EmploymentFilter: Tired of rat race, how do I create my own job?
March 4, 2007 3:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for advice from people who have escaped the traditional 9-5 rat race, and/or created their own job/position.

So here's the deal:

(bunnycup's post from earlier today about "working/conforming to "The MAN" got me thinking about this----Thanks Bunnycup :)...

I'm 33 (will be 34 this june)... for the past 15 to 20 years, I've been working the traditional 9-5, rat race, middle class, paycheck to paycheck type jobs. During and after high school I worked in a restaurant (started as dishwasher, worked every position in between and ended as the head chef / manager). In 1996 I followed some of my geek friends advice and started doing tech support, which I've done with some success until about 4 months ago when my 10year "career" with the same company came to an end. (long story we dont have time for now, but basically they farked me over.)

In any event----I'm tired of being a "wage-slave". I'm tired of sitting in a cube. I'm tired of "TPS Reports" :)... I'm tired of throwing all my energy into jobs/projects that give nothing back to ME.

I'm a very hard working and creative/resourceful person. I'm the type of person who throws everything they've got into a job because I'm a perfectionist.. and I want to be excellent. (this often times puts me at odds with other co-workers who just "punch the clock"... AND .. management who are typically clueless and out of touch.) My friends often describe me as a "renaissance man" full of ideas.. but I'm finding it hard to "connect" with the right type of nurturing enviroment. ( IE--I havent found a job yet that will give back to me as much as I put into the job. Please tell me those exist SOMEWHERE)

So MeFi'tes... I'm having a mild crisis of faith trying to figure out how I go about finding (or creating) the job of my dreams. (I'm currently self-employed (took over a PC Support business from a friend) which is great, but not very dependable as far as $$$ goes.) I've contemplated the notion that the city I live in is to "traditional" and I'd be best served to move somewhere a little more "modern" (chicago, san fran, nyc,etc)... but to be quite honest, I've got no money (in fact am about 20k in debt at the moment).

Sorry for being "Tolstoy"... I'll stop now and you can ask me questions as we go along.
posted by jmnugent to Work & Money (19 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 

A little additional info:

I got pretty good grades in high school, but did not attend college for any reasonable amount of time. (1 semester at a community college, but I dropped out) Now that I'm older, that is biting me in the ass, and I'd LOVE to go back to college, but like I said, paying off my debt has to come first.

The "no degree" thing really kills me in interviews and resume, however I'm not quite sure I WANT the types of jobs where they judge you on what degree you have. I'd like to work in a small and dynamic/vibrant company that values independent thought and creativity, but (like I also said) this city might not be that place.
posted by jmnugent at 3:31 PM on March 4, 2007


It's easy to commit to the drudgery of a 9-5 without taking a step back for a moment to think about what it is that you actually want from life. Seems to me that you did just that -- got stuck in a job that was overly comfortable and excelled. I'm sure that it was rewarding and worthwile at the time, but it seems that you are now realizing that your job did not provide you with enough room for personal growth.

For some people, part of finding the right job, or for that matter, part of living a fulfilling life is trying things that are way outside of their comfort zone, failing and moving on. On the other hand some people are happy with marching towards a goal from an early age and not deviating much. Seems that you are the former.

I'm sorry that you didn't figure this out sooner, but hell there are many people who wait until their 40s and 50s to have the same sort of epiphany. My advice would be to you that you should stop making excuses about not going back to school if that is both what you'd LOVE to do and also what seems to be holding you back. $20,000 seems like a lot of money right now to be in debt, but I know plently of people who were in the $50,000-100,000 debt range straight out of school.

Go to a state school, take night classes, try a bunch of subjects and figure out what it is that you want to be learning. You'll be happier for it. Even if it costs you time and money, it'll be rewarding but not without hardship. If you don't go now, the inertia will be that much harder to overcome. Can you move in with a familiy member for a while? How about a student loan? The interest rates are low enough so that it will probably be the best investment that you will ever make. Go somewhere where you don't need a car. Ride a bike. Ditch your cell phone and cable TV. Live somewhere a little sketchy if it means that you can save a couple hundred bucks a month on rent.

