I (27) am in a crisis right now. I don't want to work as a developer anymore. The job has taken all the fun out of coding for me.What other jobs are there in the software industry that are real to get into?

Background info:

  • I actually did my Master in Business Administration and did international research in the ICO field
  • They hired me as a consultant, but quickly I became the sole engineer (Java, Python, JS) who is also responsible for all developments. I am worth a lot to the company and I got e.g. unilateral dismissal protection from them for two years.
  • I often work on multiple projects at the same time, implemented 70h worth of tickets this week and it doesn't feel valued

My problem:

  1. It feels like a ratrace. No matter how much I work on, new scope is added. I'm working overtime and yet they say we may need to work the weekends before go-live

  2. Management does not keep their promises. For a year we are supposed to get new devs, instead they are hiring in C-Level and Sales and the end of the pipeline is falling behind. Even our parent company has complained to management that all employees were working at 120% capacity last year, but nothing is happening. Sure, they can give me more titles and make me Head of Development. But that's just hot air when there's only one developer....

  3. There is no leader in the team. I cannot code, consult, do the solution design, DevOps, Q&A and also own all the code.

  4. I don't feel like a real developer because I don't have a degree in IT and I don't want to code all day, otherwise I wouldn't have studied business. But I have no idea anymore what tasks would make me happy

That's why I'm looking for another job in the software industry, but one that offers more variety than dull coding. Which positions would be realistic for my qualifications?

  • 13
    I mean it seems the first thing you should do is find a job where you are more appreciated and less overworked. Then, if you want to leave development, you can always attempt to land roles with more personnel responsibility or transition to sale. – Peter Jan 23 at 8:47
  • 9
    Perhaps the issue isn't the work, but that particular company? I was being overworked and left a company. Still did pretty much the same thing but less of it for more money. – Kilisi Jan 23 at 10:46
  • 2
    Have you considered that it is not the "job" in general that is the problem, but it is completely done by your employer? In your case a regular team (not one person) with senior personell would be as very different environment. – TomTom Jan 23 at 16:19
  • 2
    If you were a chef and you were asked to grow the food, cook, choose the vine, serve the customers and clean everything after, while the restaurant manager tells you you are not working enough, you probably would not enjoy being a chef. But you would not be a chef any more than you are a developer now. Give the job another chance, drop your employer. – Maxime Jan 23 at 17:41
  • 2
    I would hate my favorite video game if I had to play it 70h per week. IMO the problem is not "developer job" but "your job" (which is abnormal in any standard), and you should get out of it first. Maybe try out another legit and normal developer job before making your decision. – tweray Jan 27 at 14:54

You don't need a degree to be a software developer. These days degrees are becoming somewhat meaningless in IT.

The issues you describe are common in larger organizations - finding budget for software developers is difficult and so they're often over-committed to 120-140%.

They do this intentionally. If you complete 120% of the work you should do in a 40 hour week, IT SHOWS YOU CAN COMPLETE THAT WORK. They'll then nudge you to 125% and see if you can do that too.

They'll keep doing it until you FAIL. You should set expectations as often as possible that you can't get something done reasonably. Don't worry about whether it is something you COULD do if you spent 60 hours - you didn't sign up for 60 hour weeks.

Figure out how much time you can devote to the job in a week without losing your mind, and push back as hard as you can (politely) that you can't get X task done before Y date.

Managers will try to manipulate you into caving. Do not back down, even if it means having to repeat yourself as if you're talking to a toddler that doesn't understand.

Just like system administrators and software developers are supposed to manipulate software and systems into performing their tasks as they want... Managers do the same to humans.

The same way you look at a computer and think "I wonder if I can overclock this computer for an extra 10% performance per clock", your manager looks at you and thinks "I wonder if I can overclock this nerd and get away with it".

They will keep pushing and pushing and pushing until you burn yourself out, and a critical skill is to push back, set boundaries, and define what you can and can't get done. This takes immense practice, but you'll find yourself with a much greater work life balance.

If they're instistant even after you've properly informed them that it can't be done, have no qualms about FAILING that project. Work the reasonable hours you can, and let it not work.

Your manager will then have a very real issue - They didn't devote the proper amount of resources to the task, which is their job. If they know something can't get done by a deadline, it is very much a responsibility of theirs to try to address it.

You won't get fired over not being able to work 70 hours in a week. From what I've seen, you need to very near try to get fired in some organizations, as an UNDER performing employee still prevents you from losing 3-4 weeks to months to hire a new one in a competitive market.

If you don't fail, gracefully, to get these over-expectations completed, the manager does not have a problem to address, because their tactics are working - the work is getting done, even at your expense. If the work isn't getting done, they need to do something about it - if you're already at capacity, that means shifting it to someone else or hiring someone new or informing higher ups that the deadline has to be pushed back.

Deadlines are kind of arbitrary. You'd be amazed how much managers will push you to the absolute limit to hit a deadline that their higher ups really wouldn't have been all that annoyed to have to push back a week with a proper excuse. Your manager (and likely theirs above them one level up) just want to look good, and they will do so at your expense.

Now as far as getting out to other things.... I would recommend starting your own business doing software development somehow. I did this after several years and really loved the flexibility it offered. There are other things that will annoy you about this, for example the way companies invoice on net 30 terms and how you'll almost 100% of the time get paid months late as a business vs an employee, and will encounter businesses lying and giving you the run around, even large respectable ones, just because they can and it enables them some cash flow.

