Tag Archives: work

The FaceTime Interview

Sliding glass door entrance to Next Byte Hobart, circa 2008

At its peak, the Australian Apple Premium Reseller called Next Byte had more than 20 stores nationally, and I spent the tail end of my high school and all of my uni-going years at just one: Next Byte Hobart.

Today, the Apple landscape in Australia is a lot different to what it was over a decade ago. Thanks mostly to the iPhone, Apple is now one of the largest companies in the world. Apple owned-and-operated retail locations compete with general electronics retailers, who now sell Apple products more out of obligation rather than any real profit-chasing exercise. But as any reseller will tell you, slim profits on Apple products means it’s extremely difficult, if not outright impossible, to match Apple when it comes to the unparalleled customer experience that Apple Retail locations are able to offer. Any third-party Apple presence is either small enough to fly under the radar, or niche enough to carve out a market of their own. For the rest of us, Apple retail stores in every capital city CBD besides Melbourne, Darwin, and Hobart means out in-person sales and service needs are fulfilled, with any gaps covered by Apple’s online store and mail-in repair programs.

I have plenty of stories from my time at Next Byte. Maybe one day I’ll even write about a few of them, once I’m a little more comfortable the statute of limitations has passed. In the interests of becoming a better storyteller, the one I’m going to tell you today is about the time I was went for an interview at my current place of employment. Which, now that I think about it, has happened more than once.

It’s maybe 2012, or thereabouts. I forget the exact year, but can estimate it based on the technology available at the time, and the rough timing of documentation of what would eventually be known as the Learning Academy.

Towards the end of my tenure at Next Byte, my role on Saturdays was to run the Learning Academy, a small-group based education scheme designed to give Apple product owners a leg up learning what their new hardware and software was capable of. The classes offered ranged from macOS/iOS essentials, which offered a just-the-basics introduction to the Mac/iPhone/iPad, to more specific lessons on iPhoto, iWork, and other Apple software.

It was the ideal role for me. I had never been all that interested in being the pushy salesperson type, and by virtue of only working one day a week — we weren’t open on Sundays, a peculiarity for an Apple Premium Reseller located smack-bang in the middle of the CBD of a capital city, but I guess that’s Hobart for you — almost never made enough sales to make the commissions worth it. I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I made commissions based on sales. Being the training facilitator meant that I wasn’t “stealing” sales from the other guys who otherwise relied on sales and their commissions to support themselves and their families, while also allowing me to do something I actually cared about1. It was a win-win.

Anyway, although my position and job description didn’t change noticeably, the powers that be still wanted to interview me to see if I was suitable for the role. That was kind of a problem, given that our head office was based in Brisbane, and I was in Hobart. Flying prospective candidates in for interviews seemed like a big ol’ waste of money, so they ended up suggesting FaceTime interviews. Mostly so they had some confidence that the person they picked for the job was able to speak English and knew what they were talking about, I think.

The interview happened during a random weekday that I happened to be working for some reason or another. It wasn’t uncommon for me to work weekdays, either during school holidays or in-between uni semesters, but it happened. We didn’t really have offices with doors, so I found myself sitting at the store manager’s iMac at the back of house, separated from the main sales floor by a wall that was more of a partition, seeing as it didn’t connect with the ceiling and thus allowed sound to carry between the sales floor and back of house easily enough.

I don’t remember much about the actual interview, but I can remember that whoever interviewed me wanted me to talk for a few minutes about something I really like about Macs. I don’t even remember what I talked about, but it was either Spotlight and the many things it could do besides just finding things, or it was about the menu bar, how the menus changed depending on what application had focus at the time, and how it was one of the biggest differences to using a PC. (So-called “switchers” made up a significant portion of our customers, given that the iPhone’s rampant popularity had plenty of people interested in the kinds of computers that Apple made.)

Whatever I talked about, all I remember is acing that interview. Any nerves I had dissipated once I started talking about something I was familiar with, confident in my knowledge of, and knew well enough that I could add in a few phrases that demonstrated how well I could talk to people in a small group setting. I was eloquent, knowledgeable, and presented myself in an approachable, friendly way — in other words, exactly the kind of person they wanted to lead small group training. I might have been a nerdy shut-in the other six days of the week, but holy hell, did I know Spotlight. Or the menu bar. Not difficult topics, to be fair, but still, I get the feeling that the interviewers were impressed with my knowledge and delivery.

