Work, life and other detours

Community: as the title says, this is a getting to know you thread. It isn’t meant to be an expose or a competition of who has the most successful life. If you don’t want to share, then don’t. Also, don’t disparage someone’s story. We have enough toxicity in certain threads. Please think before you speak.

I am at the bottom most rung even though I am not exactly young. For all of my life, I have been taking care of my parents and had tough life circumstances, so I have never gotten a chance to build a career. Since my dad died, I am at square one with nothing to show on my resume. I don’t know how to enter the job market. It seems daunting and noisy. So, I hope not only to get to know you all but to be encouraged by and learn from your experience, both the good and the bad if you are so inclined.

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And what would that mean?
There is a world of difference whether you are 42 or much wiser…

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden
– old and wise –

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My advice is: decide what you want to do then start working your contact network. Its all about who you know. Be willing to take a position to get your foot in the door.

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Based on the fact that you are entering the work force later than most, here are a few thoughts:

  • Inventory your skills and capabilities, and take note of any for which you have certification or other proof of you ability, and any which are rare.
  • Try to identify several areas of work that you believe you would find interesting, and do some research to determine whether the reality matches your imagination.
  • Look for areas where your skills and your interests meet.
  • Take full advantage of the job listings you can find online.
  • Evaluate your level of willingness to relocate for a job.
  • As Mica suggests, be prepared to take an entry-level job (or even a short-term internship) to get your foot in the door.
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Hello @afre

As Mica suggests, be prepared to take an entry-level job (or even a short-term internship) to get your foot in the door.

Yep. I think this is the most valuable suggestion.

This being said, given the amount of skills you have showed with your posts on this forum, these past years, I am 100% confident you are going to get a job, for sure, sooner or later, in your country (Canada, I suppose…).

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My advice: just do what you like to do. There is no point in studying something that you don’t like just in order to get a job. At least that’s my experience.
Also, you have been doing a lot for open source graphics software. I don’t think it’s true that you did not work anything so far. It was probably no payed work but it is work. I think this is more than a hobby. So you should write that into your resumé. Maybe someone who you have been working with in this community can give you a letter of recommendation?

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I agree with this; when first I graduated BSc (Comp Sci) I was unable to get an entry-level job - say at a supermarket or a department store - because everyone knew I was overqualified for it and just wanted an income until something better came along. Moreover, on those occasions a job that matched my skill-set - experience in Banking and a CompSci degree - either nepotism favouring another candidate, or reverse nepotism disfavouring me - came into play. I have a pretty rare surname outside of Germany, and my father was fairly senior in international services in one bank in New Zealand, so having the same name made other banks disqualify me.

Skills do matter, but having the opportunity to place your resume in front of the right person matters more. Contacts. I got a great position (albeit the other side of the world) because my godfather (yes, literally, my baptismal sponsor) put my resume in front of a couple of his friends.

@Afre, use LinkedIn to build a professional network. Revisit relationships with those with whom you shared mutual respect in the past. Personal endorsements by respected professionals can go a long way.

Do let us know how you get on, and if we can help in any way. I am sure there are many - like me - who would be pleased to endorse your expertise, helpfulness, and good communication skills. Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Then post a link here.

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I guess you all saw past my cover story and went right for the topic. :stuck_out_tongue:

Okay, this became longer than I expected. I am an honest transparent guy. I don’t know if I overshared. Hope prospective employers don’t see this as a weakness if they happen to dredge the site for my bloopers.

Skill #1

Having trouble with this first part. I love to do many things and constantly discovering more!

My awesome late dad was good at that. I am polar opposite. The people I know are mostly toxic or unhelpful. Would sooner help an anon than me. As a result, I have social anxiety and bottom barrel self-images. A PTSD level triggers. Being on this forum certainly helped me cope a little better.

