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Looking For A Cool Job

By ed209 in Culture
Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 12:45:10 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I'm looking for a cool job. It seems though, that this might be more of a daunting task than I had at first assumed. There are numerous existing tools one can use in today's day and age to find work -- headhunters, job search engines, the more traditional job fairs, etc. -- but little of what I've found through any of these has really impressed me, much less turned up anything that I'm seriously interested in.


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I told myself long ago that I didn't want to "work for the weekend" like so many people do; I wanted to find a job that I could really dig and wake up to every morning being at least relatively excited about. And now I think I know what direction I want to ultimately choose: I want to find work that integrates my love of music and my experience there (as a music director in college, as an avid hobbyist and amateur musician, as a webmaster of a music-related new site) with my technical background and skills (BS in CS, network engineering, sys admin, info security, web programming, etc). But as mentioned previously, finding a job like this seems to be a difficult thing to do (especially in Boston).

Does anyone have any pointers about where I could start looking? What services have the K5 crowd used to find jobs that they really love? Are there options that I'm overlooking, perhaps things more narrowly targeted to individuals looking for work in a niche area of the field? Or are the vast majority of you stuck in the same situation as I am: with a job that doesn't suck, but isn't exactly what you've always dreamt about either. I don't want to settle for mediocrity... but I'm not sure how to make the first step in the right direction.

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Looking For A Cool Job | 30 comments (23 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Don't sweat it (3.00 / 9) (#1)
by sl4ck0ff on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 01:15:44 PM EST

Don't sweat it. This will be a tough job, but you can do it. Just read about all sorts of jobs. Search. Then find one you feel your heart drawn toward. Keep trying. It'll probably take a decent amount of self-dicipline and motivation. It's hard to find something perfect, you're right for not settling for medicrioty. But don't be ridiculous either. In the end, it's all up to you. This is just the way I might go about it.
/me has returned to slacking
Not possible. (3.10 / 19) (#2)
by Signal 11 on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 01:35:44 PM EST

It's not really possible to find a perfect job because one of the following will almost always be true:
  • Corporate politic'ing.
    (This could mean anything from that 30-something woman who loves bossing young men around to micromanagement to people not liking your hairstyle)
  • Insane coworkers
  • Low pay
  • Bad management
  • Uninteresting / uninspired work
  • Poor working conditions / Long hours

These are pretty much standard... some places you get less of it, but no place has none of it. As the old saying goes, "Pick any two: Enjoy your job, stay within the law, make lots of money."


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

I've found mine... (3.33 / 3) (#14)
by msphil on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 05:18:53 PM EST

The only one that qualifies as a down-side here might be "low pay", but I still make enough to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, and have a few amenities.

I don't mind working longer hours -- heck, the stuff I do all day long I used to do for fun in the evenings, and, well, I still do for fun in the evenings. Things happened to come together, and I lucked into my Ideal Job.

(For the record, I work QA at a game porting company. Lots of variety in the titles, lots of fun playing all day. It hasn't gotten old yet ;-) )

However, I was fortunate -- not everyone can even find something approaching the ideal job. I moved 2800 miles to take this one. And some other posters here are probably correct -- if you can't find the Ideal Job in your neighborhood, and you need to stay there, then you may need to create it. Good luck!

[ Parent ]

A cool job... (2.76 / 13) (#3)
by /dev/trash on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 01:41:28 PM EST

Please. in this economy ( it is heading down) one should be looking for something a little more tangible than 'cool'. Try getting into a company that will be around after Christmas. If you are so technically adept, this job will become cool. Not in 2 month or even 8 months, but eventually. It's called working your way up through the ranks. This whole "gotta have it now attitude" will only burn ya.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
negativity, the job market, and hunting (4.71 / 7) (#4)
by mattw on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 02:09:45 PM EST

Some people don't mind taking a chance with a risky company in order to enjoy themselves.

The technically adept will have a job for a long, long time to come. There are fewer people in this category than self-identification would lead someone to believe.

You say, 'if you are so technically adept, this job will become cool'. I disagree. My limited experience tells me that you can only enjoy a job if you are, (1) Doing something you love anyhow or; (2) Learning a great deal while performing your job. Which means if you're already technically adept, if it isn't something you love, your job will never be satisfying. Also, to many people, 'working your way up through the ranks' is a dead issue, because many companies have no ladder for technical advancement, so to get any sort of promotion, you must become a manager, and some people don't like that, and would never want to do it.

