Existential crisis with my career choice

Hello FCCampers,

I’m a college grad in Comp Sci and had a job building a React Native app, but now with the advent of AI and Machine Learning I want to do that, because I truly believe that’s what’s going to drive the next industrial revolution. But I don’t want to quit React when I’m just starting to get good at it. Then I also want to do Native iOS, possibly native Android, AR, VR, etc… I’m just so confused. I don’t know how to choose. Has anyone been through this and figured out a way to narrow their options ?

It seems to boil down to this:

1.) Pick something you enjoy doing
2.) Get extremely good at it
3.) Profit

Doing everything at once doesn’t work simply because you don’t have the time to do everything at once - choose something to be your main path and leave the rest as hobby, this way when you get bored you will be able to change without too much effort.


I agree with Lukas. Get good at React. Get a job. Learn AI and machine learning on the side. If you find you no longer enjoy what you’re doing, you have the skill set to go into machine learning, or if a better opportunity comes up for machine learning, do it. Don’t just do something because it’s where you think the industry is going. Do what you love.

Do them all:



I don’t have any tech-specific advice, in general, pick one and go with it, at least for a while. This is a problem I have too :sweat_smile: . I get interested in doing/learning multiple things, and then I try to split my time between all of them and end up burned out or just stuck in all of them at once. When I come up for air out of this doing/learning frenzy, I pick one thing to concentrate on for a while. Maybe a week or two, or a month, or a few months. At these intervals I check in with myself to see if I’m still interested in what I’m focused on—if I’m having fun—or if I should take a little time to dabble in something else. I should probably make these intervals a little more substantial, but it’s still a big improvement for me.

I agree with @EvillePanda. Do what you love :sparkling_heart: :v: . Getting a job doing what you love will serve you way better than getting a job doing what you think people will want in the future. Being thoughtful about your future is great, but make sure you’re factoring you into that properly.

Thanks guys. It’s funny how seeing something from other people’s perspectives can clear things up so much. I will continue to get good at React, since Ive already invested so much time into it - it seems logical. Of course I’m in a position that I’m sure not too many people are in - I have chronic pain and Lyme Disease and cannot sit in a chair, so I work from home in my bed. Also the medications I’m on all affect my ability to learn, but I pushed through it and did my last year of Uni from home and still graduated honors. The point is, learning React will take 100% of my time - no time to learn AI on the side, but maybe in the future. Anyways, thanks guys. :pray:t3:

Ps @JacksonBates that little comic was great, and thought invoking :+1:t2:


The AI/ML/Datascience MOOCs (/books) will continue to improve as you work on React - a few years ago the only good ones used R/Matlab, now several use Python, and there’s even one for deep learning (by Andrew Ng, who did a great job making ML approachable in his earlier Stanford ML MOOC).

Also your CS background will give you a head start in following/implementing AI/ML algos. A shift once you feel comfortable with React could be quicker than you think.

For a low time commitment/effort easy (no-coding required) way in to ML, check out Ian Witten/Waikato Uni’s MOOCs. In exchange for a few hours a week, these will give you the intuition / conceptual basis for quicker progress when you get round to the hard cors stuff.

I expect everything I have to say has already been mentoned, but I’ll throw in my two cents:

Since you have so many things you want to do, I recommend focusing on something that: 1. Will help you get a foot in the door, and: 2. Will give you the flexibility (in time and money) to try out different things.

You don’t have to pick the one right thing for ever, there’s plenty of time to try out a bunch of different things, especially in a programming career. Where as a general rule you have better than average pay, benefits, and flexibility.

I was kinda in the same boat, and I decided to go whole hog on Front End development to start, precisely for the reasons above.

Good luck!


@birone That’s a great concent, I hadn’t thought of that. Currently, resources are there, but are pretty intimidating to approach, even with college experience in Calc 1-3, Diffe Q, Stats, and a few others (it was over 4 years ago and I haven’t used any calc or stats in coding, so I forgot it all). I tried taking the Andrew NG class, but was too overwhelmed twice in my life (I have Lyme Disease and Chronic pain, so really everything is a battle). I’ll check out the resource you provided me with - thanks.

