Tuesday, August 9, 2011


In the eyes of employers, unless a skill was acquired on a job, it is not real. Recruiters don't really care what one has been studying or working on. This has many implications, one being that it is pointless to study any of the programming languages or contribute to any online project such as Mozilla. No matter how much one learns, all of the knowledge is considered to be imaginary. I have already learned a great deal about html and css, a bit of php, and even some javascript, but I have discovered that none of that matters, because employers won't hire anyone lacking on-the-job experience, which puts a damper on any desire to dabble in C, C++, .NET, Linux, or for that matter any other technology. It all seems pointless. Work, study and learn, and it doesn't even matter; so why work, study or learn at all? The time might be better spent reading books, watching documentaries, or playing games.

Another drawback with some compiled projects like Firefox is that they demand a faster system, and I can't justify even $300 to build a new rig, because the expected payoff would amount to nothing besides vanity. The various C-language projects I've studied are highly complicated time sinks, where just getting started can easily take days or weeks. As was the case when I built various web sites from the ground up, I suspect my efforts would remain unappreciated, unrewarded and unnoticed. Many people seem to have the impression that technology work is its own reward. Unfortunately, when individuals do work for free, whether as interns or volunteers, they feed into that notion and help to make it a reality.

I am learning not to to do anything for free. Just last year I refused the request of a pushy friend to fix her computer for free. I didn't regret it, even though I do enjoy doing such work. The fact of the matter is that I resent the implication that I should be some kind of geek slave. If that is so, then I would rather not do the work at all. Of course, her attitude towards me soured. I was no longer useful.

I was pleased to learn about her true nature. So much of what some people say is designed to manipulate others, and it is refreshing when another person's mask drops, allowing a glimpse of the real creature behind the mask. I would have paid a hundred dollars to divine her secret, but she let it slip for free, and I am grateful, as I always am when I discover the truth. It's never good to be deceived about others. It's best to be informed. The more information, the better.

This year, I quit working as an unpaid admin for a web site. The number of hours I put into that site, no one will ever know. Sometimes it was more than forty hours a week. I learned all about html, css, .htaccess, cron jobs, and even picked up php and javascript. Does any of that matter? No. Did it lead to a job? No. That's the reality of today's market.

For the first few weeks, I feared I would miss the prestige, power and creative outlet, but really I didn't miss it at all. Instead I am relieved to be cured of my addiction. I was addicted to work, and what's worse, I was addicted to performing free work, in effect being a slave. That's the worse kind of addiction I know, but it's a hazard to which geeks like me are prone to succumbing. I have an innate desire to be productive, to feel like I have accomplished something in my time on this earth. But it is important to be engaged in proper work, where one is compensated in some way, not necessarily money, but something.

It was a good move to quit the site. I am relieved not to be bothered. No one writes to an admin with praise or thoughtful comments, as beginners often imagine. Instead, complaints and work requests are the rule. All of the things that I worked on were, to an extent, appreciated by anonymous strangers, but the rewards were nonexistent. I received nothing in return, not friends, not helpful advice or comments, not thanks, and certainly not a job reference, and the expectation of the web site's users were that I was a geek-slave, as above, that didn't need any kind of compensation. That is an impression I aim to rectify in all my future dealings.

In reality, I have 10+ years experience coding html and css pages. According to recruiters, I have 0 years experience and am disqualified from all jobs that require html or css. It is like I am living in Soviet Russia, forbidden to work because of the system. If you need a job, then a job will be denied to you. If you don't need a job, then a job will be offered to you. That is the employment market today. Acquiring new skills is pointless. Training in new computer languages is pointless. Knowledge and ability are irrelevant. Around 2005 or so, the job market froze. Those who are in, stay in. Those who are out, stay out. Period. I don't see any way around that brick wall that has been erected in an arbitrary fashion. I'm just glad I have savings, unlike some. I suppose there are many people who are in more desperate straits.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

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