Do you have a job or a career and what is it that you do?

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Joined: 8-01-11
Feb 7 2012 21:32
Do you have a job or a career and what is it that you do?

I'm at that stage again where I've gotta decide what to do with my life.

I've had a series of 'jobs' and done the watch game and sitting on the toilet to waste time*, mega lol, and want to do something fulfilling that, wage labour aside, I actually enjoy. I'm thinking of being a librarian (basically chilling, reading and listening to music all day) or doing something practical with my hands like being self-employed/ self-exploited as an electrician or in carpentry so I don't have to call 'a man' out every time lol. Either way, I don't want to go to university again and pay £9,000 tuition fees plus a year...

Having said that, I'll probably end up being bored as fuck on the dole, in sales or in some shitty (corporate) shop like my friends, brother and his peers waiting for the evenings/ weekends to get high/ coked up/ plastered. Don't get me started on how the middle-class doesn't exist anymore...

So do you have a 'job' or a 'career' and what is it that you all do? Are you thinking of changing? Do you have any advice?

* though there was some BNP/ anti-Polish graffiti sketched into the cubicle wall which I corrected red n black star

Tarwater's picture
Joined: 29-12-08
Feb 7 2012 21:49

I have my dream job and it's just as awful as bagging groceries or manual labor, if only differently awful. My advice is to marry into a wealthy family.

Choccy's picture
Joined: 9-12-04
Feb 7 2012 22:05

Science teacher. I hate my job under capitalism, but it pays the bills. Though, if we actually had FULL COMMUNISM and work was completely redefined so we only did fulfilling, socially useful stuff, I'd probaly still be a science teacher, as I love science, and like working with kids - but it would be completely different. No testing, no judging, just blowing shit up, working with animals, collecting data in forests all that sort of fun shit instead of 'let's do another AFL task'.

Joined: 8-01-11
Jan 23 2013 00:54


Joined: 11-11-07
Feb 8 2012 16:50

I have a "job" (I'm incredibly underemployed) as a writing tutor at my school. The work is OK and when students don't show up I get to just chill and answer the phone. But I get like no hours and our wages just got cut from $8.50 an hour to $7.75. sad angry Plus our manager is creating a huge reserve army of labor by training and hiring a ton of new freshmen.

EDIT: Oh yeah, and as a career I'm thinking teaching of some kind. I would love to be a tenured middle class professor laugh out loud But I don't know if I'll ever make it that far. I am hoping to be able to go to grad school and be an adjunct professor or whatever. If I can't make it into grad school (or if they want me to pay for it) I might just do teach for America and perhaps go on to teach in high schools. I love writing though, so if I could get paid to do that somehow i would be into it. Or professional weed smoker. Whatever they need me to do.

Khawaga's picture
Joined: 7-08-06
Feb 7 2012 23:09

Currently a PhD student, will likely end up as a sessional teacher; teaching a fuck load of courses for poverty wages, while trying to do some research and organizing. I kinda have the same outlook on teaching/researching as Choccy. It's fucked up now, but I'd like to do it ATR.

sabot's picture
Joined: 21-06-08
Feb 7 2012 23:31

I'm a techy, so I’m somewhere in between a careerist and job monkey. For US standards, it pays well and has good benefits. The work itself is easy but I don’t enjoy it by any means. I tell myself that I’m going to quit one day and go back to school to become a full “libcom academia” type like some of youse posters, but I know that shit will never happen. I can always dream though…

Cooked's picture
Joined: 6-04-10
Feb 8 2012 00:27

I'm spoilt as fuck. Except pay and working hours (just got back from work and I'm uk based...) the job ticks all the boxes. I'ts creative but not freaky-hipster-fun, very little hierarchy, decent workmates, totally uncorporate.

My politics, and to a certain extent my background, is killing it for me though. I can't get on the train of thinking the work we do it's the-shit they way my workmates do. The way the job is totally governed by capitalism turns it into

'making orange stuff [shampoo]'

I check the time every 10min. Being in a field I love makes it worse.

Choccy's picture
Joined: 9-12-04
Feb 8 2012 00:42
Cooked wrote:
I check the time every 10min. Being in a field I love makes it worse.

