4 Clues That Your Current Job May Not Be Right For You

Life is too short to spend time working in a job that you’re not passionate about. However, an overwhelmingly high number of reports suggests that many people who work are unhappy with their jobs in one way or another. Are you in the majority? If so, your current career may not be right for you! Here’s how you can tell.

  1. You’re not happy in your current role

Everyone has the occasional bad day at work. It happens. But, if you find yourself dreading the workday on a consistent basis to the point where you don’t want to be at work more often than you do, you may not be in the right job.

It’s important to take some time to figure out why you’re not happy with your job. Are the issues you come up with something that you have some control over?

If the issues are not in your control, how long do you think you can deal with them until something has to give? Think about the long-term picture here.

Also, take a look at your work environment. How is everyone else feeling about their jobs? Do they look unhappy as well? If you work with others who feel the same way, there may be a bigger issue that needs to be addressed by the higher ups. Having a whole team unhappy does not create a good work culture.

2. You feel unfulfilled

If your job leaves you feeling unfulfilled in what you’re doing with your life, you may not be in the right job.

I worked for a tobacco company one year while I was finishing up school for my second bachelor’s degree. As someone who grew up with asthma, I couldn’t get on board with their mission and their purpose.

I had absolutely no sense of fulfillment working there, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was making a positive impact on the world. On the flip side, there were many people who worked there that felt fulfilled to be helping distribute a product that they enjoyed using.

When you feel like you’re making an impact in the work you do, it can give you a great feeling of accomplishment and pride. It’s all a matter of making sure you know who you are and what gives you that sense of fulfillment. When you finally get that feeling of fulfillment in the job you do, it’s something you don’t want to lose.

3. You don’t feel appreciated

When you feel like you do a great job at work, and you put in a lot of effort because you care, it is the worst feeling to not receive any appreciation for it. You’re helping the company you work for be successful, but you don’t get the recognition you deserve. It can hurt your morale and drive to continue to do well.

Maybe you got overlooked for a promotion or raise. Maybe it’s happened on more than one occasion. If you don’t feel appreciated at work, it’s hard to be committed to doing your best.

If you’re not feeling appreciated at work, try bringing it up with your boss. It’s okay to be direct and highlight all the great work you’ve been doing. There’s a chance that they’ve been busy to the point that they haven’t noticed or it hasn’t been brought to their attention.

However, they may not give you the response you were expecting. The company may not be giving raises at that time, there may not be available positions to be promoted to, or it’s not in their management style to acknowledge great work.

If you’re feeling unappreciated at work, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change, you may not be in the right job.

4. You browse available job openings

On your down time you may find yourself browsing open jobs in your area. Sometimes the grass is 100% greener on the other side. You owe it to yourself to entertain the idea of what another job would look like for you. Take your job browsing a couple steps further.

Find opportunities to interview with other companies. The stakes would be a lower because you already have a job, so the stress levels shouldn’t be as high as if you didn’t have a job to begin with.

Look out for the things that would make you happy, fulfilled, and appreciated at the job, and ask questions about the things that have you looking at other jobs in the first place.

Ask to take a tour of where the new job is. Use this opportunity to gauge the mood of the room. Do people seem happy to be there? Ask if you could meet with someone who works there to get some inside information that you may not have gotten during the interview. These are all great ways to get yourself into a job that fits you best.

Summary

Many working individuals are not happy in their current jobs. It can be for a variety of reasons, but if you find yourself in the following situations for an extended period of time, your job may not be the right fit for you:

  1. You’re not happy in your current role
  2. You feel unfulfilled
  3. You don’t feel appreciated
  4. You browse available job openings

You should be in a job where you’re happy, fulfilled, appreciated, and you’re excited to be there. You owe it to yourself to find the job that’s right for you.

Are you in a job you don’t like? Or, do you have a job you love? I’d love to hear from you!

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Career Spotlight: Software Developer

In my Career Spotlight series, we dive into different careers by answering common questions people have about them.

This edition of Career Spotlight focuses on my current role as a software developer. A software developer is responsible for designing programs and applications within a software development life cycle.

But what does that mean? Let’s take our phones, for example. Just about all the applications, from the navigation app to your favorite games, were created by software developers. The same goes for most, if not all, of the programs on your computer.

Have you been asked to update any applications on your phone? Software developers are responsible for that as well. Not only do they create software, they also have a responsibility of maintaining it after it gets to the customer.

Depending on what job search site you use, the number of open software developer positions can vary from 50,000 to over 200,000 jobs. It is a career that is in high demand all around the world.

According to a U.S. News report, software developer ranks as the number one job for salary, jobs, future growth, salary, and work-life balance. All of these factors make software developer a highly rewarding and satisfying career to pursue.

Let’s get into some questions.

Q1. How did you get into software development?

It’s interesting how I ended up going down this path. My first career was in teaching. I loved it because I felt I could make a positive difference in my students’ lives.

There was one school I taught at that put an emphasis on the students learning computer concepts. So, every grade took at least one computer class throughout the year.

One day, I decided to spend some time with my students in their computer class as a way to bond with them. In the class, they were working on learning to build code through a game, and I instantly got sucked into it. It was so fascinating to think that what they’re working on could lead to creating so many things that I use daily.

From there, I took a few free coding classes online to see how I would like it, and I was hooked.

I considered going back to school to study something involving coding, but it was hard for me to commit to pursuing a different career when I already put so much time and effort into teaching. I was torn.

I had one of those light bulb type moments one day in the middle of the school year when I was sitting at home after teaching all week, and I felt mentally burned out from it. I couldn’t see myself being happy long term feeling this way. As much as it hurt to leave my students, I made it a goal to return to school to change my career path.

Q2. How did you get a software developer job?

I got into my current position by chance, really. I did an internship with a company over the summer between the first and second year of my program. I worked with a team that assigned me a task of automating an application to create less manual work for people using it. Through this task, I found that I really enjoyed the work.

At the end of the internship, I was presented with a job offer by the company, but I wasn’t informed on what my job would be. I ended up accepting the offer because I loved the company, and I felt that I could develop my career with them.

Fast forward to the next year where I’m about to begin my orientation, and I get an email saying what team I’ll be on and what my specific role would be. As luck would have it, I got placed into a software developer position. Some other areas I could have ended up in were information security, quality, or data science.

Q3. What did you study when you returned to school?

I studied computer science. The school I attended offered both computer science and computer engineering, but because there were more requirements to graduate for computer engineering, I opted for computer science.

I took many math courses like calculus and linear algebra, but most of my time in the program consisted of computer science courses. Some of the classes I took include java, data structures, algorithms, operating systems, and a yearlong senior project.

Q4. What is the difference between software development and software engineering?

This is one of those questions where the answer you get depends on who you ask. In my industry, both titles are used interchangeably, and that’s how I treat it.

If we’re looking for a difference, it would be in the engineering part of software engineer. software engineers use a set of engineering principles in problem solving and creating software just like other engineering professions, but a software developer may not necessarily use these same principles when creating software.

Because of this, it’s common to hear that a software engineer can do what a software developer does, but a software developer may not be able to do all of what a software engineer does.

Q5. What does a typical workday look like as a software developer?

One of the things I love most about my job is the variation of what I’ll do in a given day. One day I could be writing code for functions of an app that operate behind the scenes, and the next day I could be learning about user interface concepts.

My workday starts when I get into the office. The layout of the office is open with no assigned seats, so I can sit anywhere to work. Think cafeteria style, but with more defined spaces for people to work. I’ll spend some time checking my emails and seeing what meetings I have scheduled for the day. These meetings can vary from meeting with members of my team to taking time to learn something new through my company. I could be in meetings anywhere from 30 minutes to all day depending on the day and time of month.

When I’m not in meetings, I work on assignments that I am responsible for completing in a given time frame. As a software developer, usually this involves writing and updating code for the application I am responsible for. These assignments update every couple of weeks, so there’s always something to work on.

I work as part of a team, and we all have responsibilities that are geared towards completing goals that we set in increments. We meet daily to discuss what we’ve done for the day, what we plan to do the next day, and anything that may be holding us back from completing our work. There’s a lot of accountability and checks in place to ensure we are on track to reach our goals.

On the job, I am always learning. If I get stuck with my work, I have a mentor that I can reach out to for support. Compared to teaching, the stress level is very reasonable.

The work time is flexible as well. I can arrive anytime in the morning before my meetings and leave when I feel that I am at a good place with my work. I also have the flexibility to work from home, which is a huge benefit for me when my son has to stay home from daycare, or if I have other things to take care of outside of the office.

Conclusion

This was Career Spotlight, where we focused on common questions people have about software development.

If you have any other questions about the profession or want to learn more, leave a comment!

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for another Career Spotlight article!

Thinking About Going Back To School? Here Are Some Important Things To Consider

Whether you’re wanting to finish the degree you started, begin a master’s program, or earn a second bachelor’s degree, there’s a few important things to consider before going back to school.

  1. Why do you want to go back to school?

Before I decided that going back to school for my second bachelor’s degree was in the best interest of my family and myself, I created a list of reasons why I should go back to school. This is a good first step to do if you’re deciding something major like going back to school as it enables you to visually gather your thoughts in one place.

Creating a counter argument list is also helpful in comparing the pros and cons of going back to school versus not going back. To create a counter argument list, you would write down reasons why going back to school would not be a good idea, and then you would compare your results with each other to see which side makes the most sense for you.

The list I put together had many good points, I remember, but the number one reason for wanting to go back to school was the following:

  • I am not happy in my career, and I don’t see it getting better without change.

I read this line over and over again until it got stuck in my head. What if, I reasoned with myself, I could change how I feel about my career instead of changing my career? It made sense to try to make it work since I had already put so much effort into my career at that point. In thinking about it this way, I sometimes compare my feelings towards my career with a bad relationship. I wasn’t happy, but I was trying to make it work in hopes that it would get better.

With all the effort given in making my career work, in the end I realized that it just wasn’t for me. So, I continued with the idea of going back to school by building on the list I created previously.

From my list, I put together goals in order to work towards a different outcome than the career I was moving on from. My goals in going back to school was to put my family in a better place financially, and so I could get into a career that I was happy with. With my goals in front of me, I felt comfortable moving forward with going back to school.

2. How are you going to pay for school?

This is a big consideration considering the price of a single college class can reach thousands of dollars. Factor in your current bills and other obligations, and it can get expensive fast. Before I started my second bachelor’s degree program, I took out a student loan for just enough to allow me to get started with school. During the school year, I applied for scholarships that I qualified for, and I also worked full time. I set aside money earned from my work to pay the cost of tuition for the upcoming semester. These things together are the reason why I was able to make it through school without having to worry about finances.

When you’re considering how you’re going to pay for school, you need to be aware of the cost of attendance at the school you’re interested in attending, and how you’re going to get the money to allow you to continue taking classes until you graduate.

Tip: Many schools offer a reduced cost per credit hour after a certain number of hours in a semester.

I highly recommend seeing if the school you’re interested in attending does this. The school I was attending reduced the cost of each credit hour above 12 credits from a couple hundred dollars to under $50. This significantly lowered my overall tuition cost.

Also, if you’re still eligible, fill out the FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) online. Enrollment starts each year in October, and it can be a great way to receive aid if you qualify.

3. How are you going to fit school in with the rest of your life?

I’ll admit, this one was probably the toughest consideration for me to address. The reason why it was so tough to deal with was because I needed to work full time for the money and benefits. It is definitely not easy fitting a full time course load alongside a full time job throughout the week.

If you are in the same position as I was with needing to keep working during the school year, careful planning and flexibility is essential. It is important to find out if you can take the classes you need to reach your goals while maintaining your current job. To figure this out, you can talk to the advisers at the specific school you’re interested in attending to see if there would be any conflicts between your work schedule and the times classes are offered.

I knew I couldn’t continue teaching while I went to school because many of the courses that I needed to take were only offered during the day when I was teaching. It wouldn’t have worked for me. Luckily, I found a job that was flexible in allowing me to return to school full time.

On the flip side, there may not be much time available for other things in your life. I know I struggled with not being able to hang out with my friends or do fun activities as often as I would have liked because I had school, work, and family commitments that came first. If you’d like to read about how I balanced multiple commitments and how you can as well, check out the link here:

As A Full Time Student, Employee, Husband, And Father, Here’s How I Balanced It All

4. Do you have credits earned from a previous school & do they transfer?

When I went back to school for my second degree, I spent a couple weeks worrying about my credits transferring from the schools I previously attended. I had to argue my case with different department heads for not having to take any general education courses, since I already took them to earn my prior degree.

The new school I was attending did not offer some of the courses that I took, so I had to fill out transfer equivalency forms saying that a description for a class I took previously matched with the description for a class that was offered at my current school.

If I didn’t go through this process and instead accepted what the school said would be the credits they would accept towards my second degree, I would have been in school for at least an extra semester. The extra cost of tuition and lost wages for not being able to work in my new field would have been a major setback.

Tip: Sit with an adviser at the school you’re considering attending to see what credits you have will transfer and save you time in completing your degree.

If some credits don’t immediately transfer, do some research in the courses offered at the school to see if a class matches with any courses you’ve taken previously, and make a case to present to the department head that oversees the class.

Conclusion

There are many things to consider before going back to school. A few important considerations are:

  1. Why do you want to go back to school?
  2. How are you going to pay for school?
  3. How are you going to fit school in with the rest of your life?
  4. Do you have credits earned from a previous school & do they transfer?

There are many other things to be aware of before returning to school, but having answers to the considerations listed here will have you on your way to creating the future you’ve always dreamed of.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

Thinking About Changing Careers? Here’s Why I Did It

So you’ve built the foundation for a solid career. 40 more years and you can retire happily, right? If only that were true. Have you ever had that feeling in the back of your mind that there might be something better out there that you’d rather spend the majority of your working life doing as opposed to the career you’re currently in? If not, congratulations! You’re one of the lucky ones. If so, however, there may be signs in your working life that are pointing you down another path.

I noticed some of these signs while in my teaching career. After recognizing the signs, weighing my options, and taking a good, long look at what career path I wanted to take, I made the decision to switch careers.

Just the thought of uprooting something consistent and familiar like your career in favor of something else can be extremely scary. Not only do you have to start over career wise, but there’s no guarantee that you would end up in the career you’re seeking in the first place. This all crossed my mind as I contemplated putting aside my Vanderbilt education for something that I felt would check more boxes off in my career goals. I spent most of my school year trying to talk myself out of throwing away my current career for something else, but these recurring signs kept coming up.

  1. I wasn’t happy in my career

My last year of teaching was at my dream school, one of the top high schools in the city and state. I absolutely loved my students when I was teaching. Their success was my number one priority because their success equated to my success. However, when the kids weren’t around, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy with where my career was and where it could lead. With all the paperwork, long hours, and things outside of my control, I could not see myself having a fulfilling career teaching. I didn’t like how out of 120 students, a single student having a bad day could cause me to have a bad day as well. I put so much of myself into my work, but at the end of the day, I was counting how many more days until the weekend or the next holiday.

If you’re not happy with your career, it’s important to identify the specifics of why you aren’t happy. Are these things within your control to adjust? If so, would changing them change the way you view the outlook for your career? Although I had certain parts of my teaching career that I found meaningful, it wasn’t enough to where I felt like I could be happy doing this type of work until retirement. Even the thought of being promoted did nothing for my feelings towards the work I was doing.

