Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




$75K-$100K/year to McDonald's Not Possible?

I have a question for the group - you often see the flippant reply here and other places to posters worried about their jobs or whatnot of "get used to saying 'Do you want fries with that?'" Has anyone *actually* made that transition?

After I got laid off over two years ago from a senior developer position at the last in a  series of dot-bombs, I applied to bookstores, grocery stores, Home Depot, etc. - in short, almost everything except McDonald's or Burger King. I never once received a callback for an interview, and the one time I could get a hiring manager to talk to me, he said, "Are you insane? You made more money last year than I make in 3-4 years! Why should I hire you? You'll just be gone in two weeks when the job market recovers." True, but the market never did....

So, has anyone ever done this, and how did you go about convincing them to hire you?

Michael Ealem
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I think it's better to be unemployed and search for jobs full-time over six months, than to be marginally-employed and search part-time, which has a risk of being hardly at all.

Mr. O
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Mr. O: But after what a lot of us put up with in our in-career jobs, I have to imagine an (ostensibly) low-stress job seems very tempting; something where you may or may not be swamped at work, but when you clock out you *know* no one's going to be calling your cell with some sort of pseudoemergency-that-only-you-can-handle.

A lot of people don't really mind being stressed at work; it's the stress about work at home that gets to them.

In other words, for those who are young enough that they don't have to ulcer over their finances, there's definitely an argument to be made for it.

The tail of the "g" in "fog creek software"
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

McDonalds is a fun place to work.

Pay is crap, uniforms are too tight, but so much fun.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

<< but when you clock out you *know* no one's going to be calling your cell with some sort of pseudoemergency-that-only-you-can-handle >>

oh yeh? <tingle>"Sherelle's called in sick, can you come in?"

- Read the wAL#$%@mART hire contract. Unpaid hours should be yours.

trollop
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Aussie Chick,

Only the female uniforms, and from what I have seen only at stores with male managers.

Of course I am not reading anything into that apart from standard company policy...

Chris
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Bookstores are really fun to work at (especially those super sized ones). You never get any time to read though, and it is a lot of work.  It's fun talking with all kinds of people.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Uh, nobody's answered the question, "How did you convince them to hire you?" My contention is that going from a high-paying technical job like EE or programming to McDonald's or Walmart or digging ditches doesn't happen - they won't hire you in the first place!

Now, does anyone have counterexamples where you went from a high-5 or 6-figure income to minimum-wage? And what age were you when this occurred? And what did you say to convince them to hire you?

(This entire question came out of an argument with friends whose answer to my money troubles was, "Get a job! Go work at Walmart - they're always hiring!" Riiiiiight.)

Michael Ealem
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Just don't tell them about the other jobs.

Read "NIckel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0805063897/002-9253567-3571243?v=glance
She didn't have any difficulty getting a job at Walmart.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I've read "Nickel and Dimed" - a good book, worthy of discussion elsewhere and elsewhen. But the author was essentially working "undercover," and in no real danger of actually being homeless and destitute.

>don't tell them
But I have this nasty habit of telling the truth when someone asks me what my past jobs were, and they tend to get bent if I decline to say.

But again, my question is still unanswered.

Michael Ealem
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Nickel & Dimed is a good book & I recommend it to everyone. Especially *before* you lose your high paying job. One of the great points, to me, was that even though she was college educated and an author for... I forget the magazine, but a well respected one, nobody ever felt she was "too smart" to be working at Wal Mart, or as a maid in a hotel, or any of the other jobs she got.

There was also that famous article of the CEO of a dotcom that ended up as manager of Gap somewhere.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

If you're such a stickler for the truth, that's probably why you haven't found another good job in the past 2 years.

Everyone that you're competing with, including myself, is lying.

Sap!

Mr.Fancypants
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The stupid thing about not hiring an "overqualified" person for a low-paying job is that those jobs have such high turnover anyway.  How often do you see the same person last in a retail or fast-food store for more than 6 months?

Next time they say you're going to leave quickly because of your qualifications, challenge them on their turnover of less educated/less experienced workers.

T. Norman
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

But you will have to go there to apply in person and ask to speak directly to a manager.  You won't be able to challenge their preconceptions by sending in a resume or paper application.

