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Job/Career Crossroads - Desperation

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I am a 40-something IT professional. I began in techie roles, then decided to move into project management a few years ago. I held two PM positions at two different companies for a combined 8 years. I was so miserable and stressed out that I wound up quitting both jobs without having another job lined up (not wise I understand, but I am single without kids and financially was able to do so). I need to start working again and I so, so want to do something other than project management. The thought of working in a PM role again literally brings about a major anxiety response. However, that is my work experience for the past decade and obviously the easiest route back to work. At the last company I thought I would get my foot in the door as a PM then try to move into a different position. Well that is much easier said than done and it didn't happen.


I know that it's possible to change your career, but without any experience what company is going to hire a middle aged man? I don't even know how to begin going about it; I spoke with a career counselor didn't get anything out of it. Is it possible for me to parlay the skills I picked up as a PM into a different role? Or should I just bite the bullet and try to find another PM role and be miserable most of the time? I want to believe that a real career change is possible but I just don't know. Thanks for any advice!

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You shouldn't be that stressed out with the PM role considering your experience. I'm not saying this to discredit your frustrations. It can be a very stressful job. I do think part of it is being an expert at stress management. I dated someone who was a fairly successful PM and not all companies are the same. If you fell into the role without any education or training, you may be finding it without purpose and lacking any real direction. It might be worthwhile for you to upgrade your skills and go back to a technical or career training school specific to project management. There is a very good one here at BCIT, British Columbia Institute of Technology - part time but demanding. Most of the individuals who enroll are mature and have existing work experience. You might like to google the program at this school and see how other schools around your area compare or what other schools local to you offer.


The reason why I suggest this is because it seems your frustration was overpowering and you left the position because of difficult emotions and overwhelming stress. Now that you are out of that company, now might be a good time to review a bit more objectively about your reasons for disliking this field, what your strengths have been in the past and where you would like to go from here. I switched from commercial banking to accounting so I don't blame you for wanting to switch fields. I did have to go back to school for it. In my case, I liked numbers and working with them. I just didn't want to keep doing it in banking. I hope you find what works for you.

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Sounds like you have two choices

1) You can either try again for PM. Who knows maybe the company/people you work for will make it a better job.


2) Second careers are increasingly becoming more common these days at middle age. You can do something similar to what you are doing and a completely new field in demand.

What other interests would make you look forward to working?

Maybe you could be an I.T. consultant for several companies?

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  • 4 months later...

I appreciate your response. However I have the coveted PMP cert and was trained extensively in PM. While I may not handle stressors and frustration well, I believe it is more a case of my natural skills and traits not matching up well with the PM role. For example, PM requires keen attention to detail, a razor sharp memory, a sense of urgency at all times, and most of all being in the spotlight at all times. I'm not an "in the weeds" guy and just feel like the role isn't a good fit. I tried it at 2 different companies for several years and it just wasn't working well. Thanks for your advice.

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Go for another project management role while going to classes to transition to a different career or another aspect of it. Or why not go back into being techie? Or freelance IT -- get contracts with a lot of nonprofits and small businesses that just need an IT person on occasion and not full time. i know someone who did that. They were closer to retirement, though, then you. They basically were needed a lot when a business set up and then they were needed maybe 2-3 hours every week or every couple of weeks after that so lined up a number of clients that only needed them in an emergency/certain times of the year.

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I feel like I am at a similar cross roads. Have you ever tried a competent life coach or career counselor? A good one can help you repackage yourself.


Personal networking is going to be key to make the change you want. Your skill set will never initially click the right boxes for some computer that is reviewing your resume through an OCR program.

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