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What I did on my summer vacation

By karmma in Culture
Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 01:12:38 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

Summer, at least in the northern hemisphere, is coming to a close, and the New EconomyTM is still in the tank. Many dot-commers and other technical types have been unemployed for several months now.

How have you made use of your time off?


Most of us who are not students don't get summers off - and those who are students often work full-time during the summer months.

I had worked for one company for 21 years - the last 12 in IT. Fortunately, in June of this year, I was offered a very generous buyout package which I accepted. Having a summer off for the first time in many years, I took advantage of the opportunity to drive across the U.S. with my family (We're the Griswalds!)

How did those of you who also unemployed this summer make use of the time? Did you spend the time looking for work, or did you do anything interesting/fun/worthwhile?

While many, I'm sure, fretted about finding future employment, how many of you looked at this time as an oppotunity do something that otherwise, would not have been possible?

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Poll
What did you do on your summer vacation?
o I looked for work. 32%
o I went to the beach. 19%
o I spent time with my family. 10%
o I travelled internationally. 30%
o I travelled domestically. 2%
o I did volunteer work for my favorite charity/organization. 4%

Votes: 46
Results | Other Polls

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What I did on my summer vacation | 34 comments (30 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
not a problem for me.. (3.60 / 5) (#1)
by rebelcool on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 07:53:57 PM EST

if anything, its been a bumper year in terms of employment offers.

The company I currently work with watches its money pretty close (we work off of foldup tables and sit in hand-me-down chairs. Sure, its no aeron, but it also is not $800)

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

My year. (4.25 / 16) (#2)
by Signal 11 on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 08:38:02 PM EST

In february, I was laid off as a web designer of a dot com company, after being given our WARN notices. I took spring semester at a local college to pass the time. After four months of searching, I found a job at a call center doing over-the-phone support for a large hardware company. It was the best I could do - even with three years of professional support experience, I had to take a job that paid around $13 an hour. I don't know what I was thinking... I could have made almost the same on unemployment benefits... but I didn't want to be on 'welfare'. Two months after I started, I quit - due to budget cutbacks and poor management, the few staff they had were overworked, severely stressed, and under constant micromanagement and party to "the numbers game". Poor working conditions though aren't an excuse to go on unemployment. It probably didn't help that my former employer lied to their staff by saying that the WARN act notification meant we couldn't collect unemployment benefits - even after termination. That was in early June. Since then, I've been searching for a job in IT. I've run out of money now, and I am living with my parents. I'm also a little bitter, because of the disillusionment.

--
Capitalism - a wonderful system whereby if you work hard and kiss ass, you'll make lots of money. I found out that's a lie.

Information Technology - the next "Really Great Thing". Imagine that - I first decided to apply my computer skills in a professional way right as the internet boom was starting to take off. Within a few years I had a $40k/yr job as a web designer. I heard I could make a lot more, but I needed the experience - I knew I already had the skills. Well, that was also a lie. The dot com bubble burst, not because the technology couldn't enhance our economy and make us better off, but because nobody in the 'mainstream' knew its limitations, and the hype and marketing overtook common sense on the stock market, and caused its collapse, and later nationwide recession due to the 'wealth effect'. Yay.
--

I'm still looking for a job, of course. This week I've resolved to get started in a new field. I'm not bitter though... it doesn't matter that big business lied about 'labor shortages' to push down wages, and the people I elected into office didn't do their job and put us over a barrel and that my hobby went from obscurity to fashionable to criminal inside five years with the introduction of the DMCA and related 'intellectual property' laws.

This year has been a bad year for geeks, I think. Some of us have gotten lucky - with a company with solid financial foundations, or with skills either too specialized (oracle database administrator) or so high in demand that even with the slowdown there's still demand - like progammers. But a lot of us got hit, hard. A lot of people are in this industry for the money - not the passion, and in true capitalistic form, I suppose that's ok. I just wish economic practice worked as well as economic theory. Techies.com had an article recently - something like 80% of those who became unemployed within the past 6 months in the IT industry are still unemployed today. Could be worse those... some of us are in jail, for leveraging the two things that computers were explicitly designed for - copying and dissemination of information (the RIAA, the MPAA, Adobe...) and the manipulation of information (the ITAR regulations, 'cybercrime', intellectual property)... and for answering the call of true hackerism - that information is a powerful tool for good, and can help people, and should not be kept locked behind closed doors. Yes, it has been a bad year for geeks.

