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Career guidance for a software loner who loves animals

Nikki Knox
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 16, 2012
Posts: 3
I am a 26 year old female ISTJ, which basically means that I am an introverted, loyal, dependent person who enjoys working independently (not with people) and with numbers and facts. I love to organize data, schedules, etc. I would enjoy a very low stress environment even if the money is less. My ultimate goal is to work at home.

I have a B.S. in Computer Science and I'm almost finished with a M.S. in Software Engineering (company paid for it). I've been an unhappy software engineer for the past few years. I took career tests in high school which led me to become a software engineer but I truly think they were incorrect in directing me to this career. I work around people 100% of the time, which makes the work environment non-enjoyable for me, and the job itself is very stressful because I cannot stand problem solving all day. I actually enjoy sitting in front of a computer and I'd prefer more of my time doing so rather than being around people.

This passionate unhappiness about my career has got me thinking about how I can change paths to a career which fits me better and also incorporates my passion - animals. In particular, I'm interested in animal rights, animal behavior, and conservation. I wouldn't be able to dissect animals and I believe working with animals that are in cages is unethical. I love to learn about them, be around them, and try to figure them out. I feel a special bond with them, and I can’t go through life without embarking on a career in which I can work with or help animals out in some way.

I am absolutely desperate for any advice that anyone can give, and I feel that time is running out for me

Thanks so much for reading this!
William P O'Sullivan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 28, 2012
Posts: 859

I feel that time is running out for me


Nikki, You are young.

Have you tried volunteering at local Animal shelters or reaching out to the Veterinarian community?

Once you finish your M.S. maybe look into some course on helping Animals, Vet assistant etc.

Now this *will* involve working around people. You need to combat your introversion if you truly want to succeed and be happy.


Also, you can maybe look into software to help your cause, maybe some smartphone, pad apps for Vets offices?

WP
rajesh sundaram
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 20, 2012
Posts: 2
Nikki, if it makes you feel any better, I share almost exactly the same description as yours that I actually used search terms to find such a question looking for advice along similar lines. Only way I am different is I am a 32 years old male; I can't afford to work for less as I have a family to support. Also although I am quite a sociopath, this is of late making me more so due to my hearing loss on one side.
However, please do let me know if you find an answer to your problem, and I will also keep a watch on this thread for answers/advice from others. A job that would make me work close to animals while letting me also stay on the computer for much of the time so I don't lose my computer/programming skills for future security and keeping the society around me happy/less concerned! This will be paradise for me atleast in the short term! I haven't tried any volunteering yet, I guess mainly due to the same reasons as "introvertedness". Converting to vegetarianism is as far as I have gone towards animal welfare, but I know I would need to do more than this!
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 19073
    
  40

rajesh sundaram wrote:Nikki, if it makes you feel any better, I share almost exactly the same description as yours that I actually used search terms to find such a question looking for advice along similar lines. Only way I am different is I am a 32 years old male; I can't afford to work for less as I have a family to support. Also although I am quite a sociopath, this is of late making me more so due to my hearing loss on one side.


I am pretty sure that either you misspelled the word, or you meant something else -- as I don't think anyone would think that they are a sociopath.

Henry


Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
rajesh sundaram
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 20, 2012
Posts: 2
Ghhheeeee...(shows all teeth in embarassment)....you are dead right, I am no sociopath...nooooo....I guess I meant something closer to "misanthrope" :-( (but not exactly), thanks for correcting me...sorry about my poor knowledge of the English language. Should start looking up the dictionary more often!
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1873
    
  16

Hi Nikki,

Could you find a way to use your existing skills to support the causes that matter to you, as this might help to reveal opportunities to move in the direction you want to go?

For example, as well as volunteering to work with animals for local charities, maybe you could offer to help them with their software needs? Many charities have very little idea how to organise their own data or build a robust and easily maintainable website, and so on, and they rarely have enough money to hire expensive commercial consultants with these skills. Maybe you could start helping out by taking on some of this kind of work from home in your spare time? You'd still need to work with people, but it would be less intensive than conventional office work, and you might feel more comfortable working with people who share your own passion for animal welfare.

Of course, you might need to find a way to compromise initially between the need to earn a living and to resolve your current unhappiness with conventional work, but this kind of thing might help to open new opportunities for you to move into a more satisfying career in the medium/longer term. If all else fails, at least you'll have some fun working at your local dog pound or wildlife rescue centre and perhaps make some useful contacts for the future.

