Moderators: richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
phugoid1982
Topic Author
Posts: 332
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:02 am

COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 2:43 pm

I normally don't like to post personal stuff like this but we've all been through a lot and I was wondering whether the lockdown and other job issues have forced anyone to reevaluate their lives. I've just been going through a bit of a rut lately. I'm thinking of going back for a doctorate in Aerospace but I'm already in my mid 30's. Fortunately, I have no commitments. I broke up with my gf just before the end of XMAS because it just wasn't working it out. I spend 5 years working for a major defense company as a Systems Engineer and I hated it. It was just a very adversarial environment where people would lie, cheat and screw over anyone else for a promotion. Being good at your job, doing well, and being collaborative didn't matter as much as making good power PPTs and making the right connections. The few good people I had a good working relationship all left the company for those aforementioned reasons. My father passed away a few years so I quit my job and moved to DC to help my mother out because she was absolutely overwhelmed. To be honest, as terrible as it was, my job was eating away at me and I'm glad I left I found another job as a contractor that was lower pay but I could work from home and for a while I was able to trudge through but the work felt very mundane. Now, I consider myself fortunate and lucky that I've been able to hold onto that and work through COVID but the isolation has also been very tough on me. But I feel guilty for complaining sometimes when financially i'm in excellent shape and others are suffering so much.

I find myself re-reading through some of my engineering books and trying to work out old problems to keep my brain somewhat sharp. After a conversation with a friend that I posted out about here, who is doing his doctorate in England and working on autonomous vehicles I couldn't help but feel envious. I think I'm just not cut out for industry work, at least, in the US or i'm just burned out and bored. When I had the chance to go back for a Ph.D. I opted not to because I was a very undisciplined student and I had a job offer. Now, the prospect of learning something new excites me. Anyone think I'm being rash?
 
User avatar
NIKV69
Posts: 15475
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:27 am

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:03 pm

Fortunately I didn't have this problem, actually quite the opposite. I made more money than I would of without the pandemic. As for you it's great if you are excited to learn a new thing. Best of luck.
 
dtw2hyd
Posts: 9100
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:11 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:28 pm

Most job environments in IT are like your first job. If you are good at what you do, independent consulting is the best way. Yes it doesn't come with all advertised perks, but if you manage your finances well you will enjoy the freedom. Health Insurance and training costs are on you.

Bottom line, there is no permanent employment in the USA, you can spent majority of your life being loyal to one corporation, just to be shown the door at the time you didn't expect. Being a freelancer, you manage your life events. Being fired or leaving job is a 50:50 event, yet people take it hard when they get fired.

Pandemic is not the time for change, but it appears you already set things moving. Good luck.
 
ltbewr
Posts: 16420
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:24 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 3:45 pm

As the OP notes, a lot of people have or will make changes in their lives as a result of the Pandemic including work, education, day to day living and relationships. This has been an event causing major long term life changes like WW I, WW II, the Great Depression, 9/11/01, the 2008 Great Recession.

For sure many will want to continue to work from home and don't want to go back to workplaces or only 1-3 days a week especially if have a long and difficult commutes. Some might consider major career or job changes as unhappy in their current jobs. Some will have to find new jobs as destroyed by the Pandemic. There will be major pressure to increase the minimum wage as well as improved working conditions. Work travel will also likely be less as companies realize 'Zoom meetings' are often more productive as don't lose the employee to travel time and as many employees will want to reduce travel for there personal benefit.

Education will see changes at all levels. Like with workplaces, some students will want to use 'school from home' instead of 'commuting' to school for convenience, reduce commuting or travel. Colleges and Universities, except for the most selective ones, will see drop-offs in numbers of on-campus residential students. For higher education, it is further affected by pre-Pandemic issues of those that want to reduce costs including running up student loans. Much of professional and workplace training will shift to on-line formats and less in person forms.
 
phatfarmlines
Posts: 2430
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2001 12:06 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 4:35 pm

phugoid1982 wrote:
Being good at your job, doing well, and being collaborative didn't matter as much as making good power PPTs and making the right connections.


Not sure I understand the PPT acronym (Powerpoint?), but I certainly agree with the your second point about making connections. So much so that some senior leaders, who are wary of networking being the "in" thing, work to ensure the lower rank-and-file do not make such connections, and also "threaten" managers about making connections with the rank-and-file. This occurs moreso in larger companies with vertical structures.
 
User avatar
Revelation
Posts: 28201
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:37 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 5:35 pm

phugoid1982 wrote:
I normally don't like to post personal stuff like this but we've all been through a lot and I was wondering whether the lockdown and other job issues have forced anyone to reevaluate their lives. I've just been going through a bit of a rut lately. I'm thinking of going back for a doctorate in Aerospace but I'm already in my mid 30's. Fortunately, I have no commitments. I broke up with my gf just before the end of XMAS because it just wasn't working it out. I spend 5 years working for a major defense company as a Systems Engineer and I hated it. It was just a very adversarial environment where people would lie, cheat and screw over anyone else for a promotion. Being good at your job, doing well, and being collaborative didn't matter as much as making good power PPTs and making the right connections. The few good people I had a good working relationship all left the company for those aforementioned reasons. My father passed away a few years so I quit my job and moved to DC to help my mother out because she was absolutely overwhelmed. To be honest, as terrible as it was, my job was eating away at me and I'm glad I left I found another job as a contractor that was lower pay but I could work from home and for a while I was able to trudge through but the work felt very mundane. Now, I consider myself fortunate and lucky that I've been able to hold onto that and work through COVID but the isolation has also been very tough on me. But I feel guilty for complaining sometimes when financially i'm in excellent shape and others are suffering so much.

I find myself re-reading through some of my engineering books and trying to work out old problems to keep my brain somewhat sharp. After a conversation with a friend that I posted out about here, who is doing his doctorate in England and working on autonomous vehicles I couldn't help but feel envious. I think I'm just not cut out for industry work, at least, in the US or i'm just burned out and bored. When I had the chance to go back for a Ph.D. I opted not to because I was a very undisciplined student and I had a job offer. Now, the prospect of learning something new excites me. Anyone think I'm being rash?

Re: "Being good at your job, doing well, and being collaborative didn't matter as much as making good power PPTs and making the right connections" in my experience describes academia to a tee!

And yes, late in my college days I got some great advice that told me working in the defense industry was soul crushing, so I avoided it.

From what I can tell the non-military world is more of a meritocracy and less of a bureaucracy.

It sounds like you've gotten off on the wrong foot and a job change would do you a lot of good, but it also sounds like you're bad experiences are kind of weighing you down.

Since you have a good financial and living situation, have you tried taking on-line courses or attending on-line conferences in your new area of interest? I am in a similar situation and have found that very rewarding. The bar to entry is much lower than a PhD course, yet if you find the right courses and conferences you are getting exposure to PhD level stuff. You can build up a good understanding of the material and can make some valuable contacts, in my experience. Then you can use that to get your foot into the door of some place doing the kind of work you are interested in, hopefully a vibrant commercial firm that offers some equity so you can feel more invested in its outcome.

Personally, I did BSEE and MSCS and by the end of the master's program, I was heartily sick of jumping through hoops just to please professors whose material was not really that important in the non-academic world. I then had thirty years of real world exposure to confirm my thoughts. I'm glad I did the MSCS and most of it was paid for by my employers but if I had been the one paying I think I would have been better off doing some independent studies in areas of interest and spending my time and money learning what the movers and shakers in the real world were doing by attending more conferences. I did a lot of that my first decade out of school since I was an independent contractor and was able to write off a lot of it as educational expense. Now it's even easier with a lot of high end conferences going to online format.

I guess this is all dependent on your area of interest, but in mine, I've attended several on-line conferences that have chat rooms, and after the talks the principals were in the chat rooms and were a lot easier to approach than the real-world conferences I had attended in the past. Some chat room connections have gone on to become people I interact with regularly via email.
 
LCDFlight
Posts: 2010
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:22 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 5:38 pm

phugoid1982 wrote:
I normally don't like to post personal stuff like this but we've all been through a lot and I was wondering whether the lockdown and other job issues have forced anyone to reevaluate their lives. I've just been going through a bit of a rut lately. I'm thinking of going back for a doctorate in Aerospace but I'm already in my mid 30's. Fortunately, I have no commitments. I broke up with my gf just before the end of XMAS because it just wasn't working it out. I spend 5 years working for a major defense company as a Systems Engineer and I hated it. It was just a very adversarial environment where people would lie, cheat and screw over anyone else for a promotion. Being good at your job, doing well, and being collaborative didn't matter as much as making good power PPTs and making the right connections. The few good people I had a good working relationship all left the company for those aforementioned reasons. My father passed away a few years so I quit my job and moved to DC to help my mother out because she was absolutely overwhelmed. To be honest, as terrible as it was, my job was eating away at me and I'm glad I left I found another job as a contractor that was lower pay but I could work from home and for a while I was able to trudge through but the work felt very mundane. Now, I consider myself fortunate and lucky that I've been able to hold onto that and work through COVID but the isolation has also been very tough on me. But I feel guilty for complaining sometimes when financially i'm in excellent shape and others are suffering so much.

I find myself re-reading through some of my engineering books and trying to work out old problems to keep my brain somewhat sharp. After a conversation with a friend that I posted out about here, who is doing his doctorate in England and working on autonomous vehicles I couldn't help but feel envious. I think I'm just not cut out for industry work, at least, in the US or i'm just burned out and bored. When I had the chance to go back for a Ph.D. I opted not to because I was a very undisciplined student and I had a job offer. Now, the prospect of learning something new excites me. Anyone think I'm being rash?


All in all, your post was about realizing the truth of dealing with advanced tech professional challenges (the hassle of dealing with PEOPLE). Academia is NOT a cure for that, but it still might your goal or what you need personally. It wasn't for me.