So this week, this computer geek - first dismissed by society, and then its savior for the 'new economy', will come full circle and go apply for a job on the factory floor. This is the American Dream, I suppose... but life goes on. I've taken on new hobbies - learning to draw - artistically, not with stick figures... I've got a geometry book over here I read and work on, in the hopes that I can "crack the code" and learn electronics. Maybe, with enough work, I'll reclaim what the indian giver Capitalism provided to me, and move out of my parent's place, get an apartment, and throw my car away and get something that gets more than 6 miles to the gallon, has a missing tooth on the cam gear, a failing cooling system, and an ignition system that puts tesla coil builders to shame. Maybe.

But in the meantime? I'm going to draw. I'm going to read. I'm going to hang out with my friends, and try not to dwell on something I can't fix. I've had a lot of fun with my friends. I see them every day, they help me keep my spirits up and my imagination free. It's just a phase, I'll get back on my feet. There's a job out there for me, with computers, something challenging and rewarding and I'll find it. Someday.

But for what it's worth... that's been my year, and that's my story - from the trenches, just like it ought to be - I'm grinning down here, and enjoying the view, and hoping the war ends soon so we can all get back to our business.


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

I feel you (2.66 / 3) (#4)
by malikcoates on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 08:53:20 PM EST

I'm in the job search stage myself, and wish you the best.

One question for you. You have an obvious gift at writing. You seem to enjoy it. If you're looking to start a new career anyway, have you considered getting paid for your efforts?

[ Parent ]

Out of the frying pan... (4.00 / 3) (#5)
by localroger on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 09:56:52 PM EST

A close friend of mine (known to some as "Y" from my casino story) was a freelance writer since the mid 1980's. The casino adventure came about partly because that market is closing up. Unfortunately, this here computer network thingie has a lot to do with that. People get for free what they used to pay for. And at the high end, where the stars are made, it's harder than ever to get a foot in the door if you don't know a friend of the son of the editor. The slush pile simply isn't read any more at any of the major publishers, and the ones that do read it don't pay anything. Our friend might be better off checking out the opportunities in blue-collar land -- learn to program PLC's and do realtime controls. There is still a lot of demand for that kind of work.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Two words: (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by error 404 on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 03:26:43 PM EST

Tech Writing

Somebody has to write those manuals and help files.

A tight market right now like the rest of the industry, but it does mean you get to write for a living.


..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Tech jobs (none / 0) (#32)
by forgey on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 10:42:15 AM EST

There still seem to be a ton of tech jobs out there where I am looking. Sure there are a lot more people applying for them so that means you have to dazzle them in the interview a lot more than you used to have to, but the jobs are still out there.

The other thing is that a lot of those jobs are the sexy IT jobs that everybody wants to get. A lot of them are doing programming or support for shit like our store systems (grocery business), operations work (tape monkeys ;) or doing time consuming work on a companies Intranet site.

Sure those aren't the glamour jobs everyone wants, but they still pay fairly well and everyone has to start somewhere, even you. Just don't expect to hop into a $40k/year job when you are starting out at the bottom, you might, but don't count on it.

forgey

[ Parent ]
more like winter, spring and summer (4.00 / 5) (#6)
by Zero Whitefur on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 10:47:16 PM EST

For me, it was 7 months out of work not because I worked for a dot.bomb, but for a metal stamping and fabrication company. They had massive layoffs due to the automotive downtown. After a long struggle (which is pretty much documented in my diary) I finally found work as an UNIX sysadmin..in the metal stamping industry again. I'm 6 days in and all's well, but I know I'll be looking over my shoulder this time.



You got a new job? (none / 0) (#25)
by aphrael on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 01:23:36 AM EST

that's great news, man! congratulations! *smile*

[ Parent ]
Working working working (3.00 / 3) (#7)
by BobRoy on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 03:31:03 AM EST

So far this summer I have been working. I had my last exam 8. may and went straihgt to my summer job.

But this is my last week working :)

This sunday, I am heading for the Greece island Rhodos. I'm going to spend the last week of my holiday drinking some Greece beer, and play some backgammon on the beach.

But after that it is back to school. Still got plenty of things to learn so...

If it's wet, Drink it!


Same here (2.50 / 2) (#12)
by MicroBerto on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 09:03:11 AM EST

I have the same, except that I don't move in for exactly one month! Bring on the paychecks, I'm sitll working until the day before I move in. Whatever I make this summer will go towards living expenses, and I won't have to work during school year - just play water polo, train ju-jitsu, take classes, and submit my body to various drinking binges!

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]
nothing at all (3.25 / 4) (#8)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 05:52:50 AM EST

I lived with the parents, did not work, and did nothing resembling productivity whatsoever. Internet, Counter-Strike, Nintendo64, swimming, tennis, movies, etc, etc.

My summer report (3.00 / 3) (#9)
by WWWWolf on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 07:11:13 AM EST

I worked. =(

I worked for the whole summer for a random company that needed someone who knows a bit of PHP.

My problem is that I'm a Poor Student. (And it looks like I'm going to stay one for some time too...) I could either a) work here for whole summer or b) spend summer with my parents away from my own computer (which would be bad, because I would just love to finish all millions of "projects" of mine some day...)

I have wasted this year. =(

Okay, I'll drag my cheese and whine to diaries. Have a nice day...

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


Tech-Mercenaries (3.66 / 3) (#16)
by Mad Hughagi on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 11:46:28 AM EST

Join the club dude, I've been doing this type of thing for the last 4 years.

Spent my summer doing hardware engineering / applied science theory for one of the big wireless players.

It's hard to go to school when your parents aren't making 6 digits and can't support you through post-secondary, but at least if you apply yourself and don't mind not having any extended amount of vacation (beyond a week or two) then you can pay for uni. Besides the fact that it makes for good experience (if you get a decent placement).

I always try to spend as much time on work-term reading things and learning stuff that I don't have time for when I'm at school. Don't waste it! Enjoy the time you do have to yourself after work and make the most out of it. Unless you end up doing something you really enjoy after your degree you'll just join the rest of the tech mercenaries trying to claw their way to the top after you're done.

Cheers.
HUGHAGI INDUSTRIES

We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
[ Parent ]

Better Poll Options (4.18 / 11) (#11)
by Vladinator on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 08:38:01 AM EST

You should have for the poll:

  • I got up.
  • Then I went out.
  • To look for a job.
  • Then I hung out in front of the drug store...

--
LRSE Hosting
Internship here (2.50 / 2) (#13)
by stfrn on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 09:22:03 AM EST

Just finishing this week, i'm already back on campus to greet the new students. :) wasn't in it for money, i was paid to sit around and learn java. oh, and install ethernet in a room. good experence.

(no only if I could get a perment job like this...)

"Man, I'm going to bed. I can't even insult people properly tonight." - Imperfect
What would you recomend to someone who doesn't like SPAM?

Missing Poll Option (3.80 / 5) (#14)
by greyrat on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 09:23:03 AM EST

I worked for the same succsessful IT organization as I did before...
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Summer? (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by no carrier on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 12:03:27 PM EST

hmmm, gray walls, no windows, light by monitor, 68 degrees and a reassuring whirring noise for the last 2 years here.

maybe i should peek out the door every now and again.

-----

I stab people.
vacation still to come! (none / 0) (#19)
by theantix on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 05:40:48 PM EST

For us non-student IT staff that were not laid off summer vacation may still be upcoming!! I know I'm leaving this weekend for France, Italy, and Tunisia (north africa). A six-week camping/hostelling tour which should be quite interesting!!

Early summer is too busy to travel. Everywhere interesting is expensive or booked solid, packed with tourists, and it is hot hot hot.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!

Internship... (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by Knile87 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 07:04:10 PM EST

Was lucky enough to get an internship with local struggling company. Did desktop support. No real project involved, just a lot of RAM upgrades & hauling PCs around. But I learned a lot.. like.. I WILL go back to school and not be the lowest on an organization's totem pole. Keep learnin, folks.. that's the best way to go...

"We're all on a big ship! We're on a big cruise, across the world!" -- Iowa Bob, in Hotel New Hampshire


my summer (4.00 / 3) (#21)
by voodoo1man on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 01:45:32 AM EST

As for me? Another season spent in personal and professional failure sums it up nicely. I think it also reflects the feelings of some posters pretty closely as well.

At least 2002 looks brighter.

They call this a vacation? (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by cyclopatra on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 03:09:54 AM EST

I worked. 60 hours a week. I went to school. I also took a golf class (look, it made my dad happy to have someone to play golf with, ok? :P) and signed up for the gym, all because I was promised that I wouldn't have to work more than 35 hours a week and hey, if I was going to have all that time...

But after the (latest round of) layoffs, and one Mormon off on his mission, I was the only developer left on my project, *and* assigned to the two-weeks-behind-schedule, make-or-break, succeed-or-slit-your-own-throat project with another team...

Now that the summer's over, I'm through with school, the golf class is over, my personal trainer appointments are used up, and I've been cut to half-time, so what am I going to do with all this time on my hands?

Cyclopatra
All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
My Packed Summer (none / 0) (#23)
by Scooby on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 12:37:27 PM EST

I've had a very packed summer so far.
  • July 1 - 10: NexTech: The National Summit of Young Technology Leaders in Austin, Texas
  • July 20: My Birthday
  • July 24: Area:One Festival
  • July 27 - 30: Camping with my dad up north
  • Auguest 16 - 26: California
I start school on the 28th, right after I get back =/. I've also been working weekends for my uncle running the computers at his shop (he restores classic cars)

NexTech? (none / 0) (#31)
by Phyrkrakr on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:50:32 PM EST

I went to that last year. How bad was it this year? Did they try to keep the girls out of the guys' rooms again? Or did they just give up? How many computers did they have? C'mon, dude, spill!