Finally, it's not really my business, but perhaps you should be wary of labelling yourself too rigidly, e.g. as "ISTJ", especially on a public web forum. It's very easy to fall into the trap of living up (or down) to the label, or letting other people pigeon-hole you as a category instead of a person (as your careers teacher may have done back in school). Most people are far more complex, variable and nuanced in their personalities than the results of any one test might suggest, and there is an unfortunate tendency to label and even pathologise behaviour that is simply part of the normal richness of human experience. Recognise your own strengths and vulnerabilities, by all means, but give yourself a chance to grow beyond the boundaries of a crude 4-letter test result: after all, just because "ISTJ" qualities may be useful for software developers, doesn't mean everybody with an "ISTJ" test result has to be a software developer, does it?

Anyway, best of luck!


No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
Nikki Knox
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 16, 2012
Posts: 3
William P O'Sullivan wrote:
I feel that time is running out for me


Nikki, You are young.

Have you tried volunteering at local Animal shelters or reaching out to the Veterinarian community?

Once you finish your M.S. maybe look into some course on helping Animals, Vet assistant etc.

Now this *will* involve working around people. You need to combat your introversion if you truly want to succeed and be happy.


Also, you can maybe look into software to help your cause, maybe some smartphone, pad apps for Vets offices?

WP



William, thank you for your response! and kind words

I have volunteered in many scenarios, but like you said, I have to combat my introversion. It wasn't incredibly enjoyable for me to be around people constantly.

I like your idea about finding software to help the cause. I think I'd really enjoy working on a software project which I really believed in!

Nikki Knox
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 16, 2012
Posts: 3
chris webster wrote:Hi Nikki,

Could you find a way to use your existing skills to support the causes that matter to you, as this might help to reveal opportunities to move in the direction you want to go?

For example, as well as volunteering to work with animals for local charities, maybe you could offer to help them with their software needs? Many charities have very little idea how to organise their own data or build a robust and easily maintainable website, and so on, and they rarely have enough money to hire expensive commercial consultants with these skills. Maybe you could start helping out by taking on some of this kind of work from home in your spare time? You'd still need to work with people, but it would be less intensive than conventional office work, and you might feel more comfortable working with people who share your own passion for animal welfare.

Of course, you might need to find a way to compromise initially between the need to earn a living and to resolve your current unhappiness with conventional work, but this kind of thing might help to open new opportunities for you to move into a more satisfying career in the medium/longer term. If all else fails, at least you'll have some fun working at your local dog pound or wildlife rescue centre and perhaps make some useful contacts for the future.

Finally, it's not really my business, but perhaps you should be wary of labelling yourself too rigidly, e.g. as "ISTJ", especially on a public web forum. It's very easy to fall into the trap of living up (or down) to the label, or letting other people pigeon-hole you as a category instead of a person (as your careers teacher may have done back in school). Most people are far more complex, variable and nuanced in their personalities than the results of any one test might suggest, and there is an unfortunate tendency to label and even pathologise behaviour that is simply part of the normal richness of human experience. Recognise your own strengths and vulnerabilities, by all means, but give yourself a chance to grow beyond the boundaries of a crude 4-letter test result: after all, just because "ISTJ" qualities may be useful for software developers, doesn't mean everybody with an "ISTJ" test result has to be a software developer, does it?

Anyway, best of luck!


Chris, thank you so much for your reply! I absolutely agree with your idea to offer tech services to animal-related companies. I think that's a wonderful idea, thank you!

I also agree with what you said about labeling myself as an ISTJ. I simply have recently met with a career counselor and I rated very highly in the I, S, T, and J areas. When I read the personality description for ISTJ, I said - wow, that's me exactly! So I figured it would be a quick way to describe myself to others who don't know me Unfortunately, as you know, ISTJ is apparently the most common personality type for tech careers, so labeling myself with that lead me down this incorrect path.

Rajesh, I hope you've gotten some ideas from this board! It's nice to know that there are other animal lovers out there
Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18991
    
    8

rajesh sundaram wrote:Ghhheeeee...(shows all teeth in embarassment)....you are dead right, I am no sociopath...nooooo....I guess I meant something closer to "misanthrope" :-( (but not exactly), thanks for correcting me...sorry about my poor knowledge of the English language. Should start looking up the dictionary more often!


I think "anti-social" is maybe the word you were looking for... a person who isn't much interested in socializing with other people and avoids it if possible?
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1873
    
  16

You might want to check out the open source Open Data Kit project for some inspiration on how people can use tech skills to benefit the environment and wider world e.g. http://opendatakit.org/2012/06/surui-tribe-in-the-amazon-using-odk/. It's a cool use of technology, doing cool things for people who really need it.

There are also various open source tools, such as Ushahidi or Sahana, often supported by tech companies like Google, which are used to support various environmental and disaster relief projects. Google Maps is also widely used for disaster response and all kinds of environmental work. For example, combining ODK with Google Maps and Google Tables would give you a pretty good wildlife monitoring platform.