You already know I got the job. And, even though they weren’t willing to fly people to Brisbane for that initial interview, they ended up flying all the trainers from Next Bytes all over the country to Brisbane twice in the next two years, both of which I’ve written about previously.

The rest, as they say, is history. I have other Learning Academy stories, and might even recap one of those Brisbane trips one day. But that’s for another time.

  1. Not that I didn’t care about selling Apple products, but too often I felt that it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing. Obviously, I understood that selling Apple products was part and parcel of working at an Apple Premium Reseller, but I never really felt that I was ever as focused on ever-increasing sales figures and profits as those that ran the store were. Sure, a lot of the time, Apple products sold themselves. But I always hesitated to be the pushy sales person. It just kind of worked out that a lot of the time, I didn’t have to be, and I was extremely grateful for that. 

Christmas Cards

A collection of Christmas cards with hand-written, personalised messages

I did hand-written Christmas cards this year. It’s the first time I’ve really given out more than one card at a time, outside of birthdays or special events. I just think it’s a nice thing to do, after the year we’ve all had, and by writing supremely positive, personalised messages in each of the cards, it’ll be that little end-of-year pick-me-up to see all my favourite colleagues into the new year.

For the longest time now, I have had an unusual fascination with hand-writing things. While it’s usually faster and easier to use a keyboard to type something out, when it comes to giving things a personalised touch, it’s hard to go past something more personal than your own handwriting. What better way to convey your thoughts than pen to paper, written by your own hand, in a form that’s uniquely yours? Handwriting is that unique indicator that whatever words were written, they were something you personally produced, not something that was just printed out by a millions of tiny droplets or particles, a process that required very little effort on your part.

I’m not sure why I’m so attached to hand-writing things. I guess part of the reason is because in the modern world we live in, where everything can either be tapped out by two thumbs on glass, or on the loudest mechanical keyboard money can buy, writing something with pen on paper feels different somehow. Not necessarily any better or any worse, just different, somehow. Almost like you care about whoever you’re writing to and want to put in a little extra effort. I hesitate to ascribe some extra level of meaning to hand-writing that isn’t there, but ever since I stopped hand-writing things on a regular basis, going back to it feels… different. Special? Perhaps, depending on the message.

One of the interesting quirks of hand-writing is the whole permanence of it all. If you spell something wrong, or make an errant stroke with your pen, turning your previously borderline-legible scrawl into an art piece to rival even the most post-impressionist art pieces, that’s it! You can either chuck out the whole thing and start again, hoping you don’t make some other mistake, or you can decide whether you want to live with it and give someone something that’s less than perfect. But what if I’m not happy about how the words look on the page? What if my kerning is off, or the whole thing is slanted at some strange angle? It all comes as part of the territory when it comes to handwriting, and my choices are to either put up with it, or start again. Of course, no one expects perfection when it comes to hand writing, so minor imperfections are probably fine. After all, there’s only so many times I can decide to rewrite something before I start to run out of cards.

And yes, I’m fully aware that some colleagues will appreciate a Christmas card more than others. While it’s unusual — in 2020, at least, when everything is either digital, or stories, or even digital stories — to receive a hand-written Christmas card, I still think it’s something worth doing for the people at work that have made an impact on me this year. But for whatever reason, some people associate more value with a hand-written, personalised Christmas card than others. I’m not really sure why; perhaps they think Christmas cards are blasé, or that anyone can write some nice words in a card, wishing someone else a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Maybe they don’t think the card-writer means what they say — irrespective of how personal the message is — that the whole thing smells off, as if the card-writer is looking for a free win. Maybe they just don’t put as much stock in receiving cards as the next guy. But I like to think writing personalised, thoughtful messages for over a dozen individuals says plenty about the person writing the cards, even if some of the recipients aren’t as grateful as others.

