Ask A Broadsheet Reader


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From top: Dubai and Dublin

Anon writes:

August 2007: Started as engineer with current employer (various role changes and small promotions followed over the years).

April 2016: Decided I would leave to pursue a different (dream) career by doing a two-year full-time course that begins in Dublin in September. Would remain in job until then.

May 2016: Applied, interviewed, and got accepted for above course.

9am, end June 2016: At work, was asked to apply for a lucrative role, large promotion in Middle East as I had the most suitable knowledge base in the company.

9:02am, end June 2016: Head in spin.

Mid-July 2016: Decided to go for promotion and put off the dream job prospect.

Every day since: Changed mind.

Mid-July 2016: Interviewed for promotion

Last 24 hours: Decided finally on the course in Dublin.

9am, this morning: Informed boss.

9:30am: Received meeting invite from HR in Middle East to congratulate me on being the successful candidate and would like to discuss packages, etc.

9:33am to present: Head in spin again.

I’ve stuck with my decision and have since informed the hiring manager in the Middle East and HR manager here. I’m 32 next month, no kids and no mortgage. I’m leaving a well-paid role in an industry I really don’t care about to probably make a net personal loss over the next five years, in pursuit of my dream career – moving from engineering to creative – moving to Dublin, rather than Dubai, from somewhere else in Ireland.

Am I crazy?

Can your balanced and considered readers please inform me if I am crazy? Any advice or experiences to share now that I’ve made the decision?


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67 thoughts on “Ask A Broadsheet Reader

  1. Al

    “I’m 32 next month, no kids and no mortgage”

    I’d suggest you coin it in while you can. Plenty of time to study

    1. Frederick

      Coin aside, there’s a lot to be said working overseas for a few years. It brings so much experience, both personally and professionally, not to mention the personal self development that goes along with that. You’ll also meet great people and make life long friends from across the globe (the UAE is very global). The old saying that “travel broadens the mind” is something that should be believed and experienced.

    1. martco


      OP shure you’re only a whippersnapper!? Do it.

      and you sound like you already know the magic combination anyway….you MUST work at something you love to do and be happy! everything else is futile from a personal happiness pov.
      If the heat is on and money is short you’ll find a way because you’ll get a lot of extra energy and literally creative thinking previously dormant coming into play if you’re loving your game.
      Good luck!

  2. realPolithicks

    You’re young enough and unencumbered enough (no kids or mortgage) to make this change in your life. Pursue it now so you’ll (hopefully) have no regrets later on.

  3. Harry Molloy

    as you said you’ve no responsibilities, and I’m sure you’re no fool so know you may be a little behind in terms of income and assets at 40, so why not just do it

  4. ahjayzis

    You’re not crazy, you’re doing what feels right.

    You know what you’re losing with a promotion and pay rise, it’s quantifiable, and you already have those skills, you’re not going to lose them. You can get that job again.

    But you’d spend the rest of your life wondering what you’d given up if you’d abandoned your dream.

  5. Waddy Dilson

    Go for it. Massive pay in ME, accom paid, very little money to spend – you’ll come home with a huge chunk of of change in your savings. Just go.

  6. Cup of tea anyone?

    Take the role in Dubai

    Do online course at night
    Save as much as you can. Hopefully the role covers accommodation costs.

    Return home in 3 years, buy a house with cash wherever you are from.

    start your new career with no mortgage.

  7. Pip

    My dad always had great difficulty in making his mind up.
    The following is less daft than it seems.
    Toss a coin. The outcome will tell you thusly.
    If you get Dublin and feel instant twinge of disappointment, then it’s Dubai.
    And vice versa. Just a thought.

    1. No, the other one

      I like this solution! It’s like tricking your gut feeling into exposing itself…excellent tactic

  8. Liam Deliverance

    Sounds like you got your head screwed on the right way, fair play, I’d guess Dubai is pretty boring after a few weeks. Good Luck with your course and the new adventure you are on.

  9. moould

    well if you’ve ever seen the film Spartacus and wondered what it’d be like to see slaves try to burn Rome to the ground then you know which one to pick as something like that is due to hit Dubai pretty soon

  10. DubLoony

    Head – do you have the cash to see you through the lean yeas of study & maybe a bit extra to see you through post-learning creative time?
    Yes = Dublin
    No=Dubai for a bit, postpone course, rake in the cash, don’t go crazt for max 2 years. Back to Dublin to enjoy course & change in direction.

    Heart – you hate the industry you are in, it’ll eat you up not knowing
    Yes – Dublin

    Whatever decision you make, make the additional decision not the regret it.
    Best of luck.

  11. JollyRoger

    I left a decent well paying job to work for myself and in effect take a payout. I went from the guts of a 2 and a half hour daily commute in a 9 – 5:30 to very flexible hours with no commute….

    It was all about a better work / life balance for me, I wish I had done it a lot sooner!

    Not sure if this will help but I had put off doing this for 3 or 4 years because I was afraid of the pay cut, and while I don’t regret not leaving when I first wanted, I think the balance I have now is perfect and 2 hours commuting a day is a lot of time over a year.