That backfires on me. I have the heart to do things for other people and to teach myself new things but when I do do them I don’t get any credit, references or allies because I later learn that I am actually unwanted there. My contributions are often much deeper and richer than what the others have done, so much so that I could teach them a number of things. What a waste. Well not exactly, I still acquired many skills along the way, but there is no way to prove that I have them, nor do I have opportunities to refine them. Not only they aren’t given, I always have to fight for the right to do things. I think it is about control and the abuse of power.

My willingness to try to get a foot in the door almost put me in a bad job. I have been taking care of my parents for most of my life and I figured that I could probably do personal support worker jobs well. Almost went to the interview for a private job and sign the papers. (I think the actual interview happened before the scheduled one.) Anyway, I realized in the nick of time that I would be underpaid for what is a high risk job based on my talks with the client. Impression-wise, the client might have been a good employer but then he is offering the wrong position to underpay the prospective employee. He may have good reasons but that is a big crimson nonstarter flag. I am not insured either. Good thing I fell out of my stupor of wanting a job.

Speaking of being PSW, it is a poorly paid position. Pays like a babysitter: minimal wage. Even during the pandemic. The one I sought was $5 more per hour but only 8hr/wk high risk duties. The nursing home my dad lived in for many years I think pays 1.25x the amount but the environment is toxic. People don’t do their jobs, or worse hurt the patients and get away with it. In contrast, I always do my best without compromise: I would end up shouldering the entire team. Not a good fit for me. In any case, if I get a PSW cert (10 months and I have to pay for it of course), which I probably don’t need in principle since my skill set is hovering around RN or above, it would open up a door. Not a very big one. Negligible pay difference if any. Just a much higher chance of finding a job.

That is my first hurdle. Every single position fitting my diverse interests I see on the job search site requires at minimal certs and on top of that experience. The certs don’t mean anything to me because I know they will teach me what I already know. They are a waste of time. Some certs can take 2 years to complete. I don’t want to do them but I guess I will have to to be competitive. Cost and time is a factor because I am halfway below the poverty line. There is a lot of risk associated with that. It is a game of deciding what certs to do and whether I should just leapfrog and get real training or a degree that actually means something. But then, school is just school, it is the connections and provable experience that matters, both of which I lack, or at least I think so.

Another challenge is having permanent disabilities. Took many years before I could receive government support, which puts me halfway below the poverty line, but it has allowed me to take care of my parents 24/7 and volunteer on the side to preserve my sanity. It is a hard way to live, as I have to spend it on others and rely on the local food pantry to survive. The disability plan has a brutal policy. When I have income, it deducts from the following year. Not the same one! So whatever job I get, it better be easy on the disability and reasonable on the wallet otherwise I would burn out and be left with nothing the following year.

And there are other extenuating issues. I am generally not a complainer, so I won’t bore you with the rest.

@elGordo Good advice. Common sense but I like the nuance to it. Preparing resumes and applying for jobs certainly helped me with the exploration of your points. Still early days; there is much to learn about myself. The challenge is that I may be giving myself a bad name because exploration makes for a bad applicant. I am full of uncertainty and sound like :poop:.

@Silvio_Grosso Thanks for the vote of confidence. On most days, I am only at 10-20%, so I can look like a fool here. I do try to put my best foot forward in spite of that for people whom I try to help because that is my passion.

If it were so easy. However, it does ring true given the circumstances. The worst thing I could do for myself is make life worse than it already is. The trouble as I said above is determining what to study and what I am preparing for. Once the investment is made, it will be harder to pivot second time, since all the cards would have already been cast on the table.

Wow, that would be awesome if anyone could do that. As I said above, I have lots of people around me but most of them are toxic and almost none of them have ever helped me in the years or decades they have known me, so I rarely get any help at all, esp. when the going gets tougher than usual.

