Fulltime work.. busy little worker bee.. happy drones now.

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Fulltime work.. busy little worker bee.. happy drones now.

Postby Cynic » Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:18 am UTC

I'm sacrificing 5/7ths of my life for ... well, not that much. I live at home. I'm fed and given a bedroom, even after almost 21 years. I landed a programming gig over the 2nd semester of uni and the summer break. The job is fairly technical but not overly interesting..

Essentially, I have no motivation to be here, other than to gain experience and SkillZ. I also knew that gainful employment in my intended field would provide a bit of perspective. Also, my degree requires 60 days of 'industrial placement', otherwise no scrap of paper at the end of 4 years. :) But I was too optimistic; these days I find myself dreading the daily grind with a sick passion previously reserved only for school and religious services. I'm excited to finally finish work in March and go back to full-time study..

However, university is a transitory period, and I'll inevitably graduate. Leaving me with the prospect of.. well.. the rest of my life. On a chair. At a desk. Doing shit for other people. My creativity has become the stale, grey poop on a hot sidewalk. I'm the dog sitting under a tap in 40-degree heat, waiting for the drip of water every few minutes, & too exhausted to do *shit* at night. Haven't composed any music in weeks. No, months.

I'm scared that if I have to brave the sanitised confines of my corporate existence much longer, I'll fuckin' kill myself. No shit.

I think another possibility would be to just.. work a couple of days a week.. play music.. live off instant noodles... and not give a shit about the paradigm everyone wants me to fit. I think that regaining the 50% of my life I'd lose otherwise (70% if I don't work at all) is more important than having a television. In all likelihood, I'd have to live in a sharehouse.

So my question, I suppose, is.. does anyone live an alternative lifestyle? Could I work as a contract programmer, maybe, for a couple of weeks every couple of months (I'm in Sydney, Australia, so work is plentiful)? Another possibility is to study medicine and work as a locum for a month or two per year. I'm also wondering whether more meaningful jobs (medicine as the star candidate here), where one can either make a difference..or have a buttload of fun (military contractor in Iraq... joking.. :) makes one actually happy about being at work.. rather than wanting to slit one's wrists. What to do?

(as a humorous aside, I'm currently programming in Visual Basic .NET. Correlation with suicidal ideation? You decide :p)

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Re: Fulltime work.. busy little worker bee.. happy drones now.

Postby neon » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:27 am UTC

People who follow their dreams are usually happy. Even if they don't drive a Ferrari. Employment is a means to an end, those who treat it as an end to itself are often unhappy. Even if they are rich bastards.

Joseph Campbell said it best: "Follow your bliss".
"Light up the darkness."

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Re: Fulltime work.. busy little worker bee.. happy drones now.

Postby angel_jean » Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:24 am UTC

Oddly, I have some experience in a couple of the areas you mention. And my husband and I live in Sydney.

I am also rather verbose. But I hope this helps.

As regards your current "path" as a programmer: My husband works in software development, and he's good at it. He currently has a job at a pretty cool company, although I won't say the name until I find out whether they're in a hiring freeze. And life in the software industry can be tough, but it can be great.

The bad: He started in a three-person company. From what I hear, it was tough at the end because money was tight. And when the other programmer left, he was by himself, and not getting paid well. He'd also been working on the same piece of software for a couple of years, and it was getting stale. He left a little while later.

The good: He's now in a multinational that really seems quite cool, from a wife's perspective. The hours are flexible (although they do prefer he arrives before 10am). The rec room is huge. It has a pool table, a hammock, a drinks machine, a Wii and an X-box. They held a Guitar Hero III tournament late last year. Last week they had a 24-hour bug-fixing tournament (code review not required!) with prizes for most points, team total and bug-most-wanted. There is a yearly pool competition. The boss is trying to introduce regular first-person-shooter evenings. It goes on.