Even if all of the recipients won’t see the Christmas card the same way, why does that matter? On some level I’m doing it as much for myself as I am for the Christmas card recipients. Writing personalised Christmas cards lets me say things directly to the recipients that I would otherwise find difficult to say in person. Not because I don’t necessarily think those things when I’m talking with them in person, but because I often feel awkward about expressing my feelings. Besides, I’ve always considered myself more eloquent in text, and sometimes even far more eloquent, depending on the friend and situation, so none of this is particularly new.

So I ended up doing over a dozen hand-written Christmas cards this year. It cost me a few hours, getting the messages and my hand-writing right, another few dollars, buying the cards. But being able to feel the gratitude of others? When all you really did was write something deep and meaningful on a Christmas card? That’s kinda nice, too.

Which, as I said in a few of the cards, nice is all something we could all use a little more of, given the year we’ve all had.

Work Experience, Part II

At its peak, the Australian Apple Premium Reseller called Next Byte had more than 20 stores nationally, and I spent the tail end of my high school and all of my uni-going years at just one: Next Byte Hobart.

Today, the Apple landscape in Australia is a lot different to what it was over a decade ago. Thanks mostly to the iPhone, Apple is now one of the largest companies in the world. Apple owned-and-operated retail locations compete with general electronics retailers, who now sell Apple products more out of obligation rather than any real profit-chasing exercise. But as any reseller will tell you, slim profits on Apple products means it’s extremely difficult, if not outright impossible, to match Apple when it comes to the unparalleled customer experience that Apple Retail locations are able to offer. Any third-party Apple presence is either small enough to fly under the radar, or niche enough to carve out a market of their own. For the rest of us, Apple retail stores in every capital city CBD besides Melbourne, Darwin, and Hobart means out in-person sales and service needs are fulfilled, with any gaps covered by Apple’s online store and mail-in repair programs.

I have plenty of stories from my time at Next Byte. Maybe one day I’ll even write about a few of them, once I’m a little more comfortable the statute of limitations has passed. In the interests of becoming a better storyteller, the one I’m going to tell you today is about the time I did work experience at my place of employment.

All up, I spent about seven years at Next Byte. Mostly on a casual basis, working on weekends and school/Uni holidays where I could. By the end of that seven years I had proven myself in basically every aspect of the business; sales consultant, service technician, stock administrator, executive assistant, and Apple educator.

I was a stand-in in the truest sense of the word, capable of performing basically every role besides, perhaps, running the joint. And not that I didn’t want to, but somehow, there was always someone more senior than me who managed to hang onto that responsibility. Which, being as young as I was, was totally fine by me.

It’s sometime in June, 2007.

I’ve been working at Next Byte on a weekends/school holidays basis for about six months now, and everything is great.

The end of the school year is coming up fast. I need to find somewhere to complete a week’s worth of work experience for the Vocational Educational and Training subject I’m taking, and what better place than my current place of employment? Maybe not in retail though, I’ve already done plenty of that. What about service?

One phone call later and it’s all sorted out, and the service team lead (and business manager) couldn’t be happier — he gets a free week of labour from someone who already knows a few things about the business, a few more things about Macs, and I get to tick a box for one of my subjects. It’s win-win.

Technically, it’s the second time I’ve performed work experience at Next Byte. But while that first time was mostly spent out helping out doing whatever boring mundane completely necessary chores mixed with a little customer service, I didn’t get any hands-on time with some of the tools poking around the insides of Macs.

That changed the second time around, with my second go at work experience involving performing light administrative duties, observing repairs, and even a few very basic repairs of my own — all under the careful observation of an actually certified technician, of course. Still, I had a hard time shaking a certain sense of déjà vu as I’m shown the ropes on a different aspect of the business.

The week passes by uneventfully, and at the end, I get a glowing recommendation from the service manager, extolling my incredible work ethic, ability to quickly learn new things, and willingness to give anything a go with a smile.

I like to think I still have some of those skills.

Work, Part II

Unlike last year, I’m working through this year’s Christmas/New Year period. Mostly because I don’t mind working through what is one of the most chill (work atmosphere-wise, not temperature wise now that we’re in the middle of a hot and sweltering Queensland summer) periods of the year, but also because I really have nothing better to do, and no one to spend the time off with.