Lastly, I don't really see an attitude of instant gratification. The author doesn't seem to be seeking anything more than a fulfilling job experience. He hasn't asked for fulfillment AND a lot of money, just a job he can wake up and get excited about, that uses his skills.

My own advice to the author might be: think about what needs your skillset fulfills, and go look for companies that do that fulfillment. If you're entrepreneurial, you may find that the best person to be working for is you. I think a lot of the future opportunity in any tech-related work is niche work. And Good Luck. I think Signal 11 had it right -- right now, I'm making money and staying within the law, but I'm looking forward to a change where I will love my job instead (of making money, heh).


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
tips (3.16 / 6) (#6)
by gregholmes on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 02:36:54 PM EST

  • Balance the varying factors of coolness. My job feels much cooler than it otherwise would because my commute is so short.
  • Research and contact lots of potential employers. I ended up interviewing/negotiating for two jobs at once, which is a nice position to be in.
  • Don't be absurd, or try for jobs you simply can't do, but remember a job ad is just a wish list. I was missing a few "qualifications" for my current job. I didn't lie about them or even refer to them unless asked; I simply applied and interviewed anyway.
  • Good luck. Noone get everything they want, but if you try hard and get a bit lucky you can get most of what you want.


Slack? (3.69 / 13) (#7)
by iGrrrl on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 02:42:01 PM EST

My guess is you want a fulfilling job experience, and you want to get paid good money.

Hmmm.

I know a lot of people who have achieved some form of slack, but it generally involved not getting paid very much. My definition of slack is getting paid to do what you would otherwise do, or even pay to do. An old housemate of mine who made circuit boards in his spare time graduated from Radio Shack to a job at Dell's tech bench. He achieved slack. Other friends have simply found a way to make ends meet with minimal effort. There's a slack there too.

I'm in academia. We get paid squat, but the idea is that we're doing what we love to do. Or so they tell me. My husband could get a job (in Boston) at twice his current faculty salary, given his computer skills (neural networks and embedded systems). He would have to give up quite a bit to take such a job -- freedom being the biggest loss. He has a stressful but rewarding form of slack in his current position.

As for not finding a job in Boston, yee gods, man! they're advertising on the radio for tech people. Oh, but it's not the job you want. To speak to your specific situation, a young friend of mine went through three jobs to get the one he has now, which he loves. The experience of the two mediocre jobs helped to qualify him for what he's doing now. OTOH, a fine musician and computer guy I know worked for a music-oriented software company, and was sorely disillusioned, so keep that in mind. Someone else I know used a headhunter to find the almost-perfect job. There are ways, but it can take time and wide-open eyes.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.

all about the money? (3.00 / 3) (#12)
by ed209 on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 05:07:03 PM EST

To be entirely honest, money isn't as large of a factor as you might first suspect. Being fairly young i don't have a lot of debt (worked hard to pay for college while i was attending so i don't have loans) -- just a car loan and monthly bills. of course, living in Boston ain't cheap. As you mentioned, jobs are plentiful here.. but (being extremely picky here) not the right jobs. For me, at least.

Anyway, my primary goal is simply to be satisfied with the work i'm doing, while being able to live a somewhat comfortable lifestyle. I'm probably making this harder on myself than i have to, but like i said in the initial post, i'm not terribly unhappy with my present work, i just feel as if i'd enjoy working in the entertainment technology field more -- i think i have some legitimate ideas and might be able to make something of a difference there. Thnx for your thoughts (all).

[ Parent ]
not just money... (2.83 / 6) (#17)
by iGrrrl on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 10:26:29 PM EST

You're quite right. Living in Boston is very expensive. And being satisfied in your work is very, very important--at least to my way of thinking. That's why I chose to make certain sacrifices. I literally make less than minimum wage, but I love what I do.

Good luck with your search. At least in this town with your skills you can always make the rent. Happy slack hunting.


--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

You can't find a cool job, you gotta make it (2.88 / 9) (#8)
by ozone on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 02:54:21 PM EST

As Signal 11 pointed out earlier, you can't find a cool job. But I think you can make one.

My current mission is to start a company, go contracting for one of those incredible rates companies seem willing to pay for people with decent IT skills, and then take 3-6 months off for every 6 I contract. So the money all goes into my company (at the high rate), I still receive a salary every month (at a more normal rate) and I can do whatever I want during the time that I'm not out at a client.

