Can you un-retire from technology? Can you take a break and then come back and still succeed? With all the recent issues in the US with Brett Favre and American football and his un-retirement, I noticed a quote recently that said:
"We did work in other fields in our '95 study. It was a slightly different pool, but we found that women across industries will often take a brief break -- like for two years. But our sense is that this is distinctly worse. In many fields, almost 100% of women will try to get back into the industry [later]. Here, only 60% say they would be willing to give it another try if conditions were right." (ComputerWorld)
This quote was talking about women in technology, but I've seen this same sentiment echoed among men as well. It seems that most of the people I know in technology think things change so fast that if they left their field for a year they'd never fit back in.
In some sense I've left my field, and while I read a lot about SQL Server, and do some tech editing to practice things, I don't do any "real" DBA work, I know my skills are diminished. However I don’t worry about it. I learned SQL Server from nothing, proved I could do it and do it well, and so I'm confident in my abilities to do it again. I might be rusty for a few months, but I'm sure I'd get up to speed quickly.
I think that some of the fear comes from the money involved. I think most IT people are paid well relative to many other industries. We work hard, and I think we earn it, but I do think we're well paid. If I went back to being a DBA, I think that I'd take a bit of a pay cut at first, perhaps for a few years until I could prove myself and work myself back up to a senior level person. And I think that scares a lot of people.
My wife is looking to switch careers in the next few years and we're preparing for a pay cut as she does so. We know if it doesn't work out, she can go back to technology and we'll make do. My oldest son is interested in theater as a career, and there's not a lot of income likelihood there, but I wouldn’t discourage him for that reason. I want him to be aware and prepared, but my thought isn't the money should be the overriding factor in your career choice.
If possible. I know some of you have mortgages, expenses and you can't take off to go surf around the country.
However if you have a dream, something you want to pursue, and it's not the job you're in, think about making a change. Look for ways to move to your new career, plan on it, get your finances and other things in order and go for it. Don't let a fear of getting behind in technology prevent you from moving on. You can always come back and I would bet you'd be better at it the second time around.
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