This is it, and the most alienating part. If my job was one I just hated and didn't identify with I could at least compartmentalise it away like I have done other shit jobs. But like I said, i actually think, in principle, my job's really fucking important and potentially fulfilling, but unlikely to be so under capitalism, for a host of reasons I write about all the time sad

Arbeiten's picture
Joined: 28-01-11
Feb 8 2012 01:20

thing that Rock says about the the clock with the latest time being right one is totally how i was at work today. Was furious when I found out the 5 minute ahead clock had been changed to the real time. Felt like I had to work 5 extra minutes ....

Melancholy of Resistance's picture
Melancholy of R...
Joined: 2-11-11
Feb 8 2012 09:48

I work for one of the most well-known companies in the world which is frequently rated a top employer. Coming out of uni in '98 with a worthless degree, I just followed the money into digital advertising. The hours and pay are much better than I had ever hoped for back in 98, but there's no point to it, and I'm definitely a greaser of capitalism. Yes, it'd go on without me, but every day I contribute 8 hours to it.

The best jobs I ever had were as a creative and screen writing teacher and also as a sports commentator. It's telling that besides those two I still needed a regular office job to make ends meet (yes, 3 jobs in a go at once). If I knew then what I know now, I'd have invested more time and effort into the jobs I liked and lived a more frugal lifestyle. Offices kill everything that's good in me. By the time the weekend comes around I'm so drained of life that I have a hard time finding myself again. It takes a long-ish holiday to reconnect, but that comes with the dreadful realisation that I must go back.

Steven.'s picture
Joined: 27-06-06
Feb 8 2012 10:34

I don't have a career as such, from temping I just stumbled into a random office job, which I still have, for a local council. I do it just to pay the bills pretty much, although unfortunately the real level of pay goes down every year… If/when I get made redundant I'll have to look at something else but I find the idea quite frightening as I don't have any particular skills or career path or anything like that at all. That's good in terms of then not therefore being frustrated with the one I do have, but I think I'd find it difficult to get another job paying around the level I get now…

When I was younger I thought about academia, but I was just too damn lazy. At university I only managed to write one essay (about Marx), and even that was a month late. I never even bothered going back to class to get the mark…

bulmer's picture
Joined: 17-11-10
Feb 8 2012 10:48

I ended up getting a job I really wanted as a web designer only to find myself hating it. Just avoided doing the work because I found just about all the websites I contributed to were pointless and just added more crap to the net.

I decided to move back to my home town and was going to 'do something' with my life only to end up working in a restaurant, which made me think being a web designer wasn't all that bad (even though working in a restaurant allowed me to do some voluntary work through the day that I actually enjoyed, which was working in a school and as a kids rugby coach).

I started working as a web designer again only to sink into the same old routine of avoiding doing as much work as possible by pissing about on the internet, waiting for my boss to find out how shit I was at the job and get rid of me.

But before I gave him a chance to find out actually how shit I was at my job, I came across the bright idea to get away for a while and somehow ended up in China teaching English to kids. It has its downsides but it pisses all over the other 'proper' jobs I've had. I dunno if it is a career or not but I can't see me getting a job I enjoy as much back in the UK without going back to uni again, and I can't afford to do that...

A Wotsit's picture
A Wotsit
Joined: 14-11-11
Feb 8 2012 14:59

I work for a local council as a sustainability officer- mainly doing energy efficiency in schools. It's relatively well paid- I am getting considerably more money than this time last year but I don't feel considerably happier for it, I do know it sucks to be broke though. I've pursued sustainability/ community work in the public or third sector as a career, I studied a related degree and volunteered doing various community or environment type roles and worked my way up.

If you'd have asked me 5 years ago this would have been right up there as one of my dream jobs because I do think we need to use energy more wisely and teach kids about energy and climate change. Having said that, I hate my job more than almost anything else in my life. Besides being stuck in an office for most of the day I also hate the fact that people who know nothing about my day to day work, and very little of wider social and environmental problems, get to make all the important decisions that affect the schools I work with and how effectively I can do my job.

The frustration of wanting to be good at a job I think is worthwhile but being prevented from doing so by those in positions of authority is shitty but I doubt I would have found better pay or greater satisfaction elsewhere falling into random jobs. Having said that I get almost no satisfaction from slacking in this job, which is something I used to enjoy.