Anyway, I’ve been working full time for about four and a half years now. It’s not that long, when you think about it, but at the same time it’s also the longest period that I’ve ever worked full time, outside of a few weeks during school holidays and whenever I wasn’t too busy with university. And for the most part, it’s pretty great. Sure, work occupies most of my time, but it also gives me some degree of freedom, a degree of being truly independent that’s hard to put into words. On some level, there’s a part of me that enjoys the routine. Working full time has brought a certain degree of structure to what was previously a very haphazard arrangement of the things and events that made up my life.

But there’s a couple of things about corporate culture that I don’t really understand. For starters, what’s the deal with the unwritten law which says otherwise normal people who work full time have to hate weekdays and express this constantly to their colleagues? Everyone’s all “yay, hump day” and “finally, Friday” all the time, and I’m like, OK? Or maybe “yeah, haha”. I get that having a break from work is important, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking forward to the weekend. But can’t you be enthusiastic about being at work and doing cool, interesting, meaningful stuff? Unemployment is hardly what it’s cracked up to be, especially when you have kids to feed, a house to pay off, and whatever other adult commitments/drug addictions you have. Hey, I don’t judge.

It’s as if all of these people who look forward to the weekend want time to go faster or something. As if they’re in some kind of a hurry to experience the weekend, their next big holiday, or whatever else they have to look forward to that isn’t work, instead of living in the here and now. On some level, I can see where they’re coming from. If I had some big holiday planned, or time off with my significant other, I probably wouldn’t want to be at work either. But here’s the thing: I don’t think looking forward to the weekend and wanting a few extra hours in the day so you can finish just one more thing at work are mutually exclusive. It’s entirely within the realms of possibility to enjoy what you do at work, put that little bit of extra effort in, and still be able to relax and enjoy your weekend/holiday/time off.

So, every time someone laments at how the week is going slowly, or how they wish it was Friday, I smile and nod. I don’t always agree with then, but then again, I haven’t been working full time for nearly as long as they have. Maybe in a few years I’ll be in their position, wishing time would pass faster so I could be doing what I really want to do. I doubt it, given that I already feel as though time is already passing fast enough, most of the time, but I digress — that’s for another time.

Like everyone else, I’d love to not work and get paid for it. But unless I somehow get extremely lucky, the realist in me says I’ll probably have to work until I’m old or dead, one of the two. Just like everyone else, really. And if I’m working, I might as well try and make something of it, right? I might as well try my hardest and put a little effort into what I’m doing, because what’s the downside here? It seems unlikely that I’ll get fired for trying my hardest, because that’s not really how capitalism works. Or so I’m led to believe, anyway.

Continue Reading →


I’m taking this holiday season off work. Normally, I wouldn’t have any issues with working through the Christmas and New Year periods. They’re my favourite time of the year for working, mostly because everything is super chill, and because there are a lot of other people who are also taking the time off work, you can usually get some personal projects completed that you wouldn’t otherwise fit into your regular day, or put a little extra care into getting something done right.

Work is interesting like that. Even though I have far too much annual leave banked up and zero other commitments, there’s a small part of me that would still like to be working over the break. I know a few other people that use the holiday period to zero their outstanding annual leave balance for the year, taking whatever leave they have remaining after the year is done and dusted to rest, relax and recharge, allowing them to come back and start the new year with a renewed vigour and zeal for whatever lies ahead.

It’s not that I’m a work-a-holic or anything, either. I feel like have an excellent work-life balance otherwise. I rarely stay past the prescribed hour, and use my full lunch breaks as a way to get away from work for a bit. My only flaw is that I perhaps check work email a couple more times than strictly necessary over the weekend, but even that only adds up to a minute or two of distraction over the course of a normal weekend.

No, I want to work during the holiday season because it’s the coolest period of the year (attitude-wise, not temperature). Sure, you might be stuck in the office with the rest of the poor folks who drew the short straw. Or perhaps they, like yourself, volunteered to keep the lights on, and have now been charged with making sure that nothing breaks too badly while everyone else is drinking their eggnog, watching the cricket, or spending some quality time with their friends and family.

But because there are a lot of other people away from work, the usual pressures from the business dissipate, and all you’re left with is whatever your manager has decided they want you to work on over the break. If you get that done to their satisfaction, then the rest of your time at work is yours, free for you to finally work out how that esoteric system works, improve that thing that you’ve wanted to touch all year, fix that problem that needed more investigative time than your usual day would allow, or automate some process that probably should have been automated years ago.