The best recommendation I can give you is to start looking out for when you might be being manipulated, because managers are literally HIRED to do this, and they're so much better at it than you could think they are, and try to learn to recognize when this is happening. They will employ fear tactics and everything else in the world just to get you to work 70 hours in a week when if you don't, nothing happens. Don't trust a word you hear. Even if you're put on a PiP (perf improvement plan), I've seen some organizations do this to actual good performing employees just to scare them into doing 60 hour weeks that they weren't being asked to do, covertly, because the company wanted to push them into overworking themselves without the employee knowing that the company was doing this.

It's an insane amount of gaslighting that you can see from them... I'll stop rambling. For other IT things... I would recommend things like SQL database administration, or honestly, if you hate the culture in all of these coding environments and miss the fun of coding, maybe you would rather enjoy teaching coding to other people in a less stressful environment?

On the flip side you may enjoy being an applications administrator or consultant for some codeless platforms / products that companies implement, like salesforce, service now, ivanti, etc. Not because they're not dull coding, they are very similar, but they're so expansive, while also having a finite amount to learn, that you could then float around implementing that platform for one organization to the next every couple months, always seeing new ways it could be used and not being bored doing the same thing again and again. Find a 'product' that you can implement for an organization (like ITSM tools for example, but there's a lot, I think even in HR and payroll there's things like ultipro that have consultants doing this), and then you can enjoy going and implementing it and having new challenges etc.

But the overcommittment is an issue and a trap that you'll have to push back on because managers in every industry will attempt to do this to you and it won't stop until you do something about it and set your own expectations.

This is the genius of the 40-something employees you see at organizations that seemignly won't do anything, and arbitrarily seem to delay things - They've been through it and have figured out how to be happy. It's by telling you when you request something from them that it'll have to get slotted into the window 3 months from now, rather than trying to please someone and saying... yeah I'll try to get it done this week. In the end the person getting told it'll take 3 months, when they're not that person's manager, that's requesting the work, generally understand even if they grumble about it a little privately.

  • 1
    Lying management is an extension of this. If they can make an empty promise to satiate unhappy employees for 4 months until they have to make another, they will. lies are free. Addressing employee concerns is not. – schizoid04 Feb 11 at 15:43
  • 1
    "your manager looks at you and thinks "I wonder if I can overclock this nerd and get away with it"." - quite so. The problem with even having such management is that the "nerds" must then dedicate an increasing amount of intellectual time to combating such managers who generate constant conflict over timescales (for whom the only limit that exists is whatever they can get away with). It is not a complete solution to play them at their own game, because even when you prevail, you'll have spent the best hours of the week prevailing at taming quarrelsome managers, rather than development. – Steve Feb 11 at 17:44
  • Totally agree. I'm already working at a company which consults and implements software like SAP, Salesforce,... While most of the colleagues are consulting and clicking things, I'm doing the custom development of components or microservice design. I think the problems are also the other ones in the team, which have to much commitment and e.g. mock about other people in the company who really just works 8 hours. It's totally bs because I receive money for 8 hours and not less or more, but if I work more billable hours, the company receive more money from the customer but I don't... – 0x30 Feb 12 at 16:46
  • I'm really bad at sales, therefore I don't like working as a freelancer, as I did while in university. But e.g. I got some connections to one of the FAANG around here and some other large companies. I'm thinking about accepting one of these offers but I need to do more research about the culture there – 0x30 Feb 12 at 16:47

Different companies can provide a very different work experience. You don't have to give up just because your first job sucked. Though you should probably quit this company. Start interviewing now. The more you burn out, the more difficult it will be to make a good impression at the interview.

Career is a marathon, not a sprint. (Nor a continuous sequence of sprints... don't ever let an Agile expert convince you otherwise.) 70h a week is unsustainable. Can you imagine doing this for the following ten, twenty, thirty, forty years? If the answer is "No", then you need to learn to say "No" now.

I think that a part of what you are experiencing now is the change from "school mode" to "job mode". These parts of life have different rules, which are usually not discussed explicitly, and it takes some time to adapt.

At school, you have a defined amount of work for given time interval -- attend these lessons, read these books, memorize this, pass these exams -- and if you do it faster, you are done, enjoy your extra free time.

At work, after you complete a task, you are given another task, then another, then another... until you retire or die, whichever comes first. How can people endure this? By setting and protecting boundaries around their work. Keep working for 8 hours a day, then stop. Continue on the next day, for 8 hours, then stop again. Anything else means sacrificing your mental and physical health, in return for... frankly, usually nothing, because a few weeks later no one will remember and no one will care about how much overtime you did today.

(There is also a third, "entrepreneur mode", where you decide both the time and work, but that's another story.)

Yes, the management will try to give you as much work as possible, and then some more. Your productivity is their bonus, so why wouldn't they? Keep working for 8 hours a day, then stop. What can be done within 8 hours, will be done. What cannot be done, won't be done. Exceptional overtime? Once a year, no problem. Once a week, definitely no. Once a month? Probably say yes, but start interviewing. These things usually only increase.

Titles are useful, even if they mean nothing... when you put them on your CV. "I was a Head of Development at XYZ Corporation in 2020-2021. Here is a phone number to the HR department that can confirm it."

I cannot code, consult, do the solution design, DevOps, Q&A and also own all the code.

I believe that given enough time, you could, and it could even be an interesting and enjoyable experience. But of course, it is unlikely that you would be given enough time, so this is a moot point.

I don't feel like a real developer because I don't have a degree in IT and I don't want to code all day

The first part is not important (many developers don't have a degree in IT), but the second part is. I think your options are to become an analyst or a manager. Or maybe a part-analyst part-developer, or something like that.

Probably your first priority would be to find a job in a different company, even if it would mean getting another developer job. Then you can explore possible options in the new company.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .