Did I Mess Up My Career?

Ask IT Career Coach
Ask IT Career Coach

This question was posted by a reader who needs advice on “what to do about making wrong career choices”.

If you need help with a Question or Challenge, be sure to ask it as a comment on this page and I will answer it fully just as I am answering this reader’s question below!

Please, send this post to your friends using the “Tell a Friend” Button button below. You earn points or cash each time you refer an article to your friends using the Tell a Friend Button.

Here is the Reader’s Question:

I think I did myself well careerwise by reading for a degree that bears no inclination to what I am trying to aspire to in life.

The programme entitled: Degree in Computing with Management Studies is embeded with C++, COBOL and Report Programme Generator (RPG) courses.

The final year I underwent a gruelling course in Artificial Intelligence that I haven’t started to utilise in anyway in my career path.

What I strongly desire is a competence in database management and its integration with records management and design.


Here is my Answer


I feel your pain because I have been in your shoes – in a similar situation.

I’ve had to transition career several times from Chemical Engineering to IT Sales to IT Consulting to IT Career Coaching!

I’m reasonably sure that my last transitiion is permanent … but that doesn’t mean much because I expect my IT Career Coaching skills to change so much that I would literally be re-inventing myself every year!

Think about it for a moment. The world around us is constantly changing and we have to remain flexible and adaptable or we become as dead as the DoDo!

Fact is … “career transitions are a part of life“!

What I’ve learnt that I would like to share with you is this: “march boldly in the direction of your dreams!

Start by forgiving yourself thoroughly.

Forgiving yourself is really not as easy as it sounds … put some effort into giving yourself a break because you did the best that you could based on the information you had.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, make sure you take out some time to love on yourself before you do the next big thing.

Now, having done that, “follow your call wherever it leads without any hesitation“!

Since your heart is saying that you need to become a database professional, do exactly that!

“Jump into the water with both feet and don’t be afraid of getting your feet wet. “

What I mean is: “pursue your dreams fearlessly, follow your heart wherever it leads and don’t be afraid of making mistakes”.

You owe yourself the pursuit of “life, liberty and love”.

Let me know if I can do anything to help.


Kingsley Tagbo – Your IT Career Coach

This post answers a question posted by a reader who needs advice on “what to do about making wrong career choices”!

If you have any Question about your career, Post IT as a comment on this page and I will be sure to answer it for you!

9 Responses to "Did I Mess Up My Career?"

  1. ANNIE HALL   November 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Kingsley..please provide me with a training package in RDMS especially in the medical fraternity and/or security.


  2. Mayur Mahajan   August 26, 2009 at 4:02 am

    I need suggestions about the career path which i want to be.

    I was having experience of 8 months exp in .NET after passing out as BE Electornics and before joining Patni.

    When, i joined in Patni, i was trained in Java and oracle.
    After completing i got on the project which was on Tool.
    so, for one year i had worked on Process Management tool of Rational.

    When i tried to change the job, becasue of recession market was down.
    So, i continued with the same.
    After, 1 year i got on the project were i have to do evaluation of Tools commercial or open source from rational to microsoft.

    But, still no coding or more specifically technical work i as doing.

    I want to be in Technical field were i will work on projects which includes programming.
    I dont want myself to be in tools for lifelong, I think I had wasted my 2 yrs on tools.
    Can you please guide me that, now how can i go to achieve what i want from myself.

    Can my experience be useful in job market now, if i try for change in technical field?

    Can you guide me how can i go ahead now??


  3. IT Career Coach   August 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Read: how to become a highy-paid corporate programmer for more information:

  4. Ken   July 30, 2009 at 7:05 am


    I have worked various positions in IT for the past 15 plus years.

    I will be 45, and because I did not choose a specific technical focus (DBA, etc.) and my job hopping, I have encountered many problems making myself marketable.

    After reflecting on my career, I thought about how I always wanted to develop software that affects society in a positive manner.

    I have reviewed the Software Developer Boot Camp course information and it looks good.

    My question is after completing the training, how can I market myself for an entry level developer position being that I am 45 with little practical experience?

    I was thinking that it may be best to start off with independent contracts, correct?


    • IT Career Coach   July 30, 2009 at 8:41 am

      You can market yourself as an entry level software developer after completing your training in several ways including;

      1. Becoming a Freelance Software Developer: This is close to but not the same thing as becoming as Independent Contract Programmer.
      As a Freelance Computer Programmer you will be placing bids for projects on a list of outsourcing websites that we will provide to you.
      You actually don’t have to complete your training before you can start working as a freelance computer programmer. You’re virtually guaranteed that you will be earning an income whenever you do this because of the number of open, outsourced projects available. You probably won’t earn as much income as an Independent Contract Programmer but you will gai a lot of hands-on experience which is what matters at this stage in your career.