I mean, what else am I going to do with my time off? There are only so many games of Frostivus you can play before you realise that maybe you’re the reason why your team can’t get past wave 12 of Tinys, and that perhaps Luna isn’t the ideal hero despite having built-in wave-clear, an aura that buffs your teammates, and scales well enough into late game to be truly formidable. Even though I can string creeps along and kite them all around the map, it’s my fault that my teammates decided to hide in base and get overrun.

So yes, a small part of me wants to be working over the break. Even if a not-insignificant portion of that is because I have basically nothing better to do.


IMG_3532After moving to Brisbane in April last year, I spent a few days in Hobart this February. It’s the first time since I moved away that I’ve been back, and while you could definitely see the differences in little old Hobart compared to when I left. But while I enjoyed my time in Hobart, I’m now more confused than ever about where I consider home to be.

Last August, I was in the Seattle watching The International 2015. The games scheduled for the day hadn’t started yet, so I was doing the widely accepted thing of tracking down Dota 2 personalities in order to obtain their signature.

As you might imagine, players were insanely popular to the point where they had scheduled photo and signature times — I ended up starting in the line for Evil Geniuses player Universe, but by the time I got near to the front it was Aui_2000 doing signatures, which was fine. I collected Aui’s signature on my Dota 2 Steelseries mousepad, and that was it.

Anyway, the games for the day hadn’t started yet — or maybe we were between games — but the English casters were seated and warming up. TobiWan was a caster I was interesting in getting the signature, seeing as he’s one of the most famous Dota 2 casters (and Australian, too). When it was my time to get his signature, I asked how he was and inquired if I could get his signature on my Dota 2 event badge. He said yeah, of course, and then asked if my accent was Australian.

I was a little confused, as even though I’ve lived in Australia for my entire life, I don’t think I have much of an accent. Perhaps it’s one of those cant-smell-your-own-body-odour things, but I replied yeah. While Tobi was signing my badge, he asked me where I was from, and seeing as I had only moved to Brisbane a few months prior, I answered Brisbane. He told me he hailed from a similar part of South East Queensland, the Gold Coast, and in that moment, we shared a special bond. Or I’d like to think so, anyway.

Fast forward about nine months, and it’s once again Tobi in his AMA on Reddit, answering a question about living/working in Germany: “I really just work here, I don’t really live here.”

It’s kind of how I feel about living in Brisbane. I moved here to take up full time-employment, and while that’s great and all, it hasn’t really given me the chance to explore a different state in a different part of the country. I used to do this thing where I’d go and find the biggest shopping centre I could and walk around for a bit, but eventually you run out of Westfields. Plus, not driving kind of makes it hard to venture any further than the train lines can take you, although I’m do going down to Robina every now and then.

To make matters even worse, when I returned to work on the Monday after a weekend wedding in Tassie, one of my colleagues welcomed me home. “Home”. I’m not sure I know where that is anymore, not out of some misplaced sense of belonging, but because I mostly just work in Brisbane, and don’t really live here.

That could change.

Twenty Five


Sometimes, when people ask me how old I am, I get a little confused. Especially when they combine it with questions like “so is that 23 turning 24, or 24 turning 25?” I don’t tend to think about how old I am all the time, so either I answer too quickly and get it wrong, or I think about it for longer than one might consider “normal”, get laughed at, and still get it wrong anyway.

It didn’t used to be this way, but over the past couple of years I’ve noticed it happening more and more. I’ve filled out enough online forms to know what my birth date is, so I should at least be able to calculate how old I am, but for some reason, deriving an answer to “how old are you” doesn’t come easily. Maybe I’m just over-thinking things, and I should add “I am 25 years old” to the list of things that I just know, like my (rough) height and weight. Maybe this is just what getting old is like.

Truth be told, I wasn’t planning on writing a birthday post this year. Or last year, for that matter. I had plenty of age and maturity-related thoughts when I was writing a birthday post from a few years ago, but when the time came to write about something last year, or something this year, none of the topics I had swirling around in my head wanted to coalesce into something of substance. No matter how long the bus or train ride was, nothing seemed pertinent enough to write about as the main topic of yet another birthday post.