It's time to be selfish -- push yourself hard. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 4:22 PM on March 4, 2007


Argh, sorry for the multiple typos. I should add that if you fail, it'll be a couple of years down down the drain. But if you never try, you'll be left wondering what could have been for the rest of your life.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 4:29 PM on March 4, 2007


( IE--I havent found a job yet that will give back to me as much as I put into the job. Please tell me those exist SOMEWHERE)

There are. I know a lot of people who have dependable jobs, but are also partly the masters of their own destiny and get as much out of their jobs as they put in. However.. they are nearly all in very small technology companies, where making a difference is rather easy as long as you're willing to put in squillions of hours and take on a lot of risk. Big companies just don't offer those benefits.

The "problem" with most of these jobs is that you either start the company with other people, or get hired because someone in the company knows you or because you're famous in your field.
posted by wackybrit at 4:30 PM on March 4, 2007


The way you talk about your coworkers and management ("clueless," "clock-punchers"; getting screwed over by the man) and wanting to take charge and be in control really reminds me of my friends and relatives who run their own businesses. They may not "play well with others" and have little patience for bureaucracies and paperwork, but they do really well with a one-person shop.

So knowing only what you have written, I think that the closer you can put yourself to being a sole proprietor, the happier you will be. It's not the lifestyle for me (too much stress, sometimes too much isolation) but for the right person, the rewards are really good. My friends are really happy; I like dropping by their shops to chat; and they seem to be doing well financially (but I don't know the details).

I think that these sorts of business either need to be "virtual," such that you connect to clients by phone and computer and you can live anywhere, or you need to become very embedded in your community --- figure out long term plans for building a client base, local suppliers, etc. Personally I wouldn't jump into a move to a city with a high cost of living, and try to start a new business, when I was starting out deeply in debt. But it has probably been done, many times.

The one thing that my friends who own their own businesses have in common is that they worked like dogs for the first few years. Hugely long hours, and then sometimes a second job to have family health care or just for the extra paycheck. If you don't want to work that hard, keep the 9-5 gig, where you can clock out and go home and play video games. I mean, I can't even begin to describe how hard they worked; much harder than I've ever seen anyone in graduate school or the corporate world work.

Good luck!
posted by Forktine at 4:32 PM on March 4, 2007


|n$eCur3
"Can you move in with a familiy member for a while?"

Already did that. When my job f0rked me over, I could no longer afford my 2-bd apartment. I (literally) threw away pretty much everything, and am now living in my brothers basement. Thankfully (at the time of losing my job).. I paid my car off. So the only bills I have to speak of are my 2 Credit Cards (about 10k on each one).. which means I have to make about $1000 minimum each month to pay those payments.

"How about a student loan?"
I'm looking into that, however because last yeat (2006) at my "good job".. I made about 40k.. I doubt I'm going to qualify for any good student loans. (plus I still owe some back taxes for the past 3 years or so).

What I'd like to do is just "slum it" for a year (make ZERO $$).. so that would qualify me for some great financial aid, however that plan doesnt solve the credit card debt problem. So I've pretty much resolved myself to the fact that best plan is to be creative and push my self hard and get the CC's paid off (and try to save a little for school)

Yes,..I'd love to go back to school, and now that I'm more mature, I think I'd really excel at it. Just trying to get all my "ducks in a row" before starting that..
posted by jmnugent at 4:35 PM on March 4, 2007


Wackybrit/Forktine
"I think that the closer you can put yourself to being a sole proprietor, the happier you will be."

Actually, that is what I'm doing. "(I'm currently self-employed (took over a PC Support business from a friend) which is great, but not very dependable as far as $$$ goes.)"

Problem is.. thats only barely paying the bills. Some months are great..other months I make 0$... not very dependable.

I've got a project "in the works" that I think might make me some pretty good money, and I like the fact that I have time and flexibility now to develop some of my ideas..I just wish it was moving faster.

Its not that I'm lazy.. or that I dont want want to work. It just seems like no matter where I go.. there are games to be played and I have to wait on people to "have meetings" and alot of business/partnership decisions are based on who is friends with who and what they can get out of it. I know that often times business is like this.. it just frustrates me that I cant just jump in and get shit done.
posted by jmnugent at 4:40 PM on March 4, 2007


That's why I suggest you might try to either elevate your status in your industry (or even pick what that is, being vague on what you want to do is a real killer I've found - finally!) enough where getting a partner-level job with a consultancy of whatever kind becomes practical.

Working for yourself can be very much 'keeping your head above the water' unless you're ultra turned on in many disparate areas of business or have extremely good luck. With a little time, almost anyone can get to the point where they earn the same being self employed as they did at their full time job, but it's not as easy as many people make out.

