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Background: I've just completed my MTech in Artificial Intelligence in India from a good university (I already have a decade's experience in a software development job, with some years as tech lead). However, I'm recovering from severe eye strain, which requires me to not use the computer for more than 8 hours a day, close my eyes at intervals of 20 minutes of computer use and never compromise on sleep. By getting proper rest and sleep, I've started recovering, but my doctor advised trying to find a less strenuous job anyway.

Question:
I'm a natural organizer and automator. Rather than do something repeatedly, I'd rather write a program to automate it or if it's an organizational process, I'd rather talk to the necessary authorities and change the processes to make them more efficient. The problem is, many organizations (including the ones I've worked in) are too focused on delivery or are afraid that changes would upset things or be too costly or be upsetting to employees, so they don't really give a priority to automation.
Since I fit in naturally to such a job and since automation can save money for organizations (perhaps in a research department), is there a way I can advertise myself in my resume or search for specific jobs (don't even know if such jobs exist) where the responsibility of the role is to identify areas for efficiency and automation and implement it?
However, this has to be done by also mentioning that I'd need to do it at my own pace (to not harm my eyes). Unreasonable deadlines or sleep loss or pushing for early completion are a big NO.

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  • If you say something like "Deadlines are a big NO" then most employers are going to run a mile, because it sounds like you resent the idea being asked to of complete a task. You do need to tackle the health issue during the hiring process but try to come at it from a positive perspective. Try to tell the employer what you can do, and not what you can't (easier said than done, sorry!). Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 23:06
  • The problem is not with deadlines, but with unreasonable deadlines. Too many managers and CEO's now-a-days are pushing people to work faster even it means sacrificing quality and building a mountain of technical debt. I'm not the only one suffering health issues due to this. Aren't there research-based roles and roles that involve lesser computer use? Even if it isn't in a city?
    – Nav
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 21:07

3 Answers 3

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The role you seem to be looking for seems to be that of a business analyst. Try to look for jobs that advertise this role. Try to get some kind of degree/certification related to that role. Compiling a list of workflows you've analyzed and improved always helps (you've already done it).

Be honest and upfront about your special needs in the interview process and your CV, to filter out companies that see it as a kind of red flag. Read about the companies culture on platforms like glassdoor in order to get a clue how they handle their projects and deadlines (if everybody is complaining about being overworked: stay away).

The good part is that this job is not neccessarily done exclusively on the screen. You could do much work on paper, on a whiteboard or such. Try to find ways to get it to the computer - like electronic whiteboards that allow you to save your work digitally. Depending on the exact strain on your eyes: Could you find monitor-equipment that is less stressfull to them?

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You might want to talk to your school's placement office, and/or a human factors expert, about whether adaptive technologies might make your job easier. If you can tell employers that specific additional tools will compensate for your limitations, and your skills otherwise are good, companies usually have no objection to a few one-time purchases to make you productive.

But there are few jobs that don't involve some degree of time pressure. Even if you're doing something like independent game development, you need to produce enough product, often enough, to live on. I'd suggest looking for ways to manage, not eliminate, that issue. Might be worth talking to your doctors specifically about stress and time management.

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You want a role:

A) "to identify areas for efficiency and automation and implement it"

B) "I'd need to do it at my own pace"

This is unrealistic, as a junior employee seeking their first graduate job.

In my (limited) experience: identifying areas for efficiency is a task which is typically reserved for senior employees. Identifying and enacting efficiencies is challenging and potentially quite expensive. If you aren't good at it (I'm sure you are) then you will be worse than useless. Smart juniors almost always overlook elements of crucial business context which even daft seniors understand. Hence, companies don't advertise these roles at a junior level.

What should you do?

  • Look for a career where you will be able to utilise your problem solving skills at a junior level.
  • Advertise yourself based on what you have already done, and not what you hope to do.
  • Learn your trade (i.e. build experience).
  • Don't go in there expecting to call the shots. Show that you are capable and the shots will come.
  • Based on the brief description you've given, I would guess that you'll enjoy a programming role of some kind. These often (not always) provide latitude for meaningful decision making. They also tend to be a bit more flexible in terms of hours and working patterns (may be different in India) as it is hard to think effectively for extended periods of time.

If you can secure a junior role, fulfil it, and still have something to give, then that's great!

Companies do (occasionally) like to see efficiencies and automation. They just don't contemplate hiring juniors on the premise that that is the only thing the junior will bring to the table.

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  • I'm an experienced engineer. Thanks for trying to help, but your answer doesn't really offer a solution.
    – Nav
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 12:29

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