Which is weird, because last year, more than any other, has been a pretty big year. Almost too big to write about, really, given that I accepted my first full-time job, which meant moving out of home and deciding what personal possessions I’d be bringing to another city in another state (computers, electronics, then everything else, in that order).

I made a trip to the US to watch The International, the biggest Dota 2 tournament in the world, as well as check out some west coast cities.

And so far, it’s been the first Christmas I’ve spent without any immediate family, the first New Year, and probably my first birthday. I can’t say for sure, obviously, but it certainly feels that way. Not that I mind about any of that. It was all going to happen eventually, and I’m glad it happened in at least somewhat positive circumstances.

If you’ve read any of my tweets from this year, you’ll know that growing up is, for the most part, pretty awful. No one’s talking about the freedom you get when you live alone, away from your immediately family, but when you work full time, people kind of know what you’re doing most of the time.

What they’re not telling you about is how awful it is having to do all of the washing up. Or needing to eat, but not wanting to do the washing up, and lacking the disposable incoming to eat out or get takeaway more than a few nights a week. Or how house inspections only happen four times per year, but even that feels too often. Or how having getting paid every fortnight feels great, at least until the bills and rent come in, at which point all your hard-earned leaves your bank account. The days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and a lot of the time, it feels as though I’m living to work, instead of working to live.

People ask me if I’d go back to uni to study, and I usually answer that while the actual study part was pretty awful, the lifestyle was pretty great. Not having to wake up early to go to work, not having to spend the entire day at uni, and occasionally being able to have entire days to myself. Now that I work full time, the only time that I really get is from evenings and weekends.

What it comes down to is a lack of time. If I’m playing video games every evening, then I’m not cooking, or doing the washing up. If I’m on call on the weekend, then I have to squeeze in buying groceries into my “lunch break”, or go shopping after work during the week. Every time I decide to clean my tiny unit, do some ironing for the week, or whatever else needs doing that I didn’t get around to doing last week is another time I’m not playing games on the internet with friends, and as the old adage goes, all work and no play makes Benny a dull boy.

Of course, the solution here might seem pretty simple: give up video games. But games have been such a huge part of my life that giving up video games would be like giving up a part of myself, like trading in my childhood for a shot at adulthood.

And that’s kind of what this is all about. My friends have been moving out, getting married, and settling down for years now. Some times I wish I experienced those things earlier, but I’m happy enough with how things have turned out so far.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the work that I’m doing. But there are times I wish it took up less of my time than it currently does. Some of the time, I wonder what it’d be like to be mostly-unemployed and have heaps of time, or what it would be like to have no time and be earning an amount to make it not matter. Perhaps there’s not much difference between the two, after all, but I guess that’s why they call it life.

Here’s to another year, whatever craziness it may bring.

Rite of passage – All this →

My older son had to go to a meeting at work this morning. He works at a grocery store in town and I assume the all-hands meeting was called to prepare the staff for an especially busy day because of a big sale.

Thing is, my son’s a bag boy.
via Rite of passage – All this.

Dr Drang doesn’t believe his 17-year old son should have gone to a store meeting with little to no relevance to him as a bag boy, but I disagree.

As someone who got their first job at 16, I know what it’s like to go to meetings that have little impact on what you do, day-to-day. I was still a high-school student at that time, and on the weekend, I’d work a few hours at the local Apple reseller.

I’ve been to my fair share of meetings that I probably didn’t, strictly speaking, need to go to, being a filthy casual and working one day a week. But here’s the thing, I always wanted to go because it meant I kept in touch with my colleagues I didn’t see every day, including all the ones I wouldn’t see regularly, due to them not working on the weekend. Going to those meetings kept me in the loop with all that was going on in the business and ensured I was seen as the reliable guy who’d turn up for meetings he wasn’t necessarily needed at.

Sure, I didn’t need to go to those meetings. But I’d like to think I’m a better person — a better employee — because I did.

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What kind of job do I want?

office block

In my continuing quest to find some kind of full time employment, something that won’t make me want to commit seppuku at the end of every working day, I ask myself the following question: what kind of job do I want?