2. I was burned-out

This one is common among teachers and other high stress and long hour professions. On any given week, I was putting in 60 – 75 hours a week into my work. This included the regular school day, planning lessons, grading papers, coaching sports, tutoring, and meeting with administrators and parents. Whenever I felt tired of the work I was doing, I would refer to the one quote that says if you love the work you do, you never work a day in your life. And then I would realize that although I had a passion for education, I was burned out. In order to push back against this feeling, I would list the reasons why I am doing what I am doing, find time for myself, and reset.

These strategies worked for me throughout the school year, but it also helped me discover that there are other careers out there where I can love doing the work and not get the feeling of needing to take a day off just to get away from the work for a day or play catch up.

Again, it’s common to get the feeling of being exhausted and overworked sometimes. Whenever you start to feel this way, there’s a few things I mentioned that would be helpful to do. First, it helps to remind yourself why you’re working hard. In my case, I was working hard to help my students be successful. I was also working to make a case for a future promotion. Second, take a time out to do something for you that would help you feel refreshed. Some things I did included spending time outside, enjoying a nice drink from my local coffee shop, and getting a good scoop of ice cream from my favorite ice cream shop. These time out activities don’t have to be time consuming, but it should be something you enjoy doing. Finally, reset in the work you were doing. Once you get back into the work, it should feel like a second wind for you so that you can complete your tasks.

3. Another field interested me

I get asked a lot how I went from education to software development. During open periods where I normally spent planning or grading papers, I often found myself going into other teachers’ classrooms to observe, gain new insights, spend time with my students, and provide support. It was one of my favorite things to do as it often helped establish bonds with my students.

One class I particularly enjoyed sitting in was the computer science class. It was so fascinating to me, more so than the chemistry topics I was teaching. And, the careers stemming from a background in computer science were in high demand. Sitting in these classes sparked my interest in the field, and I began doing research to see how I could begin a career in the computer science field.

If you’re unhappy with the field you’re in and something else sparks an interest, you owe it to yourself to research the new field. Some basic questions to help you in researching would be the following:

  1. What is it about this new field that interests you, and how is it different from your current field?
  2. Picture yourself in a specific career within this new field. What is different from where you currently are in your career to how you’re picturing yourself? What would be the same?
  3. What would be the pros and cons for pursuing this new career versus staying in your current career?
  4. How are the job prospects in this new field and opportunities for advancement?
  5. What would be the time commitment for pursuing this new career?

If you can answer these questions and all signs point towards starting a new career, it may be time to consider taking the leap of faith and switch careers.

Conclusion

It wasn’t easy making the choice to switch careers. Some signs that let me know that it was a good decision to make were:

  • I wasn’t happy in my career
  • I was burned-out
  • Another field interested me

In the end, I know I made the right decision, and I hope my experiences here will be helpful if you’re considering making a change in careers.

Are you considering a new career? If so, what signs led you to thinking about pursuing a new career? Comment and send me an email. I would love to hear from you.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

As A Full Time Student, Employee, Husband, And Father, Here’s How I Balanced It All

Balancing Multiple Commitments

You can do anything, but not everything.

— David Allen.

David Allen is a productivity consultant who basically penned that quote for me. In my attempt to have it all, I tried to do it all. I wanted to be a great husband, change my career path, and I also wanted to be able to help provide for my family. Balancing multiple commitments is not easy. For me, it required prioritizing the things that are important in my life, an understanding support system, and keeping my goals in front of me. With these three things, I was able to be a supportive husband and father, and ‘A’ student, and help provide for our growing family. Here’s my story:

My wife and I got married the summer before I went back to school to pursue my second Bachelor’s degree. Also during that summer, I quit my job as a high school chemistry teacher, and I picked up a more flexible job as a chemist. A lot of life changing events happened then, but I felt lucky to be able to use my first Bachelor’s degree in chemistry to work full time while also being able to go back to school.

I was with my new company for about a month before I started school. It didn’t even take the full first week of school before I realized how challenging balancing the two commitments would be. Not only was I still learning the procedures at work, but I was responsible for learning the material in my classes while also finding time to sleep and be a supportive husband.

