Yesterday was my last day as a software engineer at BAE Systems in Frimley.
I have been there 17 years, so long that I find it hard to remember what life was like before I started there. In those 17 years I have acquired a wife, a daughter, and a mortgage; and my beard has turned grey.
For the first 16 years I was a member of the same project team. But, eventually, that project came to an end, and the team is now being dispersed across other projects and other sites. It is quite a shock to the system to be separated from people who you have shared office space with day-in-day-out for so long. You don't realise just how much you come to depend upon those off-hand discussions over morning coffee for your sanity.
Having just turned 50, I found that my software development skills are much less valued than when I started out. Jobs that I could do have either disappeared altogether, or else are being done by new graduates who are being paid quite a bit less than I am. Rather than try to compete, I have decided to make a complete break with software development, and to move into a career that should see me through the next 15 years. In January I will be starting as a temporary teaching assistant at Prospect School, Reading. If this goes well, I will be applying for the PGCE Mathematics course at Reading University, starting in September 2009. I reckon that secondary school maths teachers are always going to be in demand.