What do you want to be when you grow up?

Well, that's the ultimate question isn't it.

There's been a spate of career and life changing posts coming in through #100DaysToOffload lately so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon. However, Kev@Fosstodon's has quite possibly been the instigator for me to follow suit. His post, "My Approach To My Career" is well worth a read if you haven't already. It's short, sweet, and to the point.

So, how do I answer that question? What did I want to be when I was younger? Honestly, I have no idea what I wanted to be, probably something fun or utterly stupid. And to tell you the truth, at 35, I still have no idea. I have a wide range of interests from my sports, my current job is interesting but I'd also love to dabble in making stuff with Blender.

I've always had a natural ability to do stuff with technology. Most of it comes relatively easily to me, or certainly doesn't take too long to learn the basics but it's not something I wanted to do as a job.

Over time I've had a promising start to a career in hospitality. The days were long and I certainly don't miss the 14 hour shifts. It was very much the life for someone young and single - and I loved damn near every minute of it. Things happened which I'm not prepared to discuss here (personally, not professionally) and I moved on.

I've been an account manager for a software reseller - which over time made me physically ill from the hard-sells, the lies and the sales targets to the point where I was throwing up before work each morning. Alcohol and smoking took over me. It's taken years to undo some of the damage I did to myself.

I've installed UPS' for all sorts of business', including places like IBM, hospitals and even had a hand in the Microsoft Dublin Data Centre (seriously, those battery rooms are f'huge). The working away all week life just wasn't for me though.

I've also done a few other bits and pieces before landing a temporary contract job at my current place of employment in the education sector. Originally it was only for a month. I'm still there almost 11 years later. I worked my way up from the 1st line helpdesk, to the networking team over time and spent almost 5 years in infrastructure. As is common in the education sector, restructure after restructure hit and I survived most of them. That is, until the last one in which my job no longer existed. Luckily, I could fall back on the skills I'd built over the years and managed to sidestep in a way to a different role in a different (new) team.

Now I spend my days packaging software for deployment, automating configuration where I can and generally looking after our end user systems. I guess a close title that describes it well would be a Desktop Software Deployment & Performance Engineer (not my actual title). After going through the Cisco Global Cyber Ops Scholarship, it's not the direction I expected my career to take. The plan was to head the security route.

But looking back, has the change in role been so bad? No, I don't think so. some of the responsiblity on my shoulders in the networking & infrastructure was immense due to the structure and distribution of our sites and I ended up being the only network tech for an entire site for years - it took a serious mental toll on me to the point of tears at times when I eventually got home in the evenings. A strange thing to a grown man to admit online, but it's the truth.
Now, I'm not stressed, I can have a laugh with my new team, I get to play with some interesting things such as Munki, Jamf, Intune and more and I have the trust of my team lead to try things out and come up with solutions which can be FOSS if I want.

Is it what I wanted to do with my life? No, not really, but I can do it. And with the lower stress levels and lower responsibility, I can enjoy my downtime much more.

So while I may not be doing what I love (seriously, someone pay me to ride around on my bike or run through hills and trails PLEASE), it pays enough for me to pay my bills, have a roof over my head and enough to have triathlon as a hobby. Can most of us ask much more from life?

If you're like me and still don't know what you want to do with your life yet, don't panic. We've got plenty of time. Just don't waste it.

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