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Looking to change careers, from mech engineering to IT - Page 3

post #31 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aravenel View Post

It really depends on what you want to do--there are hundreds of languages out there and they are each used for different things.

If you want to write web apps, learn PHP, Python or Ruby. If you want to write scientific code, learn Matlab or Python. If you want to do general purpose back end programming, learn Java, C#, or C++. If you want to do sysadmin, learn bash, Perl, and Python (in addition to all the sysadmin stuff you need to know). Pretty much no matter what, you will need to know SQL, but a working knowledge of SQL can be learned in a couple of days.

Programming in a sysadmin role is generally limited to scripting administration events (deployments, updates, moving files around, etc). It's scripting really, not programming.

Note that the lower level the language, the more computer science knowledge you will need--e.g. you need to know about memory management, pointers, and garbage collection to write effective C++ code, whereas in a scripting language like Python, Ruby, or Perl, this is handled for you.

You keep jumping back and forth between DBA, sysadmin, and development, all of which are different things. Why don't you start tinkering around to figure out what you want? You could, say, write a small webapp in PHP, Python, or Ruby. This would teach you some programming (from writing the code), some rudimentary DBA work (from writing queries in your code and deploying and managing the database), and a bit of sysadmin (provisioning, deploying, and maintaining the server hosting your code). It wont be enough to get you a job, but at least it will give you some idea of what goes into a small IT project and you'll know more about what you like.

What I want is to get a foot in the door and poke around from the inside. I'm going to learn languages and mess around on my own, but even if I want to do DBA or development I can't get into those fields right now. So I am thinking to just do the project management/desktop support route to get into the field, and then talk to + work with people in the fields I am looking at to see if I actually want to do that. I may find out I actually hate DBA once I am working in IT, and there's no way I can get a job in DBA now. So I need to figure out what is most realistic for me to get my foot in the door, build experience, and then figure out what I want to specialize in once I am situated in the industry. I know it's confusing, I'm confused myself. But I am trying to prioritize for the next 1-2 years... DBA, development, other highly technical specializations will require much longer than that for me to get into so for just making the switch they aren't really viable. Desktop/network admin & project management are.
post #32 of 38
For the immediate term, I would do the following:
  1. Try to get PM experience in MechE. That will give you some experience to fall back on. Doesn't have to be big stuff, just get as much experience at managing things as you can.
  2. Try to pick up some programming in your current role if possible. Like I said, just about every field of engineering uses scientific programming for modeling (Matlab, Python, etc). Find out who is doing this in your office and ask them if you can learn and help.
  3. Start tinkering around with code on your own. Like I said, by making a little web app, you will learn a ton about some of the different disciplines and how they fit together.

Once you have that, you can try to lateral. I wouldn't run out the door to get a desktop support role because that's not going to be much better to get into more "hard" IT--the skills there are basic troubleshooting and customer service stuff, and it tends to be a dead end job. It sounds like the job you have right now is much higher level than that, so leverage it. It's in engineering, there are tons of people in IT with a hard engineering background.
post #33 of 38
Thread Starter 
I dont have a job at the moment due to the relocation. Hence the bit of urgency. My experience so far has been pretty PM heavy though. I have been the lead on a lot of jobs and have about 7 years of working experience. So I think I can parlay that into experience relevant to managing IT projects. I still need the technical base but I can learn that on my own.
post #34 of 38
Ah, that makes more sense then.

Honestly, I'd imagine that after 7 years you have a bit of seniority. I'd look for something in MechE that is commensurate and look to lateral after a year or two. Taking an entry level helpdesk job is going to put you working with a bunch of dead-end high school dropouts getting paid $8/hr. That's not the role you need--it will hurt you long run. You'd do much better pushing the MechE PM stuff while learning some more IT skills and maybe working on your PMP. Get as technical as you can for that year or two until you can look to lateral.

Seriously, there are tons of engineers in IT, so a good amount, particularly the logical, quantitative mindset is transferable. At least you're not like an English major looking to lateral.
post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by aravenel View Post
Seriously, there are tons of engineers in IT, so a good amount, particularly the logical, quantitative mindset is transferable. At least you're not like an English major looking to lateral.

 

Hey, lay off the English majors!  shog[1].gif

 

Maybe, if you don't mind, I could hijack this thread a bit, and ask for some similar advice.  I have been working at a small e-commerce company for about 4+ years. For the first 3+ years I was doing mostly CPC marketing and then a ton of other stuff, writing content, Google analytics, learning everything I could about SEO and then making recs, etc., etc..

 

I started studying programming on the side and in October, they moved me to do development full time. So I've been getting some experience (mostly C#).

 

My wife and I are moving to Boston in August to be close to family. I am hoping that I can use this experience (even though it will be less than a full year of dev experience) to get another development job... either that or keep trying to work remotely for my current job. I'm not sure if I want to do that, though, because I think it is very mismanaged, there are poor standards, and not as much opportunity to learn as I want.

 

Any general advice?

post #36 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aravenel View Post

Ah, that makes more sense then.

Honestly, I'd imagine that after 7 years you have a bit of seniority. I'd look for something in MechE that is commensurate and look to lateral after a year or two. Taking an entry level helpdesk job is going to put you working with a bunch of dead-end high school dropouts getting paid $8/hr. That's not the role you need--it will hurt you long run. You'd do much better pushing the MechE PM stuff while learning some more IT skills and maybe working on your PMP. Get as technical as you can for that year or two until you can look to lateral.

Seriously, there are tons of engineers in IT, so a good amount, particularly the logical, quantitative mindset is transferable. At least you're not like an English major looking to lateral.

This is another facet of the plan. I haven't thrown MechE out for this next gig, but it will most likely be my last MechE gig and will just be for cash flow. Ideally I could get with a large enough org that I could move laterally within. My last 2 companies would actually have been good for that. So its a multi pronged approach.
post #37 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cool The Kid View Post

This is another facet of the plan. I haven't thrown MechE out for this next gig, but it will most likely be my last MechE gig and will just be for cash flow. Ideally I could get with a large enough org that I could move laterally within. My last 2 companies would actually have been good for that. So its a multi pronged approach.

Very nice. I think this is by far the better approach, especially if you can stay patient--it will pay off much more in the long run.
post #38 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Rural Juror View Post

Hey, lay off the English majors!  shog%5B1%5D.gif

Maybe, if you don't mind, I could hijack this thread a bit, and ask for some similar advice.  I have been working at a small e-commerce company for about 4+ years. For the first 3+ years I was doing mostly CPC marketing and then a ton of other stuff, writing content, Google analytics, learning everything I could about SEO and then making recs, etc., etc..

I started studying programming on the side and in October, they moved me to do development full time. So I've been getting some experience (mostly C#).

My wife and I are moving to Boston in August to be close to family. I am hoping that I can use this experience (even though it will be less than a full year of dev experience) to get another development job... either that or keep trying to work remotely for my current job. I'm not sure if I want to do that, though, because I think it is very mismanaged, there are poor standards, and not as much opportunity to learn as I want.

Any general advice?

Awesome! I know several people with career paths like that. Good for you for following what you wanted to do.

If you don't want to remote for your current job, I'd imagine you'd be able to find another entry level job in programming. You've demonstrated that you can write code that (at least usually!) works, so that should be enough to get you hired somewhere in some capacity. Given that its less than a year, it would still probably be entry level, but you'd have a leg up given your experience so you could probably be promoted pretty quickly.

Continue to get as much hard programming experience as you can. Even side projects are fine as they demonstrate that you can write working code. It's actually kinda shocking how many entry devs know all sorts of theory but can't actually write a lick of code.
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