. I know that I thrive in situations where I have a managing/coordinating/organizing role - maybe this is where I should be.
  • My team is not conducive to mentoring/team work so I feel like I progress at a very, very slow rate. I work in a team that is distributed across locations and my access to mentors, especially in my own office, is limited. This means that I don't get the support I need to thrive.
  • There's something wrong with me that means I will never be satisfied and the actual problem is that I have severe concentration issues.

I'm almost 30 now and I feel scared of starting over again but I know something has to change as I'm getting deeper and deeper into this rut. I just don't know which way to turn.

My actual question(s):

What can I do to get more mentoring and support from seniors/team-members in order to progress in my role or should I just change companies to somewhere where I had more support? Would it help to change roles, to something like a project manager role?

closed as off-topic by gnat, sf02, mxyzplk, Thomas Owens, Philip Kendall Aug 14 at 15:19

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  • 6
    For anyone to give you an answer, you'll need to ask a specific question. If you need someone to talk to about your concerns and where your life is headed in general then workplace.stackexchange isn't going to be able to help you, you'd be better off looking for a therapist or close friend in that case. – Stun Brick Aug 14 at 12:00
  • If technical work is boring, then this might not be the right profession for you. The act of programming is often very solitary, even if everything else leading up to it isn't. The things you enjoy doing are things that HR departments often do. Otherwise, perhaps Management is more your thing? This is tough to "answer" on a site like this... and even then, this is really a question only you can answer for yourself. – Cypher Aug 14 at 20:46
  • Startup? your own or someone else's. But the obvious first step is just to talk to your line manager. Moving from development to management is a natural progression (even if I personally feel it to be unnatural ;-) – Mawg Aug 15 at 7:21
  • Make your career goals known to your manager. Otherwise if a managerial spot opens up, they Will have no clue that you're interested – l--''''''---------'''''''''''' Aug 15 at 17:27
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"I know that I thrive in situations where I have a managing/coordinating/organizing role"

If you stick around for a while and also bare with boring tasks as well and gather enough overview/experience, working your way up (junior-> senior -> lead), you could later look into consulting/management.

Given that you are around 30 there will be still a road ahead of you, but with a couple of good career-choices paired with knowledge you can take a shortcut or two on that path. Keep in mind there's hardly any field where things can't get boring during your work-life/career.

An important advice is to try to see even boring and repetative tasks as a challenge and as small milestones on the road to a better future. Try to keep the bigger picture and your goals in mind whenever you encounter such situations and remind yourself that almost everyone has to go through phases like this.

In regards to:

My team is not conducive to mentoring/team work so I feel like I progress at a very, very slow rate.

If you want this situation to change, you need to bring it up to your team and your manager in a professional way. Explain to them what you would like to change and make suggestions for improvements in order for you to progress. Obviously nobody can be forced to change their attitude towards team-play, but explaining your need for closer communication might raise their awareness.

In general:

If you are really unsatisfied with your current role and working in IT-related fields in general while on the otherhand realizing that you have excellent interpersonal and social skills, maybe a career-change would be something to consider..

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Not sure I'm the best there is to answer this as I'm a ripely aged 31 right now. However, on with it.

First up, getting bored when getting stuck is not not-normal (-- === +). I get bored. I also get stuck. Sometimes they're related.

Mainly I find boredom with/when coding has a few reasons (for me):

  • the project is boring (no matter the challenge in the project)
  • the challenge / task / story to resolve is repetitive
  • "these" which need doing, need to be done only once (e.g. data migration), after which whatever I've created for it will be deleted again (data is migrated, code is now superfluous)

Getting stuck could be due to any number of reasons:

  • difficult bug
  • involves tech with which I'm not (yet) skilled
  • any of the others combined with colleagues busy and not wanting to disturb them

Getting both stuck & bored is something which rarely happens to me, but when it does, it's something which combines the above. Cannot say for sure which is which and when.

However, in my experience thus far I have noticed that the both stuck & bored does tend to go hand in hand with demotivated at current job. At which points I have switched jobs in the past.