Wouldn't it be fun if 5 geeks got together, formed a company like this and then split the work - 3 out at a company, while the other 2 stayed at an 'office', playing games, doing open-source projects, or whatever they felt like :->

I think I'd work on the sourceforge projects I started recently - DIAS and EbiNess

the business end of things... (3.00 / 3) (#13)
by ed209 on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 05:13:17 PM EST

Ah, but then you (or some other sucker) have to deal with the business end of things. I suppose that's fine if you have those natural suit-type tendencies, but I seem to lack those instincts. I have some ideas I would absolutely love to roll into a company and run with, but I'm deathly afraid of having to deal with the monetary issues, finding the proper backing, or making the right "deals".

I think this is how many geeks feel and may be a contributing factor to why 90% of all the cool projects these days are open-sourced and available through Sourceforge or wherever. Sure, supporting the open source movement is wonderful, but it also takes away that dreaded business model ;). Heh. Anyway, it sounds like the business you're discussing would be service-oriented, so the cost overhead would be less than that of a development project... more power to you if you do it.

<insert deity name here> knows, I've met enough people that don't have a clue doing IT work to know that someone who actually knows there sh!t should be able to make a buck at it :).

[ Parent ]
Indeed that would be cool... (2.00 / 1) (#21)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 04:36:04 PM EST

.. but as ed209 pointed out, you have to deal with the business side of things.

Do you know how the economics of such a company work? What kind of funding you need (if any)? Do you know how to do accounting? All question that I, for one, don't have the answers too.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this is just "working for the weekend" on a larger scale. Sure, you get a lot of time off, but do you enjoy doing that consulting? I s'pose you might, depending on what you're doing. I wouldn't consult doing programming (my current job), but networking? Hell yes. Hey, if anyone's got a job for a neophyte networker in the Boston area... ;)

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

Have you tried.... (2.85 / 7) (#15)
by skim123 on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 05:41:53 PM EST

going to (large) music Web sites that currently exist today and checking out their job offerrings (if any)? Perhaps that's a good way to start...

Of course, the only job you'll truly enjoy for any length of time is running your own business, or something along those lines. Anyway, power to you, good luck, and happy job hunting!

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Matters what you like (2.66 / 3) (#18)
by Tisniq on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 11:33:58 PM EST

Matters what you like, I like to teach, I volunteer time.
Some like the freedom of the Academic world. Get to spend time on things that interest you and explore them in new ways, and get good $$ for it.
I know accountants that love to sit there and sort through heaps of numbers and invoices.
I actually even know people who like just turning off their brain, sit on an assembly line and know they actually made something that matters.
Some like politics, a job where it is your duty to make the world (or your small part of it) a better place.
I like to solve problems, being an Engineer is exactly what I want to do, at least until that Supreme Overlord of the Universe frees up.

You really have to figure out what you want, one mans cool job is another mans living hell.



Suggestions (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by red on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 01:52:46 PM EST

If you want to find a place where you'll enjoy your job, learn about the company first. Not only WHAT it does, but HOW it does it.

Career fairs are a start, as are websites. You can get the usual background info on a company this way. Try and have an actual conversation about something, anything, with a rep at a career fair. Most companies take along general employees as well as HR people.
Looking up past newspaper articles can give you perspective on the company as well. You might also be interested in how their business partners perceive them. I.e. if the company provides educational software, does the Board of Education know them or think highly of them? (quality, service, etc)

Ask for a tour. This can show you a lot you wouldn't normally understand from a website.
Ask to talk with someone in the areas you're interested in. Learn how they do what they do.

A telling statistic is the turnover rate for the company. (how many employees leave per year - I think 20% is about average for high tech) If a company has a 5% turnover, you can imagine the employees must be fairly content.

Talk to other people you know (friends, friends of friends, relatives, online communities...) to get a feel of the company from different perspectives. Just because one person hated it, doesn't mean it's a bad company - just that that person and the company didn't fit one another.

If you go for an interview: ask questions! Don't be afraid to dig in areas that concern you. Most companies won't mind. Heck, even if you turn down an offer, let the company know why and if you'd be interested should the situation change. You never know. Believe it or not, there are many intelligent people recruiting out there.

Well, I hope that helps.


Red

I guess I'll be the first to say it (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by NTrippy on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 05:12:30 PM EST

You might want to check out a book called "What Color Is Your Parachute." I'm in a similar position as you right now: I'm moving in about 6 months and will consequently get a new job. My skills are (even more coincidentally) music and writing stuff, but with a little bit of tech thrown in. The thing about most job-hunting is that you read the want ads and try to guesstimate whether you'll fit into the employer's box. So you only define yourself by the skills you see in most job listings (I know C++, I can edit, I type 80 wpm). What the Parachute book does is make you sit down and account for all of your traits and skills, which aren't necessarily limited to those little boxes.

