BA Quest

Where College Students Meet Their Fate

Posts Tagged ‘Work

Nerds abound, get yer finger based controller boards at the ready!

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This may come as a surprise to people who don’t understand what is it like to take a blank screen and add barely functioning logical rules, years worth of complicated half-coagulated libraries, backlogs of bad habits and terrible ideas, undocumented purely wizardry based command line tools, and little bit luck, but programming is a challenge, on par with golf. Sure you may say to yourself, “but there’s 16 year olds who make a million dollars on the app store.” I admit programming has been made much easier in the last half-decade. But, ask any one of those 16 year old prodigies what a quicksort algorithm is and in all honesty he could probably tell you. There are prodigies in every field, but computers are cool and kids like cool things, apparently. Back to the point, unless you have been thinking in a programmatic way for a few years, or have an aptitude for logical thinking, which of course your’s truly has one of these, programming is hard. It’s by definition not intuitive.

I personally don't wear a balaclava when I code

If you don’t adapt to it immediately it probably means you are a perfectly normal person. Changing your way of thinking from one in which you can communicate in a vague, expressive way, into one in which you must describe exacting specifications is not an easy task. You must be able to keep multiple variables juggled in your mind at the same time, and be able to imagine how each of those variables will affect the others. Here’s a thought for those intrepid few who have fallen down the slide and made it this far into my epilogue about my favorite subject. Imagine you are a girl, *wink wink*, you have 4 friends who need to come over for a party, Amy, Becka, Cindy, and Darla. They can come over in any order you want, but each order comes with dire consequences. If Amy comes over first, Becka will die. Uh oh. If Becka comes over first Cindy won’t come over at all, and Darla will bring her boyfriend Ethan, gross! If Cindy comes over first, the next person who can come over has to be Darla or Cindy. Now imagine these are variables in a billion dollar spaceship controlling the guidance computer of said ship. ┬áIf you get them out of order, the ship might crash into a major city. Bad news for you, the programmer of the control chip. I think you get the idea of being able to handle multiple variables. Sure it’s not equitable to either of these scenarios except the last one. *GASP*

I don't even...

Though once you learn to program and to love to learn to program, it is one of the most fulfilling things you can do. It’s both technical and creative, boring and exciting, applicable and trivial. It encompasses so much of everyday life and you learn to examine everything around you in a different way than you did previously. It will get you laid and/or paid. On second thought only paid. But I guess if you get paid enough you can get laid. It will get you extra laid if you are a girl, but we won’t go into that. You’ll always be able to both impress and shun yourself at parties, and most of the friends you end up with will also be programmers. It’s a very inclusive lifestyle, and I say lifestyle because that’s what it is. If you spend more than 5 hours a day doing the same thing, that thing is part of your lifestyle, so deal with it. Your interest in programming might go through ebbs and flows like it did for me, but it has stuck in my brain, and won’t let me escape at this point.

Written by dfockler

02/23/2012 at 4:40 AM

This Big Year

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This last year was life changing for me; I got my bachelor’s degree in English, met my first great love, decided that living well would be too easy, and became a minority again. Not all of this was exciting, but it will all be important going forward.

This whole blog’s purpose has been to talk about my post-degree survival. I have struggled to find work in a crap economy, buckled under the pressure of said economy, given up on ever finding economic happiness, recanted that statement, then recanted my recantment.

It is hard to remember back when I first graduated and dug around in the mud of the internet, hoping to dredge up a job. Now I have a job and a half. I have my desk job, my credentials to assure everyone that I am just as disappointed with my earnings as they are. My other work is in content writing, creating the bland paragraphs you read across any C-list website across the web. It is boring work, and somehow less boring than my desk job.

As I’ve done more content writing I’ve made small adjustments in my view of a writing career. It is, however, my desk job that has changed my viewpoints the most. You see, right now I am a simple file clerk. I get paid better than I used to when I had a job at my school, but probably not as well as I deserve. My tasks include copying papers in files, mailing papers in files, putting files in drawers, and taking files out of drawers. I repeat this for 8 hours, with a 1.5 hour commute each way. Don’t get me wrong, my coworkers are enjoyable, kind, helpful. Also, I understand that you have to start on the low rung, even if you have a degree. That just gets you in the door, and then you claw your way up, hoping to survive life in the meantime. There is one problem though, and it is a rather huge problem, I don’t want to move up here. I know and have heard of plenty of writers who have jobs on the side, I know that you don’t become a famous writer and live your life in paradise. All I’m saying is that if I had to continue doing my current job to make my living wage, I would go insane. This is no small thing, I value my sanity. I give my sanity due for getting me this far in life (though not without its hiccups, like that time my sanity told me to walk home from school at 10 at night), and I won’t sacrifice it over a paycheck.

