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How did you guys do it?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
For those who feel they qualify (and only you know for sure if you do), how have you guys gone about finding work that struck a balance between decent pay and being interesting enough to keep you around?

I've been having a rough year where this is concerned (the economy sure hasn't helped) but I'm starting to think that it's an evil game.

That really, most of us won't know what niche we're made for until we've already gone through college, shuffled majors a couple times, graduated, gotten a couple jobs that were all wrong (or partly wrong), and then end up saying "damn, THAT's the major I should've chosen, so I could've gone into THAT field from the very beginning."

Grass is always greener? You'd end up saying that no matter what you chose? Just wondering what your experieces are.

Me, I find that that there are two or three skills I am really good at, but which don't necessarily lend themselves to the majority of jobs that are available out there (programmatic and network system jobs, and of course accounting and sales). So I'm stuck between very enjoyable and low pay (freelancing basically), or good pay with absolutely no interest in the job. Although there ain't much to chose from right now to be honest.

What really pisses me off is I did two semesters of continuing education at $6k per semester a couple years back and for whatever reason have not found a niche that has allowed me to exploit that investment. At the time I was glad that I was expanding my horizons, gaining new skills, etc. Now I'm feeling like I threw the money into the abyss. Sucks.

[ 12-20-2001: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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post #2 of 15
Any advanced degree is a sellable commodity. You get hired a lot faster in any job just having a college degree, even if it had nothing to do with the job.

A friend of mine majored in History in college and now works as a network analyst. Sure he had the skills, but they were all self taught. He was hired because the college degree showed he was disciplined, educated and could obviously learn new things.

I'm lucky because I realized at an early age that I liked developing/programming. So choosing a college major was a piece of cake. Plus, I live in NY so when I was job hunting there were plenty of opportunities.

Sure the pay is great, but I do get really bored sometimes, and then there's the whole relationship with the boss....but isn't that what life is about? You can't have everything
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post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Very true this is...a good point you make. Yoda finds much widsom in this....

And you're right about another thing: it does make life easier when you know from the get-go what you love to do. Actually I had that all figured at one point --wanted to be a military pilot-- but when the time came I got DQ'd because of medical problems...and thus my perilous journey unfolded before me.

<img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />
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post #4 of 15
I have always been hard working and making a fair amount of money. But half year ago I desided to quit all my jobs. I worked close to 40 hours/week and had since I started at the university two and a half year ago. I was simply burned out.
We get paid to study here if you make under a certaint amount per month ($600). Since I made more than three times that I didn´t receive anything for two years and because of that I am now paid twice the amount of normal amount for the next year . So right now I get $1500 after tax every month ($500 of that is low interest loans). And thats for going to class four hours a week. So I think I found a good trade off between pay and effort.
"I reject your reality and substitute it with my own" - President Bush
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"I reject your reality and substitute it with my own" - President Bush
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post #5 of 15
Well, I took a lot of sucky jobs before I finally got the one I love and now it is a coin toss if I will hold onto it (Freightliner is having one heck of a bad year). what are sucky jobs you may ask?

1) Graveyard Shift at Plaid Pntry. Robbed twice. 6 months.

2) Telemarketer for 3 months. 'Nuff said.

3) Computer Tech support helpdesk for Micron Electronics. (There are some really stupid and hotheaded people out there) 4 years, ended up making $11.90

4) Subway on the closing shift. 4 months.

and there are more...

The pay and bennies are really good and I love the work, even if it is a PeeCee envrionment only. As a Network and Lab administrator I get plenty of chances to broaden my horizons and to stretch my knowlege level. I make quite a bit more and am very happy. It was more luck than anything getting the job though. (God is good to me!)
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #6 of 15
Okay lets turn this into worst job experience among the members of AI.

I had a job at the Coca-Cola botteling (yes speling sucks) factory/plant (which is it?) for the summer back in 1998. When the used plastic bottles return they have to be sorted b/c of their different shapes. So my job was to sort all the bottles into coca cola, fanta aso standing up doing the same moves over and over again. My god I hated that job. And you don´t want to know what can be in those bottles. Preservatives was nothing. Needles and blood made you a bit nervous but was nothing against live animals. But the pay was fair even for danish standarts: $20/hour

[ 12-20-2001: Message edited by: Anders ]</p>
"I reject your reality and substitute it with my own" - President Bush
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post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
*cringe* you win...err, lose...all I know is I would not stay at a job where I had to come into contact with other people's bodily fliuds / solids / dead animals / animal parts on a regular basis. :eek:
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post #8 of 15
I consider myself an "old-timer" (41 yrs. old) here. At least I think the majority here seems to be in the college age or graduates with some years of work experience.

I've done a lot of different things:

The Arts: Graphic design, web design and earlier even comic books.

My last job was a gem. Great people, good salary and great ideas and projects. I was doing web and print design work and even included some of my pen and ink cartoon skills to some projects. Got laid off in July...company ran out of money.

I liked doing comics. A lot of hard work and the pay was bad, but I love drawing and pen and ink illustration is my love in art. It's now a very competitive business. Most of the independents went belly up or either went to the web. One penciler friend of mine asked if I might want to ink some pages for him and I think I will.

I would definitely like to find another company that'll recognize my true skills and give me exciting projects that are challenging and enriching. But I'll take anything right now...

Restaurant Help: Dishwasher, busboy and cook.

Hated working at restaurants. It's messy work and the hours/pay sucked.

Retail: CVS (the worst job for anybody), Boscovs (next in line), T-Shirt kiosk, a lot of retail places over the years. But 6 years at IKEA was the best.

Ikea was a good place to work. Good people and the salary was good too. But I'm not keen to working for "the public" anymore.

Other: Landscaping, T-shirt design and sales.

Landscaping and the T-shirt gigs were something I did for over 10 years in the summer with friends of mine. Hard work, but great "under the table" cash. Used to sell T-shirt designs at flea markets. Good times and travel and more under the table cash flow.

I am only looking for a job that will give me the salary and benefits I need to be comfortable and get me through the next 40 years...
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post #9 of 15
I started out as a self-taught programmer, hopping from job to job wherever I could find one and whenever the last one laid me off or went out of business. Occasionally I left because I found a better paying job, but overall my salary never quite reached a level with which I was comfortable. And because of that, I never had the luxury of sacrificing salary for a more pleasant work environment.

What changed all that was when I began consciously leading my career in the direction I wanted to go. The thing is, it doesn't really matter what that direction is, the heuristic for getting there is the same.

Read tons of books. Learn how to socialize. Go to trade shows and meet people. Follow up with them and exchange ideas. Write and submit papers to trade journals. Do everything possible not just to keep your skills up, but to let everyone else know how good you are before they even meet you. Subscribe to listservs and answer people's questions when you can do so intelligently. Before you know it (a couple years that is), people start coming to you.

My current job I got through an online acquaintance. We had been talking for a few years, and in fact the last time I switched jobs he expressed interest in hiring me, but the timing wasn't quite right and I got a different offer first. This time they moved more quickly and snapped me up. Now I've had two jobs in a row in the gaming industry and earning enough that I was comfortable taking a 12% pay cut to move here.

To some extent it will happen as you gain experience and the economy recovers somewhat. But you can jumpstart things by taking the initiative and getting yourself out into the world, virtually and physically.

-- ShadyG
post #10 of 15
[quote]Originally posted by ShadyG:
<strong>I started out as a self-taught programmer, hopping from job to job wherever I could find one and whenever the last one laid me off or went out of business. Occasionally I left because I found a better paying job, but overall my salary never quite reached a level with which I was comfortable. And because of that, I never had the luxury of sacrificing salary for a more pleasant work environment.

What changed all that was when I began consciously leading my career in the direction I wanted to go. The thing is, it doesn't really matter what that direction is, the heuristic for getting there is the same.

Read tons of books. Learn how to socialize. Go to trade shows and meet people. Follow up with them and exchange ideas. Write and submit papers to trade journals. Do everything possible not just to keep your skills up, but to let everyone else know how good you are before they even meet you. Subscribe to listservs and answer people's questions when you can do so intelligently. Before you know it (a couple years that is), people start coming to you.

My current job I got through an online acquaintance. We had been talking for a few years, and in fact the last time I switched jobs he expressed interest in hiring me, but the timing wasn't quite right and I got a different offer first. This time they moved more quickly and snapped me up. Now I've had two jobs in a row in the gaming industry and earning enough that I was comfortable taking a 12% pay cut to move here.

To some extent it will happen as you gain experience and the economy recovers somewhat. But you can jumpstart things by taking the initiative and getting yourself out into the world, virtually and physically.

-- ShadyG</strong><hr></blockquote>

Wow. You sound just like those "how to manage your carear(OMG why can´t I spell anything today)"-books. I always thought they were bullshit but you seem to be a living proof that their advices work.
"I reject your reality and substitute it with my own" - President Bush
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"I reject your reality and substitute it with my own" - President Bush
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post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
That's probably one of my bigger weaknesses - networking I mean. Not that I don't like hanging around people with similar interests and having a few beers...I do. But I've never really been any good at verbally spinning myself as "the man". I always come away feeling like I was being too arrogant or didn't say enough on my behalf. Just not comfortable talking about myself with strangers I guess. Maybe I need a different mindset.

I like that listerv type idea though...where people start to associate your name with a given specialty or expertise. I'll have to look into that more for the fields I'm interested in.
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post #12 of 15
If you're lucky enough to find a job doing what you love, you'll always have just enough money. However, no amount of money in the world can compensate you for a job you do not enjoy. You'll always wish you had more. In truth it's not the money, it's how you spend your time that makes for true happiness.

Case in point:
I made $55,000 two years ago and I was miserable and I felt broke at the same time.

Now I make less than half that and I couldn't be happier! I also have more money saved than I ever did, because I don't feel the need to buy gadgets and stuff to make me happy.

Worst Job Ever: "Loose Ends Coordinator" for a residence hall. I got to clean up all sorts of fun things (like blood, vomit, excrement), deal with all sorts of fun personalities, drug problems, etc.

[ 12-21-2001: Message edited by: Composer ]</p>
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post #13 of 15
Well for me it's little different, i have done very long studies (14 years after the bacalaureat : an exam that you normally have to make at the age of eighteen in order to access to university : there is not the equivalent of the college in France) and then i get free lance in a small town because i was the only surgeon in my speciality for 200 000 people : so i have the best chances to suceed. Now i have spent three years here, and things are like i wanted them to be. So i have only practice one job and i won't change it (too long studies to change : in my job you become mature at the age of 40).
In this case , you must enjoy your job : it's essential, but money is important too, especially when you get older and when you have a wife, and a family (who will ask you many things). Even if you have a good job, after ten years of bad fees, you will become eagger and worry.
One strange thing, the more your job will seems to you easy, the more boring he will became: the more the task is difficult the more pleasure you can take if you can succeed. In reverse things become easier and you will not be tired after your day of working : you will wait the end of the day to do something else, to find a new challenge.

The need to find a new challange is one of the reason that's why many people have to change of jobs, but in my practice changing job is not easy. But no panic, i am steel young and there is plenty of surgery that still interest me !
post #14 of 15
Well one of my lifelong principles has been to treasure my own time above all else. Time is the only area where we are all equals. Someone else might make more money or have more material things but we all only have 24 hours in a day.

Because of this I was lead to teaching. My time is generally well used and I am compensated decently for the time I put in. I was 23 when I started (5 years of University) and I am 31 now. I make about $53k a year for 180 days of work. I know of people who make more but they lose themselves. They work 10-12 hours a day and 5+ days a week. They might get 2 weeks vacation if the economy is good, and they feel secure.

Teaching does have some serious negatives. First they are always dumping on teachers and schools in the US. I cannot think of another single field where people (the students) have so little accountability for their own outcome. I have seen very good people torn up by impossible expectations and unfunded mandates that are just supposed just get done somehow.

The pluses of course are the children and the impact you have on them. When I am reading them certain stories, I can actually feel them holding their breath in anticipation. Bending but not breaking on an expectation and then watching someone finally meet it and the sharing in their joy as they start to realize their own potential.

Anyway it is a nice balance.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #15 of 15
My last job (Senior Stock Researcher/Writer for an investment firm in CO) was awesome, and I lucked into it the "ShadyG" way.

I just graduated University in spring 2000, majored in business management, minored in finance, but in the last 3 years of school, I spent most of it trading stocks/options in my own account and participating on good discussion boards. I earned a reputation for being a pretty good technical analyst and a successful trader during that time (I remember I used to skip classes to go to the computer lab to trade) and through that, I met an online acquaintence who was working for the firm as a market commentator and lead writer. They were looking for stock researchers and she recommended me. So I gave them a call, and the interview was a dream - all they did was explain what the company did, what they wanted, and asked me if I could do it. I said yes, and they said show us. So that same afternoon I wrote up a stock research report in their format, sent it to them that night, and was hired. That was it, no stupid questions like "where do you see yourself in 5 years", "what is your favorite anmial and why", "what is your greatest accomplishment/weakness". They just wanted to simply know whether or not I could deliver the goods, and I showed them I did.

The job was sweet - the writers, stock researchers, editors were all top shelf traders in their own right - these are people that make 5-10x more in their own trading than their salary and wrote because they enjoyed it, they taught me how to become an even better technical analyst and trader. Some of these people associated with the firm even wrote bestselling books, were interviewed on CNBC, and had technical indicators named after them. One of them I even remember reading his name and his contributions in a finance textbook while in University. And to top it off, it was a telecommuting job - in other words, I worked at home on my computer, emailed my work to them, and so I was completely judged based on my work, and not whether I kissed good ass. It was unbelievable to work with people so accomplished and professional. And to make it even better, even though it was an American company, they jumped through hoops to hire me as their first and only Canaidan, and they really knew how to inspire confidence in someone. Because it was a telecommuting job, they had their choice of the entire USA as their prospective employee hunting field, and they went through the trouble to hire me (a Canadian) because in their opinion, I was the best man for the job (I found out in my first 3 month review that after they hired me, they interviewed 12 other people, hired 4, and kept only 1 if the 4). They had no qualms about telling me I was "among the top 5 percentile" in terms of what I do, and paid me as such. Sadly, the economy and an extended bear market pretty much decimated business and the company had to cut down massively. They moved their research in-house, and even then, laid off about 75% of the people in-house.

As far as how I found my niche goes, I don't know if I did or not. I mean, up until then I was really happy doing tech support and computer (mostly Macintosh) consulting, especially in the music industry - I got to build and run Pro Tools hardware systems for some pretty big names, and people associated with pretty big names and still make a little money doing it. Lately I've been learning C and other wonderful things associated to OS X, so why not jump headfirst into the IT industry?

On the other hand, I went to business school for management and I have 2 years of management experience, so why not go the management route? There's a 1 year MBA program coming up next year at an Ivy League university that I qualify for.

But I really loved being a stock researcher/writer. I know my stuff when it comes to the financial industry and I'm good at what I do, I'd love to do something similar to what I did in this field.

So at this point, we'll see what happens next.
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