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Wow, how did I end up here? From Sales to IT

By jeffreygentry ·
I find myself in very unfamiliar territory, however I am hoping to find some insight or direction from the good people here.

Currently, I work in sales for a label (stickers) company. There are no complaints to be had as labels are in great demand in numerous industries. The location is great, the pay is great and the hours are great; all of which are key factors when you are ?attempting? to provide for a family in this economy. The only exception being that I am extremely unenthusiastic about the work I do. When you close a big deal ? you get a solid pat on the back and then its right back to the exhaustive process of uncovering the next big deal. What little satisfaction there is to be had is very short lived.

However two weeks ago, I found my self more excited and more preoccupied with my job than I ever had. I was making a spreadsheet. The basic function of the spreadsheet was to compare costs of one label material over another, but numerous factors that were involved in this comparison made the actual numbers very hard to arrive at. I found myself thinking about the process to get from point A to point B non stop. In the car, at dinner, over lunch; I actually put myself to sleep that night considering the possibilities of how, through this simple spreadsheet, I could derive the numbers I was seeking. When my project finally came to fruition, I gained a sense of satisfaction that to date remains undiminished.

If I look back, I can recall similar instances in my ?youth? (I?m 29 going on 30) where I still hold pride in some seemingly mundane function. This ranged from programming my TI-85 calculator in 9th grade to run a short animated game to scrutinizing my PC?s every process. Not because I needed to, but because I could.

My reasons for never pursuing the IT field are numerous, but I?ve reached a point where I?m looking to satisfy not only my families needs but my own as well. And I?m inclined to believe that perhaps my talents and enthusiasm are being flushed down the proverbial drain.

My questions to all of you who have endured reading this far: Where do I go from here? I laugh as I type, but does anyone enjoy a well thought out spreadsheet as much as I do? What kind of career can I pursue? Or what kind of education should I look at?

Any thoughts or comments will be gladly accepted.


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by Oz_Media In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

I have been a jack of all trades, literally just about asnythig. I am a licenced mechanic, 2nd yr machinist, have run a cartage company, have traveled with rock bands, managed rock bands (still do for a couple), sold and marketed worldwide etc. During this time I have been in and out of sales all my life and have sold just about everything into dozens of completely different markets.

now that's not to **** my bubble but to show you that we all go through changes and don't have to feel lumped into one or two career paths for life, as WE change, so do our desires and career path.

As for sales, you just described the sales job to a tee, close the deal, reap your rewards and back at it next month, even starting from scratch if you don't know how to manage a sales funnel properly. If you use a well designed funnel, after four or five months, the business is there every month and you aren't usually digging from eth bottom again, though it can happen durign slower times. Do I understand the label industry? Probably more than I could even begin to explain.

If you are a salesman, a good salesman that is. You will ALWAYS be a salesman, a good salesman that is.

In every industry I have worked, including IT where I obtained an MCNE and became a SEO specialist, sales will always be your strongest skill. IN IT it makes it so easy to pass people by and get ahead with teh company, but you will find that RUT you find in sales FAR quicker in IT than ou ever will in sales. In IT, once that RUT is there, it's there permantently, not just until the next big deal.

I've managed a coporation's IT department and have also worked as a consultant/contractor for a few companies, it's the same crap. I enjoyed learnign everything, and experimenting with things, fixing tthings, being the company's go to guy to solve everyone's problems but it gets to be as mundane as a telemarketing job selling circus tickets to old folks homes.

Spread your wings and eexplore, but as you said you have a family, the grass is not greener on the other side, just different grass. After a while it's all just green again.

Sales offer SO many more opportunities, if you can sell, you can sell for anyone, anywhere, why not just explore opportunities where you can make some really good money in sales. There's no really good money in IT anymore, not for someone new anyway. the people you will work and deal with will seem so dry as you come from a diferent background.

Now if you are really an IT guy and not a sales person, if that's just where you ended up then so be it, but for the most part you will get farther and make more in sales than any IT career I've seen.

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Never did like Reality

by jeffreygentry In reply to Reality

I obviously posted to the right place. You make several good points Oz. Perhaps a switch in vocation is not the right answer, but a switch in industry might give me what I am looking for.

I like your spin on the over used "The grass is always greener on the other side." I should not discount its simple wisdom.

In sales, I do like the ability to work with the customers to develop a product that is cost effective and one that works for them. I can easily see this translating to other fields.