From people I know who've gone solo, many have found the relative isolation (not just social, but in terms of discussing your business) extremely tough to deal with.

As someone above said.. push, push, push, and be selfish. You can't afford not to put yourself at #1 but you need to throw in the crazy hours to do it. (If anyone's proof that this can work, it's me - and about a thousand other MeFi readers. I "work" 90 hours a week. I barely notice because I love working for myself that much.. but I've been self employed for seven years and only in the last two have I made significantly more than I did at work. For three of them I made about half!)
posted by wackybrit at 5:56 PM on March 4, 2007


Thanks WackyBrit
I appreciate your candor in sharing your personal experience. I'm sure you are right.. that I just have to continue to PUSH and be selfish and do whats right for me. I hope it doesnt take that long to get back on my feet, however I'm prepared to do what it takes if it does.
posted by jmnugent at 6:01 PM on March 4, 2007


I can sympathize with your situation. In 2004 I returned to Canada after running my own business in Japan. At the time the business my wife and I were running was stalling, and we thought it might be time to get out and return home (I had been in Japan for ten years, working as a corporate trainer and college instructor before running my own business for four years). The things I have learned over the past three years in North American - marketing, managing relationships, strategy - would have been very useful when I ran my own business in Japan.

We came back with $30K in savings, which lasted us the first year as I contracted in the smallish government town where we live. The second year was spent being half unemployed and building up credit-card debt. This past year has been spent working like crazy as a contractor and getting out of debt.

As a contractor, I rely on government funding for most of my money. I work for a non-profit on various projects, and I make about as much money as I can negotiate from the funding agency. The strategy is to know how much someone can sign for, and to pitch a project that is small enough so that they don't even look at your hourly rate. For example, for one project, I knew that they usually funded multi-million dollar, multi-year projects. So I pitched a 40K project, and it was easily approved.

I also worked on getting multiple revenue streams. I also translate for a client with deep pockets. But it took a year or two to set up that contract, and it required extensive networking. A contact in the rural village where I live was friends with someone who runs a busy creative agency in Tokyo. It was hitting a bullet with a bullet, but I was shooting out lots of bullets.

So, I guess to sum it all up, I went looking for people who could pay the rates I needed to meet my financial goals, and I also never stopped networking. To tell you the truth, I would prefer a 9-5 job, but it just doesn't pay enough after taxes. The sole-proprietorship route is good for tax breaks, but I currently have funding for another two months of work, and have to somehow create a massive proposal in order to start the next cycle. It would be nice if I didn't have to worry about the next contract all the time.

I have paid about $30K in debt over the past six months. I work about 80 hours a week. I am getting tired...

$20K in debt is a challenge. I am 35. I do not recommend earning $0 for a year to qualify for financial assistance as a strategy. If you were really serious about running your own business, you should focus on your core competency - network maintenance - and work like hell to expand your business. The key is scaling up. There are probably plenty of people (dentists? car dealerships?) that need your help. Hire some younger folks to work for you. Build up the business. Start generating more cashflow. Once you have succeeded and learned what you need to know, then launch the business that you're really interested in.

A rule of thumb: anyone who owns a small business like a bookstore or whatever can maybe clear $50K in income. Not a hell of a lot, if you ask me.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:02 PM on March 4, 2007


Grow your business. Instead of viewing it as PC support, look to grow it into a consulting business. You could develop several income streams -- application implementation & support, project planning, business analysis, training, instructing or even documentation.

If you're concerned about stability, try taking on a side job. I'm a marketing consultant. I also teach at the college level because I like the social interaction, the chance to give back and the stability of income, even though it doesn't make up a huge part of my earnings. I also sell guides and run a blog that earns decent Adsense revenue. And some of my clients have me on per diem, so I at least know what I'll be earning in the next six months, on some level. That way, I can take the risk and go after the jobs that pay three figures per hour. :)
posted by acoutu at 7:47 PM on March 4, 2007


I have been an entreprenuer and am in start-up company now (different ventures). Yes, the downsides are risk and non-stop work (70+hrs a week). Plus, if you work from home, it can be socially isolating and hard to put work away or to have your home be a relaxing place. Its just good to know all the downsides before you get in.

I highly recommend this book

Its a hefty book with lots of interactive worksheets/Q&A to help you figure out your strengths and passions.

As you probably know...this is a big decision. from my own experience, its best not to rush into it and really take your time figuring it out. this book might help give that figuring out time some structure and direction.

