I was wired to work 50-hour weeks, and then came the big economic downturn of 2009. At the same time that my job was phased out, it was clear that my kids needed more help at home. It’s been more than three years now but their absence during the summer months has made it very clear that I need to do something more productive with my free time. It seems that the Universe is telling me to go out and find some type of work…
Over the past years I have constantly checked the want ads in my chosen field—architecture. If there is any way to gauge how the economy is doing, just check out the construction-related classifieds. Within my 20-year career, there have been three major downturns with the last one still going on. Not only has the job volume dwindled down to almost non-existent numbers, salaries were slashed in half, and then for good measure slashed again.
I had a decent run at it for a while, but I truly feel sorry for the kids coming out of school today. They get to work hard, make nothing and, at the next sign of an economic dip, say goodbye. I recently ran into one of the most talented guys that I had ever worked with and felt like I wanted to help him out!
I don’t want to be so pessimistic about architecture, it is truly a beautiful discipline to study and embrace, but as a profession, she is a brutal mistress. There is a lot of feast and famine, and the feasting isn’t so great and the famines are much too long.
So I decided to look at things that I am passionate about. I have always had an affinity for Apple computers, so let's check in with them. I got an Apple IIe way back when I was a kid and have been an Apple guy ever since. However, with all their awesome new stuff, EVERYONE wants to work at Apple. Well, that is everyone who wants a cool job in a retail/service/tech field. Apple has hiring events that you get invited to after an initial screening, and once you get the invitation you better act quickly. The events fill up faster than a free concert in Central Park…a free concert with Springsteen and the Rolling Stones warming up for a Led Zeppelin reunion!
As I search the Web for different jobs in different vocations, it’s clear to me that I want to enjoy what I’m doing. Why should that be such a luxury to have, or is there some type of strange perverse conditioning that you have to be miserable while at work? I, too, have been down that road, and trust me, it’s not too much fun watching the hours creep by. As I scroll through jobs, I notice that even traditional hourly positions are now classified as “careers.” I appreciate the nomenclature but I’m not really looking for a career at The Container Store or Dicks Sporting Goods—I’m just looking for a part-time job.
I have always been an excellent employee and an even better coworker. I put 100 percent into whatever I’m doing and very seldom question authority—out loud that is. More importantly I am respectful and nice to people that I work with and I NEVER eat other people’s lunches, unless it is something really good, like a sandwich from Melt in White Plains!
All this searching has brought me to the sober realization that there are a lot of people like me out there, who for one reason or another, have seen their original career paths hit some type of sinkhole with no visible signs of that path on the other end. Trying to find something else and getting rejected for being either too educated or too old for a particular position.
It is not a fun place to be but the eternal optimist in me will continue looking and keep my options open. I encourage anyone else in the same situation to keep trudging along.