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Ask Slashdot: Moving From Tech Support To Development? 133

An anonymous reader writes "My eastern European tech-support job will be outsourced in 6 months to a nearby country. I do not wish to move, having relationship and roots here, and as such I stand at a crossroads. I could take my current hobby more seriously and focus on Java development. I have no degree, no professional experience in the field, and as such, I do not hold much market value for an employer. However, I find joy in the creative problem solving that programming provides. Seeing the cogs finally turn after hours invested gives me pleasures my mundane work could never do. The second option is Linux system administration with a specialization in VMware virtualisation. I have no certificates, but I have been around enterprise environments (with limited support of VMware) for 21 months now, so at the end of my contract with 27 months under my belt, I could convince a company to hire me based on willingness to learn and improve. All the literature is freely available, and I've been playing with VDIs in Debian already.

My situation is as follows: all living expenses except food, luxuries and entertainment is covered by the wage of my girlfriend. That would leave me in a situation where we would be financially alright, but not well off, if I were to earn significantly less than I do now. I am convinced that I would be able to make it in system administration, however, that is not my passion. I am at an age where children are not a concern, and risks seem to be, at first sight, easier to take. I would like to hear the opinion and experience of fellow readers who might have been in a similar situation."
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Ask Slashdot: Moving From Tech Support To Development?

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  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @05:02PM (#46559143)
    The dirty secret: Unlike sports where the best player is sought after, or music and art where you can judge someone's skill, most HR firms have no way of telling if you can do the job. So it doesn't matter if you're really good or just beginning, if you can sell the interview you can probably get a job. Some of the most talented people never get a chance to ever start, and a lot of nearly incompetent people get luxurious positions. Someday you might get good after decades of experience, but there's no reason not to apply to any job if you can write the most basic cell phone ap. Another dirty secret: A great majority of jobs ask for so many techs, there may be one or two people on the planet that qualify. So instead of looking for having all the techs, apply if you have one or two. Its a giant 'or' list, not an 'and'.

    I say this reality situation as a guy on the outside looking in. I've done everything in my power since a young age to become the best software engineer I could. I code in my free time. I went to a #1 college for computers. Yet, couldn't even break into the industry in the past 11 years. The road goes both ways. I'm good at programming, and I'm not good at job searching.
  • by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @05:30PM (#46559285)

    No-one will start with a blank screen in the morning and start to write code, just because. You need to have an itch, something you want to solve. Writing code is the means, not the goal.

    Think about your support job, and ask yourself what tool would really make your life easier. Then set out to write that tool. You have the target people sitting around you right now, solve your problem and solve theirs too. If you're lucky, the tool will be valuable enough for the company to take it to that next country, all while you keep supporting that code.

    I did this many years ago, while working as tech support for a tape vendor (Exabyte). I found their customer tools rubbish, so I started writing something easier (Expert 7 for MS-DOS). I asked my wife to test it for me (she is not in IT), just to see what she struggled with and made it better. It took me a while, but in the long run the company made my tool the default for customer support. I have kept on supporting that tool and many others after that until the end of last year. For almost 20 years those tape tools have given me part of my income. Even today, I still have a few customers asking me to code for them. LTO-7 is coming, perhaps I'll be asked to integrate support by then.

  • by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @05:46PM (#46559385) Homepage Journal

    "Don't quit your day job..."

    You might want to re-read the summary. His day job is quitting him.

    And to the original question asker I'd say go with development because you'll never be good at something you don't like.

    Also, when you've landed that good job, reward your girlfriend amply for helping make it all possible. :-)

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller