Archive for September, 2010

How I Landed My Dream Job

September 27, 2010

OK, I know that this blog has mostly been misery, but there is good news (for me).

I landed a dream job!

Here’s how I didn’t do it:

1. I didn’t go to college.

Well, I did, but my majors: chemistry and nursing had little to do with the job I land which is software engineer.

The reason I wound up with my other two degrees is b/c at the ripe old age of 18, I made the mistake of mentioning that I was considering becoming a doctor.

I had just said it to impress them b/c I didn’t think that they loved me enough, but this lead to a lot of pressure to go to medical school which lead to over a decade of pain, debt, shitty jobs, low self-esteem, and many other forms of misery.

2. I did not collect “key skills for my field.”

To start my “career”, I downloaded linux from the internet, in 1999, and tried to install it on a computer. It didn’t really work for me, so I bought another computer and tried again. I continued to spend my time fooling around with an operating system, that nobody I knew too seriously at the time.

I didn’t learn Visual Basic, or Windows NT, or get a MCSE. I’m sure they could have helped me get a job, but it all seemed too limiting (and expensive).

Linux was free as were the programming languages I learned: bash shell at first then perl. I took every book out of the library on unix and read them from cover to cover.

Every night, I sat and drank cheap beer and tried to program.

Finally, I had enough at my old lab job (I’ll blog the tales of abuse there some other time) and I applied for a part time junior sysadmin job.

It was a huge step down from my research job; it paid poorly, had no benefits, and was designed as a college student summer job to give them pocket money.

I supported myself on that job for nearly two years.

With this job, I was able to pour my efforts into learning computers. I had to learn about web servers and email configurations. It was complete heaven.

Finally, I was able to land a job that combined programming and research. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not being open enough about how I was purely a Unix guy, and I had a lot of problems with that job even though I authored a custom research device that enabled my boss to go from post-doc to a full time researcher. I believe he is still using much of my work w/o giving me any credit.

This lead to a really dark time of my life where I wasted 3 more years going to nursing school. Again, long story, and huge mistake to follow the deceptive Hot Career Tips crap.

3. I didn’t get my job by filling out online forms nor through a recruiter.

Actually, I did do all those things, but they didn’t do diddly for me.

Instead, I took a day off from job hunting, and I attended a party.

While at the party, I didn’t talk about my career problems. I didn’t try to “network”.

What did happen is that I met a very close friend who had what I considered a dream job: linux developer. Of all the things he did on his job, I had done most of them at home, at night, for fun.

After a few months of knowing him, I looked his company up online, and I applied for an open position.

I got the job.