What I’d Do if I Wasn’t Doing What it is I’m Doing
I have the luxury of being able to think about this! You see, I’m not exactly “unemployed” but I’m no longer doing my primary day job and have nothing but time on my hands. Sure, I’m spending a lot of this time contracting, studying, and just generally spending time with the family. There’s definitely plenty of room for reflection, though.
I’ve been dabbling in front-end development and web design since, umm, I dunno… 2003? 2004? Somewhere around 20 years at this current point in time. That’s an awfully large chunk of my 42 living years. It’s also a surprisingly large number considering that a “career” in web, not only wasn’t really much a thing back then, but something I stumbled into by accident.
I ain’t complaining. The capitol-W Web is an amazing place, and gosh darn if I’m lucky to have carved some sort of career path along it.
Continuing to do something just because it’s been good to you isn’t really a reason to keep going. I’m a firm believer that time is better spent pursuing what you love. And if it happens to pay you nicely at the same time, well great, but that’s not the priority. I’ve always been into art and content, but somehow majored in Economics. Funny enough, web design (and development for that matter) fell in my lap one day. I picked it up, looked at it, and realized there’s a lot more crossover with my interests than I could’ve expected. (Web crosses over with so many things.)
But what would I do if I wasn’t working on the web? There are multiple ways to answer that. Are we talking short-term gigs, or a career change? Is additional schooling, training, or certification ok? Is salary really not that big of a deal? I ain’t gonna worry about any of that and simply go with what sounds appealing to me right this very second, reality be damned.
I’ve had a semi-secret dream of owning a cafe one day that serves nothing but coffee and pie. That’s it. Brewed coffee (creamer is ok) and a slice of pie from two options that rotate daily. The price? $5 even.
I can see myself running that kind of joint. I bet the overhead is relatively low, but the myopic scope of the food selection could be problematic.
I mean this in the loosest of terms as a catch-all for various musical activities. Being in a band alone would be tough. Being a sound or recording engineer would be tough as well. And are record labels even a thing these days? But maybe doing all three while serving as a session guitarist for other artists, selling songs, and whatnot would be both fulfilling and sustainable. Or maybe add a record store to the mix? Maybe…
This is cheating because it’s the path I’m currently on. I’ve been teaching college-level front-end courses on a part-time basis for about three years. I want to dial that up, so I’m in a master’s degree program in Education to become better at designing curriculum and learning experiences. There’s no such thing as a master’s degree in front-end development, so I figure this is the best way to crack into a full-time role teaching it.
I know, I know. I’d still be doing “web development” in a sense, so it’s not like I’d be totally escaping it. But it’s not like I’d be neck-deep writing code either.
This one surprises me. My dad was a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) for the entirety of his career, focusing on children and at-risk youth. He was a local hero in the small farm town of Lemoore, CA. It was hard walking down any street with him without being stopped and thanked for his life-changing help.
I somehow find myself in situations where I feel like I’m providing the same kind of help. Maybe not the life-saving part, but meaningful situations nonetheless. Hey, I’ve even had a therapist tell me I should be charging him for our conversations, so it’s not completely unfounded!
Any kind, really. I just saw that The Markup is hiring editors and that made my ears perk up a bit. I’d probably be more interested in a local news publication, though. The only problem I see is that a career in journalism is a lot like a career as an independent web developer… something I had done for roughly ten years before accepting my last full-time job. Unless I’m gunning for an editing role, I’d probably find myself in Freelance Land.
I could also see myself working for a magazine. Many years ago, I dreamed of being on the Rolling Stone payroll. I’d still love to do that, even if the magazine industry is equally, if not more, fraught with unsustainable career opportunities. (Blame mega-corporation mergers.) I’m sure my idealistic impression comes from the movie Almost Famous which is definitely not reflective of the music business today, as cool as it depicts things from yesteryear.
Looking at this list makes me laugh out loud. Really. I bought a coffee for the lady sitting next to me to apologize for the noise. Like, is this really the best I can come up with? In a land of make-believe where I’m offered vast blue sky to dream up the most fulfilling career? I mean, I could have said my life-long dream is to be a real-life James Bond. Or a deep jungle adventurer. Or a mad scientist. Or Twitter CEO (ew). Or a… you get the idea.
But these are the things that seem to grab me, at least right now. If I wasn’t working in front-end development, these would be the fallbacks I’d lean on for a new career path, glitzy or otherwise.