Political people are the opposite of you or me. Don't be afraid to change jobs and click with other people. I just interviewed last week for an equal job at a competitor but without the clowns. If you stayed in a toxic culture 5 years, you should have quit after 2 years and found a job you liked better (you know this).

There is no reason to let work politics upset you. Might it be that you were idealistic about the reality of technical work among humans? It is a game, which you now understand. I totally removed my expectations and feelings from my work. This freed up mental and emotional space.

Like you, I am thinking of changing my life. Thinking of putting my stuff in storage and maybe living in AirBnBs, but not quitting my jobs. You have a dream you are working on too, so I wish you luck whatever you do.
 
User avatar
Revelation
Posts: 28201
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:37 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:33 pm

LCDFlight wrote:
There is no reason to let work politics upset you. Might it be that you were idealistic about the reality of technical work among humans? It is a game, which you now understand. I totally removed my expectations and feelings from my work. This freed up mental and emotional space.

Reminds me of the Joe Jackson lyric, "Though it's oh so nice to get advice It's oh so hard to do"...

It's a great goal, but one that's hard to put into practice, especially given that many of us work in a field we chose and spend the great majority of the productive hours of our life practicing.

It's wonderful if one can reach this standard, but if one can't, I would suggest just not voicing things that would be counted against you by decision makers, or working hard at greatly avoiding such. As the old saying goes, the nail that stands out gets hammered flat. I got at least one such hammer dropped on me.

But yes, maintaining a good emotional distance from work helps not just this issue but many others too.

LCDFlight wrote:
Like you, I am thinking of changing my life. Thinking of putting my stuff in storage and maybe living in AirBnBs, but not quitting my jobs. You have a dream you are working on too, so I wish you luck whatever you do.

Best of luck to both of you!
 
LCDFlight
Posts: 2010
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:22 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:59 pm

Revelation wrote:
LCDFlight wrote:
There is no reason to let work politics upset you. Might it be that you were idealistic about the reality of technical work among humans? It is a game, which you now understand. I totally removed my expectations and feelings from my work. This freed up mental and emotional space.

Reminds me of the Joe Jackson lyric, "Though it's oh so nice to get advice It's oh so hard to do"...

It's a great goal, but one that's hard to put into practice, especially given that many of us work in a field we chose and spend the great majority of the productive hours of our life practicing.

It's wonderful if one can reach this standard, but if one can't, I would suggest just not voicing things that would be counted against you by decision makers, or working hard at greatly avoiding such. As the old saying goes, the nail that stands out gets hammered flat. I got at least one such hammer dropped on me.

But yes, maintaining a good emotional distance from work helps not just this issue but many others too.

LCDFlight wrote:
Like you, I am thinking of changing my life. Thinking of putting my stuff in storage and maybe living in AirBnBs, but not quitting my jobs. You have a dream you are working on too, so I wish you luck whatever you do.

Best of luck to both of you!


Thanks, and you are very right, avoid bad "sound bytes." Silence is golden, and it is much less work to achieve.

I know a young guy who has excellent judgment. He is always thinking, but he says little. Once every few months, if nobody has an answer, he will answer a tough question with a good solution. Otherwise, he volunteers nothing. Very crafty! The old story about leaving people guessing. It allows them to live in their fantasy.
 
phugoid1982
Topic Author
Posts: 332
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:02 am

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:03 pm

LCDFlight wrote:
Political people are the opposite of you or me. Don't be afraid to change jobs and click with other people. I just interviewed last week for an equal job at a competitor but without the clowns. If you stayed in a toxic culture 5 years, you should have quit after 2 years and found a job you liked better (you know this).
.


Dude, you are so on point with that. The worst thing is I knew it one year into working with the company that It was time to start looking for another job. I wasn't gelling with my dept. head who pretty much didn't acknowledge me but was very chummy with other newbies because I think one played golf with her husband and the other one was a big hockey fan. This was within a week of knowing me or rather barely knowing me. I made the mistake later of of trying to get social with people I worked with but a lot of them would just just backstab me. Case in point, despite finishing 3 weeks of work in a week, a colleague complained to my manager that I "talked about a non related work with a co-worker for 15 mins". She must've been timing us from her cube as if she had nothing better to do. This was on a Friday at 5PM before we punched out. He was smart and left a year later because he too was nerdy like me and just didn't gel with the culture.

Whenever I started getting great reviews from people for something I did or solved I would get transferred to a different program. So I'd be starting from scratch. I complained to HR but it all fell on deaf ears. To be fair, my second year in an old back injury flared up and I had to have major surgery and was on medical leave for 3 months and luckily short-term disability covered me 100%. So I was struggling to recover, grateful for my benefits and didn't want to rock the boat any further. In the end, I became a" jack of all trades but master of none" since I had no in depth experience with a particular program. This severely hurt me promotion wise and by the time I resigned I was at much lower level than I should've been compared to others who had been there the same time. I think this severely hurt me when I was looking for other jobs after I moved. But I'm not naive. I know the culture will be like that at any major company. Even in academia, there is a lot of backstabbing, promotions involve playing the game, and until you get tenure you are on pin cushions. Bottom line, I got too cozy with employment, and my ex was doing her MS at the time and I I was plain honestly scared to make a major change at that point. Working as a contractor, and from home, has been a lot easier but I think if I were to get another offer at a major company it would be hard for me re-integrate into corporate culture.

So, I decided that I'll keep doing this for a while and try to study some online stuff and apply to my alma mater to the Doctoral program. I have the best chance of getting admission there and they've waived the GRE because of COVID which makes sense. I took mine Eons ago anyway. My advisor retired, but I wrote to a couple of profs and mentioned potential research areas I was into to see if they had funding because I would never dream of taking out loans at this stage. We'll see what happens.

P.S.
I wouldn't mind backpacking and travelling. Fortunately, I get the 1st dose of the vaccine tomorrow so maybe after I get the second one who knows. I could open a fruit stand on a beach in Fiji....
Last edited by phugoid1982 on Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
phugoid1982
Topic Author
Posts: 332
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:02 am

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:10 pm

Revelation wrote:
phugoid1982 wrote:
I normally don't like to post personal stuff like this but we've all been through a lot and I was wondering whether the lockdown and other job issues have forced anyone to reevaluate their lives. I've just been going through a bit of a rut lately. I'm thinking of going back for a doctorate in Aerospace but I'm already in my mid 30's. Fortunately, I have no commitments. I broke up with my gf just before the end of XMAS because it just wasn't working it out. I spend 5 years working for a major defense company as a Systems Engineer and I hated it. It was just a very adversarial environment where people would lie, cheat and screw over anyone else for a promotion. Being good at your job, doing well, and being collaborative didn't matter as much as making good power PPTs and making the right connections. The few good people I had a good working relationship all left the company for those aforementioned reasons. My father passed away a few years so I quit my job and moved to DC to help my mother out because she was absolutely overwhelmed. To be honest, as terrible as it was, my job was eating away at me and I'm glad I left I found another job as a contractor that was lower pay but I could work from home and for a while I was able to trudge through but the work felt very mundane. Now, I consider myself fortunate and lucky that I've been able to hold onto that and work through COVID but the isolation has also been very tough on me. But I feel guilty for complaining sometimes when financially i'm in excellent shape and others are suffering so much.

I find myself re-reading through some of my engineering books and trying to work out old problems to keep my brain somewhat sharp. After a conversation with a friend that I posted out about here, who is doing his doctorate in England and working on autonomous vehicles I couldn't help but feel envious. I think I'm just not cut out for industry work, at least, in the US or i'm just burned out and bored. When I had the chance to go back for a Ph.D. I opted not to because I was a very undisciplined student and I had a job offer. Now, the prospect of learning something new excites me. Anyone think I'm being rash?

Re: "Being good at your job, doing well, and being collaborative didn't matter as much as making good power PPTs and making the right connections" in my experience describes academia to a tee!

And yes, late in my college days I got some great advice that told me working in the defense industry was soul crushing, so I avoided it.

From what I can tell the non-military world is more of a meritocracy and less of a bureaucracy.

It sounds like you've gotten off on the wrong foot and a job change would do you a lot of good, but it also sounds like you're bad experiences are kind of weighing you down.

Since you have a good financial and living situation, have you tried taking on-line courses or attending on-line conferences in your new area of interest? I am in a similar situation and have found that very rewarding. The bar to entry is much lower than a PhD course, yet if you find the right courses and conferences you are getting exposure to PhD level stuff. You can build up a good understanding of the material and can make some valuable contacts, in my experience. Then you can use that to get your foot into the door of some place doing the kind of work you are interested in, hopefully a vibrant commercial firm that offers some equity so you can feel more invested in its outcome.

Personally, I did BSEE and MSCS and by the end of the master's program, I was heartily sick of jumping through hoops just to please professors whose material was not really that important in the non-academic world. I then had thirty years of real world exposure to confirm my thoughts. I'm glad I did the MSCS and most of it was paid for by my employers but if I had been the one paying I think I would have been better off doing some independent studies in areas of interest and spending my time and money learning what the movers and shakers in the real world were doing by attending more conferences. I did a lot of that my first decade out of school since I was an independent contractor and was able to write off a lot of it as educational expense. Now it's even easier with a lot of high end conferences going to online format.

I guess this is all dependent on your area of interest, but in mine, I've attended several on-line conferences that have chat rooms, and after the talks the principals were in the chat rooms and were a lot easier to approach than the real-world conferences I had attended in the past. Some chat room connections have gone on to become people I interact with regularly via email.


Thanks for the advice. I've looked into some stuff on Coursera and am poking through some of the certificates that MicroMasters programs offer.
 