  1. Prioritize The Things That Are Important In Your Life

During the first few weeks of school, I didn’t have a plan to effectively do both work and school well, not to mention the responsibilities I had at home. I was constantly tired, and I wasn’t doing any one thing particularly well, aside from just making it to the next day. After a couple weeks of this, the teacher side of me finally took over, and I created a plan to map out all of my commitments and prioritize their importance. I wrote down everything that I needed to do in a week, and with my wife’s help, we ranked the commitments by importance. Doing this helped us visualize and prioritize what we felt was important. Here’s how we ranked things at the time:

  1. Sleep
  2. Coding class
  3. Calculus
  4. Work
  5. Easy intro classes
  6. Family time
  7. House responsibilities
  8. Friend time

Without prioritizing and working with my wife, I wouldn’t have pegged sleep as the top priority for me over work, school, or my family. However, we were able to reason that if I can find time to get enough sleep during the day, I would be better prepared to handle work and school. We both knew that doing well in my classes would lead to opportunities for a better career, so we set aside our time together for when there was time available. So, for the rest of the semester, my sleep times were all over the place, but we made sure I got enough sleep. From there, most of the commitments that were written down were completed throughout the week.

When you’re deciding how to prioritize what’s important to you, being able to see all of your commitments by writing them down helps because you can compare priorities and rank them based on their level of importance in your life. In my case, without good sleep, I wouldn’t have been effective at anything else on my list. At the end of my list I had friends and fun activities, like going to the movies or playing games. While my social life suffered for a short time, I was able to see that I had other things that I felt were more important at the time.

2. Have An Understanding Support System

About halfway through my first semester, my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child. It was wonderful news for us! We were both excited, but then preparing for our child became another commitment that I needed to add to my list. We needed to plan doctor visits and save for medical expenses. As much as I wanted to go to every doctor appointment with my wife, we both knew that my schedule was tough as it was.

We ended up going to appointments together when we were scheduled to connect with our baby in some way. Ultrasounds were the main appointments I attended, and each visit was worth the time spent without question.

Having my wife be as understanding as she was at the time was invaluable. Not only were we on the same page about where my priorities needed to be, but she was able to support me in so many other ways that I wouldn’t be able to thank her enough for.

And not just her, but both of our parents understood that what we were going through was to enable us to have a better, more fulfilling life. They were always encouraging and offering support where they could. Looking back on it now, I feel so fortunate to have had such an amazing support system to help me balance all of my commitments.

Having a support system that understands what you’re going through can make the difference between succeeding in managing multiple commitments and failing. It’s important to be connected to people, whether family, friends, or other people who are going through the same thing, so that you can have people on your side to help you through these tough times. Without my wife and family, it would have been so much harder for me to succeed in balancing my commitments.

3. Keep Your Goals In Front Of You

In May the following year, our son, Harrison, was born. I had just finished the first year of my second degree, and I had some time to spend with my family without any work or school commitments. I made sure to cherish all the time we had together.

In June, I went away for a 10 week internship in a different state. My son wasn’t even one month old at that time. This was a hard time for all of us. While I was away taking summer classes and doing the internship, my wife stayed with her family, about 8 hours away from where I was staying. It was during this time that we both reassured each other in knowing that what we were doing was for a better life.

Our goals centered around having a better life for our family. Whenever I questioned whether or not I made the right call in accepting the internship, I looked at the goals we had and found that this decision linked directly to them.

Creating and keeping goals when balancing multiple commitments helps you see the big picture of what you’re doing. It provides the motivation to succeed, and the drive to keep going. If your goals don’t align with one or more of your commitments, this would be a good time to ask yourself why aren’t your commitments lining up with what you’re trying to accomplish, and how can it be adjusted to where your commitments correlate with where you’re trying to go in life.

Conclusion

So, the 10 weeks came and went, and I was reunited with my family again, for good this time. We had one more year to prepare for, but unlike the previous year, we had a plan in place to get through it.

I knew that to balance all of my commitments, I had to have my priorities in order, my support system, and my goals at the forefront of my mind to help me get through to graduation and my new career.

How do you balance multiple commitments?

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!