@CrowsVeldt I may have come off like I was a beginner, but I’ve already had 3 jobs in programming (one being Lockheed Martin and another IBM). I decided to start learning Web because of React Native really. I didn’t want to choose between iOS, Android, or Web Dev, so once I found React Native (and discovered I could work on all 3) I started learning web dev. But now I’m starting to see AI pop-up everywhere and I can’t help but think I’m being left behind. But you’re right - I never really loved math. I was once entrenched in all that math, and I didn’t love it. However, making apps? When I was a kid I loved building things with legos, lincoln logs, drawing, and painting. I also loved computers since I was 12 (even though I didn’t start programming until a few years ago). Making apps combines all of these “arts”. I may even want to make a few games for mobile or JavaScript. Web dev allows me the freedom to do all of these things, thanks to Node.js and the advent of millions of javascript libaries, three.js, React Native, and everything else. So, yeah… I think I came to my own conclusion :smile: Thanks for the advice and letting you be my sounding board.

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“Data Science From Scratch” (Joel Grus) also looks like a good way into the key algos - also in Python, but Python reads like pseudocode & doesn’t doesn’t have too many gotchas (unlike R, Matlab & dare I say it… JS :wink: )

If you are already dissatisfied with what you are doing then by all means pursue A.I. Do you live to be happy and fulfill your dreams and desires or do you live to fulfill the needs of an employer. From an employer perspective it is advantageous to hire those who are passionate about what they do. Curiosity and self motivation breed innovation. Use the M.O.O.B. to learn and Open Source to act and by all means if it makes you bored or dissatisfied don’t do it. You do yourself and the employer a disservice if you are not fully engaged.

Hey man, I’m in the exact same boat.
I just got a position working for a company developing a React Native app and I’m also currently learning machine learning and AI. Like other people have said before…

Pick something you like.
And do it.

It’s really that simple. I’d stay with the React Native position for now, but in the future, you can apply for AI jobs. Never stop learning man! :slight_smile:

Also, I want to point out. Don’t shoot for a career that will make you money. That’s not what life is about. No matter what anyone says, shoot for a career that will make you happy. If you make 50k working at a small company and that makes you happy? Keep it. If you are making 100k at a big company and you can’t stand to go to work? Don’t waste your life.

Everyone, thank you so much for your input. I’ve decided that what I REALLY want is to be able to think of any idea and translate that idea into code without too much trouble. I only have experience making a few apps here and there (Ionic, React Native) and fixing issues at work. However, I don’t believe that I have the quantity down. I think I’m going to continue with the FreeCodeCamp and do all the projects. I suck at CSS - I mean really suck. I’ve always been pretty good with algorithms and all that, but CSS is my weak point. I will go back and do all the projects from scratch so that I REALLY get good with CSS and JavaScript. Only then will I move on to React. I think I’ll understand React so much more going in with a solid understanding of JS and CSS.

But then again, in my last job, I was the only developer and I made the React Native app all by myself. My boss told me what he wanted and I made it a reality. However, it took longer than it should have because I wasn’t as experienced with JS as I could have been. I think I may be wasting my time on FCC, but it can’t hurt to reinforce practice.

I want to be able to make web and mobile apps at the drop of a hat - like in a hackathon setting. The only way to get good at this is to practice, practice, practice. I will also do some native iOS so that I really round myself out. The ONLY reason I wanted to do AI and Machine Learning is for the salary. Statistics and the other AI topics bore me to death. I don’t want to waste my life doing things I hate. Like some of you said, maybe one day, when the AI and ML books evolve I’ll jump in.

One thing at a time, after you’re proficient and teaching others to take over your job, try new things and repeat.

@Cairos Yes, I agree! Thank you for your input. If y’all don’t mind, please give me some feedback on my portfolio at www.johncalderaio.com .

I mostly skimmed and checked links, the site looks great!

Edit: I’m not sure how I feel about the multiple fonts. Not sure if the signature is necessary.

Thanks for the compliment! You’re the second person to say that about the signature - I removed it. Is there another place you noticed a different font?