  12. Brian

    I reckon defer the course for a year. Go to Dubai when the role is there. I’ve only visited Dubai but everyone seems to enjoy life there. I think people should always take the opportunity to live in different countries. You’re not giving up on your dream, you’re just deferring it. With the additional coin you will make, study will be easier next year. Good luck whichever way you go.

  13. rotide

    You spend a very large portion of your life working, there’s no point doing something you don’t enjoy.

    If you are doing something you really like and enjoy, the rewards will come simply from the fact you’ll be good at it.

    Having said that, you more than likely will never catch up earnings wise (and probably won’t make as much anyway in your new career) and as little as you care about that now, it is worth thinking about.

    At the end of the day though, My dad always said to me “Do whatever you want, as long as you want to do it”, truer words were never spoken.

    I’d say switch careers, You’ll be poorer but happier, but it’s not my life

  14. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    At the end of the day though, My dad always said to me “Do whatever you want, as long as you want to do it”, truer words were never spoken.

    My dad used to say, ‘Do whatever you like, yer mam and me are having a lie-in. There might be something on the telly’.

    1. Liam Deliverance

      Interesting insight into the world of sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq there folks, the plot thickens!

      1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

        Don’t tell me oul’ fella but we used to turn the volume down on the telly…that’s why watching Speedy Gonzales always brings a tear to my eye…
        – I loved that little guy, my dad…

  15. mauriac

    I’m considered a reader so here’s my advice: first fake your own death for a real fresh start then move to LA , have a sex change , make a bundle giving handjobs on Sunset Blvd then pivot to acting using the readers of Broadsheet to decide on scripts . Sorted .

  16. RuilleBuille

    I worked in a third level institution that trained students for the creative arts. Whenever students or parents asked that question the creative lecturers (I was admin) always told them you will be lucky to make a living at this artistic discipline – follow the money.

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      I woke up in a third-world railway station one morning
      – I saw some ‘creative’ eh, ‘art’.

      I never told my parents.
      – Believe me Man, it was a different time…

  17. No, the other one

    I hopped off the career ladder myself to start my own business which subsequently failed. Now back in my field of expertise again but wouldn’t change a thing…why? Well firstly I know my own nature and would have regretted not taking the plunge, I would have been plagued with ‘what ifs’… Secondly I’m good at what I do (sounds like you are too) so actually I’m pretty much back at the same salary/perks I would have been at anyway, finally I got great life experience from challenging myself – also they are both great options so you’re a winner either way!

  18. forfeckssake

    My advice is make up your own mind about your own life. Why would you take the advice of strangers whose judgement might be very poor?

  19. Andy

    Go to Dubai

    Dubai offers both cash and new experiences.

    At 32 you have plenty of years left to study.

    I would implore anyone with a chance to work abroad in industry to do get the place – the world is such a big place that you’ll touch projects and sectors you’d never get the chance to in Ireland.

      1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

        Scooperman, it’s not often I say this about anybody but you seem to be [‘on the bal]l’, or whatever they call it in your circlr-jerk, but just look at hAndy wAndy…He can suck a knob at ten yards, but you aren’t allowed say that on Broadsheet…

        Oh hang on, you ARE…
        HOLY FUPP.

  20. jimmyv

    Speaking as someone who made a similar life choice… (I bet on creative in my 20’s, I’m 34 now and changing my life to pursue a more traditional career path so as to get a home, afford a child, afford a car, health insurance… the usual.)

    This isn’t to say I’m done with my creative career, but my advice would be to go make money and SAVE SAVE SAVE.

    I can’t imagine what creative field is so regulated that you really need formal training to get started in it… so work on your creative projects in the evening, fund them with your day job.

    Leverage your corporate position to get a job with greater flexibility (public service) or arrange at some point in the future to work reduced hours (3 day week/ shorter working year) and aim to have a nice life all round rather than pursuing a dream in the hope that it will fulfill you.

  21. De Kloot

    Dubai is a fantastic hub for Asia, Africa and beyond. Make your money, see a bit more of the world and who knows where that will take you…

    1. De Kloot

      Last word. Financial security gives you some many more options in life. I spent my 30’s in Seattle and then San Jose in California. Came home 10 years ago financially secure and that allowed me to achieve some life goals academically speaking. So. Travel. Experience the world and save you money.

  22. Hashtag McMór

    Are you crazy? Surely, “Am I an anti-semitic #homophobic #dickhead for working in an Islamic police state like Dubai in the first place?”

    Still, you prolly didn’t pay any tax there did you, so you don’t care…

  23. Jeanie

    You are crazy. Save money and do the creative study somewhere more beneficial. Dublin is a horrible place to learn and live at the moment. Save yourself, don’t move back to Dublin. Especially not for creative jobs.

  24. csm

    Couple of questions: do you need a degree to enter the creative industry you want, or will a portfolio built up in your spare time suffice? Is there any reason you could not defer your course for a year?

