First off, this is a bit of me fishing for encouragement which I desperately need.

I was an economics student in College, and in the first job out of school (which I hated) I discovered a knack for picking up new technologies quickly. That job lasted 2 years and included a promotion, but my boss could tell I wasn't working very hard at my second role, so I was fired.

I started programming and instantly loved it. I have been writing code every weekend for a year and a half. I got a job on an IT support desk shortly after being let go at the first place. I had a rough time at first, but eventually got the hang of things, so they put me on a busier shift.

About a month into the busier shift, I was slapped with a PIP. I was going too fast, making too many mistakes, and showing stress too often (cursing, other immature reactions to problems). I am working very hard to improve, but it's only been 2 weeks and the anxiety is driving me nuts. My manager "doesn't have enough time" to say if I am improving or not.

Please let me know somewhere else I should ask this question if not here - what do I do next? I love programming, but if I am too stupid for IT how can I become a great programmer? I don't have the money to play around in other fields to "discover myself" - Has anyone been in this position? How did you pull yourself out?

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    There is almost zero relationship between the skills to be a good programmer and the skills to be a good support desk worker. – Patricia Shanahan Mar 8 '17 at 3:25
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    Talking quickly, making lots of dumb mistakes, having a short temper... I am not a psychologist but is this something you've dealt with all of your life, or are these just things that popped up all of the sudden? Because if it's the former, you might have ADHD (and a lot of programmers, by the way, have it, too, so it's not a death sentence to coding for a living). – NotVonKaiser Mar 8 '17 at 5:43
  • Your title says "fired twice" but your story suggests you were fired once and are currently on PIP (perhaps you will be let go, but perhaps not if you are really working hard to improve). – Brandin Mar 8 '17 at 11:04
  • PIP == getting fired real soon now. Polish your resume & start applying – Mawg says reinstate Monica Apr 20 '17 at 12:15

Right now, you should follow the advice in all the other "I'm on a PIP" questions and apply for other jobs immediately. Go get out before you get fired. A PIP is not meant to be helpful for you, it's meant to be helpful for the company in it's attempt to fire you. Take action. Now.

what do I do next?

As for what you should do in the future, let me say something first: any job that pays your bills is a good job and worth having. Get one. Any one.

I love programming, but if I am too stupid for IT how can I become a great programmer?

I'm not sure you are in a position to answer that. You have done a lot as a hobby, but you never got real feedback on that from other more experienced people. You don't actually know whether what you do is good. "Working" is not the same as "good". There is a lot of crap out there that's "working". Your current job has nothing to do with programming. It's like saying you are a car mechanic and your boss said you're not fast enough switching tires and you conclude you may be a bad driver. Nobody can tell. Maybe you are. Maybe not. Changing tires is not the way to figure it out.

Programming is a profession. It takes an education. You will compete with people from college. How would you estimate my chances to beat you in economics if I said I play stock market games and read books about it every weekend for a year and I took a job as security guard at a bank, because they are near money all the time? Getting into a profession simply does not work that way. It has worked that way for programming 30 years back when you could not simply pick CS in college. But this is the new millennium and it's been that for a while now.

What you need to do if you want to do this is get an education. No free online course, no unsupervised books, not hobby projects. This is not the 90s where cobbling some shit together in HTML will land you a job. You need a solid foundation. A real teacher with real feedback. This does not need to be college all over. Look in your local community, there should be other options available. Evening courses, weekend courses, maybe courses you can take in between jobs or with PTO from a job.

With a solid foundation, apply for (and I cannot stress this enough) the job you want! Sure, it won't be Google or Microsoft, but if you want to be a programmer, apply for junior programmer roles. Do not apply for anything else to become a programmer, there is no such thing as "rising through the ranks". You learn nothing about being a programmer in jobs that are not programming.


So to make it short:

