10 votes

Help me think about the next step in my life

Hello, I am a late 20s person from Europe who works part-time at a low-skilled job and is nearing completion of a masters in Financial Mathematics (FM). I also have an undergraduate degree in Economics and a post-graduate degree in Finance.

Previously I’ve worked full-time as an IT consultant, in R&D at an asset management company and in operational risk at an investment bank. I stopped working full-time in early 2018 due to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorder and possible Asperger’s. But even before then it was obvious my health was deteriorating and I actually got fired from my second job partially due to these problems. Since then I’ve slowly working (or at least trying to) on my health, which has improved substantially but not as much as I would like. So in early 2018, with way too much time in my hands, I decided to get the part-time job to partially offset my expenses and also decided to go back to school to study FM.

I took the latter decision for multiple reasons. I was tired of doing work that was not very technical or quantitative. While working on my health I realized that I don’t do well with work that is subjective, unstructured or involves little interaction (for example doing a lot of reading, specially with no clear goal). I did a little programming at previous jobs and more during the masters and I can say with some confidence that I enjoyed it. But going back to the FM masters: it is very technical, I was fascinated and curious about it plus it has an excellent track record with regards to employment prospects. I also considered “going back” and doing an undergraduate degree in computer science but decided that it was just too long (minimum 3 years).

So with this “introduction” out of the way let’s get to the heart of this post. I don’t know what to do after I finish my masters. Of course I could just apply for jobs related with what I am studying. However, I think I really want to try working in the technical side of IT. I will admit I don’t know much about the different aspects and careers in IT but I find it interesting. Every time I was doing non-technical work I just wanted to understand and do the work of my technical colleagues. I think it both better suits my personality and aligns well with my long term goals of increased freedom and flexibility (IT generally pays well and you can do a lot of work remotely). I have this idea of maybe becoming a free-lancer but I can understand that is not realistic in the short-term so working in IT inside a company is probably my best bet. Regardless, another objective of mine is to be able to work less than 40h per week. I think it would be great for me, specially health-wise.

I have to say I got more excited about my ideas when I saw this post here on Tildes: https://tildes.net/~comp/quj/would_any_tilderino_be_interested_in_tutoring_me_in_programming. I am willing to put in the work and it would be awesome to have some tutoring. Another point I took from that post is that IT is a very big field and I honestly don’t know specifically what I want to do inside that space. However, I do know I don’t like dealing with UI or graphical/design aspects.

I guess I will finish by asking direct questions to help people structure their answers around (but if you want to talk about something else I wrote, be free to do so):

  • First of all, what technical areas within IT do you think would suit me? If it’s not much of a hassle, please provide a brief description of what people actually do in those areas.
  • Is it realistic to start working as a technical IT freelancer and learn as I go? Or are the odds very slim?
  • Alternatively, if I decide to take the safer route of nailing a technical IT job, what should I do to put myself in a better position to attain that goal?

7 comments

  1. [3]
    szferi
    Link
    Based on your background, I would suggest looking into data science and machine learning, especially the time series analysis part of these fields. It can combine both of your IT and your...
    • Based on your background, I would suggest looking into data science and machine learning, especially the time series analysis part of these fields. It can combine both of your IT and your financial math interest. It seems narrow, but time series analysis can be applied to log analysis, security, performance analysis of distributed systems, as well as the obvious ones like a prediction of web site visits and business performance of SaaS and e-commerce companies.
      (I'm a physics working in fintech and this knowledge served me well in the last 20+ years).

    • It is hard to start as a freelancer if you have no tangible experience in the given field. I would suggest applying to a junior position in an IT/Cloud infrastructure company or fintech and spend 2-3 years there to get the experience.

    • It sometimes helps in hiring if you worked on some open source projects in some capacity.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Wayzgoose
      Link Parent
      Can you explain me what log analysis is? Yeah I will probably look for a job when the time comes. The good thing about being in Europe is that I can move freely between countries. I have...

      Can you explain me what log analysis is?
      Yeah I will probably look for a job when the time comes. The good thing about being in Europe is that I can move freely between countries. I have acquaintances in Belgium and Finland and that can open additional doors.

      I have thought of starting contributing to open-source projects when I am free from school work. I have one project that I am fairly interested in actually.

      Thank you very much for your contribution.

      1. szferi
        Link Parent
        Log analysis refers to the broad spectrum of techniques to basically data-mine the logs generated by applications, operating systems, etc. For example, I worked on the system, which predicted DDoS...

        Log analysis refers to the broad spectrum of techniques to basically data-mine the logs generated by applications, operating systems, etc. For example, I worked on the system, which predicted DDoS attack using logs from various ISP's routers. In distributed systems, you can apply these techniques to identify performance issues and correlate errors, especially if you collect application traces and system logs into the same system.

        2 votes
  2. [3]
    bloup
    Link
    If you have experience as an IT consultant, and want to try freelancing, I'd suggest trying to find a few small businesses in your local area that need IT help and offering them a good rate. Just...

    If you have experience as an IT consultant, and want to try freelancing, I'd suggest trying to find a few small businesses in your local area that need IT help and offering them a good rate. Just look for businesses that have bad websites or maybe aren't utilizing their domain to their full potential. Therapists are also a good bet. They usually manage their entire therapy practice themselves and good tech help can do a lot to make their lives easier. Definitely look into what the going rate for commercial IT services are in your area before coming up with your "good rate".

    The good thing about free lancing is it's pretty low commitment compared to employment. Having a few extra clients you deal with on a private basis is pretty manageable, even if you wind up taking a job. I would definitely look for work all the time, though, even while free lancing. Just so you always have options.

    Once you take a job, it's pretty hard to grow your free lancing operation, though. And to get a free lancing operation to the point where you can afford security and stability for yourself takes a pretty long, sustained commitment that, as a person with some mental health struggles myself, I found quite challenging. Plus, there is an inherent uncertainty in how long it will take to get to that point, so if you have some kind of clear cut goal (like, "i want to buy a house in N years"), a job might make more sense.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Wayzgoose
      Link Parent
      I don't have much to add in response to your comment. Aside from talking to small business I might know in the area, do you know platforms to find freelance work? Thank you very much for taking...

      I don't have much to add in response to your comment. Aside from talking to small business I might know in the area, do you know platforms to find freelance work?

      Thank you very much for taking the time to help me.

      1. bloup
        Link Parent
        If your country has something like craigslist, that's always a place to check, but there are a lot of clueless people on those sorts of sites. Personally have not had a lot of good leads through...

        If your country has something like craigslist, that's always a place to check, but there are a lot of clueless people on those sorts of sites. Personally have not had a lot of good leads through craigslist but you might get lucky. Alternatively, a lot of neighborhoods seem to have mailing lists or some kind of social media. Could be a good place to check. My neighborhood mailing list frequently has people asking for tech help. Residential clients aren't bad (usually only will need help every once in a while) and sometimes they can connect you to more lucrative/interesting commercial work.

        1 vote
  3. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. Wayzgoose
      Link Parent
      I will save this thread for future reference. Thanks for your generous offer =).

      I will save this thread for future reference. Thanks for your generous offer =).