My favourite job was before I graduated when I was a part time gardener at a pub over the summer. The best full time properly contracted job I had was where I organised outdoor community activities... that was OK but the pay was shit.

The only person I know personally who actively enjoys their job is a manager who loves finding new ways to keep tabs on her minions (as she sees them).

I think I'm going to try the teaching English abroad thing soon, a few people have recommended that.

(edited to make it a bit harder for my manager to guess this might be me)

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Joined: 6-11-03
Feb 8 2012 14:40

Can people be a bit careful in these threads not to be too specific - if you ever find yourself in the frame for nosey hacks looking for a story this sort of thing can be used to identify you.

A Wotsit's picture
A Wotsit
Joined: 14-11-11
Feb 8 2012 16:15
wojtek wrote:
I'm thinking of being a librarian (basically chilling, reading and listening to music all day) or doing something practical with my hands like being self-employed/ self-exploited as an electrician or in carpentry

I worked in a library for a little while. It was basically the same as shelf stacking in a grocery shop (which I've also done) but more complicated. There wasn't much time to read books because the darn things needed replacing on the shelves constantly. The highlight of the week was either chatting to customers who were browsing or selecting books for the home delivery service (taking stuff off the shelves for a change). Some librarians do get to do fun stuff like read to kids but my experience of it was generally boredom and only the long-serving librarians got to sit at the desk and serve customers and (very occasionally) read. Maybe other places are different- this was the main library in a big town right opposite a college so it was busy and roles were very segregated. Try volunteering in a library to see if you'd like it. I imagine that's pretty much a pre-requisite for working in a library these days- since the cuts I doubt there's many jobs going.

All of the jobs I've enjoyed the most (gardening, various outdoor community projects) have involved some form of working with my hands. I think working with your hands might be something to pursue if you enjoy that sort of thing. It's hard to offer advice because I did the whole 'career' thing, I don't know if a 'trade' or 'random job' thing would have been any better or worse really. Work just generally sucks.

If you want to look at a trade, have you looked into 'City & Guilds' courses- back when I was doing odd jobs working on building sites or gardens some of the skilled (and relatively OK paid) people had done apprenticeships or qualifications through them.

Joined: 24-09-05
Feb 8 2012 16:20

Worked for a union (gasp!) for several years. Well paid, but politically unsustainable and ultimately frustrating, although definitely with things here and there I'm proud of. Have accidentally ended up as a freelance photo and video journalist working abroad, which is both dangerous and precarious, but interesting and sometimes rewarding. I've not been breaking even for 6 months, but am just about starting to now, which hopefully (hopefully!) will continue - although much of that is out of my control, due to how far the news agenda follows events where I am. I don't see it as something I can/will do forever, but whatever I do next, I'm going to have to start out by re-training more or less from scratch. I guess I'm gonna have to try and blag PhD funding (no chance in the UK, maybe the US?) or work a shit job in the UK for several years while doing vocational training. That said, one of the reasons I left the UK was that I failed to get a shit job of this type before.

In retrospect, I wish that I'd done courses in stuff I was interested in in the evenings while I was working a proper job. In fact, the hours were probably too long (plus time on political activity...), but if I'd found a way I'd be in a lot more of a secure position now. As it is, I have no transferable skills, given that I don't want to go back to doing what I did before.

The best piece of advice no one ever gave me, but which I'd give someone in their early '20s or whatever now, would be: have a plan. Don't just drift (which I did for a few years). Even if, perhaps even better if, you have a 5 or 10 or 15 year plan: get a plan, and start it. And even if the plan involves trying stuff out for a bit, to see how you like it, do that, and do it as soon as you can. I think over the longer term you can see that people with direction end up feeling more fulfilled. Obv. that direction doesn't have to be work direction, but if you are thinking that what you do during your days will matter to you (which is true for many people), you should have some direction in that too. Best not to wake up at 35 and be "oh shit..."

Traditional working class culture encourages this far less than traditional middle class culture. I think working class culture often (but not always!) encourages lack of self-confidence in living the sort of life you want to, and hence settling for stuff you don't really like (or if you do 'achieve', doing so in a very conventional, straight way). I don't think that thousands of individual efforts can break this down as a mass phenomenon, but I think it is worth recognising and not acquiescing to in one's own life if possible.

