So, I looked through this forum and there’s a lot of questions along these lines; I’m asking anyway, because I feel my situation is a bit specific and I wouldn’t mind some more tailored guidance.
It has come to my attention that I am unfortunately middle aged, having reached the unfortunate age of 32 pursuing a career in academia which earned me a PhD in a field (communication) which I unfortunately don’t think I can apply outside the field. Because I went “off track” in academia (failed to complete a tenure track, it’s a thing) my chances of ever accomplishing much there are more or less burned, and with the ongoing COVID crisis making education a rather unpleasant place to work as an instructor, it’s not something I feel I want to go back to at this time.
So, I’m in one of those resume gap situations, and, frankly, I considered coding instead of academia when I was young, chose to “pursue my dream” (when honestly I probably would have enjoyed coding just as much) of being a professor, and I wish I had. I have all the time in the world, and motivation, to study. Most of my friends who chose to work in programming/IT are very happy and live in places more like where I want to live (I’m stuck in rural America and wouldn’t be able to in-person network much even if it wasn’t for the pandemic situation). I guess my point is, I feel like I’ve probably lost a lot of career potential in IT, but that if I don’t start now I’ll never have a shot, and I’d like to do what I can to get up to speed in terms of what could land me a potential career.
I’m not looking for miracles or easy fixes. I’ve read job ads and I know a lot of even “entry level” positions want years of experience, and many want computer science degrees. I know people will tell me not to try to specialize in something I’m not passionate about, but at this point, I’d like to develop a passion in something I have a reasonable chance of landing work in, within the IT field, preferably in a major city.
I’m working my way through tutorials here and on other sites, reading books, and talking to contacts in tech like my friends and social media contacts. In terms at this point purely of what I should work on learning, though, what would you prioritize if you were me? I’m gonna try to work through every dang thing on this site, but I know I have to do it in various orders.
A couple of notes I think are worthwhile:
- I have run a web forum and know a bit about SQL databases in that sense, but I can’t say it was professionally done. I could see myself being happy learning to do sysadmin work.
- I did some graduate work in quantitative analysis and I feel like I might be able to frame my academic experience as relevant to jobs if I learned r or data-oriented Python.