Author Topic: Get a job and put a ring on it!  (Read 3860 times)

redwaterbottle

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Get a job and put a ring on it!
« on: February 27, 2015, 11:52:03 PM »
Hi. Iím a short term lurker. Iím 30 years old. My girlfriend is the long term lurker and reads this website regularly and wants to save money like crazy. This is sort of a case study, but Iím actually asking for job advice so I can help my girlfriend meet her mustachian goals. I think I would be more into mustachian lifestyle, but Iíve been in an unemployment funk.

Savings:
GF has 20k in savings, trying to build savings for new car/house, etc
GF has 10k in TSP
I have about 4k in savings

Income:
Her: $65,000/year, she is a fed employee, will go up to 77k/year in October
Me: unemployed, discussed below

Monthly Income after TSP, health insurance, etc, approximately $2500.
GF puts 1200 in TSP every month.
$1600 Rent (will try to get this lower when the lease ends)
$45/month internet
$50/month car insurance
$250/month food (including eating out)
$200/year renters insurance (required)
$300/month GF car issues, she just recently had to get a new transmission, battery, alternator and axle in the last 6 months.  She should really get a new car, but she is pretty adamant about running it until the engine dies.
$20/month gas
$30/month apartment utilities

I have 30k of debt from grad school. Right now, Iím making minimum payments of about $200/month.  It is not an option for me to ask my GF to help with payments until I get a job and put a ring on her finger. Right now, she is getting a little antsy, perhaps slightly resentful and scared about my unemployment situation. Weíve been together 4.5 years and she is definitely ready for the next step but wonít say ďyesĒ until I have a job.

Right now, GF and I are not stressed out about lowering our expenses.  We are trying to focus on finding me a job.

Education:
M.S. Criminology (May 2014)
B.S. Sociology (2008)

Work history
3 years in technician/sysadmin jobs before going back to grad school to make a career change into criminology
During grad school, I spent 12 months interning at police office making crime maps, andndoing research and statistics for interagency use

Job Application issues:
On a federal level, Iím not really being considered due to veterans preference. I have a disability that does not allow me to enlist in the armed services, nor perform adequately in positions that require good medical condition. I have moderate-severe sensorineural hearing loss.

On a state level Ė they seem to give preference to CA DoJ certified analysts, and this appears to require another year of education and money that I currently don't have. Having a hearing loss is also disqualifying me from a lot of sworn positions right now, DMV investigator, police assistant, etc.

I started applying to IT jobs and no one is contacting me. I think it is because Iím not longer ďcertifiedĒ enough without a MCSE or A+ certification.

Iím not sure how to change my job searching approach. Is there another career I should look into with my skills of IT, ArcGIS, statistics where hearing loss is not an issue? 

Iím pretty sure my cover letters and resume are solid. My girlfriend reviews all of them and worked in the career services office during grad school (Ivy League).

My GF is thinking of using her savings to send me to one of those 12 week coding schools, I'm not really into the idea. She also thinks I should be working on A+ exams, but I don't know how much all of that matters. Should I need to look into other careers?
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 07:50:26 AM by redwaterbottle »

caliq

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2015, 12:08:25 AM »
I think A+ certs are only a few hundred bucks?  Don't you just pay to take the test?  I don't really have personal experience but DH was sort of looking at getting one when we first started dating and that's what I seem to remember. 

Can you go back to the police station you interned at?  Use connections there to find openings where someone can give you a personal introduction?  12 months is an awful long time to be an intern without any solid networking to show for it.  And if you're really struggling on the job front (almost a full year of unemployment?) will they take you on as a volunteer for the same type of technical stuff just so you can get some post-grad work experience on your resume?

You can teach yourself to code for free on the internet.  There's tons of resources.  Don't pay for it, especially if you're not that into the idea.  But it might be a useful skill to learn and use to augment your knowledge...maybe you can design criminology data analysis programs or something? (I have no idea if that would be helpful in your field! Just throwing stuff out there). 

And maybe a mod should move this to Ask a Mustachian if you want some more traffic?  Not sure why it's in Off-Topic?

redwaterbottle

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2015, 08:02:47 AM »
Caliq

Thank you for your thoughts. You are correct, A+ are just an exam to get through. I've been stalling on taking the exams because I left the IT industry to pursue criminology. But maybe I need to buckle down and take them to get some income on the table.

As for going back to the police station I interned at, it is not an option unfortunately. It is about 4 hours away from where I'm currently located, would require additional expenses for housing cost and I trained my (another grad student) replacement. I've been trying to volunteer at the local police stations using my specific skill sets, but they are just not interested. They might be hesitant to share data to a stranger who wants to make maps for them. The volunteer work that have available does not interest me (neighborhood safety watch).

How do I ask a mod to move this threat to "Ask a Mustachian?" When I searched the site for instructions, I couldn't find the "Move Post" button.

Thanks again!

caliq

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2015, 08:12:44 AM »
Um, pm a mod -- arebelspy is on really frequently and the only one I can think of off the top of my head.  Might be more info in the Forum Introduction area's FAQ post.

What about academic researchers in your field?  Can you volunteer for a Research Assistant type position with them?  People in my field (molecular bio) do that all the time.

Can your supervisor from your internship contact your local police stations and kind of explain the situation and that you're trustworthy and experienced or whatever?   

I also don't think you should necessarily look at the tech stuff as a change in career or waste of your graduate education.  I'm sure there are positions where having criminology background and the ability to code and do other computer stuff is a huge asset.  Again, thinking of my field, Computational Bio/Bioinformatics is HUGE right now and it requires technical skills in coding/stats in addition to biology background.  I think there's a lot of intersecting areas like that; you just might need to get a little more creative in leveraging your unique skills and experience -- don't pigeonhole yourself into the mindset of only searching for jobs with a 'Criminologist' title. 

redwaterbottle

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2015, 09:03:33 AM »
Caliq,

Thanks again. Iím afraid of pursuing research assistant positions because Iím no longer a student. Iíd imagine that most faculty would want to work with an enrolled student that would commit to a full semester of research. In my academic experience, Iíve never heard of research labs hiring outside of the school (students, post-docs, etc). Correct me if Iím wrong though and Iíll open up my job search to include the local universities.

Thank you for reminding me not to pigeonhole myself into criminologist positions. Regarding computational bio/bioinformatics Ė my biology background is limited (2 or 3 classes?) and all of my IT and coding is self taught. I would definitely be interested in it, but Iím worried that my background is too weak for anyone to take me on as a volunteer. At 30, Iím really hesitant in pursing more school and ready for an 8-5 job to settle down with this girl.

I did find a bioinformatics course on coursera, it might be worth it for me to check it out.

Capsu78

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2015, 09:15:25 AM »
RWB,
Google "predictive policing" and see if your background could fit into that peg.  LEO's typically struggle with the complexities of running queries and maybe your mapping skills would complement a little "self education"...here is an article to get you started but Mr Google has a bunch.  It is at least a good set up question to ask anybody in LE from the police chief on down- "How involved is your department in predictive policing?"

http://www.privacysos.org/predictive

 

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2015, 09:29:30 AM »
Not to be confrontational, but reading through this, I saw a lot of "I'm afraid of" "I'm not interested in" "I don't want to" statements. Reminder: YOUR DEBT IS AN EMERGENCY. That being said, I understand unemployment is disheartening. I've been there. I'm just really hoping you're here because you actually do want to find steps to take to improve your employment prospects, and not to use this as a way to tell yourself, "See? I am trying, but none of their suggestions will work for me". Don't give yourself excuses- give yourself a push.

Good luck.

Hopper

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2015, 09:38:59 AM »


Job Application issues:
On a federal level, Iím not really being considered due to veterans preference. I have a disability that does not allow me to enlist in the armed services, nor perform adequately in positions that require good medical condition. I have moderate-severe sensorineural hearing loss.



I don't have much to add about your field, but if you do have a disability, there may be a backdoor way into the federal gov't that would help with the fact that veterans preference will pretty much usually stop you from getting a competitive service job.  Disabled can go in as excepted service and later be converted to competitive service... I don't know how much this is used by agencies or how severe your disability has to be, but may be worth contacting OPM and getting more info.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/disability-employment/selective-placement-program-coordinator/

Good luck.  Its hard to break out of a funk, but you can do it!


Retire-Canada

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2015, 10:26:37 AM »
Sounds like you paid $30k+ for an education that is providing no value.

That's a bummer. :(

I'd go back to the drawing board and start fresh not worrying about the grad school costs.

Look at your skills, education and the local market to come up with a 3 level plan.

Level 1 = any work you can get in the next 2 weeks to generate cash flow

Level 2 = target jobs you can get in the next 6 months that are better than what you have now

Level 3 = a realistic job you will enjoy and be satisfied with that might take a year+ to realize

I'm a PE and PMP when recently I had to change career direction when a company went under. I gave myself 3 months living off savings to land more high paying work before I started working at a bicycle store or outdoors store selling gear for low retail pay.

If you are not earning money change that. Flip burgers. Whatever.

Once you are earning something put in the work to reach the next realistic job target.

You have demonstrated that you cannot gauge the cost/benefit of additional education well so don't spend another dollar on that while not working nor would I not flip burgers because I'm doing free online education. If you want do that while you are working go for it.

Not working if you are able is lame so get a job. Any job.

In the situation above I found new work before needing to dig into my savings, but 10 yrs ago I went from making $100/yr to working retail for $10/hr for 6 months then back to making $100k/yr in an office.

Retail sucked but it was a lesson in humility and really focused my desire for a decent pay cheque. It also made me realize I was always going to be okay regardless of what happens with a given contract.

Despite my education and experience I'll scrub toilets tomorrow to generate cash flow if I need to and not eat into my savings.

Good luck!

-- Vik
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 10:30:35 AM by Vikb »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2015, 10:41:15 AM »
One other thing I'll add is that despite being well educated, having excellent experience and above average communications skills I have never... not one time... got an interview from an online job process.

OTOH I've been 100% successful at researching companies and waking in cold to sell my services in person.

My take away is use all the tools and options available to you. Failure in one methodology just means try something else.

If I needed more work I'd still apply online but only in my downtime between research and cold calls. Since online applications haven't delivered for me.

-- Vik

caliq

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Re: Get a job and put a ring on it!
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2015, 10:42:46 AM »
Caliq,

Thanks again. Iím afraid of pursuing research assistant positions because Iím no longer a student. Iíd imagine that most faculty would want to work with an enrolled student that would commit to a full semester of research. In my academic experience, Iíve never heard of research labs hiring outside of the school (students, post-docs, etc). Correct me if Iím wrong though and Iíll open up my job search to include the local universities.

Thank you for reminding me not to pigeonhole myself into criminologist positions. Regarding computational bio/bioinformatics Ė my biology background is limited (2 or 3 classes?) and all of my IT and coding is self taught. I would definitely be interested in it, but Iím worried that my background is too weak for anyone to take me on as a volunteer. At 30, Iím really hesitant in pursing more school and ready for an 8-5 job to settle down with this girl.

I did find a bioinformatics course on coursera, it might be worth it for me to check it out.

Oh, I wasn't really suggesting that you personally look into computational bio, just offering it as an example of a multidisciplinary field that hires a lot of people who don't fit strictly into the biologist or programmer categories.  I'm sure there's interdisciplinary specialties like that in fields more closely related to your education.

Actual tech people (not like, customer service IT) don't care if you're self taught or have certificates or whatever.  I think I read yesterday, in a thread in this forum, that they actually look down on people with certificates as people who can't learn independently; they'd rather see a computer science degree or someone who's completely self taught.  It's about hard skills that are constantly changing in a rapidly evolving industry; a piece of paper saying you learned programming languages that were prevalent 15 years ago is practically worthless unless you can prove that you've kept up with the evolving tools. 

You have data/stats/research experience in your field, plus computer experience prior to grad school; that makes me think you're at least somewhat engineer-brained...like I said before, the free online programming tutorials should be a good resource for you. 

I know getting research opportunities is intimidating, but seriously all they can do is say no.  I work between classes as an assistant in my university's biology admin office and I know we hire people 'gratis' fairly frequently.  I'm not sure on the specifics of their prior university affiliation and/or hiring details but it's worth a shot. 

Have you contacted your previous professors, advisers, university career office, classmates, internship supervisors, etc etc etc and asked if anyone has any leads on available jobs?  I think you've relocated, but don't discount the fact that these people have professional connections through industry groups, prior jobs, not to mention personal connections -- they very well could know of something in your current city or within commuting distance.

I kind of agree Bracken_Joy...I really don't think you're in a position to be tossing out leads/ideas before giving them a shot at this point.  If you graduated last May, you're coming up on a year of unemployment after getting an advanced degree.  In my field, that would be REALLY bad for your CV/resume.