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We could work here for years: Occupations
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Feb 26th 2007

the tech writer path, which is quite lucrative. If you have technical background at all, you could probably make a killing. Seriously. I see jobs for tech writing all the time.

I've been a tech writer for almost five years now, and while I'm not making a killing, I'm pretty comfortable. And I'm not that technical, my writing abilities are much stronger than my technical abilities. It's also relatively low stress and gives me plenty of time to spend posting nonsense on Northern Attack. You could also look at going into a marketing communications or proposal writing role, which pays a little less on average but probably would be a little more fun.

Feb 26th 2007 edited

Purdue: Good school.

It looks to me like you're struggling with the same thing every single college student (and recent--or not so recent) college graduate has to deal with: I call it The Big Lie.

The Big Lie is what all adults tell their children, their students, or the young people they give advice to: 1.) You have to have plenty of money to be happy, 2.)you have to have a "good job" to make plenty of money, and 3.)you have to go to college to get a "good job."

1.) not necessarily true, but money does help 2.) straight bullsh*t 3.) false

College is oversold, to risk understating it. It will not guarantee you a job in and of itself (which I know you're already aware of). It is only worth anything if you want to learn for the sake of learning, especially if you are studying one of the liberal arts.

And if you go out and get a "good job," it will not be what you want it to be, because you're doing what somebody else is willing to pay you for. Even if it is a very well-paying job, you are serving somebody else's needs, not your own needs or desires. To be happy and (usually) to get paid, you have to chart and follow your own path. Thing is, that's a lot more risk and work than most people want to undertake, myself included, I'm sorry to say. You don't need a bachelor's degree to follow a career path that you yourself have invented (unless you just want one, because you want to learn about the world around you before you get out there).

Maybe this is all coming off like "the Michael Scott School of Hard Knocks," but I really think it's the most important thing I've learned in my whole life. I tell my freshmen this at the beginning of every fall, and they look at me like I'm dressed up as a Sith lord. Then I ask them to write a paper entitled "Why am I Here?" (as in "Why am I in College"), and I've yet to meet the freshman who can give me a reason of his own. They have no idea, other than their parents expect them to or they think it's their meal ticket or because "it's the next thing you do after high school." For all of them, it's some external force that's driving them. They're not doing anything on their own yet, which really tells me they should have taken some time before starting college, or they shouldn't ever go.

I realize I'm starting to sound like a lunatic street preacher, so I'll get off my soapbox.

Feb 26th 2007

I realize I'm starting to sound like a lunatic street preacher, so I'll get off my soapbox.

Well, you didn't call anyone a painted Jezebel, so you aren't that far gone yet!

Feb 26th 2007

Well, you didn't call anyone a painted Jezebel, so you aren't that far gone yet!

Heh. "Look at that painted Jezebel, wearing a whorish green dress!"

Feb 26th 2007

I've never heard it described as "The Big Lie" before I fo'get it, brotha . That's a pretty clever outlook/way to put it. Seeing as how I have to get most of my general classes out of the way before I get down to the nitty gritty of writing, I've only taken a handfull of English classes, but I can honestly say that my writing is no better than when I left high school. I guess I am at college because it was not socially acceptable for someone in my position not to go. I mean, I am very appreciative to get the chance to go since most people don't get to attend such a good school, I'm just kind of in a holding pattern right now I guess. Thanks for the insight.

Feb 26th 2007

I'd say that my writing is much better after college than before it, but only because I wrote so many papers that I honed the craft. I don't believe that I learned any writing skills there. I will also say that I would not be able to work as an editor without two degrees because those are required hoops to jump through. Because I like working as an editor very much, I am glad that I went to college. I went because it was always assumed that I would go, but I did enjoy it and I do think I learned a lot. A lot about dorky, pointless things, maybe, but it keeps my brain busy in an environment that makes other people in my situation bored. (My situation is being at home for days on end, by myself with only small mammals to talk to, enhanced to some degree by an intelligent online community.)

But I will emphasize that I love freelancing (temporarily degraded work ethic aside). I never ever ever bought into the office thing. My infant child who doesn't use words yet is better company than most people I met at work.

I heard a radio commentator remark that part of the reason college fees are so high these days is that we are encouraging too many people to go. It's driving up demand. And because people with natural inclinations and abilities to perform trade work are not being encouraged to learn skilled professions, the demand for tradesman is surpassing supply, which is why it's so hard to find good plumbers anymore. I totally believe it. I'm not going to tell my kids not to go to college, but I'll wait until the subject comes up. It really does depend on what you want to do.

Feb 26th 2007 edited

My experience is that there are only two ways to get better at writing:

  1. Read.

  2. Write.

1 is no good without 2, and 2 can only take you so far without 1. But you can't really be taught to write. Everybody who tries to teach you to write is, to some extent, teaching you to write like they do. If you're just looking to express yourself cogently, that's one thing. If you're trying to develop a style, well . . . it can be less than helpful, if you're not careful.

Feb 26th 2007

My summer job is a Junior Level Programmer/Debugger at a small software development firm but I couldn't see my life turning out the way of Peter Gibbons or Jim Halpert so I went the way of the English degree, and have begun to question my choice in career/life every day. I may be a bit younger, but I am starting to feel a little what Tardy Sauce is going through. Any advice/stories/insight from those who are surviving in the real world?

Well, I just graduated within the past year, so I don't have a whole lot of perspective yet, but I have to say that the computer skills of a developer and the language skills of an English major is a pretty good 1-2 punch. What kind of work do you think you'd like to do? What interests you outside the realm of "work?" I have a friend who is about to graduate, and it's stressing him out because he's starting to look for a job and thinking about it as a single decision that will direct the rest of his life. That is not the reality of the situation. The degree you get doesn't force you into anything. And if you're not sure about what you want to do, an English degree is actually a pretty good choice. At least it's pretty versatile.

Feb 26th 2007

KarenM, DwightfromtheFuture and RealBenFranklin, all excellent points.

I heard a radio commentator remark that part of the reason college fees are so high these days is that we are encouraging too many people to go. It's driving up demand. And because people with natural inclinations and abilities to perform trade work are not being encouraged to learn skilled professions, the demand for tradesman is surpassing supply, which is why it's so hard to find good plumbers anymore.

What he said.

Feb 26th 2007

These days I really don't know what I want to do. When I first came to school in the fall, I was pretty set on going into journalism and was almost irritated by the people that still didn't know what they were studying/looking for as a career. One of the liasons to the Dean I met before attendeding school told the group he was showing around campus that he had changed his major 7 times and still wasn't sure if CEM was what he wanted to do. I was sure that I wasn't one of those people, but now I have no idea. English is a pretty versatile degree, or so I've been told, so we'll see how it turns out, but for a career choice right now it could be anything from lawyer to professor to working at a think-tank to working at Vance Refrigeration.

Feb 26th 2007

You are never going to know what you want to do in advance. Sorry to sound depressing, but your first string of jobs is a discovery of what you definitely don't want to do. Until you've narrowed it down you are looking at a few years of dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is not necessarily misery or hopelessness or futility. But if you find that you don't really like what you are doing, it is probably not a character flaw or a defective degree that put you there. And be open to the fact that the work environment can affect your attitude as much as the task. Large companies and small companies are very different, for example.

Feb 26th 2007

I'm coming in kind of late to this conversation, but I do find the similarities amazing (and perhaps depressing). I have an MA in English lit and taught Freshman Comp for a year before . . . going to law school. I enjoyed my time studying English and teaching (sort of--whoever said the freshmen come in entirely unprepared to write has me to back him or her up: I had to explain comma splices every couple of weeks), but, in the end, I went to law school for the 'security/good job' kind of thing. However, I'm close to graduating law school and have really changed my perspective on what kind of job I want. I'm lined up for a judicial clerkship next year (which is basically more school, but paid, and a chance to 'network'--which I hate doing), but after that I don't think I can really do a big law firm-type job. They're just not appealing to me because it seems so hollow. After seeing how the law actually works, and how lawyers actually work, I'm much more inclined to find a public interest job making less money and actually feeling like I'm doing something more than writing briefs and filing breach of contract suits for business A against business B.
The good thing about the M.A., though, is that you can always go back to teaching. And, since more and more folks are getting pushed into college, those jobs keep on cropping up. I also support what KarenM said: you rarely know what you're going to want to do ahead of time. I changed my undergrad major several times (evetually broadcasting), then went to grad school, then to law school.

Feb 26th 2007

You can always sell calling cards. They're the wave of the future!

Feb 26th 2007

Who uses calling cards anymore? Besides, the cutlery business is much more lucrative, and as a bonus you get to decimate pennies.

Feb 26th 2007

I think law school would be really interesting and that working as a lawyer would really suck.