User avatar
Revelation
Posts: 28201
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:37 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:33 pm

phugoid1982 wrote:
Dude, you are so on point with that. The worst thing is I knew it one year into working with the company that It was time to start looking for another job. I wasn't gelling with my dept. head who pretty much didn't acknowledge me but was very chummy with other newbies because I think one played golf with her husband and the other one was a big hockey fan. This was within a week of knowing me or rather barely knowing me. I made the mistake later of of trying to get social with people I worked with but a lot of them would just just backstab me. Case in point, despite finishing 3 weeks of work in a week, a colleague complained to my manager that I "talked about a non related work with a co-worker for 15 mins". She must've been timing us from her cube as if she had nothing better to do. This was on a Friday at 5PM before we punched out. He was smart and left a year later because he too was nerdy like me and just didn't gel with the culture.

Whenever I started getting great reviews from people for something I did or solved I would get transferred to a different program. So I'd be starting from scratch. I complained to HR but it all fell on deaf ears. To be fair, my second year in an old back injury flared up and I had to have major surgery and was on medical leave for 3 months and luckily short-term disability covered me 100%. So I was struggling to recover, grateful for my benefits and didn't want to rock the boat any further. In the end, I became a" jack of all trades but master of none" since I had no in depth experience with a particular program. This severely hurt me promotion wise and by the time I resigned I was at much lower level than I should've been compared to others who had been there the same time. I think this severely hurt me when I was looking for other jobs after I moved. But I'm not naive. I know the culture will be like that at any major company. Even in academia, there is a lot of backstabbing, promotions involve playing the game, and until you get tenure you are on pin cushions. Bottom line, I got too cozy with employment, and my ex was doing her MS at the time and I I was plain honestly scared to make a major change at that point. Working as a contractor, and from home, has been a lot easier but I think if I were to get another offer at a major company it would be hard for me re-integrate into corporate culture.

So, I decided that I'll keep doing this for a while and try to study some online stuff and apply to my alma mater to the Doctoral program. I have the best chance of getting admission there and they've waived the GRE because of COVID which makes sense. I took mine Eons ago anyway. My advisor retired, but I wrote to a couple of profs and mentioned potential research areas I was into to see if they had funding because I would never dream of taking out loans at this stage. We'll see what happens.

P.S.
I wouldn't mind backpacking and travelling. Fortunately, I get the 1st dose of the vaccine tomorrow so maybe after I get the second one who knows. I could open a fruit stand on a beach in Fiji....

I don't want to keep being the cynical old man, but one thing someone said to me at one point was good advice: remember that HR is there to protect the company's interests, not yours. I have to say I have never heard anyone say "thank God I went to HR, they resolved the situation to my satisfaction". Maybe I should start a new thread and ask that?

Anyway, managers get triggered when employees go to HR, they know for better or worse there's now a paper trail of a complaint involving them, and they don't want that. More often than not, they get resentful. They begin to feel as if you are making a paper trail to eventually take them down. Managers also gossip amongst themselves a lot about their employees, so word often gets around and you get labeled a problem child, like it or not. HR people are human too, and although ethics would say they should respect confidentiality, they too can be gossips. I know I've heard more then a few of them gossiping while just sitting in their area waiting for an appointment. I gotta say I found it to be unreal.

Personally, if I feel I need to go to HR, or if I find someone else has gone to HR about me, it's a strong sign to start looking for another job. The last time I've gone to HR was to resign, and then I had a bunch of email evidence to show what an asshole my manager was being, just to make sure it went on his record and that my co-workers might get some relief instead of they too deciding to leave. Turns out the week after I left the asshole manager used a downsizing event to fire all the people he didn't like anyway, so I got out ahead of the carnage and on my own terms.
 
User avatar
Aaron747
Posts: 18644
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 2:07 am

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:54 pm

Revelation wrote:
phugoid1982 wrote:
Dude, you are so on point with that. The worst thing is I knew it one year into working with the company that It was time to start looking for another job. I wasn't gelling with my dept. head who pretty much didn't acknowledge me but was very chummy with other newbies because I think one played golf with her husband and the other one was a big hockey fan. This was within a week of knowing me or rather barely knowing me. I made the mistake later of of trying to get social with people I worked with but a lot of them would just just backstab me. Case in point, despite finishing 3 weeks of work in a week, a colleague complained to my manager that I "talked about a non related work with a co-worker for 15 mins". She must've been timing us from her cube as if she had nothing better to do. This was on a Friday at 5PM before we punched out. He was smart and left a year later because he too was nerdy like me and just didn't gel with the culture.