T. Norman
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Your experience just confirms that unemployment is not necessarily a consequence of people overpricing themselves. Like that manager told you, they know that you'll flee at the first opportunity, so they'd rather hire someone who has less opportunities that you do, and cut down on the amount of time spend interviewing people.

Fred
Tuesday, July 27, 2004


I would recommend a weekend job that people do for extra cash or a job where niche experience is appreciated, even if not compensated.

That leaves:

1) Be the "Computer Book Guy" at a big bookstore like Barnes and Nobles, or

2) Weekend Pizza Delivery Driver.

You can make $10-$15 per hour (including tips) as a pizza delivery driver.  The hours are bad:  Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights when most people are out going to parties.

They are also hours you can continue to work if you got a day job. 

Don't tell your new boss how much you made previously, and talk about how you just want to make some extra $$ to help pay the bills.  After a few weeks, ask to go go full time. :-)

I'm not sure about the full time bit, but I've seen people pull off everything before it.

Another good bet is to try gas stations, do _not_ include a resume, and be purposefully vague on the application.  Don't lie, just be vague.

I haven't had to make those choices personally, but I did work a lot of $5-8/hr jobs in college.

A few more thoughts:

1) Try manpower when they are looking for an "MS Access" specialist.  These are short-term gigs that pay like $12-$15/hr for a week or four.  Usually writing queries.  The company can't find anyone to fill those slots (they don't specialize in technology), so they find you, and all of a sudden you can do all the work that couldn't fill before.  Pretty soon you are either at the top of thier list, or, better yet, hired in somewhere at a better pay scale. :-)

2) Try "freelancer" type sites like elance.com.  Start building a portfolio.

3) I hope this isn't a troll. :-)

Good luck,

www.xndev.com (Matt H.)
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

when I was laid off for six months last year, I cashed out my 401k and pension from my previous employer in order to avoid working part time.  It's MUCH more important to devote all your time to finding a job in your own domain where you can be compensated to the degree to which you are accustomed.  If you are absolutely on your last dime, look into unemployment compensation.  After that, worry about getting hired at McDonald's.

I was able to find a higher paying job than the one I was let go from after 6 months of not working, after quite a frustrating parade of dead-end interviews and go-nowhere conversations with useless headhunters.

muppet
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

>>If you are absolutely on your last dime, look into unemployment compensation.

What do you mean by this? This is the _first_ thing that you should do if you're eligible. Cashing in 401k's should be your last option (since you now owe tax on the money as well as paying a hefty penalty).

RocketJeff
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

In response to the OP

1. Don't tell them how much you earned

2. Work through agencies
In the UK, there are a number of these warm body agencies. The clients will call them and say that they need 10 warm bodies for the agency to supply that day. You get to be one of them. Some will try and keep the same people serving the same clients, but you get the picture... just good for people between jobs etc.

I know folk that have registered with them in the morning, and received calls in the afternoon to start working. Shit money, but possibly still better than McDonalds (who needs a pension plan when you are in it for a couple of months), AND no interview process. A lot of them will just ask for ID and make you fill out a form. No CV required.

The work is normally pretty bad! Packing CDs. Packing orders at Amazon. Packing airline food. Garbage collection. Counting traffic. Etc etc.

Tapiwa
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

>How did you convince them to hire you?
I wasn't able to. In 2003-2004, I spent a total of 12 months unemployed.

Only walmart even called me back, but I think they didn't like the answers on the honesty test they make everyone fill out. The questions all seemed to ask the same 2 questions: do you steal (no), what do you do when your manager steals (turn the rat in). They must have asked those 2 questions about 50 different ways on the multiple guess test. The impression I got from those questions is that they want managers to go home with a full trunk of loot every night, and the grunts to be totally honest.

It was pathetic that even places with "help wanted" signs did not even interview me when I applied. Change your oil? Tires?

Peter
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

RocketJeff  -

in my particular case, I had a major attack of pride and decided that unemployment compensation would be my last resort.

muppet
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

> unemployment compensation
Exhausted as of January this year. I'm selling off my library (including my programming books, most of which are on Safari now) and old family stuff on eBay, and teaching Argentine tango, all of which brings in considerably less than minimum wage.