Smith & Wesson: The Original Point and Click
[ Parent ]
Re: Nextech (none / 0) (#34)
by Scooby on Sun Aug 26, 2001 at 02:18:53 AM EST

Sorry, I was in California as mentioned above :)
Well, they had girls and guys on separate floors this year. And atleast 200+ computers in the downstairs plaza, not to mention the grand ballroom and a few of the conference rooms.

A few people in my group were also alumni, and they said there were WAAAAAAAAAAY more computers than last year, and that most of the new rules were in place becuase of what happened last year :) (Photo IDs this year, separate floors, etc.)

Oh yeah, and they totally destroyed the hotel. (Elevator buttons ripped off, elevators reprogrammed, eleveator panels ripped outa the wall, glasses smashed everywhere, computer parts stolen, room numbers ripped off, etc.) I feel sorry for the hotel, they have another few years w/ Nextech =/

[ Parent ]
How can you say (none / 0) (#24)
by aphrael on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 01:20:59 AM EST

summer is coming to a close? summer ends on *September 21*. And the traditional vacation season ends on *Labor Day*, which is still almost three weeks away. You're *early*, man. :)

And remember kiddies... (none / 0) (#27)
by Duke Machesne on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 03:33:31 PM EST

When you're always drunk,
you're never hung over...

__________________________________________________
arts schoolsweight loss
[ Parent ]

Not in that boat, but... (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by HardwareLust on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 10:08:10 PM EST

Luckily (or not?) I've been in the same organization for 17 years + (yes, I am old!). My summer consisted of a continuous stream of 60 - 80 hour weeks, just like the past 68 some-odd seasons before that. Oh, and some occasional thrashing on my road bike (a Tommasini for those in the know.)

I, for one, and getting ready for ski season. Summer, for me, is just a little time to warm up between ski (and rainy) seasons here in the Great Pacific Northwest!

Next stop, georgeous Mount Baker! Whistler! Mt. Bachelor! God damn it, I'm drooling already and it's only August 16th! COME ON WINTER!!!!




If you disagree, POST, don't moderate!

off tonight (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by treefrog on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 06:31:31 AM EST

The delightful Dr Mrs Treefrog and myself are off to the Alps tonight for 2 weeks climbing, initially in Chamonix.

The wish list is

  • Traverse of the Aig. de Grepon
  • N. Ridge of the Aig. pe Paigne
  • N. Face of the Aig de Plan
  • Route Major on the Brenva Face of Mt Blanc
  • Forbes Arete on the Aig. de Chardonnay
  • Cassin route on the Piz Badile
and most important of all...

Coming home safely!

Best regards to all of you -I'll post a diary entry when I get back to let you know how we got on. Treefrog
Twin fin swallowtail fish. You don't see many of those these days - rare as gold dust Customs officer to Treefrog

No summer this year, plenty next year (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by Dr Cheeks on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 08:10:02 AM EST

I've spent the time since I graduated (Electronic and Computer Engineering) doing a job I don't much like and getting increasingly jaded with the industry as I struggle to get on a halfway decent career path - it seems everyone's short of staff, but no-one wants to take you on unless you've already got industry experience (at least in telecomms and web design).

So, having got sick of my low wage and 9 hour days, I applied to do a teacher-training course (for high-school Physics, always my best subject @ school), and I start the course in September. Two years time, and I'll be fully qualified, and holidays break down as 2 weeks at Christmas, 2 at Easter, 1 at half term (3 terms per year; Autumn, Spring and Summer) and 5 (yes, 5!) in Summer.

So, unlike this Summer (most of which I've spent at work in a windowless A/C'ed room), I'll get plenty of sunbathing time next year :)


Club-Foot.co.uk - tastes good with tabasco

Summer in the Tropics (none / 0) (#33)
by br284 on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 03:50:40 PM EST

Not wanting to mess with a tight economy, I took advantage of a University-affiliated trip to Belize. I and ten others lived and volunteered as teachers in a small village in the Mayan Mountains. We lived without electricity, running water, and plumbing. We taught summer schools in the morning, worked at a local park [ http://aetherial.nu/5blnp ] and taught English to adults in the evening. During the weekends we would travel on a budget and see much of the country. In my spare time, I did development work (conceptual mostly since electricity was few and far between) on an open-source mapping server specification for my senior thesis.

Now I'm windmilling for the last three weeks of my vacation at home in New Mexico so that I can help my father get caught up on his list of jobs to get done.

-Chris



What I did on my summer vacation | 34 comments (30 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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