And yes, how can I not write this site as a resume item, and G’MIC. They are more than a bullet point. I love the community and you all. :kissing:

Secretly, I sometimes dream that the forum godfathers would give me an official (honorary) designation (e.g. mod status? :sweat:), so I am not just a random user. This would actually help lots because I have no background in whatever it is we and the mods and admins do here. It would be a foot in the door for those respective interests and industries. Maybe more than an honorary role: an in-training one would be worth more to me. I don’t know what the powers that be think of or could do for me. Not to butter them up, I think they are awesome. Some of them are the reason I am here, because I was their admirer from before the forum. :blush: No, I am not stalking them. :joy_cat:

@martin.scharnke Yes! Nepotism is the name of the game. (I kind of appealed to it in my preceding paragraph. LOL) I have met people who make referrals and recommendations all the time for everyone they know—except for me. It happens all of the time in all settings. It is quite unfortunate. Always the stick but never the carrot.

This I can’t get from job applications. It is all a faceless keyword based format now. Or pooling but never chosen. Back in the day, people used to be able to take any entry job, work hard and climb the ranks. Well, not everyone was so lucky, but it is nearly impossible now.

No, I don’t have a LinkedIn profile. I am generally a cynic toward social. Whenever I happen on a profile, I often see inflated egos and connections. :sweat_smile: My profile will probably be so sad that the visitors would leave in disgust. But I guess it is yet another way in. Better to be mocked then to not have tried.

Your G’MIC diaries show how you can think about, implement and present algorithms. Ask yourself if you would be willing to do this in other languages. Since you understand the concept of programming, learning Python, C and so forth should present no big problem to you I guess. Computational Imaging is a big field, people will see the value in what you bring to the table.

I once found a Venn diagram stating that your perfect job is at the intersection of:

  • what you like
  • what you are good at
  • what is useful to the community
  • what people are willing to pay for.


(source : Finding Your Life’s Meaning: A Quest to Discover Ikigai – PEN August 2017 – Pensights | Performance Excellence Network)

Most people fit usually 2 conditions, some lucky bastards 3, and very few assholes get the 4.

Now, you are a product on a market. What you sell is your workforce. You can either sell it on the low-end market (getting poorly qualified workers for the smallest possible wage) or on the high-end market (getting the more qualified workers for whatever it takes to get them interested), or anywhere in-between.

So, what do I get when I hire you ?

  • Someone who is capable of learning by himself,
  • Someone who knows some maths and programming,
  • Someone who is patient enough to care about others more than himself,
  • Someone who doesn’t suck for recognition and resume… which is good until you need to show a portfolio of stuff you have done. So it’s bad for marketing.

Maybe start with building a portfolio of stuff you have done and contributed to, and write down the skills you had to use and the skills you learn.

Once you put that in a list, it will be easier to market you and make you attractive as a worker.

Work done properly (meaning, not the current employment bullshit where everyone needs to be busy with a job for the sake of being busy with a job) is solving problems. People hire you to solve problems they couldn’t solve themselves, either because they don’t have the time or the skills.

If you don’t solve problems, you are likely to be replaced with some robot or AI in the next 10 years, and you will be treated like cattle in the meantime. But if you know how to provide solutions to problems, then you are invaluable because no computer can do that (yet). Next issue being making that value recognized on the market, which involves putting your skills upfront and your portfolio to support them.

Then, the biggest issue is to not undersell yourself while not looking like an overselling prick. But it’s easy with a portfolio because you can stick to the facts: in that project I did this and that, helped people that way and learned these skills.

And finally, well, as already said… It’s very much about connections, getting known, giving and getting business cards, but there are nuances to that depending on fields.

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Afre, you sound like an amazing person. The world needs more of you, and you will be a blessing to the right company. To go through what you have, in such a selfless manner, without recognition, is highly commendable. But of course, the world has gone to shit, and people don’t know know how to appreciate each other any more, so many won’t see it. That’s their loss. It may feel like your loss, but you have retained your soul, and they haven’t, so it is certainly their loss. Many in this world who look like they are winning (with lots of wealth, material goods, status, etc…) are really losing, and vice versa. Feeling alienated to me is actually a sign you are sane, given how toxic the place is. Makes it harder to fit in, but who would want to fit in? With your experience you can be a shining light to many.