Now, you say that you also tend to do a lot of non-coding things at work. My suggestion would to speak to your manager/boss and figure out if it's possible for you to work less at your current job and do more of the other job (event-manager /-coordinator, office-manager, whatever it entails).

In the past I've gone both directions. I started out on a shop-floor and was soon managing the store (within about 3 months) when the (assistent-)manager wasn't there. I've gone back to school to learn programming, grown from junior to lead developer and have recently switched back to developer.

You'll figure out more and more the older you get.

To answer your question: this is not something which has a clear-cut answer. It will be more guided by your own sense of things you like to do. Which can surely mean that you do a little of multiple things instead of a lot of a single thing.

If I were to give directed, specific advice: ask your manager/boss to do "the other job" for 2 days a week for the next 3 months. See what happens.

3

You're just getting started in your lifetime career. You will get through this rough patch, so don't give up.

Is "something wrong with you?" No! You're obviously highly capable of creating code.

You mention that you like working with people. It's excellent you have figured this out about yourself. How can you develop this talent? Here are some ideas:

  1. Keep doing the organizing work you're doing. Your manager appears to be grateful for your efforts.
  2. Consider a transfer, temporary or permanent, to a customer-facing job like "solutions architect" or "tech rep." Here you'll develop your organization skills. And you'll learn an enormous amount about people and the business you're in.
  3. Seek a job as a manager. Management is real and demanding work (contrary to some popular opinion). You'll mostly work with people rather than machines. That seems to be where your interests lie.
  4. Get another job with work that interests you more.

Most important: Think about what you're learning from the work you do. The things you learn here will serve you well in the future. Some examples:

  • Your team isn't suitable for "mentoring or teamwork." Wow! That's a team that has a hard time taking on new people. That's a business problem. If you were in charge could you change that? What would you do differently? (You don't have to actually do it, just think about possible strategies.)
  • Some of your work is boring. Well, duh. But, is the work so boring that your company is having trouble attracting and retaining good people? That's a business problem. If you were in charge ....
  • You're learning a lot by wrangling interviews. Pay attention to what you learn.

Courage! lots of people have these doubts.

  • Thank you so much! Sorry this is such a late response but I really appreciate your kind words and advice. I'm definitely an over-thinker and get lost in a word of what-ifs but definitely a change is required and hopefully by doing that I'll learn more about myself. – plantus Sep 4 at 9:33
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First off, being bored and in a rut, especially for a longer time can cause some serious mental health issues. You're addressing this by asking this question so it's a good start. But be aware of how you're feeling outside of work. If you're taking the stress and boredom home. You might want to talk to a professional, just to help you decompress and keep things in perspective.

you still have several decades to work so something has to chance. wouldn't it be scarier if this was it?

The first thing to do would be to write down why a project bores or excites you. Try doing this as you experience it. Then once you have a decent amount of info. Try to make some sense of it. Then it's time to talk to your manager. Even if you don't have all the answers yet. Make sure they know you're not too happy at work, and you would like some help in finding out how to fix that. if possible do try to have an idea or two available.

Depending on how your manager responds and addresses the issue. it might just be time to broaden your horizons. a big difference between starting over again from scratch, and shifting your focus in a job market. Going from a developer to team-lead or manager is a change in direction that would still require your skills, but it's a little more people orientated. You are currently in the perfect place to go job hunting. You have a job, and experience in a field that people want. don't be afraid to shop around. You can always say no.

Another option would be based on a bit more personal advice. Try looking for a company that's not too big, but still has a flat management structure. I think the added autonomy and increased impact of your work can really help make the work less boring. For me at least. A job is rarely boring if I know people are going to be happy with it.

so in short:

  • Make sure you take care of yourself first.
  • Write down what/excites you and why.
  • Talk to your manager.
  • Shop around for a job that interests you.
  • Thank you so much for your response. I know I'm late replying to you but I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate that you've taken the time to do so. I will bear all of your advice in mind as I move forward. It's definitely time for a change and I'm hoping that once I start down this path things will become clearer in time. Thank you Bob! – plantus Sep 4 at 9:35

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