mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Am I motivated?

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to be when I grow up.

Well, OK, I'm already all growed up. So it's more, where do I want my career to be in a few years, or how much risk am I willing to take in the hopes of furthering my career?

There are two things that have gotten me thinking about this. The first is a conversation with an employee in another department who is leaving the college I work for to take a position with a private company. He game me some career advice - essentially, get out of higher ed, go into the private sector, and get a job with more responsibility and more pay, and more of a future career path.

I've also been playing with eHamony, the online dating site run by the creepy old guy. One of it's pre-made questions for communicating with matches asks about how motivated you are, career-wise, and I'm not really sure where I fall.

In the past, I've had goals to achieve a certain standard of living - buy a house, buy a new car, ect. I've pretty much gotten there -I have a house that's bigger than I really need, reliable transportation, and most of the gadgets I could want. While I would love to one day own a stupidly expensive car, I don't NEED one, and probably wouldn't be all that much happier with one.

The thing about education is it's generally recession-proof. Colleges don't get bought out, they don't usually outsource IT jobs to save money, and they don't do GE-style "fire the bottom 10% of employees every year" things. Pay tends not to be highest, but there are a ton of perks ranging from free tuition and cheap gym memberships to a generous 403b contribution percentage and lots of holidays off.

Plus, my job has one other perk - I'm hourly. That means overtime. While OT is never guaranteed, I've done pretty well with it over the years. I worked Saturdays almost every week for nearly three years, and right now I'm working nights one day a week, plus the occasional weekend or late-night fill-in. It's not going to make me rich, but it provides some extra cash for the occasional splurge, and it certainly helped me make the downpayment on Casa De Mad. One of the reasons that I get so much overtime is because I work so much overtime - people here know that I will usually accept it if offered, so if they need it filled they ask me. I will also ask managers if they need someone to fill in when it's getting close to a time that it's usually needed, like start of school or finals time. So I'm motivated enough to seek out opportunities for OT, but not enough to leave the bubble of academia.

The other thing is that I really like the people I work with - I don't have much of a social life outside of work, and most of my friends and acquaintances are here - so I wouldn't want to leave and go somewhere else. I've also built up a fair amount of institutional knowledge of how things are done, and a network of people I can go to when I need help.

At the same time, I am becoming somewhat frustrated with my job itself. I work in desktop support, a job I loved as a student when I was 21. Now that I'm 27, it's not quite the same. Sometimes it's interesting, and I do get to meet lots of people. But after a while, it gets boring - most of the work is repetitive , setting up machines, installing software, delivering keyboards to people who spilled coffee in their old ones. Sometimes I feel somewhat overqualified - I've got an MBA, and I'm doing a job that for the most part could be done by someone with a high school education, or possibly by a well-trained monkey.

But that is part of the problem with academia - because it's nice to work in the secure bubble, there isn't any reason for people to leave, and new positions and opportunities to move up seldom come. In theory, now should be one of the best times to move up where I work - we have a new CIO as of last year, we're doing some major systems migrations - but so far there haven't been any real staffing changes or chances to move up.

So what will the next few years bring for madanthony's career? Damned if I know. My guess is one of a few possible outcomes:

-Something finally does come along, either internally or externally, and I move to a job that's more challenging/interesting

-I get pissed off and decided to take a totally different path, like go to law school

-I finally develop interests outside of work, like a social or dating life, and start to not care so much about not finding fulfillment at work.

-I continue to do the same thing I've been doing and slowly go nuts.


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