Also, if you're gonna learn a trade, I don't know the figures, but my impression is that plumbers can mint it in the right area.

Joined: 24-09-05
Feb 8 2012 16:22

btw, for the record, if all the people several years ago, who were like "working for a union is evil..." (when it was obvious to me, from what I was doing day to day, that it wasn't) instead were like "this is boring, you can do lots more fun stuff, what do you really want to do?" it would have been way more effective.

jura's picture
Joined: 25-07-08
Feb 8 2012 17:27

I'm a PhD. candidate (ABD as they say) and also a TA. I teach a few hours per week, do research, write, attend conferences etc. but generally have a lot of control over my time. In my country, PhD. students still receive a monthly wage ("scholarship"), which is below the average and way below what I could earn working full time coding websites or something, but it's still manageable. The pressure to work is not very intense, so if I wanted to, I guess I could just drift and do fuck all for a semester or two and still get paid. But in terms of future prospects, it's important to publish, teach, start writing the dissertation early enough so one can make it, and generally "be around" at the department, so I kind of watch over myself.

Like Choccy and Khawaga, I really like teaching and research, so my plan for the next year is to write a decent dissertation and try to get a job at the university. The second part will be more difficult and the best I can hope for is a part-time job, possibly made up for by a post-doc grant (though these are still not very common here).

Joined: 20-09-09
Feb 8 2012 17:39

Teaching assistant/doing fuck all atm.

RedEd's picture
Joined: 27-11-10
Feb 8 2012 18:51

Unemployed, on employment support allowance (ESA). Admin, forms, appointments feel like a part time job though.

Joined: 9-06-11
Feb 8 2012 18:53

Unhappy software developer. Decent pay. Way too bored at work to be good it. Feel a bit trapped. I read Marx's passage on hunting/fishing/shepherding/criticising with great longing...

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Joined: 9-02-06
Feb 8 2012 20:03

Teacher. If I was allowed to actually educate rather than being constantly shit upon and insulted by a system that simultaneously refuses to acknowledge or pay for any work that isn't cramming for exams and lambasts teachers for only caring about them.
If I get through this year then I'll have a pretty secure job, although the pension contributions are going up and there'll be fuck all pension by the time I get to retirement. Money-wise it's miserable and I think I barely break even each month. Don't really see a way out of it. I suppose that makes it a career.

On occasion it is an amazing job, and if I was actually allowed to help kids learn then it would be way better. I do actually give a fuck about my subject and I do think it is important.

Although my degrees were fairly useless for emplyment I fucking loved them and they made me who I am in many ways, if I hadn't been so fucking lazy I could still be studying which I would love.

Between Your Teeth's picture
Between Your Teeth
Joined: 24-12-08
Feb 8 2012 23:39

Good thread (presuming wojtek isn't a cop).

Administrator and now brand spanking new Unison steward in a brand spanking new healthcare social enterprise (previously we were part of the NHS). The "staff led" (note, not staff led in any way) vehicle that is the new model being pushed to serve the healthcare sector. Basically involves taking a public sector organisation and transforming it into a local third sector organisation. In the process fragmenting it so it can no longer compete in the market with large private sector organisations (we pay our specialised staff £18/hr due to historical national pay agreemenst, last i heard private sector were paying about half that), removing organisations from national pay deals/T&Cs and as historically community health is less unionised than it's acute counterpart, giving opportunities to derecognise unions. They also tend have reps/lobbyists whose job is to tap up contracts and make contacts as well as specialised business liaison teams. Something we don't (or rather we have one single business liaison officer and put have to share him with 20 odd other teams, so has no room to be proactive)

Designed to either fail or be replaced by a more competitive private sector organisation in other words. What happens in other areas is when contracts come up to tender is the large organisation underbids the competition and runs at a loss for the duration of the contract (or in some cases not bothered tendering at all and we find ourselves getting a phonecall saying we've just been replaced on the contract. Presumably just meet them direct on the golf course and hammer it out) meanwhile they make more formal contact with the the commissioners and drive their local competitors to the wall. When the contract comes up for renewal they now have the space to ramp up charges.