Also, if you decide to go the sole prop way, its a good idea to do a thorough financial analysis (maybe barter/trade with an accountant to help). You may be passionate about your idea or company, but if its not realistic...

oh-and if its a totally different career move-meet and interview people in that field to get a feel for what its really like and if you can imagine yourself enjoying that job.

good luck!
posted by hazel at 7:51 PM on March 4, 2007


Would you say it is more about getting joy and satisfaction out of the job you will be doing, or more about doing the job to support getting joy out of your life? I have a job that I get a certain amount of satisfaction from, but more of the satisfaction comes from being able to easily support my family and getting 6 months off a year. I guess it's that whole thing about the folks/teachers pushing the old maxim "get a job that will make you happy" vs. "get a job that will allow you the maximum happiness when you are not actually at the job. I decided to balance the two, and that's the line I took. Because in this world, there's an awful lot of poor bastards who have to deep fry the onion rings and mount and balance the tires, and there just ain't any way of getting away from that fact. God help you if you have to work the drive-thru at BK.
posted by Nabubrush at 8:16 PM on March 4, 2007


For the past few years I've been working part-time doing PC technician and network admin stuff for a couple of local primary schools, while doing private PC support on the side for beer money. It doesn't pay much, because I don't charge much; the going rate for IT support means that it's economically unfeasible to spend the amount of time usually required to get the job done right, and I'd much rather see the job done right than done half-arsed.

All of my business now comes to me via repeats and word-of-mouth referrals, which is a lovely place to be. When I was just starting out, though, I printed 500 business cards, and when I'd just done a job for somebody I'd leave them with ten cards and ask them to hand them out. That got me an initial customer base, and I haven't felt a need to hand out any more cards.

I didn't have $20K of credit card debt when I started, but I did have an $23K mortgage, which is now down to about $18K. If you can find some way to move that credit card debt into a lower-interest form of loan, you should absolutely do it. Credit card debt is Teh Suxx0r5.

The small but regular wage I make from the primary school jobs means I'm never totally bereft of income, which is nice, and my job satisfaction is at least as high as it was when I was doing embedded systems programming for serious money.

Hang in there. If you're not getting enough business, drop your hourly rate and hand out cards. It's better to be working for a pittance than not to be working, because (a) it gives you time to get jobs done thoroughly, which makes your customers happy, which gets you more custom and (b) you're out meeting people and building a network instead of sitting on your arse in your brother's basement, which will get you precisely nowhere.

Best of luck!
posted by flabdablet at 11:03 PM on March 4, 2007


jmnugent, I'm concerned that you don't seem to be planning much for yourself in the wider sphere. Your comments indicate you are focused entirely on paying off your credit card debt, but you're putting nothing into replacing whatever benefits your old job offered, and that leaves you with some serious exposures for health costs and injury/disability, which you may feel aren't big items at the moment. But they can become so, at any instant, human bodies being the fragile things they are.

Beyond that, you're not showing much understanding of financial topics, and that is going to bite you worse with each passing year. Whether you like finance as a topic or not, failing to master the basics is a prescription for personal disaster, long term. You definitely need to study the topic, or at the very least, get involved with an accountant whose recommendations you'll actually take as gospel, and follow, to the letter, if you don't want to understand finance yourself. No one can live on a $40K salary with $20K of credit card debt, and having that kind of credit rating is increasingly becoming a barrier to employment, as more and more employers make personal credit checks a routine part of pre-employment screening.

As to particular strategies, I've worked to diversify my income situation, as I've left the corporate world. I still do some specialized database consulting for old friends and clients, but that is a declining part of my income. I represent some foriegn firms in very specialized products, through business contacts and relationships I developed more than 20 years ago. I also sell consulting and investment services for a network of senior business and investment advisors to very wealthy people. Each of these activities took several years to get going, but each is lucrative in different ways, and independent of one another in terms of business cycle. Some weeks, I work 20 hours. Some weeks, 100. Many weeks, I go on vacation. The key to all of them is identifying underserved interests in very small niche markets, and working assiduously to deepen such markets, and become recognized to a network of people in those areas. Nothing that I do would be possible by passing out business cards, as probably 90% of my business depends on personal recommendations and introductions. I often spend 100+ hours developing and qualifying a new client, before either I or they decide to actually do business, which means that I need to derive substantial benefit from each new client that I do take on, and that my business relationships are not of the retail variety. So, none of my strategies are going to be directly applicable to you. But I will say that one of the things I most enjoy about this balance of activities is the opportunity they afford me to see the fruits of my efforts develop over time. Nothing pleases me more than becoming more valuable to clients as my relationship with them develops over time. So, to answer your most basic question, "...Please tell me those exist SOMEWHERE ...", yes, they do. :-)