  • get a new job that pays the bills as soon as possible.
  • Then get an education.
  • Then get the job you want.
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    I wouldn't say it is IMPOSSIBLE to still get an entry-level programming job without a formal background. I am living proof of this myself. Companies provide training especially to people from different fields to get new perspectives, or at least that's how it worked for me. – Weckar E. Mar 8 '17 at 10:45
  • Jennifer Dewalt, and her 180 Websites in 180 days, i believe that she was self taught, and now a working programmer... – SteveS Mar 9 '17 at 23:00
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    Books and free courses can give you the same (or better) education as a formal course or degree (formal courses sometimes follow books to the letter, and some free courses have the same syllabus as the top formal courses). If you go about it in the correct way, the only problem is proof of ability (i.e. marks and a certificate), which, for programming, you can more than make up for with amazing hobby projects (which you can possibly make a career out of by themselves). Anyone who dismisses an amazing programmer because of a lack of a formal education doesn't deserve amazing employees. – Bernhard Barker Mar 10 '17 at 9:57
  • Books and free courses do not offer human feedback. There are a lot of offers on training and I don't care which one somebody takes. But I prefer people that had intelligent feedback during their training and that cannot be had by sitting at home with a book at the weekend. It can be had online or offline, by a professor during a lecture or a teacher via Skype, but without it, the education is just not as good as it could have been. And yes, exceptions exist. But we cannot all be exceptional, most people are somewhere around average. – nvoigt Mar 10 '17 at 10:08

I would say if your goal is to ultimately be a coder/developer, keep programming in your free time as much as possible. Coming up with a few projects that you could eventually make available on GitHub would give you some "Dev Cred" you could use as a foot in the door to a programming career.

In the mean time, you gotta keep your cool and stick with your PIP.

Also check out this related question: Does receiving a Performance Improvement Plan suggest my job is on the line?

Good luck!


You should have started looking for a job the day you got the PIP notification. Jump ship and do not make the same mistakes.

That said, while it is easier to restart with a clean slate, many of us when younger were given a 2nd opportunity, and it worked out. Try to have an honest talk with your superior about the subject.

However, if he is saying time is short, I would say he already made up his mind about the subject; nevertheless tell him you have a passion for the field and will make a big effort to improve your soft skills.


Speaking as someone who has been fired twice and is still somehow employed, I assure you it's something you can recover from. I would not recommend it as the ideal career path, however.

Part of it is simply gaining experience and maturity, and getting your emotions under control, to learn to think before you act. I was also in a similar position where stress caused emotional outbursts.

Being fired does not necessarily reflect on your talent or ability, but is more of an indicator that your current role is not a good fit for you.

Take this opportunity to find another position, one that you like, and not just the first one to come along. This will allow you to start fresh on equal footing with everyone else. It's hard to come back from the perception a PIP brings, even if your performance improves dramatically.

I am also in technology and did not go to school for it -- you are fortunate to have an interest and ability in something that's in demand. The best way to proceed is to work hard, continue to learn, and watch and listen to others.


I was an economics student in College, and in the first job out of school (which I hated) I discovered a knack for picking up new technologies quickly.

Use what you know.

Some people write code for all sorts of different reasons. Some build enterprise or commercial products that need to be as robust as possible and perform acceptable on a wide variety of hardware. Some people write code to automate repetitive tasks that they would otherwise have to do themselves. Some people write code to control machinery. Some write code to run an experiment, calculate some value, or analyze some data. The amount of programming knowledge you need varies according to the kind of code you're writing and the reason for writing it. The amount of domain knowledge you need also varies.

With an education (and maybe even a degree?) in economics, you have a lot of domain knowledge, but not so much programming knowledge. Therefore, I think you'd be smart to look for a job where you can use programming as a tool in an economics-related position. Your interest in and knowledge of programming could give you an edge over other economics grads, and your economics major would make you eligible for jobs that most computer science grads might not even consider.

Data science is a relatively new but rapidly growing field that applies math and statistics to large data sets. It's enough of a specialization that you probably couldn't just jump into it, but it might be a direction in which you should consider heading.

Consider learning the R language and spend some time looking around at data-related entry-level jobs.


Below are my pointers that you may check:

  1. If you have great coding skills into Java, you have a market open for you. Start applying for the Programmer jobs, now on.

  2. You are way too stressed, because you are taking separate times for both programming, and job. How will it be if your job is programming?

  3. Improving for PIP is not that difficult either. During your office hours concentrate on work alone. Remember, this job pays you to pay your bills. Devoting everyday 1-2 hours for programming is more than sufficient.

  4. 9 hours is what the office hours are. Don't stay more than that in your office, as this is not the job you should be continuing in the next 2 months.

  5. If you have a bug for programming, you can join a job in a start up. There you will be paid handsomely as well as it will satiate your desire to code.

  6. You can also register yourself to Freelancer, where you get to do the job on developing or coding for minor applications(just to make a start) and get paid. You can directly use this experience in the companies and get an awesomely paid job. But here's the catch, You should be having some time to work on the application.

  7. If you are good at coding, your next step should be to make a switch in the next 2 months.

  • The going rates im freelancer are a joke, and not enough to pay bills in the 1st world – Rui F Ribeiro Mar 11 '17 at 14:31

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