All of these might be projects you could contribute to, or learn about so you can help those using them.

Anyway, hope you find something that inspires you!

PS: No disrespect to your careers counsellor, but in my own experience you're better off working out what you want to do for yourself, then just asking them to help you find ways to do it. And drop the "ISTJ" thing - it makes you sound like "Rain Man"!
Andrea Bryant
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 24, 2014
Posts: 2
Hi Nikki,

I know this post is old but just in case you are still looking...

There are so many possibilities for you. You are still very young. I have only just figured out my animal career path and I am 39!

It's really important that you be true to who you are and how you are happiest.

The internet has opened up the world for us introverts. So you need to dig deep into who you are. Dig deep into some of these areas:

Interests - get really specific here. Eg is it a particular animal, a particular cause, a particular species, human-animal connection, etc
Your Why? This is huge - get to your why. What do you want people to say at your funeral?
Personality Type - I am big on the Myers Briggs (I'm an INFP) and when I learnt this I finally accepted exactly who I was. It made me realise why I had been unhappy in so many jobs. It wasn't because I was this sad person who would never be happy. It was because I hadn't found my perfect career.
Lifestyle - work at home, how many hours, location freedom? How much interaction etc?

I have written a blog post about animal careers for introverts so you may also like to read that.
http://www.pawsitivecareers.com/25-animal-careers-for-introverts/

I'm just getting started on my blog and it is so nice to finally have found my calling. Don't give up and best of luck!

Cheers,
Andrea


Andrea Bryant
www.pawsitivecareers.com
Helping Animal-Lovers Find Career Bliss!
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 40052
    
  28
Welcome to the Ranch, Andrea Bryant
Andrea Bryant
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 24, 2014
Posts: 2
Thanks Campbell!
mary bain
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 30, 2014
Posts: 2
Hi Nikki,

I was actually looking for software + animals when I ran into this. Not much advise to give, but I'm 60 and tired of the corporate environment. Software used to be fun for me so I'm looking to get that back. Just combined my interest with software and jobs and voila! There you are on the other far side of your career.
three ideas popped into my head for you (and others on the thread) as I was reading through it.
1. I live in Portland which happens to be the corporate location for Banfield veterinary clinics. I've met a data person working there that loved it. There may be other commercial interests around animals/ pets that use software to organize and actually pay you for it. LOL! It probably doesn't involve direct contacts with pets, but I suspect people drawn to it are animal folks and it helps working in an environment where your coworkers have the same passions as you. Of course I've thought that before in other jobs to my disappointment. But you're more likely to find a manager who understands if you feel the need to take a couple of days off for an ailing pet or because you had to end one's suffering.
2. for you and others on the thread who said you shouldn't let the Myers Briggs rating stop you. That's true, but realize introversion isn't something that is "bad". However our society doesn't seem to value certain strong characteristics found with it. Lots of engineers are introverts. I have issues dealing with my business analysts (mostly extroverted women) because I too am an introvert. Now women engineers I have no problems with or male engineers. It's a much more genderless environment outside of the big corporate shops. There's a book I recommend for all, introvert or extrovert called "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking". For introverts to get a better feel for your talents and let them shine. For extroverts to have a better appreciation of introverts.
3. You're smart. I have often thought of ways software could be used to help animals and their owners, but it's unlikely to pay. One idea is in the face of natural disasters, pets and owners get separated and in the case of Katrina, horrible things happened. Owners who never got their pets back and rescue groups that nastily adopted out owned animals when they should have known better. Legally a lot of states have this covered now with legislation about how long before a group can officially adopt an animal out rescued from a natural disaster without an owners release. I think it's 2 years now. They can foster but not adopt. Anyway it made me consider software that could be used to help unite owners and their pets. It would be horrible to lose house and possessions, but even more horrible to be unable to claim your pet when it had been handed to a group you thought was temporary because the disaster shelters don't allow them in.
Another is a cell phone app that helps you find a lost pet who has a gps tracker on his collar. Probably already out there.
Think of a problem related to pets and then consider software to help solve the problem. Best to build your own company with that software or find a group interested in sponsoring it. Or get into embedded software and think of a problem or aid that helps with a closer association with the animals themselves, then you would have the interaction too for testing and possibly deploying the software.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 40052
    
  28
Welcome to the Ranch mary bain
mary bain
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 30, 2014
Posts: 2
Thanks, Ritchie
Over the years I have often found myself lurking at the ranch for an answer to a burning question in my mind. I love the civility of the ranch!
Sterling Crapser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 05, 2006
Posts: 55
This man has always been an inspiration to me. Listen to what he's saying. And no, this is not religion or some inane cult...just common sense when you think about it.

What if Money Was No Object?
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Career guidance for a software loner who loves animals