What I'd suggest you do is

A) Develop your network of advisors and professionals substantially. You need help to formulate a good life plan, and Asking here is not a bad first step, but it is hardly the best strategy, as we can't know you personally. Find an accountant. Find a primary care physician. Find a librarian (really, a good librarian is an invaluable personal advisor). Find some business people with similar businesses and personal issues with whom you can network, if through no other means than attending some Chamber of Commerce functions in your area, and going to some civic service club breakfasts like Rotary, Lions, or Kiwanis.

B) Look for affordable occupational and vocational testing services, which are often offered at community colleges and universities near you. If you've never taken some of the standard personality and interest profiles, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or been screened for learning disabilities, reading deficits, or other disabilities, consider doing so, as a part of improving your tool set for self-management. If you suffer unknowingly from mild dyslexia, for example, and don't understand that, a plan for educational success is likely to founder, on a problem you may have, but don't appreciate, that is emminently manageable, if you acknowledge it.

C) Pursue your education, immediately, not as some long term goal. This needn't mean immediately enrolling in college, but you should be actively visiting institutions in your area, doing pre-evaluations, checking admissions requirements, and talking with current students and perhaps faculty and staff. You may also find that community adult education programs are useful in exploring alternate skill interests, at low cost, while building your network of people. Such programs are often taught at local colleges or high schools as evening classes, and cover a wide range of topics and interests from photography to personal computing, welding, auto repair and even gardening. For someone who has been out of school for years, they are often a good way of re-acclimating to a classroom environment and schedule, at low cost, with little or no risk. You can't really "fail" such classes, and yet accomplishing them in good fashion can be very rewarding.

D) If you're serious about developing or operating your existing business, or particularly starting a new one, you must write a credible business plan, and you must show that you can manage successfully from a business plan. You will interest no one in helping you develop your ventures, particularly bankers, investors, or potential partners, without such. You can get excellent free help in this from organizations such as SCORE, but the benefit you derive depends entirely on the effort you put forth in developing and working your plan. Serious, tenacious people get help from SCORE that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees if they were to purchase it at normal consulting rates. Conversely, if you don't appear committed, and work to justify the time spent with you, SCORE folks can and will shed you like rain.
posted by paulsc at 1:46 AM on March 5, 2007


Thanks Paulsc.

Your advice about long-term planning and finances is good advice, and your intuition is correct. Growing up my parents taught me virtually nothing about either topic, so I am very bad at them. I'm trying to break out of that cycle, but its difficult.

I have picked up a "life coach", and I do have some "peers" to talk to. I do have a financial advisor (for a 401K that I didnt even know I had) and will have my 2nd meeting with him this week.

I have checked the local community college, and paid them some back dues I owed them from many years ago to "clear my account" so that I can return there as soon as I am ready.

On the job front, I have also joined the Chamber of Commerce, in fact I am supposed to have a 2nd meeting with them this week to possibly even get hired by them to work on their website and help them create an interactive city-businesses map. I've also contacted 3 or 4 different marketing and business management "guru's" who live/work locally to see if they would sit down with me for a meeting or three to "coach" me..

Like I said above.. my family history is very poor when it comes to long term planning and financial knowledge, and I definitely want to break out of that, and go back to school. I've got about 10k in my 401k..so I'm going to try growing that so I have something to retire on. Part of my frustration is I hate living in my brothers basement, I've lived most of my life on my own 2 feet, not having to spend every day asking for help.. its very humbling.
posted by jmnugent at 6:47 AM on March 5, 2007


however I'm not quite sure I WANT the types of jobs where they judge you on what degree you have.

Dump this mindset. First and foremost, it's just going to make you unhappy to embrace this line of thinking. It's like thinking less of the wind for blowing - it's so common and beyond your control that there's no sense in wasting brain cycles with it.

Second, college degrees are a way businesses determine if a person can set an external, non-essential goal (unlike, say, holding down a job so you can draw a salary, which most everyone has to do to survive) and do what's necessary to achieve it. It's not purely a "he has a degree so he must be better at XYZ" thing.

Similarly, if you want that Dream Job you need to start looking into things with more subtlety. You took a job in a field because some geek friends suggested it and then you stayed in that job for a decade, almost a full third of your life. Gratifying careers don't just happen, they're a constant process and require effort. You need to look at what satisfied you in that job, what didn't, what miseries can be expected to just be a part of any job and what could reasonably be expected to change, what was within your control and what wasn't.

You may be best off working for yourself; I think it's a great experience for anyone who wants to do it, regardless of whether it turns out your suited for it. I wouldn't undo my time being self-employed for anything and it was a pretty painful experience, success-wise. You might also be best off finding a company - perhaps a small company - where you are happy with the culture and duties and feel appreciated.

Personally I think the most important thing you can do is get a job and get that debt under control. $20k isn't a mountain in the larger picture but if you're at the point where you're paying 29% because you're in default (which seems very possible based on your work situation) then every day you postpone getting it under control could add years to your payback time. Once you have a regular income you should look into credit councilling such that you can get the interest rates at a decent level if they've already suffered from universal default.
posted by phearlez at 11:44 AM on March 5, 2007


I think you're in the perfect position to consider looking for work at a university. It doesn't sound glamorous (and isn't), and it's not exactly an escape from working for the man. However, it offers a distinctly different spin from the normal corporate environment. Everyone's pretty much in the same boat, so you get a lot fewer big promises followed by higher ups reaping all the rewards (par for the course in the biz world). Instead, you have a fairly steady working environment with a layer of bureaucracy that's easy to ignore.

There's a huge need for tech support people, and you can pretty much pick your environment. You could be the solo tech support person for an academic department, filling faculty/staff IT needs more or less on your own. Or you could be part of a helpdesk environment (or run a helpdesk), or work supporting very specific hardware/software. There's all kinds of work in between, offering various degrees of autonomy. There's also a lot of latitude to move between jobs, and it isn't looked down upon to change positions according to your likes and needs. While the top positions require degrees, there are often formulas to substitute experience, and the degree requirement is an HR thing rather than a personal bias you'd run into.

While pay isn't great, I think $35-45k might be achievable for tech support without a degree at many schools, depending on region and area of specialization. People often assume the pay is worse than it is, but schools have had to raise salaries to draw people away from business. And the big part is, of course, benefits. Health plans are pretty good and you might be included in a pension plan. Hours are often strictly 40 hrs/wk. I've heard of a lot of people doing consulting on the side without it being a big deal. It's not a bad environment for building contacts for later work, either. It sounds like you need the income from steady work for now before jumping into full time consulting (which can be really, really rough, especially without a solid business/money background). Allocations of sick leave, vacation time, and holidays also tend to be extremely generous. >25 days a year for just vacation and holidays is typical. This would give you even more time to study or build your own client base. Or just sit around and enjoy the quiet.

The biggest thing is, of course, edu benefits. Universities usually will pay for you to go to school there, or maybe even at neighboring schools, for free. How many credit hours will vary, as will the requirement for time worked before the benefit kicks in. Some schools will pay tuition from the day you start. 6-8 credit hours, so 2 classes plus a lab, would be a common benefit. Another plus is that it's very common to USE this benefit. Most people use it, have used it, or intend to do so someday. Therefore, there's a ton of latitude and flexibility for taking time to go to class or even getting time off to study before finals. This is a huge contrast to the "real" world, where asking for flexibility can be a sign of weakness. Interest in education is honestly valued, and not just as an empty requirement. Showing initiative in learning is often rewarded, even for study outside of your area of work.

I really think this would be a good option in your situation. Stable job, stable benefits, and school provided. My guess is that you'd find any difference in pay (and there might not be any) would be made up by the paid tuition. If you're really serious about going back to school, I don't know of a better way to go. You'd finish more slowly than if you quit working and went back full time, but that doesn't really sound like a solid option for you. If you don't have a good university locally, you could relocate near a school that you'd like to attend after finding a job there. Private universities will pay a bit more but will be a little stingier with tuition benefits (possibly). I know at least some schools have a really hard time finding tech support people, so I honestly urge you to give it a try.
posted by pekala at 5:45 PM on March 5, 2007


I quit my tech job and moved to Berlin to pursue my music career. I made a tiny fraction of the money I had been making, but I literally wake up every day with a smile on my face. I find that doing what I want and being in control of my own life makes me a lot happier than any amount of money ever could.
posted by atomly at 8:00 PM on March 5, 2007


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