September 29th, 2008

My wonderful Meg kitty.

(no subject)

(Editor's note: This is a generic post. I often come across people who think that their situation is pretty awful. I occasionally aim to inspire them a little with my own tale of pure, dumb luck. As the administrator of the Mojave airport once said to me: "I'm just proof that a blind squirrel manages to collect a few nuts.")

To start with -- I know how it is when you don't have a degree. I didn't actually finish off college -- I was about four classes shy when my mom pulled my only financial support out from under me.

At the time, I was living at a place and one of my housemates was nice enough to allow me to run up one hell of a debt with him. It hit $6k at one point.

Food, at the time, was courtesy of my girlfriend's mother. She would occasionally send us gift cards from Safeway (a local grocery store) and that would keep us alive.

I was living in a little beach town which, frankly, had no jobs in my field. I chased down every teeny lead. Most of them disappeared for no apparent reason. One company seemed like they really wanted to hire me, and then pulled back short of an offer letter.

Most of the other alternatives didn't look very good.

The beginning of my break came a bit later when I worked at tech support at a web analytics business. It was well below my level, but I was elated to have gotten it. It gave me enough for rent and, continuing the trend of living cheaply, I managed to pay off my housemate completely.

What sealed it was a friend of mine who was working for a defense contractor. As it happens, they badly needed staff. They were being called out on a couple of contracts and sued for making commitments they couldn't make. It's hard to say whether that claim was bogus or not. In any event, they were bending over backwards to hire lots of people.

I went in and interviewed. I said what college I went to, but managed to sidestep any questions about graduating. They hired me on, apparently impressed with me.

I grew tired of that place. It was a 1.5 hour commute one way. I had days where I woke up, went to work, came home, fell asleep, ate dinner, and went back to sleep. It was soul crushing. My officemate left seeking other employment pretty quickly thereafter.

I snagged an interview for another job which was much closer to my ballpark. I managed to land it in part because of my experience and in large part because I demonstrated expertise with the Linux kernel.

Since that point, I have been consistently employed at a very good salary. I'll just say that it's six digits.

The point of this story isn't to toot my own horn or even say how lucky I was for things to have turned out. It's to say that all you need is your chance. Once you get that chance, everything else will fall into place.

Don't lose sight of what you want to do. Don't ever let a lack of paper get in your way. Be good at what you do and eventually, someone will reward that by employing you to do just that. Let employers know that and someone will beat a path to your door in the hopes of having you make them a better mousetrap.