03-24-14 - Jobs I Would Like

Alternate reality career paths. Now that I'm older I realize that the important thing in a job is not what I thought it was when I was younger.

One issue is that no matter how interesting your actual work is, if you do the same work all the time it just becomes "a job". It becomes a grind. So, some random things that I now think are super important in a job :

Getting to work outside. Getting to move around, walk, use your body as part of your job. eg. not a computer job. Nor manual manual.

Who you work with. Working on a team is fun. Collaboration is fun. Being stuck in a huge team with bosses you don't like sucks. Corporate structure and beaurocracy is just awful and dehumanizing no matter how great a corporation they are.

Human contact with a variety of people. eg. not just other male nerds of your same age group. At least in video games, you get to work with artists and designers and such that are a little bit of a different demographic, which is interesting. But ideally you'd get to meet males and females, with different skills and backgrounds and so on. Young people are important because they're full of life and energy; working with old people all the time sucks because they're all cynical and grumpy.

A career path where you can transition to owning your own business. Or some other way to gradually work less or make more money. You don't want a job where it's just grinding the same work all the time; you need some kind of transition to the "old man phase" of work. The ideal thing is the type of job where just being senior lets you get extra pay and less work.

Some excitement; some competition, some deadlines. Maybe external force that shakes up your work periodically. Occasional but rare crunches where you really work hard and then get some feedback.

Perks. Side effects of your job that benefit your life. "Life" being the aspects of life that aren't just work and maintenance. Like sex, friends, fun, just being alive in society. So there are lots of jobs with great life perks. Being a doctor lets you self-prescribe and gives you sexy skills; being a cop lets you live semi-outside the law, like you can beat up someone who mouths off to you; being a lawyer lets you threaten anyone you don't like with lawsuits; being a musician makes you sexy and gets you special access to the musical world; being a cook lets you hang out with other good cooks and meet waitresses; if you're in construction you can work on your own house cheaply, and trade work with other people; etc. etc. Lots of jobs have great lifestyle side effects. Lots of jobs let you do things that ordinary people don't get to do. Those are huge values.

Anyway, some ideas for me in particular :

1. Obstetrician . After having a baby, this one just blew me away. How fucking incredible would it be to be an OB? You get to be a part of the most intense and exciting moment of most people's lives. You have these occasional big moments of excitement (births) that are very hard work and stressful and then you either get a good or bad outcome. Immediate feedback is fantastic. It seems like awesome good fun.

2. Race car engineer. I love the idea of a technical job where you get to actually compete and test your work. My way is better than everyone else, and I want to go out there and race and prove it by winning. Again you get great feedback, periodic big crunches. When I was young one of my fantasy jobs was to be like an NFL offensive coordinator or something like that; something where you get to sit around and theorize and develop play strategies, then you get to actually go out and try them and see them at work. Amazing.

3. Electrician. Rather more modest, but as an adult I see that the basic trade jobs actually look pretty good. You can work for yourself, set your own hours. You get to meet lots of different people, but you don't have to work with anyone shitty if you don't want to. The pay is decent and there's a very easy transition to owning a business and eventually working less. The main downside I see is actually the commuting all over town to go to jobs; I hate commuting. I picked electrician instead of other trades because non-scientific people are scared of it, and there's no body-beating mechanical labor.

4. Marine biologist. When I was a kid "marine biologist" was the silly stereotypical dream job that was used in sitcoms and such that like the unattainably cool hot dream girl would have. At the time I thought it was ridiculous, but now I see yeah, it is a dream job. I would also go for something like zoologist, geologist. Any job where you are doing sort of sciency work, but you get to go out in the field and actually walk around. You get to travel, breath fresh air, go on location, and then write a paper about it; how fucking fun! Let's be realistic, these people just like to take hikes and go scuba diving and such, they do it on the taxpayer's dime, and that sounds great to me.

5. Lazy professor. My brother told me about this idea and it blew my mind. When I was young I was on the "be a professor" track. But it was motivated by trying to do something special, to discover a new truth of nature, to work on the big hard problems at the best school with the best advisor, to have a theorem named after me, all that. In the end I couldn't handle the intensity of that track and dropped out. At the time it never occurred to me that there's another option. You could just be a prof at some minor school. Teach classes, publish occasionally, but nothing too significant. You're never going to win a nobel prize. It's a nice comfortable job; college campuses are usually beautiful places to work, you get an office with windows and pretty flexible hours; and you get to work with grad students, you get to see people learn, which is all very stimulating.