What Color Is Your Parachute? 2018: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

Author: Richard N. Bolles
This Month Hacker News 1


by massung   2019-01-17
I'll prefix my answer with a definition:

adj. meaningless - not bringing a sense of meaning, satisfaction, worth, value, or purpose.

Now onto my response...

I was in AAA video game development, and regardless of what game I worked on, it was always the same thing each cycle: solve the same problems, work long hours on a game I'd never play myself, often detested, and maybe get some kind of a bonus or vacation time if it did well. Rinse and repeat, only each cycle was worse as I got older, had a family, wanted to spend time with them, and learned from past mistakes, but the designers got younger (from my perspective) and wanted to continually make all the same mistakes over again.

After a while, I came across - and read - "What Color Is Your Parachute" (https://www.amazon.com/What-Color-Your-Parachute-2018/dp/039...), which was fantastic!

At the time I was working for Disney and used the strategies I learned to come up with a plan to make connections outside my studio, learn a few new things while helping with other issues. Eventually (it took about a year) it paid off and I was moved + promoted to a completely separate division. I was still helping the game studios, but doing work that was far more rewarding to me and I was learning new skills: big data, ETL pipelines, databases, etc. And, I was able to apply all my existing knowledge and experience to that new position to make it better. I may not know Kafka yet, but I knew how to integrate pipeline code into the game engine using very low memory and CPU.

Time goes on, and - after helping someone else with a Scala + database problem on Reddit, I ended up landing a job using all my new skills at The Broad Institute helping with genetics research. I can't say that I've ever been happier or ever had a job that was more meaningful. I go to conferences now and meet people who are actually using my tools, REST APIs, etc. to cure complex diseases. And I'm learning so much more than I ever thought I would.

Back to your questions:

> Did you have a strategy or was it a leap of faith?

It was a strategy. I think when you're young and don't have a family it's easy to take big risks and leaps of faith. That was not an option for me. But, I think that believing that I _could_ successfully make the transition was a leap of faith.

> Did you regret it later on?

There was one point early on I did. I knew game development inside-out and was an authority on the subject. If I said something in a meeting it was taken seriously. It was hard to go back to being the newbie. After a while, though, that went away. I absolutely do NOT regret it now.

> Are you happy with the decision you made?

Couldn't be happier. Life is better on every single front for me. I'll also note that much of that is intertwined. I'm happy (with work), so I act happier (at home), which means the family is happier (around me), and it all feeds on each other.

> Where do you think you would be today if you had decided to stay in that job?

Do the same shit over and over again, until something happened to the studio and I was let go. Eventually, I'd be a 50-year old game developer that no one would hire because my price tag would be too high, and I wouldn't put up with someone telling me to work 80 hour weeks.

> If you are currently in a job like that, then do you have any plans of escaping to work on your passion?


But, I'll answer this a little differently than you probably expected. At every job I've had - until now - I've always had side projects and little programming things I did for fun at home. I always had an "itch" that wasn't being scratched by my day job. That's no longer the case. I get fulfillment at my job, and if there's ever anything I'd like to explore, I'm lucky enough to be working where it is actively encouraged.

In summary, I'm not sure if your question was a kind of "poll" for something else you're working on or if you are looking for encouragement to escape a job that you find meaningless. Assuming it's the latter, I would suggest reading the book linked - or at least enough to get you going. It has many great tips for helping you discover what's actually important to you, and then how to come up with plans on how to get there. It may take a while, but often, simply having a plan and sticking to it (and being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel) is enough to keep your spirits up.

Good luck!