in reply to Climbing the corporate ladder

Drewbie, I realize I'm a little late replying to this node, but I do bring a slightly different angle to your dilema.

I'm not a Perl programmer by trade, I'm a graphic designer. Before I get to the Perl stuff, let me tell you about my design pilgrimage. I don't have a degree in design, it's in music. I knew my skills and talents were in design back in high school, but when I went to college back in the late 60's, it was the era of doing-your-own-thing, bucking the establishment. So I did music and nearly starved to death.

So, I went back to design and started looking for work. Of course, all potential employers wanted a degree, in spite of my abilities. So, I struck out on my own, lucked out, and for 26 years have been self-employed and have employed approx 100 others over the years.

I fell into Perl when I started doing web development. I started with a used copy of an 1995 edition of some forgotten Perl book and just started hammering out scripts to handle forms and send e-mails. I now love programming (though I have so much to learn, as coming to the monastery nearly a year ago has shown me, but that's a whole other story). Now, my favorite days are when I get to program--not design.

The fact that I don't have a degree in design or computer science has not stopped me. Granted, I don't want, or have ability, to be a full-time programmer like yourself, but hanging out your own shingle means you can call the shots. Oh, believe me, there are times when being self-employed is scary, but now I get to do two things I love without anyone asking me if I have a degree in either one. And when I do get asked, it's fun to see the reaction when I tell them it's in music.

Be encouraged! Think outside the box! And consider choosing your own path and creating your own destiny, even with the pitfalls. All the best!

"Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up. " G. K. Chesterton