T Nation

Anyone Make a Career Change?


If so, how'd you go about doing it and what motivated you to make the switch in the first place.

Now everyone, please take your blood pressure meds before we begin the discussion pops a propranolol


Not a career change per se because I've never had a career.

I studied political science, got a MA in it and was working at law firm and planning on going to law school when I came to the firm realization that despite my family (all lawyers) it wasn't something i was going to enjoy. Instead did a 12 week coding (software) bootcamp and am starting my job Monday.

takes Xanax


Yeah. From one shitty field to another.

Aren't you some kind of engineer or something?


Yes, and a fairly substantial one at that. For 5 years, I was a college professor, teaching and performing research in cognitive psychology. For various reasons, I felt my position was not going to work out well in the long run, so I began searching for a similar one at another university. Unfortunately, the market for PhD cognitive psychologists was rather glutted at the time, and my search was proving fruitless. I finally realized that if I was going to have a career, it was not going to be in academic psychology.

After some soul-searching, and with encouragement from my wife, I decided to become a physician. The next couple of years were interesting, as I had to take med-school prerequisites while continuing to teach full-time. I was not accepted into med school the first time I applied--didn't even get an interview. It wasn't until the second go-round that I was accepted.

Irony of ironies: On the day I was accepted to med school, I also received the one-and-only job offer I ever got for another position in cognitive psychology. Not so ironic but even more importantly, my daughter was born the next morning. (Quite a 24 hours.)


Yeah, unfortunately. I'm technically in research now, working on autonomous guidance systems (for cars and other vehicles). The technical aspects are pretty cool but the job itself is depressing. Id probably like it more as a hobby. I'm thinking of going into a leadership roll, but really since my mom was put in a nursing home in june (After getting sepsis, long story from that) quite frankly nothing feels right or worth my effort anymore.


I'm in academia too, studying nonlinear estimation and control (navigation and guidance systems to people without a math background), and while I like what I am studying, there are some circumstances which are making me second guess myself (nothing to do with grades I'm doing ok in that regard). If you don't mind me asking, what made you think it was time for a change?


I did, and have taken pretty much a ten grand a year pay cut to do so.

Motivation was that I didn't like the field, and knew that it wasn't going to be rewarding long term, so I've now taken a job in a different industry where I make pretty much no money, but in the long term it'll work out.

Just going to have to put with being broke for the next year or so.


Ya and I'm considering a 3rd career change...

Went to night school and earned the necessary degree.

The first time it was a matter of deciding if the military life was what I wanted v. a stable family life.

Now, I'm more or less just bored and I know this is not where I want to be. The motivation is to try a broader range of activities so I can hopefully determine a more suitable niche in the future.


[quote="Aero51, post:5, topic:223572, full:true"]

working on autonomous guidance systems (for cars and other vehicles). The technical aspects are pretty cool but the job itself is depressing

You need to get yourself to northern Cali -seems to be mega money in that industry with Tesla, google etc

my mom was put in a nursing home in june (After getting sepsis, long story from that) quite frankly nothing feels right or worth my effort anymore.

Sorry to hear that, but thats motivation in a bottle for pushing for the big bucks right there. Family in a home/nursing gets damn expensive


I wasn't happy with the orientation of my department, which was dominated by long-time faculty who were out-of-step (to put it mildly) with contemporary experimental psychology. In essence, the department had been an intellectual island, cut off from the rest of the experimental-psych world, for the 25 years prior to my arrival. (I can still remember watching the old-timers teaching from the same old, yellowed notes they had been using for 25 years). When the Old Guard made it clear they had no intention of either stepping aside or allowing the curriculum to be updated, I knew it was time to look elsewhere.


I have found this as well, that academics, for supposedly being trained to think outside the box, are very "narrow thinkers" so to speak. I can see why people leave, as I feel on some level it indoctrinates an individual to think in a certain way, like a cog in a machine.


Some egghead psychological dude called it "Groupthink."

All his co-workers were probably like, "wtf are you talking about?"


It really depends on who you work with. The tenure system has it's downsides in terms of creating a place for people to just sit back, but there are some wonderfully creative and motivated people, too.


I'm 38, and this is really my first career. I've had good paying jobs before that could have been careers, but my heart wasn't in them. I hate that feeling you get when you know how to handle everything and there are no more surprises.


Probably the most important part.

Figure out whether its a funk or temporary depression of some sort.

I've felt bad, funky, depressed, and just plain crappy before. It wasn't about what I was doing, but how I was experiencing it.

If that's what it is, I wouldn't suggest jumping out. Being on the cutting edge of revolutionary technology isn't my forte though, so take this all for what ever you think it's worth.


I basically do a shell version of what I did before, but half the hours and pretty much zero stress. I miss it at times, and I really miss the information flow, but I'll probably live to see 50 now.