Whenever I started getting great reviews from people for something I did or solved I would get transferred to a different program. So I'd be starting from scratch. I complained to HR but it all fell on deaf ears. To be fair, my second year in an old back injury flared up and I had to have major surgery and was on medical leave for 3 months and luckily short-term disability covered me 100%. So I was struggling to recover, grateful for my benefits and didn't want to rock the boat any further. In the end, I became a" jack of all trades but master of none" since I had no in depth experience with a particular program. This severely hurt me promotion wise and by the time I resigned I was at much lower level than I should've been compared to others who had been there the same time. I think this severely hurt me when I was looking for other jobs after I moved. But I'm not naive. I know the culture will be like that at any major company. Even in academia, there is a lot of backstabbing, promotions involve playing the game, and until you get tenure you are on pin cushions. Bottom line, I got too cozy with employment, and my ex was doing her MS at the time and I I was plain honestly scared to make a major change at that point. Working as a contractor, and from home, has been a lot easier but I think if I were to get another offer at a major company it would be hard for me re-integrate into corporate culture.

So, I decided that I'll keep doing this for a while and try to study some online stuff and apply to my alma mater to the Doctoral program. I have the best chance of getting admission there and they've waived the GRE because of COVID which makes sense. I took mine Eons ago anyway. My advisor retired, but I wrote to a couple of profs and mentioned potential research areas I was into to see if they had funding because I would never dream of taking out loans at this stage. We'll see what happens.

P.S.
I wouldn't mind backpacking and travelling. Fortunately, I get the 1st dose of the vaccine tomorrow so maybe after I get the second one who knows. I could open a fruit stand on a beach in Fiji....

I don't want to keep being the cynical old man, but one thing someone said to me at one point was good advice: remember that HR is there to protect the company's interests, not yours. I have to say I have never heard anyone say "thank God I went to HR, they resolved the situation to my satisfaction". Maybe I should start a new thread and ask that?

Anyway, managers get triggered when employees go to HR, they know for better or worse there's now a paper trail of a complaint involving them, and they don't want that. More often than not, they get resentful. They begin to feel as if you are making a paper trail to eventually take them down. Managers also gossip amongst themselves a lot about their employees, so word often gets around and you get labeled a problem child, like it or not. HR people are human too, and although ethics would say they should respect confidentiality, they too can be gossips. I know I've heard more then a few of them gossiping while just sitting in their area waiting for an appointment. I gotta say I found it to be unreal.

Personally, if I feel I need to go to HR, or if I find someone else has gone to HR about me, it's a strong sign to start looking for another job. The last time I've gone to HR was to resign, and then I had a bunch of email evidence to show what an asshole my manager was being, just to make sure it went on his record and that my co-workers might get some relief instead of they too deciding to leave. Turns out the week after I left the asshole manager used a downsizing event to fire all the people he didn't like anyway, so I got out ahead of the carnage and on my own terms.


As an evil HR operative, I can affirm every one of your observations. Had to get out of a vertical structure because the gossip and lack of ethics in practice were off the charts. A little hint about how upper management feel about employees: they call the department ‘People’ if they care a little, ‘HR’ if they care zero.
 
User avatar
seahawk
Posts: 10432
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 1:29 am

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:25 am

It is not better in the academia world, as ,at least in Europe, working on your doctorate involves huge amounts of ass kissing. I found my solution in switching sides and starting to work for the regulator. Yes, it is public service so it pays less, but the environment is a lot less competitive and if you are the specialist in your field, you enjoy a lot of freedom.
 
User avatar
stl07
Posts: 3223
Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 8:57 pm

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:55 am

seahawk wrote:
It is not better in the academia world, as ,at least in Europe, working on your doctorate involves huge amounts of ass kissing. I found my solution in switching sides and starting to work for the regulator. Yes, it is public service so it pays less, but the environment is a lot less competitive and if you are the specialist in your field, you enjoy a lot of freedom.

Huh, interesting take. Might consider something like that in the future
 
phugoid1982
Topic Author
Posts: 332
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:02 am

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Mon Apr 19, 2021 1:58 pm

Revelation wrote:
phugoid1982 wrote:
Dude, you are so on point with that. The worst thing is I knew it one year into working with the company that It was time to start looking for another job. I wasn't gelling with my dept. head who pretty much didn't acknowledge me but was very chummy with other newbies because I think one played golf with her husband and the other one was a big hockey fan. This was within a week of knowing me or rather barely knowing me. I made the mistake later of of trying to get social with people I worked with but a lot of them would just just backstab me. Case in point, despite finishing 3 weeks of work in a week, a colleague complained to my manager that I "talked about a non related work with a co-worker for 15 mins". She must've been timing us from her cube as if she had nothing better to do. This was on a Friday at 5PM before we punched out. He was smart and left a year later because he too was nerdy like me and just didn't gel with the culture.

Whenever I started getting great reviews from people for something I did or solved I would get transferred to a different program. So I'd be starting from scratch. I complained to HR but it all fell on deaf ears. To be fair, my second year in an old back injury flared up and I had to have major surgery and was on medical leave for 3 months and luckily short-term disability covered me 100%. So I was struggling to recover, grateful for my benefits and didn't want to rock the boat any further. In the end, I became a" jack of all trades but master of none" since I had no in depth experience with a particular program. This severely hurt me promotion wise and by the time I resigned I was at much lower level than I should've been compared to others who had been there the same time. I think this severely hurt me when I was looking for other jobs after I moved. But I'm not naive. I know the culture will be like that at any major company. Even in academia, there is a lot of backstabbing, promotions involve playing the game, and until you get tenure you are on pin cushions. Bottom line, I got too cozy with employment, and my ex was doing her MS at the time and I I was plain honestly scared to make a major change at that point. Working as a contractor, and from home, has been a lot easier but I think if I were to get another offer at a major company it would be hard for me re-integrate into corporate culture.