    Working abroad will be great experience personally, not just professionally. And the extra money will come in handy when you aren’t working or when you want to settle down in the future. You can always quit in 12 months time and do the course then

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      -There you go… A 15yr old has spoken.
      -He has no vowels in his name so you know he must be serious.
      -Might even have a skateboard or something. Sounds ahead of the game to me anyway…

      Just think, ‘You can always quit in 12 months time and do the course then
      -That’s the ‘Re-start’ button this genius is talking about…Like in Pac-Man where you get eaten by a ghost, or in Tekken where you get the head kicked off of you. Just start again. Genius.

  25. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    You may not be capable of fathering a child…

    Jeezus Krisp, take a hike Jesus Wept.
    I’m not falling for that one again…

    1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      Tell them about how you only have to wave your wand to make magic happen…


  26. Dufffer

    I left Dublin in 2009 (not by choice, mind you) and spent several years in Qatar. I was 32, wasn’t married but I had just taken on a mortgage. I left my career in architecture and reinvented myself as a project manager. I met my wife there, traveled a lot, made a heap of new and life long friends, transformed my resume, paid off a lot of debt and saved a nice wedge too over about 4 years there. I studied part time to get professional designations to go along with my new experiences and also enrolled in an executive MBA at a British university with a campus in Dubai. I now live in Canada with my wife and two daughters. I lived in a lot of other places before, so it was maybe easier for me to take the leap. I probably won’t move back to Ireland permanently now. That wasn’t my plan, but it’s the way it turned out and I’m happy about it even though I occasionally get homesick. I started my own PM company a few months ago and it’s going well.

    While your engineering role in Dublin so far might not be as fulfilling as you think your dream career might be, it has provided a very stable role through a very turbulent economy. My creative profession did not provide that sort of stability.

    The market in the middle east and the scale of projects underway there has the potential to present a lot more challenge and this might give you the extra satisfaction you’re looking for. It could also open your career and personal life to a whole new level of opportunity and possibility. Having experience at the scale of project that is common in the middle east is rare and will always open future doors and give you something to fall back on when times are tough (a lot of companies in the middle east look for previous middle east experience).

    You should get some independent perspective on the offer that your employer is offering to make sure it is competitive. Typically you could expect a tax free package that includes base salary, housing / car / phone allowance. (Married workers also get education allowances for children.)

    You might also hate it. The working life there is very challenging and culturally, it can be difficult for some people to adapt. If you are moving with your current company, that issue might be mitigated, but the general bureaucracy and strange rules can drive you mad. If you don’t like it you can enroll in your course in a year from now, I’m sure they will allow you to defer your enrollment.

    Best of Luck, no matter what you decide.

  27. andydufresne2010

    I was about to jump in and say ‘do the course!’ but unfortunately (for us creative types) Dufffer is right. Go to Dubai for a year or two and save as much money as you can, then do the creative course in another country and work at that creative job in another country. Dublin (and Ireland) does not value creative people, despite it’s worship of Irish writers and poets. Creatives here struggle for everything they get. You can save money and be creative and all before you’re 35. You’re lucky. But make no mistake about it, money makes your journey so much easier. Good luck with your choice. There is no right or wrong choice. Just different paths.

    1. Bort

      Lets guess that this two year course is a masters. In 2 years time you’ll be 35. You hope to work as I’ll guess a copywriter, an art director or a graphic/product designer. Forget about kids and mortgage, you wont be able to pay rent. Because you will be offered internships. You’ll be a 35 year old intern. If you’re lucky you might get a job right away or maybe after interning for a bit. Congratulations, you might be starting on anything between 18 and 20K. You’ll miss your old job then. If you really bust your hump you might manage to get up to about 40k in 5-8 years, if you change jobs every year or two. You will probably max out at 60k a year unless they make you creative director somewhere, usually a creative director has to die for one these jobs to come up. Or you could take the job in Dubai which is probably 60k+. Money isn’t everything but it’s no fun being a poor creative not being able to get a mortgage, struggling to pay the ever increasing rent and not even considering having kids because you can’t afford them.

  28. Malates

    Robert Frost says it best!
    “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood….”

    No right or wrong decision. Both with open up doors, bring new friends into your life and god knows what sort of opportunities. You should go with your gut for the long term plan though, and then it’s just a decision between starting college this year or deferring to 2017. Not changing your career will leave you full of what-ifs and regrets. If you try & it doesn’t work out at least you won’t be left wondering, you can always go back. And you’ll be proud of yourself for taking that leap of faith! Coming from another engineer who recently left a decent paid job in Cork after 7 years to start a fellowship in Kenya…

  29. Dee

    I went back to uni late in life. Best thing I ever did, but ran out of savings after 2 years and lived a scrambly life after that and haven’t been able to travel near as much as I’d wanted to.
    Go to Dubai, save your monies, do the course via distance learning/in a super cheap country when you’ve finished in Dubai. The experience and savings will hugely benefit in years to come.

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