How Do I Change My Career Path After Being an Executive Assistant For Years?

Dear E. Jean:First-world problem here: I hate my job! I don’t hate the company I work for, I don’t hate my coworkers, I don’t hate my boss. I hate what I do! I’m an executive assistant. I’m 34, and if I have to schedule one more meeting, pick up another lunch for my boss, or put together another PowerPoint presentation, I’ll lose my mind.

I’ve given notice and will be quitting my job at the end of the month. I have money saved up, and my question is: What can I do now? I have no idea what being an executive assistant for 12 years qualifies me to do, other than being an executive assistant. I’ve learned that I’m not a people person. I’m quite introverted, I like math, and the less I have to deal with people, the better. Am I just being a cranky bitch here? Am I unrealistic? I need your advice, E. Jean! I dread going to work every day. It’s not a stressful job, and yet I feel stressed. I’m always on edge and aggravated. —A Girl’s Gotta Find Her Passion

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Gotta, My Gladiolus: Go to Harvard. Learn to code for free—virtually. You have the time and the math savvy, not to mention the mesmerizing introverted personality, to code like a mofo. If you don’t like Harvard, go to MIT or UC Berkeley. They, too, offer free online computer science and coding courses through edX.org.

Or, if you prefer, choose a coding academy. For a list of the best: switchup.org/ research/best-coding-bootcamps. I’ve hired grads from Flatiron School (Lily) and App Academy (Eric), both of them excellent. Note: Forget the nine-week programs. Coding well requires, at the very least, nine months to attain even fledgling level, in my opinion as an employer who employs coders. Find yourself a mentor, and prepare to spend an additional four or five months interviewing for the best jobs.

If enough women enroll in enough coding programs, we’ll soon be writing the code that will create the algorithms that will rule the men who used to rule the world. Not to say there isn’t some bright, introverted 15-year-old in her bedroom writing the code that will end the world as we know it next Thursday. Read Ray Kurzweil’s book The Singularity Is Near,about how technology will soon “transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.” And revel in the next letter, from a Stanford MBA grad who’s dying to be—you guessed it—an executive assistant.

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