      2. Becoming a Highly-Paid Corporate Programmer: Next, after you complete your training and you’ve done some freelance computer programming, you can transition into an Independent Contract Programmer role. Independent Contract Programmers tend to be highly paid corporate programmers, with billing rates ranging from $35/hr. to $60/hr. and more.
      There are risks associated with being an Independent Contract Programmer. Some of these are that you may have to pay your own employment taxes and provide your own benefits and there may be some downtime in-between projects. However, make no mistake about it, the demand for programming skills is extremely high and you can check out any job board for that.

      3. Becoming a Full-Time Computer Programmer: Finally, after you’ve some solid experience and you have had a lot of corporate consulting gigs, you can become a salaried full-time employee programmer. The upside of this is that you’re guaranteed benefits and a paycheck and you will also be paid very well. The downside is that you may not be paid as highly as corporate programmers.

      Your age (45) is not a barrier to starting computer programming career, that is, if you start now and don’t delay any further.
      We have several documented articles on why your career or skills will be in-demand and here is one of them: http://www.it-career-coach.net/2009/06/22/it-is-never-too-late-to-become-a-computer-programmer/

      Since you also want to make a positive difference or contribution to society, you may also want to look into the IT Leadership Program and choose a Leadership Project that would benefit you as a developer such as creating an open-source software.

      I would be happy to discuss these details further.


      I hope I helped with my answer, please let me know if you need anything else.

  5. Jason   July 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I wonder if I’ve messed up my career often. I’m 45 and have been in various programming roles for 15 years.

    In my current position I do not get to do a lot of programming because my company has outsourced most of that work to India.

    I do not really enjoy project management.

    My company does not really have formal architect positions.

    I really love to code, but I never intended to be a 40 year old programmer.

    In the U.S. someone my age is usually viewed as either unambitious or unpromotable if they are still in that type of job once they pass their 30s.

    Should I try to continue developing and not worry about it or should I bite the bullet and move into PM or even management even if I do not think I would really like that work?

    I’m just afraid that if I lose my technical edge any further I will be out on the street since I will not be fit for either direction.

    • IT Career Coach   July 31, 2009 at 6:25 pm

      Jason, you haven’t “Messed up your Career” and there is no “Age Discrimination For Computer Programmers!”

      You need not worry about what IT Managers think of 45 year old programmers.

      I have worked as an IT Consultant for several industries and in that capacity, worked with lots of computer programmers.

      I don’t believe that there is a pronounced bias towards older programmers.

      There is a bias towards programmers who have legacy programming skills (cobol, fortran, mainframe programming skills, etc.) .

      Unfortunately older programmers are more likely to posses legacy (mainframe, cobol, fortran) programming skills more than younger programmers because that’s what they started their careers with and for whatever reason did not learn or transition to the modern object oriented programming skills (PHP, Microsoft.NET, Java).

      So, it looks like their is age discrimination against older programmers.

      What really matters are:

      1. Are your programming skills current or up to date?

      2. Do you love computer programming?

      3. Is there a future for programmers in your company?

      If you really love computer programming but all the programming jobs in your firm have been out-sourced to India, then you need to consider the fact that there is no future for programmers at your firm.

      If you don’t love computer programming that much and you like project management, then you should move up to project management.

      However, that doesn’t seem to be the case, “you actually hate project management” … so, I can’t imagine what sort of career you would have working as a project manager.

      So, make your decisions based on this:

      1. There is no “Age Discrimination against Older Programmers”

      2. You Love Computer Programming

      3. You hate Project Management

      You may read more about “age discrimination issues for computer programmers” in these two (2) articles:

  6. IT Career Coach   July 27, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Transitioning To Business Analysis From Software Testing Career Are You?

    I understand that you have a B.E. in EEE (Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical & Electronics Engineering) from Satyam (Satyam Computer Services Ltd.)

    You never worked with your computer programming degree. Instead you were transitioned to the Software Testing Career for 10 months

    Now, you are wondering whether you should become a business analyst.

    I would like to know why you want to become a business analyst?

    You are trained to be a Microsoft.NET Software Developer (VB.NET, SQL Server , ASP.NET). Have you considered being a software developer?

    You have 10 months (alomost 1 year) of being a software tester. Have you considered continuing along the career path of software testing?

    What are the reasons why you are not interested in pursuing your software testing career or microsoft.net programmer career?

    In terms of becoming a business analyst, I can definitely assist you.

    Business Analysts have to gather or elicit requirements, analyze requirements, validate requirements and model requirements using UML, Use Cases etc.

    The Business Analysis Career places more emphasis on communication skills and analysis skills than on techical skills.

    Read More About “How To Become A Business Analyst”: http://www.it-career-coach.net/2007/07/19/how-to-become-a-business-analyst/

  7. pri   July 25, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I need suggestion from the seniors.I am confused with my career.

    I have done B.E in EEE and got selected in satyam .

    There i got trainned in VB.NET, SQL server, asp.net and after that i have made myself to fully indulge in development but after having training i got project in mannual testing and i worked in that project for more than 10 months.

    I am not knowing where should i move now.

    I am also started doing MBA from IMT-CDL and want to be business analyst but i don’t have any idea how should i move in it.

    Please any one guide me wat should i do further.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.