So, I decided that I'll keep doing this for a while and try to study some online stuff and apply to my alma mater to the Doctoral program. I have the best chance of getting admission there and they've waived the GRE because of COVID which makes sense. I took mine Eons ago anyway. My advisor retired, but I wrote to a couple of profs and mentioned potential research areas I was into to see if they had funding because I would never dream of taking out loans at this stage. We'll see what happens.

P.S.
I wouldn't mind backpacking and travelling. Fortunately, I get the 1st dose of the vaccine tomorrow so maybe after I get the second one who knows. I could open a fruit stand on a beach in Fiji....

I don't want to keep being the cynical old man, but one thing someone said to me at one point was good advice: remember that HR is there to protect the company's interests, not yours. I have to say I have never heard anyone say "thank God I went to HR, they resolved the situation to my satisfaction". Maybe I should start a new thread and ask that?

Anyway, managers get triggered when employees go to HR, they know for better or worse there's now a paper trail of a complaint involving them, and they don't want that. More often than not, they get resentful. They begin to feel as if you are making a paper trail to eventually take them down. Managers also gossip amongst themselves a lot about their employees, so word often gets around and you get labeled a problem child, like it or not. HR people are human too, and although ethics would say they should respect confidentiality, they too can be gossips. I know I've heard more then a few of them gossiping while just sitting in their area waiting for an appointment. I gotta say I found it to be unreal.

Personally, if I feel I need to go to HR, or if I find someone else has gone to HR about me, it's a strong sign to start looking for another job. The last time I've gone to HR was to resign, and then I had a bunch of email evidence to show what an asshole my manager was being, just to make sure it went on his record and that my co-workers might get some relief instead of they too deciding to leave. Turns out the week after I left the asshole manager used a downsizing event to fire all the people he didn't like anyway, so I got out ahead of the carnage and on my own terms.


That's very true about HR , especially about confidentiality and gossip among colleagues and I'm not a person who likes to complain about things. In an ideal world, we'd all work together diligently, to solve problems check our issues at the door and just be professional. The worst thing was the hierarchical hypocrisy that my company had also about PC culture and what was acceptable. Managers could do what they wanted and say stuff but the rest of us plebeians weren't afforded that luxury. When I had joined my company I toned down all my very non-PC humor to make sure I would fit in since I had never worked in that kind of stiff environment before and didn't want to rub people the wrong way. First couple of weeks, my immediate manager starts making all kinds of remarks about good-looking female staff and asked me about my dating life. I was careful to tip-toe around these kinds of conversations and when I mentioned that my sister told me to hang out with her best friend and his husband for dinner so they could plug me into the social scene he quipped "Oh, so you were the the third gay guy?". For one, I'm straight and they wanted to introduce me to a doctor friend who I had nothing in common with. Now, I could've taken enormous offense to this, and reported him to HR but I figured it was just him trying to be the older cool boss. It was also the kind of silly juvenile joke I would've found funny at 13 but not in my 20s.

Later on, my much younger manager who was my age, dumb as bag of bricks, but looked like a young Harrison Ford would swear a lot and once out of frustration, in a private a conversation I dropped the Fbomb rather exasperatedly because he was insisting I use a previous engineer's analysis, to meet a deadline, that basically was done using high school level physics (F=ma) and it needed an aerolelastic/vibration analysis. I took the the trouble of doing this on my own time to ensure accuracy. Either way, for letting that slip, he said "You know, I should report you for this, but i'll cut you some slack." As if he's doing me a favor, for something he does all the time, when the greater issue is the validity of the analytical approach. In the end I acquiesced, took his approach and I had turned out to be right but got blamed when the simulation didn't work as planned. Plus, after I came back to work after recovering my back surgery, I started using our office gym for core strengthening. During our meetings he would do nothing but brag about how much he could bench and would take shots at me. Maybe, they were innocuous and I had just become so bitter with the work culture but either way I didn't go crying because I knew it was pointless.

The last straw came when I noticed the dept. hired a SW engineer in my division whose only qualifications were an Associates Degree and the fact that she was a cheerleader for a major NHL hockey team that she never stopped bragging about to most of the male engineers fawned over her rather openly which I thought was extremely inappropriate. I was very careful in my time working there to extra professional around female engineers and not even compliment them. A colleague simply complimented a female engineer's dress and got severely reprimanded and had to go through sexual harassment training. Working with the "cheerleader" was a nightmare, because she couldn't write a line of code, but others would pick up the slack, and that would delay my analysis. Long story short, after 2 years she ended up with more seniority than I did. Scuttlebutt, was she was on track to be a manager. I don't regret walking away from it at all.
 
