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I am a 41 year old person in Europe / Germany who's studied computer science and earned a Master's Degree in the past. Although I've enjoyed studying the subject I didn't really enjoy the work that followed.

Over the years I figured out that I'm a creative person who can't sit still in chairs. In hindsight it would have been better for me to become a craftsmen or so.

However, right now I ended up in a career path that requires me to work with excel sheets, norms and regulations (it / cyber security) and I can't stress enough how extremely boring that feels to me. Of course it also shows in my mediocre work performance.

That said I feel like I'm stuck in career that's unfulfilling and does not make me happy. I can't see myself working 25+ more years here.

The only reason I haven't left the company yet is an ok salary (not stellar, but not bad either), low work volume (plenty of time to do things on the side) and a liberal work from home policy.

Of course I realize that's not going to last forever. I fear that I might fall out of the loop if I don't grow professionally but then again I'm not really interested in growing in my current path for the reasons outlined above.

What could I do find a more fulfilling career in my 40s? I suppose it's too late to start an apprenticeship or study a different subject, since I'd be a mid-40s recent graduate then, so who's going to hire me then..

tldr; how can I find a fulfilling career with a degree in CS that's creative and does not require sitting on a chair all day?

(Maybe one last bit about me: I wouldn't do any work if I hadn't to do it for the money. I'd rather spend my time on photography, the outdoors and open source software work. I enjoyed web development in the past but I'm not sure how that would work professionally for me if I'd be forced to do it 8h a day in an organization..)

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  • I think, in this day and age, that you seriously need to reconsider your "does not require to sit all day" requirement. Even "creative stuff" is mostly done with computers nowadays, and that usually means sitting all day. There are a lot of gratifying and engaging jobs that are computer based.
    – calofr
    Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 14:31
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    I think you should clarify what it is about "sitting all day" that you dislike. Many creative craftspeople sit all day (and have done, even before computers). Equally, I work in IT and have a standing desk. Do you find sitting uncomfortable? Do you want to move around to see other people? Do you want to be outside...? Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 14:40
  • If it's literally the sitting that's bothering you, get a height adjustable table so you can work on the pc while standing Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 15:11
  • "how can I find a fulfilling career with a degree in CS that's creative and does not require sitting on a chair all day?" White-hat penetration testing. Picking locks. Removing doors. Climbing fences. Social engineering. Public speaking at security conferences. Etc. Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 23:05
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    I bicycle -- 2+ hours exercise a day is good compensation for sitting down at work. If you do it every day (it can take a few monts before you're fit enough to do it every, at the start you need rest days) then the hours and miles add up, nearly 10,000 km/year. And that amount of exercise makes you younger, it "turns back the clock". After a few years you'll feel more like 30 than 40. And maybe then you won't say it's "too late".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 16, 2023 at 12:55

3 Answers 3

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It's an interesting question actually and as peoples working lives become longer than ever before, it is a question which will come up more and more for people. While no-one can tell you specifically what you should pursue, I feel the following may help point you in the right direction

  1. Decide what it is you want to do

First of all you need to decide what a fulfilling career looks like for you. Unfortunately a lot of 'creative' endeavours still require you to sit in a chair for at least some time. You mention photography. Many professional photographers will spend at least as much time in front of photo editing software as they do in the field taking photos. Not universally true, I appreciate, but still a significantly large proportion.

  1. What do I need to do that professionally?

So you know what you want to do. Start looking for jobs in that and see what kinds of things the job adverts ask for. Attend courses or training, look for volunteer opportunities, anything to get yourself some experience

  1. Be realistic

You are talking about a wholesale change in career here. With the best will in the world, no-one is going to hire someone with no experience on the same salary as you get now in your career path of nearly 20 years.

  1. Leverage the experience you do have

You say "I suppose it's too late to start an apprenticeship or study a different subject, since I'd be a mid-40s recent graduate then, so who's going to hire me then.." Well you'd be surprised. Yes you're older than the other grads, but you have far more life experience. That actually counts for a lot and has swung more than one hiring panel. That being said competition for entry level jobs is high, so you will have more of a struggle to be seen.

I wish you all the best in your endeavour. While I am not changing career just yet, I am a similar age to you and I am at the point where I have decided that sitting at this desk is not what I will be doing for the rest of my life and I am putting serious consideration in to what the next career will be for me so I can really relate.

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  • Thank you for your answer! My takeaway is that I have to consider if I'm willing to leave my comfort zone and give up a steady & safe salary over the pursuit of finding a more fulfilling career. Actually I can spend hours editing photos. While it's still desk work I don't feel to bad about it as it's very rewarding. I wish you the very best for your goals! Maybe we're just facing our midlife crisis.. :)
    – CuriousMan
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 12:00
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On the professional end, you can develop other skillsets that are professionally valuable, and use those to continue to grow your career in new directions.

Another very common option is to use your knowledge to be competitive professionally by using your experience to do your job faster and better than your competitors. The saved time can be invested in non-professional development (hobbies).

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It is never "too late" to learn new skills, if you are willing to invest the time, effort, and money in doing so and willing to accept going back to being (and being paid as) a novice until you catch up. Many people have changed careers, for many reasons. It isn't easy, but it's certainly not impossible, especially if some of what you already know can be reapplied. There may even be areas where having both skill sets can be a competitive advantage.

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