So far, nobody on the board has said they've actually done it, although some interesting suggestions as to how it might be done. So it looks like the next time somebody throws out the "do you want fries with that" line, I get to call bovine fecal matter.

Michael Ealem
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

It seems as though you need to change strategies in your job hunting, although clearly it's late in the game for you.

Why are you resigned to working retail or worse?  Maybe you're too severely limiting the 'tech' jobs that you feel you can apply for.

I shotgunned my resume all over the damned place when I was out of work.

muppet
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I don’t think that you will find somebody who has done what you are looking for.  Those jobs just seem to be the LCD term when looking employment.  The two terms commonly used are being burger flippers and working at home depot.  I have also heard the expression "I can always dig ditches".  That is all great considering if someone is hiring for those positions.

If it makes you feel any better I think there was a story of a high paid white collar worker who could only find work as a handyman.  I think he was in FL and it was on one of the evening news broadcasts.  Lou Dobbs does a good job of covering the misery for American Workers.  If you watch him enough you are bound to find what you are looking for

AnonX
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

If you're not smart enough to figure out how to get hired by McDonalds... how in the world did you reach a salary of 75-100k?  Seriously, I don't get it.

almost anon
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I think it's a troll, plain and simple.

muppet
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I don't think the guy is a troll. Being a technical genius doesn't mean you have good skills for interfacing with the common world, in fact often it is a detriment. I mean the guy couldn't figure out how to write an effective resume for applying for work in a blue collar job. How many of the university professors have we had in computer science and math who would be able to feed themselves if they got fired. Surpisingly few in my case.

Christopher Diggins
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Hmm... just tell them you've been travelling around working a bunch of bar jobs for the past 5 years or whatever.  Scruff yourself up a bit, but not too much. I dunno. It's gonna have to involve lying at some stage.

Matt
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I second the poster who recommended temp agencies.  Personal experience: right after I got out of the USAF, my ex-wife (who has a Ph.D.) and I needed to bring in some cash while we were resettling in this country after several years abroad.  We contacted a few agencies picked at random from the newspaper and we both were sent out on assignments immediately (in my case, I went to the agency in the morning and was on a job that afternoon).  Now, as has been said, it was crap work (I think that first assignment was stuffing envelopes) for not much money, but it WAS work, and fast.  I worked a variety of assignments for the next few months until I landed a (terrific) permanent position, and my ex-wife was kept on at the first office she was assigned to until she too found something permanent.

I had done this between leaving college and entering the USAF, too, and both times it offered plenty of flexibility re: taking or refusing assignments - in other words, I didn't find temping to be any impediment to conducting a serious job hunt at the same time.  Agencies, and firms hiring temps, generally understand you're probably looking to move on when you can

Plus temping gets you out of the house and meeting people, and I know several people who have parlayed temp gigs into permanent positions.  Foot in the door; it's all about the networking; yadda yadda yadda - cliched but true.

If you go this route, I'd recommend talking up your skills with standard MS-Office apps.  Being able to type is (or used to be) a huge asset, too - it seemed like a lot of the best-paying assigments went to people who could type 35 wpm or better (the agencies I've dealt with will test you on this stuff).

And finally: my friends who have temped long-term usually have their names in with two or three agencies at the same time.  I never had to do this because both times I temped I found plenty of work at the very first agency I went to, but I know several people who have found this useful.

One caveat: all this was in the urban Northeast (DC, NYC, and Massachusetts).  I don't expect my experience would apply to anybody in a rural area.

So: it wasn't flipping burgers, exactly, but it worked for me.

- former car owner in Queens
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

>how in the world did you reach a salary of 75-100k?  >Seriously, I don't get it.
By being good at fixing other people's problems - I specialized in bug search-and-destroy and maintenace. One contract gig at JC Penney involved coming in and tracking down a serious bug in the NT services that comprised their point-of-sale systems. They  had thrown contractor after contractor at the problem for months, and nobody could find it. I found it in a couple of days - led to a two-year, $50/hr gig with them.

I'm good at fixing things that are broken, quickly, and figuring out legacy systems so they can be changed. I can't seem to find businesses that want that skill set anymore. Oh well - looking in the wrong places, I guess.

