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deltaKshatriya

I'm Very Confused About Career Directions...

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Hey all, 

This isn't really a post that fits into any particular forum, so I'm posting it here, but feel free to move it mods, if you feel that it should move. I figured it isn't really specifically about game dev related careers.

I'm a recent college grad, currently working as a software engineer as part of a rotational program, so I'll be spending some time in my current role then rotating to a new location and new software engineering related position. I did my undergrad in Computer Science, and while Computer Science had been my main career interest for quite some time before college, while working my way through college my main focus really was just to get done with the degree, get a job, and be done with the extreme stress/too much work during college. Now that I'm out, I'm not as sure about my career direction as I was before. While I do still do like Computer Science, software engineering, etc., my current position, although well paying, doesn't really involve me doing much on a day to day basis (for now at least though that's subject to change). The good news is that I've got a lot of control over where I rotate to next. Interestingly enough, initially I got interested in Computer Science because of game dev (as a teenager at least). Then that morphed into AI and machine learning. Now it's....unknown really.

Now the thing is I've kind of been bouncing around in all sorts of directions. I absolutely love 3d art and have been actively trying to get better at it. I've also taken up writing and considered trying to write a novel in my spare time. Then I'm finding graphics programming very interesting as well (although that's not what my day job is), and I still have quite an interest in machine learning, data science, text mining, etc.

In short, I have absolutely no clue which direction to move towards. My parents believe I need to get a graduate degree, either an MBA or an MS in Computer Science. I, honestly, have no clue. And so I'm here, wondering what I should do with very little actual idea of what I should do.

So I'd like to here your thoughts, fellow people of this particular section of the Internet. 

Thanks in advance!

 

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Get yourself a copy of the book "What Color Is Your Parachute?", any edition within the past ten years or so. Your local library probably has several copies if you don't want to buy it.

The whole book has assorted gems to answer your questions in depth, but one part in particular would be useful.  The book has a section called "the flower diagram". Some people work through it in a few minutes, but I recommend you spend a few days of serious soul-searching and work through it thoughtfully.

The diagram specifically can help you identify what values/purposes are important to you, what skills and talents you want to use, the work environments and people environments you thrive at, the places (geographically) you want, and the salary and responsibility levels you would like.

Done thoughtfully I've seen that transform lives, where the person suddenly realize the thing they want to do. Most people have minor corrections, but I've also seen complete redirection of careers, including a game programmer becoming a music instructor, and an artist moving to botany, where both people reported later how satisfied they were with the decision.

As for the masters degree, I'd recommend that if you discover you want more education, otherwise probably recommend you get your job. It makes very little difference to most employers.  There are exceptions, jobs in teaching or research or certain advanced disciplines require masters or doctoral degrees, but that's not typical of the workforce.

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Have you gone through Tom Sloper's faq? (It's in the stickies)

Have you built a decision grid as he suggests? It doesn't always help, but it's worth a shot.

Being a jack of all trades, master of none is better suited towards working in small indie teams, if there are any nearby you might want to look into what they are doing. AAA will require specialized skills and proximity to studios, so you would have to decide on a discipline and be prepared to relocate (unless you are lucky enough to live in an area known for having studios.)

Working in CS outside of games, and writing / 3D graphics as a hobby is going to be a much safer route if money is your biggest motivation.

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Thanks for your responses everyone. o let me respond to each piece separately.

30 minutes ago, frob said:

Get yourself a copy of the book "What Color Is Your Parachute?", any edition within the past ten years or so. Your local library probably has several copies if you don't want to buy it.

The whole book has assorted gems to answer your questions in depth, but one part in particular would be useful.  The book has a section called "the flower diagram". Some people work through it in a few minutes, but I recommend you spend a few days of serious soul-searching and work through it thoughtfully.

The diagram specifically can help you identify what values/purposes are important to you, what skills and talents you want to use, the work environments and people environments you thrive at, the places (geographically) you want, and the salary and responsibility levels you would like.

Done thoughtfully I've seen that transform lives, where the person suddenly realize the thing they want to do. Most people have minor corrections, but I've also seen complete redirection of careers, including a game programmer becoming a music instructor, and an artist moving to botany, where both people reported later how satisfied they were with the decision.

I'll definitely get a copy of that book and also definitely start with the flower diagram as well. This sounds like solid advice, so thanks for that!

31 minutes ago, frob said:

As for the masters degree, I'd recommend that if you discover you want more education, otherwise probably recommend you get your job. It makes very little difference to most employers.  There are exceptions, jobs in teaching or research or certain advanced disciplines require masters or doctoral degrees, but that's not typical of the workforce.

Yea, my parents are super keen on masters degrees, since they're both professors. I've never been as sure myself, haha.

25 minutes ago, ItamarReiner said:

Have you gone through Tom Sloper's faq? (It's in the stickies)

Have you built a decision grid as he suggests? It doesn't always help, but it's worth a shot.

I have seen it before, some time ago, though I wasn't able to find it when I last looked, unfortunately. 

26 minutes ago, ItamarReiner said:

Being a jack of all trades, master of none is better suited towards working in small indie teams, if there are any nearby you might want to look into what they are doing. AAA will require specialized skills and proximity to studios, so you would have to decide on a discipline and be prepared to relocate (unless you are lucky enough to live in an area known for having studios.)

Working in CS outside of games, and writing / 3D graphics as a hobby is going to be a much safer route if money is your biggest motivation.

So here's the real thing: I'm not actually as interested necessarily in game development itself (which was actually why I wasn't sure if I should post in this particular forum). I'm not averse to it either, if it turns out that that's the best direction for me to take. By and large, I have no real idea which career direction I wish to pursue in general. Like I said, to top it off, my current position doesn't involve too much work for the moment either, so it's a little slow in that sense. I've been thinking through different potential paths, but have been really confused unfortunately. 

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Well my advise , use your heart , I did go to college got degree in actually what im not like at all , Im not working by my degree nor looking to work in feuture, money is good but simple I dont like it, I prefer work less payed job but which i like.

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19 hours ago, zizulot said:

Well my advise , use your heart , I did go to college got degree in actually what im not like at all , Im not working by my degree nor looking to work in feuture, money is good but simple I dont like it, I prefer work less payed job but which i like.

Well that's the thing, I don't really know what my heart's in really. That's what makes this all so difficult.

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10 hours ago, deltaKshatriya said:

Well that's the thing, I don't really know what my heart's in really. That's what makes this all so difficult.

Then you should get that book frob mentioned. And until you've read it and searched your soul, since you don't know what direction to move in, do you really need to move in any direction?

- If you do, then just start moving in whatever direction you're facing when you start moving.

- If you don't need to, know that sometimes staying in place is the right thing (until you feel called to move in a particular direction).

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1 hour ago, Tom Sloper said:

Then you should get that book frob mentioned.

I've ordered the book, I was just specifically responding to zizulot. 

1 hour ago, Tom Sloper said:

And until you've read it and searched your soul, since you don't know what direction to move in, do you really need to move in any direction?

- If you do, then just start moving in whatever direction you're facing when you start moving.

- If you don't need to, know that sometimes staying in place is the right thing (until you feel called to move in a particular direction).

I guess I don't really need to pick a direction at the least. I'd just at least like to know what to focus more on in my spare time (i.e. if it's learning graphics or writing, etc.). I guess that's the direction I'm facing in right now is just do a bunch of random stuff until something sticks haha.

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I would hold off on graduate school.  The game industry is super competitive if you are looking to start a career in games its best to pick a specialty.  If you are interested in art you could also consider a career as a Tech Artist or Tech Animator.  

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