User avatar
NeBaNi
Posts: 505
Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:45 am

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Mon Apr 19, 2021 10:08 pm

phugoid1982 wrote:
I find myself re-reading through some of my engineering books and trying to work out old problems to keep my brain somewhat sharp. After a conversation with a friend that I posted out about here, who is doing his doctorate in England and working on autonomous vehicles I couldn't help but feel envious. I think I'm just not cut out for industry work, at least, in the US or i'm just burned out and bored. When I had the chance to go back for a Ph.D. I opted not to because I was a very undisciplined student and I had a job offer. Now, the prospect of learning something new excites me. Anyone think I'm being rash?


Just quoting this portion of your post, but I did read the whole thread. I've been working as a teaching assistant for the past couple of years for graduate/PhD level courses at a university where our aerospace engineering graduate program enrolls a lot of people from the industry. Generally, while TA'ing, I've found students from the industry to be motivated, hardworking, knowledgeable, excellent at time management and so on. I am really in awe with students who juggle a full time job during the day and (re)watch lectures in the evening, and still have time to make it to my office hours with thoughtful questions. I started a PhD partly as a way to avoid being a grownup for a little bit longer. Looking back, I think I would have pursued grad school (Masters, maybe not a PhD) while working. If you're worried about discipline, I'd say by working in industry and still finding time to work out old problems from your textbooks, you're already more disciplined than the average student. I think you'd have what it takes to do it for sure.

That being said, unless you're absolutely passionate about your research area, the PhD get really tough. You'll be working on something for 4-6 years, day in and day out. You'd need a great relationship with your adviser, and at the same time you'll be taking classes, TA'ing, mentoring, and so on. You'll definitely be learning new things all the time, but you'll need a lot of self motivation. The pressure to publish is there, but journal papers also don't have deadlines. I'd say explore your options. Professors would jump at getting people from industry, and if you don't want to commit to full-time, maybe there are people willing to do an industry collaboration and let you do it part time, with your employer on board? I know our school has a couple of people like that.

Feel free to PM if you want to talk more or need any specific advice. Final note: I lol'd when reading about the adversarial environment -- I have a couple of colleagues in aerospace companies who say the same.
 
phugoid1982
Topic Author
Posts: 332
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:02 am

Re: COVID, job fatigue, re-evaluation of life and career changes

Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:50 pm

NeBaNi wrote:
phugoid1982 wrote:
I find myself re-reading through some of my engineering books and trying to work out old problems to keep my brain somewhat sharp. After a conversation with a friend that I posted out about here, who is doing his doctorate in England and working on autonomous vehicles I couldn't help but feel envious. I think I'm just not cut out for industry work, at least, in the US or i'm just burned out and bored. When I had the chance to go back for a Ph.D. I opted not to because I was a very undisciplined student and I had a job offer. Now, the prospect of learning something new excites me. Anyone think I'm being rash?


Just quoting this portion of your post, but I did read the whole thread. I've been working as a teaching assistant for the past couple of years for graduate/PhD level courses at a university where our aerospace engineering graduate program enrolls a lot of people from the industry. Generally, while TA'ing, I've found students from the industry to be motivated, hardworking, knowledgeable, excellent at time management and so on. I am really in awe with students who juggle a full time job during the day and (re)watch lectures in the evening, and still have time to make it to my office hours with thoughtful questions. I started a PhD partly as a way to avoid being a grownup for a little bit longer. Looking back, I think I would have pursued grad school (Masters, maybe not a PhD) while working. If you're worried about discipline, I'd say by working in industry and still finding time to work out old problems from your textbooks, you're already more disciplined than the average student. I think you'd have what it takes to do it for sure.

That being said, unless you're absolutely passionate about your research area, the PhD get really tough. You'll be working on something for 4-6 years, day in and day out. You'd need a great relationship with your adviser, and at the same time you'll be taking classes, TA'ing, mentoring, and so on. You'll definitely be learning new things all the time, but you'll need a lot of self motivation. The pressure to publish is there, but journal papers also don't have deadlines. I'd say explore your options. Professors would jump at getting people from industry, and if you don't want to commit to full-time, maybe there are people willing to do an industry collaboration and let you do it part time, with your employer on board? I know our school has a couple of people like that.

Feel free to PM if you want to talk more or need any specific advice. Final note: I lol'd when reading about the adversarial environment -- I have a couple of colleagues in aerospace companies who say the same.


Thanks for your kind comments and advice. Actually a few professors I wrote to replied and said they had RA's available and funding in fall if I was interested. I was particularly interested in one professor who was doing research in non-linear flight dynamics. I had taken a course in Dynamical Systems Theory as an MS student and found that area interesting when applied obviously (the math dept. offered a similar course but I stayed the heck away from that variant).

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: johns624, meecrob, N626AA, phatfarmlines, Pi7472000, TWA772LR and 36 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos