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I have cut down my piano playing somewhat over the last few days. It's down to about an hour. Also, I haven't studied any French in about a week. I'm thinking that unless my chorus is going to France in 2006, I may put off regular French study for a while; perhaps I will do so regardless.

andybeals brought up something in the last thread that I've been thinking about, actually. I sometimes wonder if it just isn't possible (for me, anyway) to have much of a social life, or non-career-oriented hobbies, if I am to remain competitive in the tech job market. Not that I have much of a social life in general, but perhaps due to competition for jobs, I might have to spend even more time on things that are career related. In some of the most stressful times at AV, for example, I had to give up dancing and could only spend about a half hour or so per day practicing piano. I was able to keep up with chorus, but a lot of that was because rehearsals were just a few minutes down the street from the office, we were performing a fair amount of music that I already knew, and memorization wasn't required for performances. I even had to take my cell phone and laptop with me during vacations, even though I'd briefed people on what to do in my absence, just to make sure that things were being taken care of. (I had an argument about that with my friend from the last thread also, in which I said that I didn't really have much choice, because if something didn't get taken care of in my absence it would take much longer to fix on my return.)

On a somewhat related note, I have wondered if I am going to have to make telecom/networking/IETF a hobby, and just content myself with any kind of software engineering work that comes along. As I've written in the past, the networking field just isn't doing that well, at least as compared with Internet search, online advertising, etc. And there's a lot of competition for jobs from people who've been much more active in it than I have over the past nine years. In some ways, I decided to get involved with search engines nine years ago because it seemed as if demand for networking software was starting to slow down. Internet search was looking like a promising field, similar to how networking looked in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When the firewall group I was in ran out of money, I didn't want to quit Digital (and possibly risk losing pension, etc.), so that pretty much made the decision for me.

If that happens, I might have to stop taking piano lessons and just work on basic technique (scales and such) for a half hour or so per day. Things could be worse, of course (imagine if I was one of the recent victims of Katrina). I wish this didn't bother me so much.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
bodacia
Sep. 6th, 2005 12:08 am (UTC)
It is hard to balance work and personal stuff...especially if you have a really demanding job or, like me, are self-employed. But I think it's really important to make time for activities that feed your soul. Maybe not on a daily basis, but at least once a week or so.
gregbo
Sep. 6th, 2005 12:49 am (UTC)
Chorus rehearsals are once a week. I can manage that, probably. Things can get somewhat hectic during our performance seasons, when we might have two or three per week. If I had to miss some of those, my director would understand, although she'd be disappointed.

OTOH, I would lose progress if I practiced piano, French, etc. just once a week (or less). Not having danced regularly in over a year, my technique is off and I have forgotten some patterns I used to be able to do almost instinctively.
gconnor
Sep. 6th, 2005 04:35 am (UTC)
I sometimes wonder if it just isn't possible (for me, anyway) to have much of a social life, or non-career-oriented hobbies, if I am to remain competitive in the tech job market.

It's always nice if you can have a job that intersects well with hobbies (or at least interests) -- my personal theory is that if you find a job doing something that you also do with your spare time, you will have an extra edge over those who aren't. But, that link may not be causative, meaning that both could stem from a third factor and not directly affect the other.

Do your current hobbies and interests intersect with another career track that you would like better? If you had a chance to do your hobby for pay, 40 hours, would it still be as enjoyable or would that take all the fun out of it?

Or, what might be better, are there areas where your hobbies and your skills/experience already overlap? For example, maybe there is a college where you could do IT work and also catch music or dance classes or events? It wouldn't pay as much as software engineering, but it's a possibility...

Be well,
gregc
gregbo
Sep. 6th, 2005 06:32 am (UTC)
Do your current hobbies and interests intersect with another career track that you would like better? If you had a chance to do your hobby for pay, 40 hours, would it still be as enjoyable or would that take all the fun out of it?

At present, I'm not qualified to get paid to dance or play the piano. I might be qualified to sing for pay, but it's highly unlikely that I could get steady pay for it. There is at least as much competition for jobs among qualified people in vocal work as there is for computer work. Thus, I could find myself in the same situation as I am now.

Even if I did find work, it could be stressful and thus unenjoyable. Part of what makes my chorus fun is that we aren't under any pressure to bring in a certain amount of money and/or perform certain pieces.

Or, what might be better, are there areas where your hobbies and your skills/experience already overlap? For example, maybe there is a college where you could do IT work and also catch music or dance classes or events? It wouldn't pay as much as software engineering, but it's a possibility...

So far, there is very little overlap between my current skill set and the requirements for the positions I've seen at any school. So I'm basically in the same situation with regards to something like that; having to sacrifice other things that I'd like to do in order to qualify for a job. Also, time spent trying to qualify for that type of work would take away from the time required for the type of work I'm trying to qualify for right now. And even if I did learn that other stuff, there's still no guarantee I'd get any of those jobs, as there is as much competition for sysadmin work, NOC work, etc. as there is for software development. Also, the hiring managers would most likely pass me over anyway, thinking that I would leave for a software engineering position if offered one elsewhere.

There was a time about 15 years ago (while I was a grad student) that I became unhappy with the computer field and wanted to switch careers to music. About five years later, when I moved back here, I wanted to go into radio broadcasting. Eventually, I came to realize that I didn't really want to switch careers, but I wanted to have a career that left enough time and energy to pursue at least one hobby. So I made a compromise with myself and was happy to work at Digital while singing with my chorus. (This was back in 1997, around the time I joined the ops group in the Phil era.) Dancing came about a year later, sort of by accident. It plus chorus and work was manageable, partly because chorus and dancing weren't major time commitments, but also because of the way Phil ran the group, and AV was not in constant crisis mode. But as we all know, Compaq took over, then CMGI, then we didn't IPO, then the bubble burst, etc.
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