And yes, they get stuff done. My husband participated in all of the above, and he's still known for closing large numbers of work items successfully. I think that he just treats it as something to do while he's at work. He doesn't bring it home, he gets it done there. And he keeps to an eight-and-a-half hour day.

The life: It's true that when he comes home, he just wants to watch TV. (And wait on me hand and foot when necessary, but that's a different story.) But we've never been hugely social animals. He has also lost some of the motivation for the large projects he was playing with before he started work, but that's largely a property of the projects themselves. When he gets a random idea he really likes, he'll still write it and get it working. And stay up all night doing so. Once or twice, he's even been thus inspired by something work-related. So yeah, life can be good.

As for medicine ... I'm a junior doctor. I'm currently registered as an Intern and employed by a large Sydney teaching hospital.

They say that you need a particular personality type to become a doctor. In my experience, it takes all sorts. What they don't tell you is that you need a large amount of stamina as well as your average discipline/determination/intelligence etc. to get through your first couple of years in the health industry. I am still finding out whether I can muster up that level of energy, having worked two terms in the past year (normally five) and failed them both through making mistakes, partly due to mental illness. And I haven't even done shift work. I'm talking weekday day-to-day stuff here.

The bad: It's a tough road, and an uncertain one. At least four years of study even if you have a bachelor's degree, which I hear is especially tough if you don't have a health/bioscience background. Then into the hospital environment which is stressed, under-resourced, busy and full of sick people. Paperwork coming out your ears which should have been done yesterday. Bosses who determine your outcome (read: career prospects) and are too busy to know who you are, and overworked admin who take care of 200 young staff each. At least two years as the dogsbody, having to apply for a new job every year, and later being relied on to make decisions with nobody's help.

The good: Despite all that, I have to say I love my job (if I still have one). Once I was at work each day I would know that I was doing what I really wanted to do, and on the way to a career that I could enjoy even more. I was challenged to do something good and right, every moment of the day, even if it was just "writing down information so that the GP knows what happened to the patient". That motivation, and the knowledge that people relied on me, kept me there until 10pm at times (making a 14-hour day) with the certainty that I was doing the right thing. I don't know whether you'd get the same feeling I do. While I disagree that it takes a certain type of person to make it through a medical degree, I guess that different types of people will get satisfaction from different aspects of medicine, and some won't find it at all.

Unfortunately, I'm still waiting on the hospital to decide if they're going to offer me a job this year. But there's no way I'm ever changing careers unless I find out for certain that I can't hack this one.

The life?As for locum work - yes, after you complete your first year you can work anywhere. You can work a month and get twice the normal salary - if you take the work nobody else wants. Shift work in emergency departments. Night work taking care of four wards full of patients you don't know. Public holiday work. Mostly sitting around hoping that nobody dies (and making all the right moves if they look like it). I hear of people who make that their lifestyle for three months, and then take three months off and go surfing. Two nights a week is out of the question - I hear from friends that you spend two days recovering, and the rest wishing all your friends weren't at work.

It's available ... it's also not my kind of thing. You could say it was a dead-end career, because it goes nowhere really, but in my terms it's just not somewhere I want to be, much less continue. I know where I want to be. And at any rate, you have to make it through the first year intact, first.

I hope this gives you some idea of what you'd be getting into in two of the areas you mentioned. And I hope that you get more opinions from people in different industries - they are out there. But a working life isn't all doom and gloom, and it doesn't have to be drudgery. There are different types of work-life balance out there, my husband and I being two different examples, and I hope you find yours.

All the best,

the angel Jean
Smith's little elf
the angel Jean - Smith's little elf

For those who like to MUD: http://www.deadofnight.org

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Re: Fulltime work.. busy little worker bee.. happy drones now.

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:23 pm UTC

I'm in a similar boat myself. I'm a programmer, but i got the itch for adventure. Y'know, do cool stuff. So i started training up and in about a year intend to try to get this job (or the one right below it). I think that will ameliorate my itch for adventure, as well as guaruntee me plenty of tail.

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