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Ben Halpern for CodeNewbie

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Alternate Career Paths: If You Weren’t A Coder or Developer, What Would You Be Instead?

It's always fun to imagine what our lives would be like if we had made different choices. So, if you weren't a coder or a developer, what would you be instead? A chef, a musician, a veterinarian? Are there opportunities to incorporate your alternate passions into coding career?

Let's hear from you all! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Top comments (42)

darkwiiplayer profile image
𒎏Wii 🏳️‍⚧️

In a realistic scenario, dunno, I might just be screwed to be honest.

But in a fantasy world where things just work out, I sure would enjoy mixing cocktails and making coffee/tea for a living.

In fact, if I ever won the lottery, opening a cafe and operating at a loss would probably be my way of blowing through the money 😅

simplycomplexable profile image
Zack Sunderland

Depending on the lottery you could probably just give away drinks and still not blow through the money.

besworks profile image

When you're a programmer at heart, all career paths eventually lead to code. I've had multiple non-developer jobs over the years where I ended up writing tools to get the work more efficiently.

I'm actually doing this right now. Freelancing just wasn't cutting it to pay the bills so I had to take a non-technical job recently and the daily process needs some serious fine tuning. We're using a clunky, outdated mobile app where I tediously have to scroll and scroll and scroll past useless options to find the same few checkboxes for every unit I handle. So I'm working on a revamped app in my spare time that I'm gonna pitch to the boss when it's a little farther along.

This is one of those 50 times per day tasks that could have multiple minutes shaved off each iteration, so definitely worth the effort. Not every task necessarily needs optimizing though. Always a good idea to consult the "Is It Worth The Time" chart from xkcd before getting into a project like that.

is it worth the time

askeridos profile image

Towards the end of my training on Symfony 4.8 and Java 8, I skipped class because I was tired of sitting with my ass on the chair for 8 hours straight in front of a screen. I told myself that this was not a life.

I am a pastry baker.

I have a lot more satisfaction doing manual work, feeling a sense of accomplishment and feeling good tiredness at the end of the day, even with a lower salary, within a close-knit team and with a great atmosphere. I work in an association that serves breakfast and desserts (in addition to the restaurant and banquets) for the homeless.

I still code at home, but there's still an energy at work that you can't find behind a desk.

cosjay profile image

A magician.

I dropped out of school after the 8th grade to perform, did that until my early 20s and then discovered computers. Everything after that was code. But now, at 60 years old and with a serious health issue, I regret ever getting out of performing. I've done well as a programmer and have enjoyed it, but _I'd rather have memories of magic than of sitting in a chair typing. _

(Reading that back it sounds at least mildly depressing but I hope someone can use it as encouragement -- if you're not doing your "dream job" now, try and make it happen sooner rather than later.)

ingosteinke profile image
Ingo Steinke, web developer • Edited

I supposedly said I wanted to be a magician when I was a little boy. But I wanted to do actual magic, not "just" perform illusions on stage. Programming computers still feels a little bit like doing actual magic, I guess.

Later, I wanted to become a physiotherapist. But when I worked in a hospital as an alternative to compulsory military service, everyone told me that I must go to university and so I did. Apart from appearing intelligent and intellectual, I probably seemed to lack some other qualities useful for working in medical care for the rest of my life. I tried to study different subjects, including psychology and communication science (which turned out to be focused on journalism), when a friend took me to the university's data center and open a web browser. I had been coding as a hobby, but never thought about doing it professionally until years later the web did become some kind of market and people were desperately looking for web developers.

overflow profile image

This comment is sad and depressing. But has anyone ever thought that perhaps its a give and take? You probably got more out of life more than thousands of men in your lifetime. I really think .....

dvddpl profile image
Davide de Paolis

snowboard instructor!

sarahokolo profile image
sahra 💫

Would probably be an SFX makeup artist.

adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett 🌀

Own a garden centre.
Run a charity for disabled children.
Lego master builder!
Engineer (bridges and stuff)

kuerbisulme profile image
Simon • Edited

My alternative was studying psychology. I did not intend to become a therapist, but
especially back in school I liked trying to analyze people and predicting their behaviour. When my friend started studying psychology I learnt that it is a really wide field with a lots of statistic. So I think if I had chosen psychology I nevertheless would have ended up with a "kind of programming" job putting data in a statistic software, writing scripts and analyzing that stuff :D

raibtoffoletto profile image
Raí B. Toffoletto

Definetly my original training: Music, teach and playing.