How not to hate yourself, every waking day:
Don’t do a job you won’t like. You don’t have to be ecstatic about it, but you do need to somewhat like it.
Don’t work for a company you hate. You don’t necessarily have to love them deeply, but you at least have to be comfortable with the products/services they are putting out to the world, and their general ethics.

That will narrow down your choices. Next, choose something you have talent for. Your field is narrowed again. Next, eliminate those with bad hours, pay, location, travel, etc… Your field is further narrowed.

Now you have a narrow field, and all the advice others have given us good. Resume, references, portfolio, networking, etc… After that, all you can do is try, and there is no shame in missing positions. Apply for jobs and network. And when you miss out, try some more. You only need one job, not one hundred percent success rate on jobs you apply for.

Also, gravitate towards those who you like being around. It sounds like you are unlucky enough not to have experienced that much yet, so it should be high priority. Lousy jobs can be made much better with good colleagues, and vice versa. Not always possible to know before applying, but something to keep in mind.

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Thanks everyone. Common sense prevails but good to hear it framed in different ways.

Despite my disadvantages, I have this going for me. Helped me in school and the care of my father. The issue is dealing with obstinate folks who have an awesome CV but have no ability to solve problems, esp. in my dad’s case, where his life was on the line all the time and I had already offered better solutions.

While I can appreciate this narrative, it isn’t helpful, esp. for the downtrodden. It is positive thinking to be sure but one that does mental gymnastics: it doesn’t address the pain. Usually, it tears the soul more to resist abuse and tragedy than to acquiesce.

Well, I am the downtrodden, I am in pain, have been for many years, and it helps me. It isn’t mental gymnastics if you sincerely believe it, which is obviously where we differ. Given a choice of two extremes - to be corrupt and have lots of material wealth, or be free of corruption but in pain with little wealth - I would choose the latter. And I don’t say this naively - I know what it entails, I have lived it. I can sympathise with your position, as I also used to be negative and cynical, and its a hard hole to climb out of. But how do we address the pain? What is the source? In my opinion, two ways, internal and external.

Internally, the flow of love is supposed to go like this. God > Us > Others. Whereby, if you believe in God and believe he is good, you try and spread the love to others, without seeking in return, as that fits your principal on the best way to live (it’s possible to do this without belief in God, too). But we live in a very atheist world (I used to be one) and even believers feel like God has abandoned them. So what happens is more like this: God | Us < Others. Feeling disconnected from God and the spirit, we seek love from others. If you get it, you are likely pretty happy and feel like you don’t need God. If you don’t, you are crushed. It becomes this: God | Us | Others, where everything is disconnected, like a wall between us all. If no one is giving, and no one believes, then everyone is crushed. (For the record, I do not belong to any religion). In this situation material wealth can only ever be a kind of distraction, a short term happiness. You have no real connection to anything, but you have some toys. Toys were fun to play with as a kid, but as an adult they’re not enough. Some people live their whole life trying for constant distractions, never addressing the real source.

Externally, the source is the wealthy 1% who are globally connected and own all the major banks, corporations and governments, and have done for millenia (it’s easy to trace their genealogy to prove this). They didn’t get their power by being nice guys. They create wars, create depressions, use the media as a giant propaganda machine, ruin food sources so our health suffers, corrupt the “treatments” and “cures” so our health suffers more, lie about everything, give all the top positions in every industry to people in the families, promote bad science, bad art, bad everything, divide and conquer and generally do whatever they can to make us all broken and miserable. Then, when culture has been destroyed by all this, people are messed up and treat each other like shit. Welcome to the 21st century. So what can little old I do to address all that? Well there are things I can do: turn off the tv, reject their media, change my diet, get out of the city, not listen to any of their recommendations, refuse to work for their companies, or buy any of their products, and make sure to communicate these things with others. That’s a great start, but their reach is so invasive its almost impossible to achieve completely. After all, I am typing this on one of their machines. Does this mean we are inescapably destined to a life of doom and pain? No, because try as they might to manipulate us, we can always take back control of our mind and soul. We can always choose to be the opposite of everything they stand for, like love, peace, gratitude, care, truth. I don’t claim to be perfect, I make mistakes, I have bad days, I know how hard it is when you and everything around you is broken. But it is the light that makes it all worthwhile. It is appreciating the good things there are that makes it all worthwhile, and if you pay attention (and put/remove yourself in/from certain positions) there really are a lot of them. I wish my pain could be taken away instantly, life would certainly be better, but so long as that is outside my control, I will do what I can.