> troll
Pot calling the bloody kettle black....

Michael Ealem
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

>in my particular case, I had a major attack of pride and decided that unemployment compensation would be my last resort.
I did that in 2001. I had this fantasy that I could wait out the slump. The other fantasy was that my pride was more important than collecting unemployment. By the time I realized I needed to file for unemployment, I discovered that the folks who laid me off reported me as still working for them (although at $0/month) for 3 months after I got laid off (it was a trick they did to cut down on their unemployment insurance claims). That, combined with the delay in filing meant that my first unemployment check arrived at the same time I landed a new job - 7 months after getting laid off.

End result of too much pride in filing for unemployment: car reposessed, got so far behind in mortgage and home owners dues that my house was foreclosed.

I stayed with friends last year with my possessions in storage. I was not able to sell them as they are in another state, and several times came close to being sold at auction to pay past due charges. This last time, I used up my lifetime unemployment benefits with the state of Florida.

I applied every place I could. The people who were getting hired were teens-low20s or 60s+. No one seemed interested in hiring 43 year old men. It was not a matter of desire, (in)ability to communicate or anything else on my side.

The economy is messed up, and the idea that you can always flip burgers or dig ditches is a cruel hoax.

Peter
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Just remembered another anecdote (more directly addressing the OP's topic): my cousin was a network admin for years with a large hospital/research center in Boston.  He left there for a better-paying job at Lucent just before the crash.  He was laid off and was then unemployed for over a year (during which he hunted for another tech job without success).

After his unemployment ran out, he got a job at a big greenhouse/nursery to do grunt work (he likes gardening).  After about a week they realized that he was a) smart and b) had IT experience, so ever since then they've had him working indoors cleaning up the mess created when a previous CIO-type had purchased a gold-plated purchasing/inventory system that was WAY-overkill for the place (about 100 employees and the management has aspirations to do a lot of business online).

So, after a rough & discouraging patch, things have worked out pretty well for him.  YMMV, but I've seen firsthand how things can look bleak but turn out all right after all.

Three additional thoughts:
- Believe it or not, we're not too far away from the time when lots of retail places start adding help for the holiday rush. I have a friend who works at Fortunoff part-time every year starting around Labor Day.
- Back where I used to live, UPS was always ALWAYS hiring for their warehouse.  (I heard stories about how tough it was to work there, and I know that at one point they were busing in workers from 40 or 50 miles away.)  This was some years ago, so again, YMMV, but if there's a big UPS distribution center near you, maybe it's worth a phone call.
- Because a lot if it is shift work, I think airlines sometimes have trouble getting ramp workers.  I know one guy (in his 40s) who transitioned from an office job (real estate) to working the ramp at Washintgon National - no prior experience; he just applied and they took him.

Again, none of this is "flipping burgers" per se, but it *can* be done.

- former car owner in Queens
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Michael,

I would downgrade my resume. don't mention your degree and make the jobs you list look like you were tech support rather than development. Don't lie - just leave out details as to most of what you did. I don't know how to handle the salary thing though. Maybe instead you could tell them you are sick of IT and making a change. Or better yet, make eye contact, chit chat, get hired.

Overall though i want to say you should look for ethir a stealth IT job where you can secretly upgrade your job over time by fixing their systems, or a no-IT job like working for some government office where you just chill out all day long and work on yor own shareware project or read books on architecture.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Here's a thought - try applying for jobs that many people use as part-time jobs.  For instance, I once had a (gasp) newspaper route.  They hire all kinds of people - many of which have a "main" job, or are working through some financial difficulty (just had a kid, etc.)

Temporary seasonal gigs are good, too.  Malls, the post office, etc. all tend to hire temps during holiday seasons.

And there's always the option of going back to school and being a career student.  :-)

A Programmer
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Norman made a great point on the turnover thing - if they say they are afraid you'll get bored and leave, ask them what their turnover is and give your personal assurance that you will beat that average and improve their turnover statistics.

Regarding the Nickle and Dimed beek, it DOES answer your question Michael so don't say that no one is answering it. And lying is not necessary either - downplay previous experience. If they do ask you directly, answer them honestly. No big deal. If she can get hired by WalMart so can you and I am starting to think the experience would be a good one for you.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Can't you just say you're hoping to open up your own store/restaurant someday, but have zero experience and want to start at the bottom and work up? I can't imagine that would be a lie for anyone, because who wouldn't kind of want to own their own place.

Dave
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Dennis,
> Nickle and Dimed
Sorry, I didn't phrase that appropriately - I was interested in hearing if other JOS respondents had gone through a similar experience and what they did.

> experience might be good for you
In what way? Reply offline if you'd rather, but I've done my share of grunt work in hospitals (VA hospitals are horrible places to work in the trenches), research tech jobs, scut work, all 25-30 years ago. I'd just as soon not go there again - getting close to 50, and the warranty has already expired on the knees and back.

Michael Ealem
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I didn't mean it to be disparaging you in any way or suggesting you haven't paid your dues.

Having a crap job is good to stay in touch with the people that's true.

But more importantly in your situation, taking a crap jobs can blow out the shutters in a way and give you a fresh perspective. It can be so annoying and so discouranging that your creativity will swell from within and pasects of your personality you didn't even know about will come to the forefront. You will become filled with insights and you will see the path to get back on track with your it career. In some way you are blocked right now. It's not the market, since that is picking up. There is something in your life blocking you from finding and getting the job you know you want.

Sometimes the only way to move forward is to take a step backwards.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

And I'm just throwing that out there - you started by saying your friends were telling you to work at walMart and you didn't want to do that, so I'm just pushing a little in that direction to see what you say.

Your situation sucks - you are having to  sell off your possesions, I assume you might be at risk of losing your house. This stuff can cascade into relationships too, I hope that's not an issue but if it is, then you really are at high risk of being homeless. You've had a long career in IT so we have to assume you are competant and able to do the job, so that's not it. Maybe your age is working against you, that's possible but even knowing that that might be an issue doesn't help us solve the problem.

I don't know the solution here, there is nothing cut and dried. What are your skills? What are the specific problems getting hired? What about the temp job route?

I have had low points, but it sounds like you're doing worse than I. However, I do have a friend who had to atke a job welding chicken cages after the dot com implosion. He never recovered his IT job after that. Instead, he mortgaged his house, bought a commercial property before his credit rating caught up with his unemployment, and started an elite private school. I'm not saying you should do that, but that's the sort of weird direction you might come up with. I do know that he found himself mightily inspired to come up with ideas when he was welding those chicken cages.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Oh, on the ditch digging thing, I have a friend who is a (construction) contractor. He is always telling me how many resumes he gets from ex-(software)-developer dot-com victims. He throws them out because he has tried it before and those guys harbor fantasies about construction work being about fresh air and exercise when the reality is that its about dust and the hot sun or the drizzling rain while lifting heavy objects and putting yourself at risk. They never last and they don't put in enough effort to make it worth while. The one exception he makes is if he actually knows them, he will hire them, but even then it doesn't work out, but the job is sort of a cultural exchange for the prospective construction worker.

One place I know is hiring is lumberjacks. I have a friend who does it. It pays decent but you have a good chance of killing yourself or permanent injury. Again though I don't know what shape you are in for something like that or even if you'd consider it.

The temp job thing sounds like a good one. You should also apply to the government - they are looking for tech people. Pay is only average but you can be sure your age will not be a factor.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I don't understand why any of this is a problem. I've met department store clerks who were ex-IT, in fact most the guys in the mens' department where I get my stuff are over age 40 and I doubt were in retail their whole life.

Also selling cars and real estate, those are two big careers that hire with no experience and are made up of all types of people.

Driving a cab seems like a cliche, but one chatty driver I talked to once (in a suburban area) said he nets $75K a year and loves his job because he doesn't have to work in an office. He used to install networks for the school district.

A family friend of ours owns a restaurant with lots of career-switchers including ex-lawyers doing line and prep cooking, fresh out of culinary school or who just took a class at the local community college (or just hired off the street).

Another friend (of my parents) retired from his VP executive position at age 58, but couldn't stand being at home so works retail part-time at a shop selling window blinds.

That's all anecdotal of course, and I haven't done it, but it does show there are jobs where being overqualified doesn't matter. From my experience in college working retail, I think the main concern is people showing up on time, and not drunk or high. There's always high turnover at low-paying and interim jobs. I recognize a lot of clerks at my local mall, for example, and have watched them bounce around all the different stores over the years.

Maybe just keep trying... good luck! And who knows, you might find something more fun.

Ron
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Is it possible you intimidated the guy? Despite Joel's "Smart and gets things done" edict, you don't want to hire someone who thinks they're superior to you, or even worse, is superior to you.

There are a bunch of sites that have job postings for low to unskilled labor. Craigslist and emoonlighter.com (now guru.com) come to mind. You can bid on projects on rent-a-coder and similar sites.

You have to be persistant. It will impress someone if you come back at a reasonable hour a few days later to check up on your application/resume - it shows you're motivated & dedicated.

Good luck! Don't give up.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Dennis
> house
> relationship
>car
All went the way of all mortal flesh - wife divorced me because of the serial job situation, car got repossed (but King and Whatcom County in Washington State both have a wonderful bus system, and there's Amtrak or Greyhound to get around between cities, so that's no problem), and we were always leasing or renting, so no house to lose. But I was homeless for a month, and on government food assistance for two, so been there, done that. I'm still here....

Good points, though - hadn't thought about a MacJob as being a good kick-in-the-pants for getting out of the depression (or making it worse *grin*). Thanks....

Michael Ealem
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

repossed -> repossessed.

Sorry, I'm usually more careful about things like that.

Michael Ealem
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Thanks to all who gave good ideas and responses. It's nice to have a place to come get one's tuchis kicked around a bit.....

Michael Ealem
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I was afraid of that, which is actually a very common situation unfortunately. On the being homeless thing too, a lot of people just do not realize that there are a lot of homeless people who are not on drugs, are not crazy, are not lazy, and have incredible skill sets. I once knew a nuclear physicist who had worked on important projects and taught at university who was on the streets and in complete control of his senses, yet was just basically unemployable at his skill level.

Look, given your situation, you need a job. Any job. For your own mental health. Don't worry if its not development or the skill set doesn't match or the pay is bad. If you can avoid heavy lifting and exposure to toxic chemicals that would be great. The suggestion to go with a temp agency really seems a good one, I know I keep mentioning it, but even if the pay is bad, take it. Let them know you can do xyz tech stuff and they can farm you out to do some stuff you might even find interesting. I think for know you're better off if you erase from your memory how much $ you were baking before and focus on survival. You're at the point where you'll need to rebuild your life from scratch, but it can be done.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Get on a Greyhound.  Move to Nevada.  Learn to be a Card Dealer.  I just can't believe you can't find ANY work.  Hell there is even a reasonable amount of technical work here.    Nevada is simply booming.  Hell you could make a decent living just cleaning up people's lawns in Tahoe.  I swear if you just show up on the DAY that you say you will, you can make a decent living.  I'm convinced of it.  Yea things aren't what they used to be in technology, but there is work to be had.

There has to be something you aren't telling us.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

In my country if I'm in Michael's position no way I could use internet :).
Anyway, have you ask assistance from your relatives?

big w
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Temp agencies really can be the way to go. I used to be a secretary and I have worked for any number of agencies over the years.

That is how I got the job I have today. There are very few development jobs in my town, so that is how the secretarial agency I've worked for off and on since I was 18, got this placement.

I had been laid off from my previous job - dot-bomb collateral damage - and I needed a bit of typing to keep me ticking over until I found something new... Within half an hour of calling them I was back on track.

My point is not to suggest that your problems will be solved in an instant if you try this method, but that you will keep the wolf from the door AND build up reputations and experience in various places that may turn out to be lucky for you down the line.

You can also be honest with them - tell them you're having trouble getting employed at your skill level and you really need some work - and some will hold it against you, but I bet a lot won't. It's easier than lying because that requires you to second-guess what people want to hear, which usually goes wrong.

And I also have to say, courage. I feel really sorry for you and I think that there, but for the grace of God, go I. But I also think you have a chance if you take a deep breath and have at it again. Go all-out. There's a solution and you will find it.

Fernanda Stickpot
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Michael, get over it, you get to teach dance to beautiful women for $120 a month. Why are you stopping that to work at McDonald?

Anyway, if anything you are already being much more creative than the average unemployed young kid who's probably scratching their head between McDonald and Burger King.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

> why are you stopping to work at McDonald's
I'm not - it's just that $105 (yeah, I *thought* it was going to be $120, silly me - the community college took out more money) doesn't go very far, and my dance partner keeps suggesting I get a "day" job.

Besides, $105 won't pay the phone bill, utilities, food, etc.

Michael Ealem
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

That's $105 for how many classes?

How many classes would you need to pay the bills?

Because whatever you could get at McDonald's wouldn't exactly go far either, and you'd probably have to work more hours to get it.

I presume you've already thought about this. But what about personal tango training or stuff you could charge more for? Visiting people's homes, maybe?

Fernanda Stickpot
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Michael,

Maybe I have missed it but since you are borderline homeless how are you using the internet to post to this group, public library, internet cafe????

AnonX
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

You know... I make more money selling magazines than I EVER did as a programmer.

Steve
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

You mentioned that you teach Argentine tango. Have you tried a dance studio - like Arthur Murray's or a local outfit? The two main studios here hire all sort of clueless people who know zilch about dancing. I've seen a lot of awful instructors. Since you have experience you shouldn't have much trouble.

igor
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

So why would I take a $6.00/hr job when I can get $310/week tax free unemployment? After that runs out it might be different, but until it does I wouldn't consider it.  And it also gets me off of the hook for my child support!

Allez-Allez
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

muppet writes: "in my particular case, I had a major attack of pride and decided that unemployment compensation would be my last resort."

It's not welfare, it's called "unemployment insurance" for a reason - you already paid for it. That's why you generally need to have worked for some period of time to be eligible, and what you get depends on what you've earned.

Putting it off due to pride is like refusing to accept your tax refund due to pride, only more so.

The exception is when benefits are extended, but most white collar people have probably paid far more than they'll ever collect, so I figure it balances out.

Jon H
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"So why would I take a $6.00/hr job when I can get $310/week tax free unemployment? "

Unemployment isn't tax-free. I believe they collect federal tax.

Also, I believe if you get a low-paying job, which pays less than $310/week (or whatever) you can continue receiving the difference. (I'm sure there are conditions.)

Jon H
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

>That's $105 for how many classes?
That was for one class per week, for one month, with 16 people - the price we get paid by the community college fluctuates up or down depending on the number of people who sign up.  Our option was renewed, so if we can get 10 people to sign up for the next class, I can probably get at least $75-$90 next month, maybe more if we can hustle up some private lessons (there's the better money - $35/hr, split two ways minus the space rental). But we've only had one student ask for a private so far.

We're thinking about cutting loose from the community college , in which case we can pull down $70-$80 per student for an 8-week session. So at 10 students, $400 per month divided by two people, minus space rental of $16.50/hr. Still not gravy train, but better....

It would be nice if I could get the dance business off the ground, but it's really iffy (like any new business).

Michael Ealem
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Okay. Again, I'm sure I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here, but I'll ask anyway:

- other community colleges and dance studios in neighbouring towns?

- any Net listings for dance classes, and what results have you had from that? In the UK we have DanceWeb to search for classes, what do you have?

- how many posters & fliers have you put up? Local newspapers?

- would teaching students in their homes be an option, rather than renting space?

I'm fairly familiar with the economics of running dance classes, at least in the UK, so I don't have any illusions about its being a gold mine. And of course, you can't MAKE people attend your classes. BUT it's something you can do in the evening and at weekends while you look for work during the day.

Another thing: the problem with tango is that you have to bring a partner, which is a barrier for some people. Also, it's an art in itself and takes months of study before you can look acceptable, isn't that right? Would it be feasible to learn to teach something easy and popular, like salsa, that would increase your customer base?

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, July 29, 2004

> community colleges and dance studios
There's only one CC in the area that does these sorts of classes, and the other dance studios aren't interested or pay less than the CC

>web pages
www.tangobellingham.com

>posters & fliers
Have not brought in a single student after papering the town with them. The CC route has one advantage - they send a catalog for these adult education classes to every household in the count 4 times a year.