Creative writers get filthy rich all the time right? RIGHT?!

So what can I do? I guess the only answer I’ve come up with is to have patience. Which is exactly why I intend to be jobless in about 10 days. All right, maybe patience isn’t the best word for it. See here is the situation, my filing job is a temporary job, and they keep extending my time there. That is awesome, it gives me money, all the while edging me closer to a face-to-face with Mr. Madness. This time my job is supposed to end at the start of February, and I intend to stick to that. If I cut this job off, without getting ‘fired’ for some bad reason, I should receive a new job from my temp agency at some point in the future. In the meantime, I hope to steep myself in the process of building my writer’s ‘platform’ and finishing a manuscript or two. Will this work? Not likely, I am dreadfully lucky when I actually get a job. I will probably get offered a full position within the week, I’ll let you guys know.

If I do get February off, I plan to spend it with my first great love. As I like to call her, my FGL, or my Fugul, all of which I have trademarked. We’ve been together for more than this last year, but this year has been quite an adventure in romance. Just three years ago you could have heard me spread my creed of ‘ignoring the ladies to achieve capital gains’. I still believe in that really. My romance is, nearly, exactly how I would have dreamed. No pointless flirting and engagements, we didn’t meet at a club, and I haven’t had to lay claim to a baby created over our 2 years together. I give us an A+.

She is more talented than me, which stings in a petty way. There are benefits to relating to another artist though, in particular I can talk to her. While I was sure that I would be stuck with a life of only showing my work to my mate for the purposes of getting empty pats on the back, instead I have someone who can critique like a pro. We discover more that we have in common every day, and we are different in all the right ways (there are anatomical differences that are of note, IE da boobies). One thing in particular is relatively new for me, but it has been a long way coming.

Again, rewind two years. If you asked me what my beliefs were as I headed off to school, I would have told you that I was a spiritualist. My family is technically Baptist, with a few Jehovah’s witnesses sprinkled in there. My belief in the structure of the church was already shot. I don’t care about what a pastor or priest has to say, and I knew that there was no house that you could shove god in. For me, there was likely some power out there though, and I was willing to believe in a spirit inside me. Maybe I read too much manga.

Now I can firmly call myself an atheist. An interesting turn for such a short period. It dawned on me one day that I shed everything else related to religion. I had no god, I had no church, I had no faith community, I had spirit within. I believed in this one life, and on treating everyone around me as a human being, not a representative of a future life. As my self-identification changed, so did I. This election cycle has definitely helped. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot connect myself, even passively, to a group that would impede the progress of the society around me and purposely harm innocents in the name of their collective beliefs. This is not a knock against the teachings of my previous faith, or any other. Christianity is all right in small doses, and I won’t hate on anyone who wants to go along with the mutated creature that is usually brought up when we speak of Christianity. That is, all the talk of ‘love and charity’ that gets left behind.

Good old Jezus!

The public application of Christianity is something different though, and exactly what I had to escape. I joined my fellow students to stand up to the Westboro Baptist Church, I have listened to people speak of their god defining marriage while ignoring the wishes of their fellow man, I have seen the leaders of faith blame the poor and sick for their trouble while hoarding power for themselves. As a person, Christianity is a failed experiment. As a writer, Christianity is a well crafted tragedy, the smiling cult welcoming the world’s ruin. It turns out that only 15% or so of my country is atheist, so I guess I’m a minority here.

This is only January though, so who knows what may come in the months ahead. Maybe I’ll get famous and meet you readers in the funny papers. Alternatively, I could find a constructive way to use my degree in the workplace, while continuing to learn. Most likely I’ll be complaining about my job for a long time now. Only one way to find out.

Written by MD Kid

01/11/2012 at 3:49 PM

Our Hero Denies His Destiny

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I didn’t think it would be that easy. So I feel vindicated, it isn’t easy at all.

In the two weeks since I last wrote about looking for a job, I have taken a lot of steps to find work. Not the usual steps. I didn’t go looking in the classifieds. I haven’t started filling out resumes at Taco Bells and KFCs. My pride wouldn’t allow it. I stuck to the plan, and I’ve tried hard to find a job appropriate to my education. So I went to Craigslist.

In my defense, I didn’t go directly to Craigslist. First, I tried to find websites that would carry jobs I was qualified for. This lead me to look for freelance writing work. That word, freelance, has never applied to me before. In my head I was always an author, a writer, an English dude. No one told me to consider myself a freelance writer. Maybe that is because I’m not qualified to be one.

I found freelancewritinggigs.com. The name is right on the nose. Everyone should know that freelancewritinggigs.com list freelance writing gigs each weekday. These jobs are everything from copywriters, to ghostwriters, to resume editors. Most of the links on their website, lead directly to Craigslist. Undeterred, I prepared to sell myself. I made a text document to list every job I applied for, when I applied for it, and details of what the job entailed. This way I would know every detail of the position I was going for.

Two weeks later, I probably have two dozen entries on my application list. Craigslist, for the uninitiated, usually keeps contact limited to e-mail. This is a real downer when looking for work, since you can’t call to check up on how your application is doing. Instead you send your resume and samples into the ether, and hope for the best.

My only hope these two weeks has been from one of the few jobs I didn’t find on Craigslist. In an effort to maintain the purpose of my mission, I applied for a job at Valve. Valve, the mythical creators of the Steam gaming platform, always keep a few positions hiring. One of them was a customer service representative. It was the sort of job that I said I didn’t need, one completely unrelated to my four year degree. I applied, and they e-mailed me back for more information. This ruined at least two pairs of underpants, and then I e-mailed them back. Finally, Valve sent me a test of my etiquette when dealing with customers. The prompt dealt with the mother of a 12 year old who was non-plussed over her son seeing a rated R movie. I thought my response was even and fair, without being overly apologetic. Valve didn’t seem to care for it.

Now I feel like I’m starting over again. No one has contacted me for work, and time is grinding forward. Another two months, and I will be required to start paying on my student loans. I have to double my efforts, but I may also have to prepare for inevitable failure.

My newest efforts to stay alive with a BA in English, is to join a site called Elance. Elance is quite different from craigslist, yet similar at the same time. This site requires that you verify your number, take test to verify your skills, and still put up a resume and work samples. Employers have to verify that they have the funds to pay you, and then the freelancers bid for a chance to work on projects. It sounds horrifying, I’m in.

Written by MD Kid

07/30/2011 at 6:45 PM

Posted in Job Hunt

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An English Major Seeks a Job

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(Originally created on 7/16/2011)

You ever heard the one about the English major? He spent four years getting his degree in Unemployment. People also think English majors all become teachers, so does that mean, “Those that can’t do, teach,” is a joke on English majors as well?

I can understand the animosity. As degrees go, English is ambiguous and archaic. Are English majors humanitarians, all hoping to be the glistening angel in some young person’s life? A goal like that is soft. Teaching young children is seen as feminine in the states, a pampering job, a maternal job. Do English majors comb old tomes, digesting tidbits from the long dead? Then they’re seen as useless to our fast moving present. What still remains to be read? Maybe English majors are artist yearning to be superstars? If so, they sure chose the wrong profession. Writers are just above fashion designers and right below wrestlers in the grand fame hierarchy.

Unfortunately, I’m an English major. Even worse, I’m one by choice. I have no intention of teaching. I don’t read classics all day. My writing won’t be on a best-seller list anytime soon. I have no intention of being a superstar, but I will be a writer. Nothing will change that part of me, barring some incident that puts me in a coma. So what is a poor English major to do?

When I was preparing to graduate, my first goal was to get the most boring job I could manage. This is still an option. Nothing makes you want to go home and write like a mind numbing desk job. That’s something that doesn’t occur to people, a writer can write no matter what their job is. I have answered phones before. Seven hours of answering phones, repeating the same message, and entering data. I have a notepad full of doodles from that job. Nothing motivates you to draw a spaceman like hearing a woman complain about her 13 year old.

Now I have a new plan, forged in the embers of summer weather. It is the sort of plan to be proud of. A plan full of conviction, passion. A plan that shapes the future, based on what matters most. A plan that can be easily canceled the second things don’t go my way. Which is something I’m prepared for, I finished an English degree after all.

You see, I love games. Not just video games, but board games, tabletop games, card games, pen and paper games. Since I was young, I’ve wanted to use my stories for games. In elementary school, I planned my own games out on paper. My friend and I mailed off a game idea to Nintendo, in the 4th grade. They sent a polite rejection. Maybe I would be better off now, if they told me to get lost. Instead I tried to write super hero stories in Jr. High school. In High school, I wrote game reviews for my friend’s website.

Everything changed in college. University gave me a chance to take classes that actually related to my craft. With a full schedule of classes about classics and basics, I had no time to dream. School washed me clean of my aspirations. My mind was refocused on literature. I’m thankful, I never want to lose that knowledge. As I took my last classes, I realized that I didn’t need to sacrifice what I was about. Literature is about people, and writing becomes what you care about.

So I need a job. Not any job, a job that lets me be myself. My game loving, nerd-centric, dry humored self. Which means some very odd job hunting. Trust me, careerbuilder.com isn’t good for writing work. I guess this is the best place to track my progress. I need to change my resume, get myself out there, and go on plenty of interviews. Hopefully everything works out, because I’m ready to give up at the first sign of difficulty.

Written by MD Kid

07/30/2011 at 11:06 AM

Posted in Job Hunt

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