Archive for January, 2009

Career Survey: Lab Technician

January 16, 2009

This is a job that I have spent most of my life doing. There are some things about the job that I liked, and some things that I miss when I think about them. But most often, I hated this job.

This is not about an actual scientist job. This requires a graduate level degree. I made the mistake of never getting this degree, though I spent almost enough time in school to get it. I just dropped out because I hated it so much. Guess where the easiest place for me to get a job was? After all, my contacts and everything I knew for the past 7 years was science based.

Also note, that this is speaking of a technician for academic research only. I believe the corporate life is much better. Don’t believe the hype! Academic research gives you no more freedom than anything else. That freedom shit is bullshit to trick you to work for less.

Pros:

1. You get to use some really cool machines, and do some really cool experiments that nobody has ever done before.

2. You get paid to think, at least some of the time. You can use your mind to solve problems.

3. This is one of the best job to talk about during cocktail parties. When someone asks what do you do, and you say “investigate taste and smell”, for a moment, you are life of the party.

Cons:

1. You have to use some machines instead of just sitting in a desk like a normal white collar job. Since the experiments have never been done before, they might not work out like the boss says they will. Guess who gets blamed if things don’t work out?

2. They say they want you to think, but the boss can always shoots down your ideas which can hurt if you put a lot of time in it. Also, much of the work is grunt work which could be done by a child so it’s actually not that thought heavy as the boss reserves much of the deep thinking for himself.

3. The aspects of the job that people who go to cocktail parties like to hear get really boring after a while. Life on the job is not nearly as cool as it sounds.

4. As a lab technician with graduate level education, I managed to get paid less than my wife who had a HS diploma.

5. The job can actually be high pressure as the boss lives and dies based on grants. This means that the experiments, the ones that you preform, have to get the results that he wants.

6. The hours can suck. Since the boss worked for free for six years, guess how much he values your time? Since he’s in love with whatever obscure thing he’s researching, guess how much he cares that you don’t want to spend an unpaid weekend doing experiments? Basically they wish to pay you as much as a fast food worker, and work you hard as a doctor.

Overall, this job is for people who have a HS degree or some college and think that they’d like to do research for the rest of their lives. That’s right, many lab jobs give you the same work you’d get with a BS if you have the proper skills which can be gained by internships or volunteering. A year or two can pay the bills and allow one to live the good life in the big city. Longer than two years, and you start to look old like the staff at the local fast food joint. Ten years, and you’ll be an angry, bitter person.

There is no career advancement save for going back to school and working for free for 2 to six years (or more) while you get a graduate degree. Then you still make less than many paralegals and accountants who have less than half the higher level education than you do. You’ll have tons of debt, and a huge competition for mediocre career prospects.

I suggest getting an office job and watching lots of Dexter’s Laboratory.

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The Job Center Rules

January 15, 2009

My brilliant wife, through networking aka attending a party, found out about a job center that has been a great boon to me all ready. It is called the Metro Region Career Center, and there are 1700 of then in the United States.

The people were incredibly helpful especially with regards to the classes. The first class, which was resumes, like the group interview I had a few weeks ago, merely served as a self-esteem booster. I knew nearly everything that was being said, and the people seemed not as bright as I am.

The next class, which I had today, was about Navigating the Job Market. The teacher was great. He motivated us to find a job, but also he did the best thing that one could do which was point us to a place where we could get information regarding what to do in a career.

At this point, I’m going through careers I all ready know are fun like Administrative Assistant. I’m going to pull some skills out of the site which I all ready have. Then I am going to make sure they are prominent in my resume. The teacher told me something that I had all ready suspected. HR staff uses a point system when judging resumes based on embedded keywords.

This means that under the UV gave of an HR agent, a resume is not a coherent piece of text, but rather the keywords light up in bold and are tallied. The other resume niceties that one spent hours on become invisible. That is unless it’s a spelling mistake. In that case, your resume goes in a hopper that reads REJECT.

Regular readers know that I have a great deal of anger toward the HR industry because I am a brilliant person who has gotten into the best schools, beating out thousands of applicants, only to wind up in debt, nearly homeless, and struggling to get any sort of job. Although I have woken up from the bad dream called the Delusions of Higher Education, I have decided to embrace my anger for all things HR and to study the enemy in the hopes that I can use their methods against them and infiltrate the citadel of solvency.

The thing that has given me the most hope was a stint at a University Housing office which turned out to be the lap of luxury, laughter, and happiness. Now I hope to repeat this wonderful experience using my new found skills.

Career Survey: HR

January 9, 2009

The funniest thing about this career is that it used to be called Personnel, now it is Human Resources. Why the name change?

Here’s an article that sheds some light on the reason.

It appears that the reason for the name change was that Personnel Office workers didn’t feel like they were respected enough so they changed their name. To me, this is plain bizarre. First of all, it shows that they are concerned with appearances and status more than doing a good job. Second of all, they chose the profession. How it was perceived was known before they went into it. So why all the fuss now?

So if I dump on this profession, why am I so obsessed with it? Plus, why would I even consider going into a field so removed from my own education, experience, and interests?

Simple answer: money. Why money? Well, all the land is owned, and many natural plants one can survive on are either dead or impossible to get at so I need to make money to eat. Plus camping outside all the time really sucks. It’s scary and boring.

HR workers are the gatekeeper to pretty much any job that pays a decent wage. Like it or hate it, the amount of influence I have over HR staff will make or break whether I have a decent job or not. Plus, as a man, I am expected to provide for my family. I have never seen this attitude seen as sexist in any way nor is it seen to place an unfair burden on men. It is just “the way things are.” I’m nobody so I have no intention of changing people’s minds on this opinion.

The problem is that since I graduated in school in 1995, I have had a hard time getting the high paying jobs I was promised for spending seven years of non-stop study. This makes me feel really bad. In many ways, this is all my own fault as I did not learn that there was a game to be played and people to be manipulated. On the other hand, can I be blamed for taking people at face value? Should have I suspected that there was something deeper behind employment? Again, I don’t create the prevailing viewpoints and opinions, I just suffer under them.

I have always disliked games that didn’t have explicit rules as I have a hard time even understanding that there’s a game being played. This is why I hate both dating and HR. There are people with power who are judging my ability to read their minds. If I fail then they with hold their resources from me, and I look like a loser.

Thus my love for the field of HR was born. I figured if I could work as an HR worker, I’d know their secrets, and I’d never have trouble getting a job again.

Pros:

1. Learn how the HR Citadel really works. Get better jobs and fully use my benefits from my job.

2. The work is really easy. They take many breaks–they are never there when I need them. They are in at 9, the earliest, and definitely out by 5 PM. I have never seen an HR office open before or after normal hours. HR workers work in an office. They do no heavy labor. The heaviest thing that they have to lift if a file folder.

3. Feeling of power you get by judging others by whatever standard you want. Watching people grovel to get a job.

4. Pay is very high.

5. Know the gossip in the office such as who is harassing whom and when layoffs are going to occur.

Cons:

1. Hard to get a job in HR with no education and experience.

2. Job consists of mastering boring forms and regulations.

3. HR culture is not mine. It is a legalistic butt covering culture of paranoia. HR workers feel under appreciated and under attack from litigious employees.

4. Does not value humor nor creativity. Potentially stifling and soul crushing work environment.

Summary:

Overall, HR is a cake job. The worst part about it is the boredom. Being an anxious and imaginative person, this will probably not be a problem, and I can see myself working in HR for the rest of my life. The only tough part is to get my first job. This is why I am not actively seeking this type of job, but I will consider offers. Also, I will try to work myself into this role by volunteering at another job.

Taleo: Tool of Darkeness

January 6, 2009

What is Taleo?

Executive Summary: If you are applying for a job, and you get to a site that says “Powered By Taleo” close the site and forget about applying for this company.

Longer Article: According to the site itself, Taleo is strategic talent management software.

Confused? So am I. I wonder why anyone would have anything to do with such an obfuscated mess. If they buy products that have ad copy that’s so annoying does this bode well for your job?

My take on Taleo is that it is software you have to use to apply to certain companies. Although I applaud software and companies and the like,however, I hate taleo. Why?

For one thing Taleo is buggy as hell.

Another reason is that it seems that the point of Taleo is to save work for HR personnel by taking your well crafted resume, that you were told was so important, and boiling it down to keywords that Taleo will search for. The more keywords, the better the chance that you will called.

One way to look at this is a game of poker. If you stack the Taleo deck with the right cards that is keywords, you will get a callback from the job. Great, right?

Not so fast. First of all, it’s difficult to figure out what the keywords are. I fear that everyone that has a computer and a yen for a job has gotten their heads around the trick of feeding the job description back on the application. So I wonder if this type of “Taleo Jamming” works. If it does, then great. I’d be interested in people’s opinions on this as I find Taleo and its ilk to be of keen interest.

I will not be using this advice, however as my recommendation is that one should boycott Taleo Powered Sites. This is not out of any kind of activism, but rather from the practical standpoint that Taleo does not act, as a job candidate, in your best interests

As an employee, you are a unique person with skills and personality. I feel that this will come through most clearly on a cover letter. However, Taleo isn’t about cover letters. You still have to run the gauntlet with the little input fields. If you don’t match the
keywords, do they read your cover letter? I don’t know. Again, I’m interested in feedback from inside the HR citadel.

What Taleo tells me about an employer is that they don’t value the employees time. They would like to offload as much of their work onto an applicant and buggy software rather than screen the applicants themselves. This makes for a very cookie cutter hiring process.

Worst of all, the work that it takes to input the data into all the little boxes is not time well spent because I HAVE TO RETYPE MY RESUME FOR EVERY JOB I APPLY TO. What a pain in the ass.

I’m OK for researching the perfect job for hours then spending more hours into the resume and perfect cover letter. If I want a job, I’ll stop at nothing to get it. But Taleo makes me feel that I can’t really do anything to make myself look better for the job.

Also, Taleo is buggy as I have showed above. I experience its bugginess when I have applied to many jobs that I was qualified for on Taleo, and I never got a call back. Many times Taleo crashed before I could a. Finally, in disgust, I gave up.

I suggest that if people value their time, and they want to work for an employer that respects them, they’ll boycott these crappy
organizations. The world will split into the pro-Taleo and anti-Taleoworkplaces. Let the best workplace win!

Obligatory 2009 Post

January 3, 2009

Well, another arbitrary date has passed that we recognize as the new year. There seems to be a fad for predicting the next 365 days so I’ll jump on the bandwagon and make my predictions and/or resolutions.

I don’t have any resolutions, and I never did because I don’t know what I’ll be up to from moment to moment let alone 365 days. Resolutions are a setup for disappointment and guilt.

I do have two virtues that I’d like to especially focus on for the upcoming New Year. The first one is honesty. I feel that the cause of a great deal of my suffering was because I was dishonest with myself. Imagine having a genie willing to grant you wishes, and you don’t wish for anything because you aren’t sure what you want. Worse, you fear wishing for anything because you fear the outcome. That’s how I feel much of the time. This is the basis for my honesty.

Along with honesty comes courage to face the consequences of speaking up. If one is dishonest, then one can rationalize one’s own suffering and lack of success. If one is honest, one has to be responsible for one’s own feelings, desires, and outcomes. In the long one, I believe I’ll be happier despite the dangers. I’ll learn that the fears were smaller than I imagined, and that I can deal with anything that comes up.

The second virtue I’d like to develop is compassion. One must have compassion with honesty otherwise one can be an ass and hide behind the old, “I was just telling the truth.” Also, compassion will allow me to be more honest because I’ll realize that honesty will benefit myself and others in the long run. I did an assessment of my compassion level the other day, and it was sad to see how low it was. The meditation was not really meant to be an assessment, but a way to grow compassion, and it failed! I just learned how self-centered I am. This is obviously going to take a great deal of work. With honesty at my side, I will never be able to feign kindness to others to cover up my discomfort. No, I’ll have to honestly dislike someone openly. This should spur me on to become more compassionate because hating people opening is very difficult.

From what I read, 2008, was, for most people a crappy year.

For me, 2008, was the best year of my life. This is due to luck and circumstance. I’m hoping that you have the good luck and circumstance this year that I had last year. It’s wonderful yet confusing to have everything work out your way.

2008 Career

January 1, 2009

Here’s a summary of last year.

1. What went really well for you at work in 2008?

This is the first year since 1998 that I have thought of a job as a part of my “career” instead of a way to just get by. Along, the way I had forgotten that I used to have a great deal of intelligence and drive. I remembered again. This was a bit depressing seeing how little I have done, but I vowed to do more.

2. What did you do that you’re proud of?

I worked a job that didn’t piss me off for once in my life. Two jobs, actually. I used the first job to get recommendations for the second.

I put my foot down and refused to work a job that I can’t stand. This is after years of human blood, mouse feces, and abusive supervisors (and a few nice ones, but shitty conditions were the norm).

3. Who have you helped out?

God first of all. He came and told me to stop wasting my life and being an ass.

Also, my wife said the same thing but a bit louder.

Myself for caring for once in my life.

Buddha for all of his pithy sayings that convinced me that I could learn to like myself instead of the hot/cold relationship I had before.

Nurses who taught me how to be more decisive and quicker on my feet. Also, for showing me that I really don’t have what it takes to be any part of medicine.

4. How have you grown and developed professionally?

I have taken the first step which is trying to figure out what I’d like to do for the rest of my life. Since I have 10 years of school that has touched on zero of what I am really interested in, this is kind of depressing.

5. How have you grown and developed personally at work?

I actually believe that my work is always good enough. I believe in myself. I can honestly tell an employer that I am the best. I am not intimidated by people who were lucky enough not to have a nervous breakdown during the last two years of med school anymore.

6. Who has really appreciated your work?

Everyone I came in contact with both at the office and on the tour. While leading tours, I was given tips to show that I went above and beyond. At work, people told me “DON’T LEAVE!” I was offered to work remotely as well. This refutes the nine years of abuse I had suffered previously, being told that my work was not good enough which I learned later was just a way of manipulating me to work unpaid hours and to work even harder than I all ready was.

7. Who has helped you out and been there for you?

My wife. That’s it. Nobody in my family has been there when things were hard. They just gave me empty platitudes like, “You can do it.”

Oh, and random strangers on the road who treated me better than my family ever did.

8. Who have you admired at work in 2008?

My boss who earned his way there from a construction job to management. He knew how to motivate people. He was super-kind, and he always got the work he wanted from people by acting PROFESSIONALLY something my other bosses could learn.

9. What have been some fun moments at work in 2008?

Touring: The entire job was like a paid cocktail party. The speech was fun to memorize and give. The tour itself was like an hour long walking meditation. I loved it.

Office: The staff was funny especially the meeting. Especially exterminator meetings. I loved all the stories of the mice attacking the pampered students. I also loved all the hate mail directed to me, a stranger, by people who damaged their rooms. You’d think someone spending $30k would write a bit better and be more professional in email communication which lasts forever and is easily forwarded. No, I didn’t break any ethics rules, but I did laugh a lot to myself.

10. Which 5 things from 2008 would you like to have more of in 2009?

1. A job I can stand.

2. Money.

3. Free time.

4. Surfing.

5. Problems that I can solve.

6. Confidence.

7. Compassion.

8. Assertiveness.

I spent the countdown sitting in complete silence with lovely people. I hope this calm pervades everyone’s next year despite the craziness of life.

Career Survey: Computer Programming

January 1, 2009

Since this is supposed to be a career blog rather just a whiny
memior/auto-biographical rant, I’ll talk about careers a little.

But I’ll do it in an auto-biographical way. 🙂

I’m going to continue my (seemingly hopeless) search for the perfect
career by speculating what the actual job would be like, and what I
need to do to get there.

One job I think I might like is computer programming. The reason I
think I might like it is that I do it as a hobby. I find it to be
really relaxing, actually.

Pros

1. It’s fun. Like I said, I love it.

2. I’m pretty good at it. At least I think I am. If I’m not good, I
don’t mind practicing. I could pretty much spend the rest of my life
programming.

3. It pays more than I ever expect to get in my life. Advancement is
seemingly endless–see the programmers who got on the ground floor at
MS. They are all very wealthy.

Cons

1. It’s so fun the boss can take my project away to punish me. That
hurts. This actually happened.

2. It’s so fun I forget to write the features that I’m asked to write
because I’m obsessed with some obscure optimization or a cool hack
that nobody will care about.

3. It’s so fun it makes me into a zombie that can’t focus on anything
else. This creates an “unbalanced” life.

4. It is very tiring and after a day of programming, I can’t write fiction.

5. I don’t know how to get a job in this field. I don’t have
education, and I may have to go back to school. After ten years in
college including 3 years at the gradaute level, I’m deeply in debt,
and I am sick of school. This might not be a job I can get with a
normal education.

6. The domination of MS. Love ’em or hate ’em. I hate ’em mostly because their platform sucks, but also because you can’t criticize them without being accused of being jealous. OK, I want a lot of money for doing such a crappy job, too. Who doesn’t. But I’d rather be well paid to do a _good_ job. Thankfully, Linux has taken over to a point that there are full time jobs that will allow one the luxury of never touching a MS machine. So this point is now moot.

Overall. I should have majored in computers. If I did, I’d be out of
debt by now. I would not have had to live in such awful ghettos. I
could have avoided working years of disgusting jobs.

The main reason I didn’t go into computers is that I didn’t want to be
a geeky person who could not relate to other people. I wound up
becoming this person anyway, but in a far less lucrative way. It seems
as if there is money to be made anywhere near me, I’ll be in the worst
position to exploit that.

I’m actively applying for computer jobs right now, and I am
voluntering on gnome-games to hone my skills and make a name for
myself. Lack of computer hurts this endeavor, but I can borrow my
wife’s machine for a few hours if I get up early enough.