One thing I mentioned in my previous post was gravitating towards those you like being around. It is much harder to walk the path alone, than to walk with others who are likeminded. The world can change amazingly when you find your people, which it doesn’t sound like you have experienced much, thus might make it hard for you to appreciate my point. Currently I am not around many people like me and it is hard, but I have been in the past, and just the memory of it provides fuel. Some others have also suggested following your heart to do what you love. If you haven’t done that before it sounds rash, impractical and insecure, but it is another thing that can invigorate you in unknown ways. If getting some kind of job is indeed following your heart, then thats perfect, you are taking the right step. Be persistent. Don’t give up. You will get a job.

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It is clear that I triggered you. Sorry about that. I believe you misunderstood what I meant. I was not talking about giving in to the dark side but rather that resisting it doesn’t leave one unscathed. In fact, the injury is often grave and unrecoverable. The key is being able to live with your lot in life while being hopeful.[1] Yes, God is good. If you want to talk about faith, I can do that with you in private.


[1] This is super important because as we have innumerable examples of nowadays we can have the other extreme. Those yelling at others into submission. While I empathize with justice related movements, one cannot spend all of their life being angry. The anger must be directed to something wholesome, that which builds people up, not drag them into the pits. Perhaps, I have already said too much, angering all sides. :sweat: I tend to do that because I like being reasonable. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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I understand this sentiment :laughing: But I am neither angry nor triggered, just open to discussion. I knew you were not talking about giving in to the dark side exactly, but you mentioned ‘addressing the pain’. To do this, one needs to know the source of the pain, and I seem them as a major source, hence why I mentioned it. Resisting certainly doesn’t leave one unscathed, but whether or not it is ‘unrecoverable’ perhaps depends on your definition of recover. If it means return as before, then yes, it can be unrecoverable. But life is always progressing, and our bodies always aging, so I don’t see ‘returning as before’ as the goal. It is an impossibility. But if it means ‘able to move forward peacefully’, then I think it is recoverable (ie. peace is what we are trying to recover). I like a lot of the other things you say.

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[edit: poor choice of words] I have to push back on this and I am done. Some things are definitely irreconcilable, at least on this side. Saying less would do injustice to many around the world who have less than us or have lost their lives due to harm.

You have an antagonistic tone, so I will also leave it here. But lest anyone think I was being insensitive towards that, it is quite the opposite. Indeed, the idea it is recoverable will give many hope. If they don’t believe that, where is their hope? It is also no injustice, because there is a difference between what can be recovered, and what has or will be recovered. Obviously, for those unfortunate souls, it was not recovered. But that doesn’t mean recovery was an impossibility, only that they lost the drive. I make no judgements on them, my heart goes out to all who are suffering. I know it all too well, 'tis a challenging planet.

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Sorry about the tone. By I am done, I meant to say that we are getting off topic.

I am seeking to clarify and I am sure you didn’t mean to be dismissive either. I just feel it is unfair to make determinations for other people. Different people suffer differently. There are heinous crimes that cannot be made right on this side (only God, if you believe that he is just, can take care of it). The key is to remember those who are suffering and walk alongside them, the ones that are still alive.

I’m honestly having low morale over job search. Long time chronic fatigue, and then I ended up having severe insomnia which is no sleep for about a week, and that badly affected my sleep for months. All of this means my resume looks bad because of years gap, and there was nothing I could do as no one believes this. The pandemic also did not help.

I am experiencing the same, though insomnia has been a chronic problem for 2 decades already. :sweat_smile: