I'm a lucky guy; let's just get that out of the way. Those of you who have known me over time can attest to the occasional chagrin observing some windfalls I receive from time to time. I've got very little to complain about. Well, I don't have a wife and/or children at the (upcoming) age of 32, but that wouldn't exactly be complaining. I'm pretty happy being single. But, I disgress from what I wanted to write about here.
I had a brief electronic conversation with an old friend of mine about career paths, the job market, and the combination of the safe Captain Kirk unlocked in episode 58 of Star Trek. I've been fortunate enough to have many genetic gifts bestowed by the unique genetic mixing of my father and mother. Scholastic aptitude is one of them; no subject ever daunted me. I know a lot of you can say the same -- for the most part you aren't idiots. You can learn. I proved that by getting a degree in engineering from Penn State, one of the premier engineering schools in the nation.
However, at this stage of my career, I can admit that while the degree is a great foundation, I really don't use much of it anymore. Most of what I do has been learned on my own, in my own spare time, and anyone could have done what I did. When I was technical writing at Fannie Mae, I had access to Visual Basic. Because my job afforded me a lot of spare time, I decided to pick up a book and learn the language, just for fun. Plus, I figured it could never hurt to know it. Little did I know that self-training would be key for me getting my next job. Not only that, VB, it turns out, is the language of macros, and that has been an invaluable asset throughout the years.
I have a curiosity about how things work. This spurred me to pick up another how-to book on HTML, the basic language for the web. Turns out that HTML is pretty damn simple, and I can't think of anyone would couldn't pick it up quickly (I highly recommend that book, BTW). In any event, recently, someone at work asked me if I knew anyone who could do HTML. Turns out, that, lo, I can, and yes I'll do your little side project and make $500.
What's the point of this? Am I sucking my own dick? No, sadly, I'm not. Here's a hint within a quote:
- There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness. -- Franz Kafka
In this age of computers, where you can sit at a console and teach yourself all the tools you need to be successful, therein lies salvation and perhaps a little extra cash. I don't know anyone out there who couldn't master these two languages (for instance) if they wanted -- believe me I've seen some pretty moronic programmers. Even if you aren't looking for a job and have your career path, what's the harm of learning something new, useful? Doesn't have to be computer related; this was just my example. Bored? Listless? Learn a new skill. You have the time. All it takes is a little patience, and a little motivation. End of rant.
PS. Sometimes office life IS like the movie in the header quote. But I could be flippin' burgers.