My quandary. A few months ago I had settled into the idea of law school after graduation. Then I started thinking about actually being a lawyer...and I'm back to having absolutely no clue what to do. I'm another English major, so this all is sounding familiar.

It feels like there's a weird job out there that's perfect for me, but I don't know what it is or how to get it.

Feb 27th 2007 edited

Being in law school and working as a lawyer don't really seem to be that different. In both, you're dealing with people who think way too highly of themselves and working on stuff that, in the end, doesn't mean a whole lot.
But there are bad things, too.

Feb 28th 2007

Work Attire! I'm in "business-casual-land" with those lovely extra casual Fridays. Just wondering how many people can go to work in their jammies or who wears a sherriff's uniform to their office...or a suit.

Feb 28th 2007 edited

I have to dress all fancy-like. And casual Fridays are suspended because we're having an FDA inspection. And apparently wearing jeans once a week would make us...not pass an FDA inspection? I don't get it.

Feb 28th 2007

I actually wish that my work gave me more excuses to dress well, as I have a vast collection of beautiful ties I only get to dip into about twice a week. Most of my work could be done completely in the nude, but I find it helpful to get dressed whether I'm writing or book-keeping, even if I'm not going to leave the house. I it somehow helps me keep from getting distracted.

(Isn't there an apple in the fridge? Maybe a Diet Coke? Are the Mariners playing up East? Maybe they're on. I'm certain there's a rerun of last week's Arsenal-Blackburn match, maybe I'll watch that. For fifteen minutes. An apple -- a Diet Coke to wake up -- the Blackburn match. I'll be back in the chair by eleven thirty. I wonder what they're talking about at Northern Attack? Do I have enough stuff for dinner?)

Feb 28th 2007

Methinks someone's still in their jammies.

Feb 28th 2007

Jeans and t-shirts (and occasionally football jerseys). Woo-hoo software companies!

Feb 28th 2007

The what do people wear at work question reminds me of something about The Office that's been in the back of mind since the show started: do they show all the men always wearing ties, and often times full suits, as a way of drumming into the audience's head that the show takes place in a work environment? I've worked office jobs for about 10 years now and can count on one hand the number of times I've worn a tie. It definitely makes sense to wear a suit for an outside sales call, but if the job is all internal work, there's no reason. Lots of the men never even take their suit coats off, which I would find incredibly uncomfortable. Is the work dress code in the Northeast still more formal than it is here in the West?

It's a pet peeve of mine when people in TV shows and movies are dressed in ways that don't match the situation, I always notice it. Maybe that should go in the Quirks thread.

Feb 28th 2007

I suspect it's a thematic choice: The more they're in shirts in ties, the less we feel like they're really at home at work. It also seems like they would probably have a Casual Friday. Oh wait, they do, don't they? We just never see it, other than for one punchline (Michael's jeans). Anyway, I think it's supposed to make us feel slightly uncomfortable.

Feb 28th 2007

I suspect it's a thematic choice: The more they're in shirts in ties, the less we feel like they're really at home at work.

That makes sense. Wearing a suit and tie can feel oppressive (at least to me) and working at Dunder Mifflin is supposed to be oppressive.

Feb 28th 2007

Admittedly, as a girl sometime I see really cool looking neck ties and get "tie-envy." I would probably have a neck-tie rotator...if I had the need for neck ties

Feb 28th 2007

Girls can wear neck-ties. Look at Diane Keaton.

Feb 28th 2007 edited

Having ties (and suits) is definitely a choice they made to emphasize the "work" environment. However, it's one that is completely within the realm of normalcy. Maybe DM has a corporate-mandated dress code. Also, I think the casual Friday reference with Michael's jeans was kind of a one-off for the sake of the joke. There have been plenty of other Fridays that we've seen. For example, in Email Surveillance they are clearly leaving for the weekend (and I've gotten that impression from other episodes). Also, having a casino night seems like the kind of thing you'd do on a Friday (and if I was going to get dressed up after work, for a work-related event, I'd definitely take advantage of casual Friday), although we just had a poker night on Tuesday, so who knows about that one.

edit: Oh, and if they had casual Fridays, wouldn't that have tipped off Dwight that it was only Thursday?

Feb 28th 2007

Girls can wear neck-ties. Look at Diane Keaton.

Or Avril Lavigne. Never mind.

Feb 28th 2007

everyday's jeans day for me, and last time I wore a tie, someone died.

I find shirts with buttons oppressive.

Feb 28th 2007

I usually wear pants and tops. Except on Fridays.

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