Thanks for the Reality OZ

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Remember, variety is the spice of life

by marya123 In reply to Never did like Reality

My past occupations include various positions at a veneer mill, rafter builder, finish construction work, educator and various volunteer positions. The occupation I lasted the longest at was office manager for various temperature control firms. That included the opportunity to spend time in the warehouse, sales (commercial and industrial clients, creating and using spreadsheets (budgeting, forecasting, invoicing, inventory),learning to program computers, being network administrator, etc. I took a course for Access programming and found it very exciting! This job never got old-always new and interesting challenges. At my current job, I find myself always questioning - why is that not on a spreadsheet or database? They are such useful, and easily reusable, tools. I'm too used to running things for efficiency and making a profit.Sounds like you might look for the same sort of work. Being in sales, you could probably also do well in a supervisory role (comes with the territory). Best wished in new ventures!

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There is a world of possibilities

by Ed Woychowsky In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

There are a number of possibilities that depend on what interests you and how far you want to go. Whenever presented with the desire to learn something new I usually find a book or an article on the subject and immerse myself in it. I?ll play with the examples and try to extend them before striking out on my own. This method works for me, but some people prefer classes on new subjects at the local community college, I?ve taken a couple classes myself at NCC in Bethlehem Pennsylvania.

The biggest problem is one of expense, a class will cost around $400 and a book will cost around $40. Next are the development tools, if you go the shrink-wrapped routine the tools could run into the thousands. Fortunately there is an option, open source. There are open source development environments, databases, XML editors, operating systems and even books. The following are some web sites where you?ll find further information:


There are a lot more than the list above, you should look on SourceForge regularly to see if there is anything that strikes you interest. Also, has a number how-to articles which might be of interest. If all else fails post here or e-mail me, ewoychowsky(at), I?m pretty good with the odd stuff like AJAX, XSL, C# and JavaScript. Hope this helps.

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Small World

by jeffreygentry In reply to There is a world of possi ...


Funny that you mention classes or surfing through the web to gain a little extra knowledge. I actually went to the library and checked out a C++ book to see if I could do anything with it. As it turns out, by they time I sit down for dinner, clean up, play with the kids and then put them down...I'm a Zombie with no interests other than to wipe the drool off my own chin!

I know thats no excuse - if its something I really want, I'll have to make the time for it. But I will check out the sites and maybe just doing some fun stuff on the side for myself will satisfy my urge to use my brain.

As for the title of my reply, "small world". Here's a shout out to you from the Poconos!.

Thank for the links, as I will certainly be checking them out.


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How about from Political science to IT

by JamesRL In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

I actually didn't take one of the few courses offered in high school in computers - it was brand new and they had one Commodore PET for the whole school.

I used computers in University to do statistical analysis in political science. I discovered I was good at it, and took a programming course. My political career hit a dead end, and I started off in marketing at a computer company.

The best advice on the subject I've heard is find what you love and do it. If thats programming great. There isn't much call for spreadsheet programmers anymore, but the programming field is huge. Investigate and explore and see what you like.


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The grass is always greener...?

by jeffreygentry In reply to How about from Political ...

Thanks for the reply James,

I think I am taking OZ's remarks to heart and will certainly give this one more thought. But you are right, in that I need to Investigate this and see what is available.

I'm glad to hear that a situation like my own worked out well for you.


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What are your dreams?

by scott365 In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

I'm at the same point in life Jeff. I'm about the same age and trying to decide where to go from here. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum though.

I've been in IT for almost 9 years now. The main thing I love about IT is the fact my brain doesn't stagnate. It's an ever changing industry and most of the people I've worked with in IT are real and somewhat honest. I love my job in many other ways, but I've worked along side sales staff in past jobs (sales engineering) enough to know I could be making a heck of a lot more money through commissions. Don't get me wrong... I'm paid fairly for my job but I also know my personality and skills could suit me a good bit better monetarily in other positions or industries.

So, at the end of the day I've gotta take care of my family. As long as I can provide well for the family and am happy with myself, that should be all that matters, right? Course, a man I deeply respect once said "I'm 60 years old and haven't figured out what I want to do in life." By the way, he was, and still is, very successfull in life and very high on the corporate ladder of his globally recognized company.

Since we're both young, maybe we're just approaching the point many guys come to in life. Maybe we all wonder what the next step should be. Maybe most men stop asking this question after the age of 40 cause they're happy to be alive. Who knows?!? Just know you're not alone.

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brain activity.....Good!

by jeffreygentry In reply to What are your dreams?


I think thats what I like best about the possiblities of the IT field. I really enjoy using my brain and seeing the results of that process!

I'm still laughing about the 40 and alive remark, in fact I think I'll even try it out on a few people around here.

Thanks for the reply and adding some levity to my pre-mid life crisis :)


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To be honest:

by PhillipD In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

You've got to do what you want to do. If you feel that you are suited for an IT job - by all means, go for it. Measure out the pros and cons for yourself and in the end, do what you think you'd be happiest doing.

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