The fact that I have no answer kind of explains why I’m in this predicament in the first place. I’m honestly not sure what kind of job I want, and the issue is further compounded by the fact that a job that looks good on paper might turn out to be the most soul-sucking drudgery in real life that I’ll end up hating it, myself, and everyone else in close proximity.

In other words, I guess you could say the job hunting is going well.

A few months ago, the internet exploded over the controversy a Penny Arcade job posting generated, but for the life of me, I don’t really understand why.

You can read the full position description over at LinkedIn, but I’ll quote the best part:

We are quite literally looking for a person that can do four jobs: Web Development, Software Development, Sys Admin, and the (dreaded) GENERAL IT for us here that need help configuring a firewall for a dev kit, etc. Sorry, I know that’s the WORST, but it’s absolutely part of the gig.

They’re not sugar-coating it. They need one person to do the jobs of four people (and do them well), and you know what? They’ll probably find someone, being Penny Arcade and all.

Here’s the part I don’t get, though: most of the Internet Rage™ was centred around how the individual that filled this position, the one who did all these jobs, would quickly burnout. Some called it “exploitation“, others still “insultingly horrible“, but I don’t see it.

Call it naivety about employment and the work/life balance, but I don’t see how it could. Sure the job would be (extremely) demanding, and sure, you might even work hard for little pay, but surely if you were applying for the job in the first place, you would have already made a conscious choice to do all of the above, at some time or another?

The reality is that unless your name is Marco Arment, you’re going to start somewhere in a job just like this. It might not be somewhere as (depending on who you ask) glamorous as Penny Arcade, and you may be doing slightly different things, but chances are, you’ll start out in a job that gives you little to no recognition for all the hard work you do that isn’t explicitly in your job description.

The way I see it, there’s two ways of approaching employment. You can treat your job like a 9-to-5, by clocking in, doing your job, and clocking out. That might pay the bills and put food on the table, but I doubt you’ll feel fulfilled by the work you do. Or, you could find a job you actually enjoy, actually put some effort into it, and at the end of the day, you’ll feel like you’re making a difference, even if you didn’t or don’t change the world.

Sure, you could settle for less. Ask anyone who has experienced “startup culture”, though, and you’ll realise that people working at startups don’t treat their jobs like any other 9-to-5. If they did, they’d probably find their startup crashing into the ground pretty quickly. Do you really think employees of startups, or those who are self-employed have a work/life balance? By the same token, do you think they enjoy the work they do?

Of course not, and of course they do. They wouldn’t be doing it, otherwise.

I’m not really sure what I’m looking for in a job. Something I enjoy would be great, but beyond that, I really have no idea. I’m waiting for the right opportunity to come up, but since I’m not really looking, the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

I was talking to a friend who basically told me the same thing, that there’s no such thing as “the perfect job”. In the end, I think that any job I end up with I’ll be equal parts mundane and unexciting as it will be fun and fulfilling. The key will be finding that balance.

Additional wisdom dispensed by my friend included the suggestion that I find anything just to get my foot in the door in order to get some experience behind me, which honestly isn’t a bad suggestion. The only problem with that is, what if I end up hating it and end up leaving six months to a year later? The question then becomes: did I just find out what kind of job I don’t want? Or did I just waste a bunch of time? I mean, if I’m going to waste time, I might as well do it in a way that I enjoy; by raising my ranked match-making rating in DotA 2, which currently sits at just below 2400. I’m not getting paid to play DotA, obviously, but it’s fun. Most of the time, anyway.

I guess the reason I care so much about this stuff is that I currently have a few regularly paying jobs, and fitting them all in the same 24-hour period leaves me with little time for anything else. I can handle a few of them and still have a lot of time to myself, but it’s a combination of all of them that leaves me with very little free time.

I could quit a few, but why? It’s only hectic sometimes, and provided I turn down a few extra shifts during the weekdays I’ll more or less get to keep my sanity and still have ample time to play some DotA.

Which is all a guy could ask for, really.



Comic via Doghouse Diaries.

The fashionable thing to do after you graduate, I’m told, is to get a job and start paying off your HECS fees. Either that, or go back for more education, either in the form of an Honours/Masters degree or a PhD in the field of your choice.

But apparently I must have missed that particular memo (or more likely, fallen asleep during that particular lecture), because thus far, I’m still as unemployed as I was when I started my degree.

Part of the problem lies in the fact I’m still very unsure about what kind of job I want, and is compounded by the fact that a Computing degree doesn’t necessarily mean I should get a degree doing something with computers, although in this day and age that’s more or less inevitable. I’m fairly sure I don’t want a full-time “programming” job, as I’ve never really liked programming. I’m not really interested in graphic design, 3D modelling, or web development, even though a large part of my degree was doing web stuff.

I remember when I was getting close to graduation the first or second time, and a colleague was asking me about what kind of job I was going to end up with after I graduated. I replied with not a little melancholy that I’d probably end up doing websites for clients, which would lead to my eventual suicide due to how depressing that life would be. I don’t really know what it is, by web development has never really appealed to me. I can get by hacking my own WordPress theme and fiddling with the occasional bit of PHP, but building websites for others is an unimaginable level of hell.

It should have been the precursor to my post on time a month or so ago, but I didn’t get around to writing a thing on the kind of job I want. Like the vast majority of people, I could probably just get some 9-5 job doing some horrible drudgery, only to come home and have a few hours to myself before going back for more the following day, but that’s no way to live. A better alternative would be to find something I find interesting, something stimulating, something that won’t leave me wanting to kill myself when 5:30 rolls around. The reality is, I probably wouldn’t mind a typical 9-5 job, it would just have to be something I enjoyed doing. Which is kind of why my current situation works pretty well, which leads on nicely to the next part.

The eagle-eyed among you would have noted my use of the word colleague earlier, a strange term to use when one is unemployed. But maybe for my particular situation, unemployed isn’t exactly the right term. I have and have had a job since 2007, just one that isn’t full time. I mostly work on the weekend, with a few days during the week here and there. The current arrangement I have works pretty well, actually. I get plenty of time to myself to do whatever I want — sleep until noon, get up, play some DotA 2, eat, play some more DotA — and because my daily expenses are pretty low, I can even save a little money on the side.

Did I tell you about that time I applied for money from the government to assist my Uni studies, but because I had been at Uni for too long, they wanted me to start proving I was looking for work? And that entailed a mandatory visit to an employment agency to help me get started, which felt really wrong? Not because looking for work is something I detest, but because that visit to the employment agency felt like I was using resources would could have been better used helping the less able and less fortunate to find work. My Centerlink payments stopped soon after that, because I felt like there were people that were more deserving of the government’s assistance than I. No, this isn’t some kind of high-horse that I’m sitting on, just a recognition of the fact that as far things go, I’m pretty lucky. And besides, I found my current job on my own when I was still in high school, so I didn’t really need the help of an employment agency to find work1.

And what about that time I was almost suckered into a pyramid scheme? Now that’s a truly enthralling tale for another time.

With very little idea of what kind of job I want, you could say the job hunt is proceeding as expected.

That’s not to say I haven’t been looking for a suitable full-time job. There was even a job I applied for, way back in July. Unlike other jobs, I kind of wanted this one: I thought I was a pretty strong candidate as it suited my previous experience to a T, the pay was great, and it would have meant moving out of my parents’ house and becoming independent. But even though I thought I was a pretty good candidate, HR apparently didn’t think so. My interpretation of the feedback I received essentially boiled down to “HR is more concerned with protecting themselves and their managers than finding the best candidate for the job” — that may be reading between the lines slightly, but that one job application made me so angry about the entire process that I haven’t bothered looking for or applying for anything else since.

Perhaps I wanted that job more than I let myself think I did, but either way, I’m enjoying being semi-unemployed. The right job will come along eventually, and until then, there’s plenty of other heroes to get good at in DotA.

  1. Not to mention, their offices had a really off-putting vibe to them, too. Not like creepy or anything, but I was a little weirded out by how they measured their job performance as the number of people they had gotten employed. That’s important, for sure, but how does job happiness factor into the grand scheme of things? It made me wonder about whether they actually cared about getting people in jobs or whether they just worried about lumping sacks of flesh with other sacks of flesh.