Although I love being a developer, it was always my second passion and I'm glad I could make a career of it!

dougmckechie profile image
Douglas McKechie

I very much enjoyed technical drawing at high school, so for a while I thought I might become an architect. The tech drawing was on paper with drawing boards, rulers and pencils, but no doubt would have transitioned in to CAD and 3D modelling.

Another favorite subject of mine was photography. Back then this was black-and-white film photography as digital cameras were just coming in. So I did think about becoming a photographer. In the end I decided that working in IT probably pays better and to keep the photography as a hobby.

jimsy profile image
James Harton

When I was in high school (way back in the 90’s) I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer but I was always way too lazy to actually apply myself and would never have made it through an engineering degree. I fell into software and it’s worked out okay. If I could do it again with hindsight I think I’d like to be a machinist.

feranmiodugbemi profile image

I'd play football

overflow profile image
overFlow • Edited

I think most of these comments are spoilt brat comments that come from a point of view of a comfortable couch and the benefits that come with it.

I find it more than very insolent and disparaging. Especially for people that "admire" the low paying jobs just for the jobs presumed quirkiness or exotic-ness, for their novelty or Just because they look fun. A job is a job. And for those people having to do it. It is hard and probably low paying and makes them feel insignificant. And probably its repetitiveness and redundancy is annoying. And the feeling of being undervalued can be overwhelming and not obvious to the admiring passerby.

If you ask them to swap place with you they would do it in a blink and you wouldn't like the place that they are in. you would want to swap back real quick. They would fight you tooth and nail.

You have the best job in the world you are a coder. Why would you wanna go into a job that is a living hell for many people who will look at you and admire you for your success especially financially.

You can probably do a lot of things for your family that other people dream about. Holidays and Christmas are probably magical for you and the kids and here you are wishing you were a magician.
You have the best coffee from expensive coffee machines and here you are wanting to work in a coffee house ?
As for job security ? Health care security ? Savings ? Retirement ?
Most of you probably have your cars and houses paid off and have more than one house etc and fewer worries .
You wouldn't be able to afford such luxuries with most of the jobs that you guys admire.

I think when you start feeling that you could do another job then stand up take a walk and be thankful for your blessings and count them. And look around. You are probably just tired. take a break. listen to music. Do a 100 push ups. Listen to music.
every Job has its pros and cons ala
the deadlines; the long hours; the pressure. BUT...

Anyways I really think that some of you guys can afford to take a years break and in between do your "dream jobs". And or do them on the side as a hobby. Because that is why you admire those jobs. BUT YOU ARE NOT DOING THEM.

So please do not make the jobs that you all have in coding come across and seem like a curse in hell or something bad.

You are a coder. Millions of men would like to be like you. its hard for many. And many cannot do the job. And they drop off and drop out.
You are kind of elite. You are in there.
You are doing it...You are a rock and roll star.

panditapan profile image

millionaire gardener extraordinaire.

nah forreal I think it would be web comic artist or something c:

mistval profile image

Park ranger! I try to get out hiking every weekend, and camp sometimes too. When I see problems like branches across the trail, or especially trash, I clean it up if I can, and sometimes I think: wouldn't it be nice if this were my job? Just out there building trails, teaching survival workshops, stuff like that.

I love building software but the more I do it the more I dream about really disconnecting and getting away from screens and keyboards, at least for a while.

Sometimes I imagine it would be nice to be a truck driver, but I don't trust myself behind the wheel of one of those things.

But probably by most secret and lurid dream is to become a DJ and produce trance music and performs at clubs, that sure looks fun!