> in home
Of course, if they have enough space and a floor that won't rip your knees apart when you pivot

> salsa, other dances
There are other dances? (g, r, & d) I don't know salsa, besides, there's a salsa instructor on every street corner in Bellingham, frequently two.

Michael Ealem
Thursday, July 29, 2004

Bummer. Oh, well.

Still, if it's any encouragement - I've been in similar situations, though thankfully it's never gotten as bad for me as it has for you - and I've tried various things and had them fall flat, too.

This will be no consolation NOW - however, a lot of the things I tried came up lucky a long time later, when I'd forgotten them. For example, I tried to sign up with a tutoring agency while still an undergrad and was told that they only took graduates. Forgot about them, then three years later, when I was really desperate for money, they called me up for a ten-hour-a-week cramming gig to get a kid through her exams.

So take heart, and keep looking everywhere and trying everything because the magic connection might be where you least expect it. I'm sorry I can't tell you the phone will ring with a $200K a year job within the next 15 minutes, because that's the only thing that would cheer me up if I were in your shoes. But I can tell you that if you keep trying there's a good chance you'll work it out.

I pour you a virtual gin and tonic, and pat you on the virtual back.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, July 29, 2004

Stupid to work at a grunt job.
Take loans.  Get a new degree or certification.
Live on credit cards if you have to.
Time spent NOT focusing towards a CAREER is fool's time.
Shortsighted.

Bella
Friday, July 30, 2004

>Stupid to work at a grunt job.
Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.

>Take loans.  Get a new degree or certification.
Uh, credit record is shite after over two years out of work. Getting a new degree or certification also costs $$. I've got $6.97 right now - think that'll get me a degree?

>Live on credit cards if you have to.
Been there, done that - all cancelled, owe tens of thousands of dollars.

>Time spent NOT focusing towards a CAREER is fool's time.
>Shortsighted.
Thanks again, I'll keep that in mind.

Michael Ealem
Friday, July 30, 2004

Get a student loan.  Always keep in mind big picture, even if you HAVE to get a grunt job to eat.

Bella
Friday, July 30, 2004

>Get a student loan
Oh, to go with the $6500 in student loans I already owe the government, and can't pay back as it is? It requires _money_ to go to school.

Add the $1000 or so I still owe in back taxes, plus bank loans, plus the loan on the car that got repossessed, plus the credit cards, etc., and it adds up to a tidy little sum.

And getting a grunt job is what the OP was all about. It's not as trivial as you seem to think.

Michael Ealem
Friday, July 30, 2004

A tidy little sum that a shit grunt $10/hr job won't make a DENT in.  Wake up,  pay back the loans when you're making REAL money. 

Goal  #1 == MAKE MONEY. 
Goal #1 !=  Pay back loans. 
Goal #2 == Pay back loans. 

Bella
Saturday, July 31, 2004

You could consider taking up a trade. As has been pointed out building site work is not something anybody can do, even if they are young and fit, but you could probably make a reasonable electrician, plumber, plasterer or housepainter.
Get a grunt job while you do the certification, training, necessary.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, July 31, 2004

> electrician, plumber
Already checked this out - in the state of Washington, all require going back to school ($$), and then a lengthy apprenticeship (makes construction work look like a walk in the park, and little or no $ - all of this verified by talking to several master plumbers and electricians) and licensing/certification test ($), tools ($$), equipment ($$$). A good industrial-strentgth multimeter can cost upwards of $300. All of these things cost $$, which is what I don't  have. Plus I'm a little old and too banged up (bad back, knees, etc.) to be crawling around under houses (which is what journeymen electricians and plumbers do a *lot* of, according to the old-timers).

The game's rigged, folks - the old saw is right, you have to *have* money to make money.

Michael Ealem
Saturday, July 31, 2004

I find it hard to believe you can't get student loans or payment plans for training/graduate school. 

If you don't want to invest in your career, then you get what you pay for.  Keep making excuses, and enjoy working at McDonalds.    Seems like you prefer that. 

Bella
Sunday, August 01, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home