One of the activities in the book is listing the 5 most satisfying challenges you overcame, and what made it so satisfying. It makes you see yourself in broader terms. For instance, I thought of myself as a writer/editor, but after doing this particular exercise I realized that I have the ability to take complicated concepts and break them down and explain them to a layman. I never would have thought of it that way, and the bonus is that putting that phrasing on my resume will differentiate me from the 60 other schlubs who just say "I can do technical writing."

It was also just a fun exercise in introspection, which I tend to do anyway.

I'm just about to start my actual job hunt, though, so we'll see how it pans out. But I strongly recommend the exercises in the book.

Good luck - let's see who gets the cool job first ;)

on a related note (2.00 / 1) (#23)
by Tony Tastey on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 05:23:52 PM EST

Anyone have any tips for searching out companies abroad? I'm planning on sticking in Boston at my current company until my lease runs out next September, but I'd like to try working in Europe for a while next. Know any specific gotchas about England, Ireland, or Germany when it comes to visas and the like?

You wanna throw things? I can throw things! I'm fsckin' bionic, baby!


Working abroad (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by ahabel on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 06:31:13 PM EST

Check out http://www.escapeartist.com.

Anyone have any tips for searching out companies abroad? I'm planning on sticking in Boston at my current company until my lease runs out next September, but I'd like to try working in Europe for a while next. Know any specific gotchas about England, Ireland, or Germany when it comes to visas and the like?

[ Parent ]
Working In Canada? (1.00 / 1) (#25)
by ed209 on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 09:12:20 PM EST

That last post reminds me... I was curious if there's anyone here who moved from the United States to Canada to take a job? Is that a difficult thing to do, or would I be best off staying in the states?

Come to Australia! (none / 0) (#26)
by nickread on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 10:31:13 PM EST

There is bucket loads of IT jobs in Australia at the moment.

It's wierd...
Australia has a shortage of IT skill, and there is so many jobs going around in IT here, yet most graduates are lured away to other countries to work (mostly the US and the UK).

[ Parent ]

Difficulty of Emigration (none / 0) (#27)
by ed209 on Mon Nov 27, 2000 at 10:38:39 PM EST

How difficult is it to actually get into the country though? I've heard that it's rather difficult to get into New Zealand and had thought that Austrailia was the same. I would absolutely love to get out of the United States for a little while, work in another country... and my girlfriend and I have always wanted to vacation in Austrailia... seems like a logical choice if emigration isn't too difficult and prices/wages/etc aren't too out of whack with what i'm used to here in Boston ;).

[ Parent ]
Digital Signal Processing (none / 0) (#29)
by threemile on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 05:42:06 PM EST

While it is far from web programming, you may want to look into digital signal processing. Many companies (like Eventide, Alesis, Roland...) need people who can program and love music to work on effects processors, samplers and sequencers.

Job hunting as a hobby ? (none / 0) (#30)
by Port Forlorn on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 12:35:13 AM EST

I'd suggest that looking for a "cool job" is a life long process.

I've been in and around the programming business for a while now (started in '65) and have found that the really best jobs happen by seredipity. And, eventually, they lose their lustre too. So you hunt up another opportunity. The very best jobs are the ones you create for yourself. No one advertises them because they are snapped up and staffed up immediately by the bright folks already there. Let me elaborate:

What has worked for me is to continuously develop the skills that feed my sense of worth and the ones I enjoy the most - in additon to the ones that seem to make me valuable in the market. With that combination, I can take most any opportunity and tailor the job to something I am pleased with. The more valuable I am to my employer, the more flexibility I get to define the parameters of my job - most of the time. When I find that I can no longer enjoy what I'm doing, it is time to move on. (This can happen because the management changes, my peers change, the "market forces" make the work environment too harsh, simply because the project finishes or lots of other reasons.)

But the best jobs happen because I'm there when the ideas start flowing for a new task and I get the chance to mold it into something awesome. To do that, you have to be there, be respected and be known as a contributor. So find a few opportunities that look good if not great, ones that mesh with some of your skills and needs. Investigate, pick the best available and jump in!

. . . ignore that man behind the curtain . . .
Looking For A Cool Job | 30 comments (23 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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