At our staff first meeting (compulsory), the first speaker came on and spoke to us about how we'd all be saved by the this great thing called Schumpter's theory of creative destruction. So there's the background of your social enterprise ideologues; well versed in Austrian school economics. By losing your job, you'll be birthed anew; a productive member of society. He's our chair now. Brilliantly my then girlfriend's ex-boyfriend's dad is David Cameron's social enterprise advisor. Insert joke.

Genuinely thinking about leaving now the new internet filter blocks everything except the fucking Guardian. Can't afford university (dropped out due to depression, have all the debt and none of the paperwork), have no transferable skills, put on 4 stone last time I was on the dole due to eating only chips and wine so don't fancy that again. So not sure what I'm supposed to do. Organising for full communism I guess.

medwards's picture
Joined: 9-01-09
Feb 8 2012 22:01

Software dev.

+infinities to the people who are like "I love this job/field, but capitalism makes it crap." However, I've learned to enjoy engaging in organizing efforts so that keeps me busy. Also, would rather do this than residential painting.

I think, if you pick a career that pays well, it ends up being nice in that you can help out comrades/organizations a bit more. So if you really liked an idea, but there wasn't really the funds for it, you can maybe kick some money into the pile to help make it happen. You'll see techies doing a skill-equivalent sort of thing. Setting up a simple website starts at around $30/year if you know what you're doing. Teachers in our group are invaluable in helping us prepare presentations for different age groups (50% of a high school presentation went way smoother due to this input, the other 50% was hard because I stopped doing what the teacher recommended). Actually engaging with your career and deciding to stay for a length of time means a better chance of developing meaningful relations with co-workers that can be useful in times of industrial dispute.

I dunno, mixed bag.

RedEd's picture
Joined: 27-11-10
Feb 8 2012 22:14
Between Your Teeth wrote:
Administrator and now brand spanking new Unison steward in a brand spanking new healthcare social enterprise (previously we were part of the NHS). The "staff led" (note, not staff led in any way) vehicle that is the new model being pushed to serve the healthcare sector.

Haha. 'Staff led' is such an ironic term. It just mean more intense exploitation, but this time pressuring individual staff to manage it themselves.

Genuinely thinking about leaving now the new internet filter blocks everything except the fucking Guardian. Can't afford university (dropped out due to depression, have all the debt and none of the paperwork), have no transferable skills, put on 4 stone last time I was on the dole due to eating only chips and wine so don't fancy that again. So not sure what I'm supposed to do. Organising for full communism I guess.

Shit, tell me about it. Eating at all is fucking effort and eating right is a proper uphill struggle with depression and no money. Chips and booze become very tempting as sustenance.

Joined: 8-03-06
Feb 8 2012 23:11

I have a job, in IT. Was doing development but changes at work and deskilling meant that now I just do support. Can be interesting at times as I have some autonomy, but equally can be boring.
After I worked out I needed a job 25 years ago, I ended up drifting into a local authority job. I'd tried making money in the music biz but failed. In part this was not being good at it, in part it was lack of confidence in fronting things out (and not having any money behind me).
I drifted - eventually I drifted into IT so I could get more money without getting into managment. I intended to be able to then do other things once I had experience and skills, maybe even go abroad (never lived more than 10 miles away from where I live now). Other things got in the way so I never did.
I feel I have no prospects or opportunities doing what I do for a living; this is less important as I really want to do creative stuff (writing, music) so it's more important to me that any job I have gives me the space to do this (secondary to paying the bills though).
Do I have any advice? Any job, even your dream one, will have its downsides, particularly under capitalism. It;s the nature of alienated wage labour. If you enjoy something and have control over it, it isn't work. wink
Expect to have to change. Potentially a lot. And for most of us, (nearly all of us) it will only ever be a means to an end. I wouldn't do what I do for a living if I didn't have to. (Not much anyway wink )


RGBlack's picture
Joined: 20-04-11
Feb 9 2012 04:23

Im a phd student now - sociology, even though my focus is architecture. I got my BArch and then an Masters in urban-lanscape design but it took 8 years and was unbelievably difficult. I had 2 nervous meltdowns and a ton of doubts along the way but I made it and I have to say that the education was totally worth it.

Ive been teaching for 3 years now. I TA'd to pay for my masters and I now have a class to pay for the doctorate. I try to have fun by slipping in as much egalitarian thinking as I can into the teaching I do. It is a bit easier since I am teaching in architecture and Im not just a grading slave. My thesis is on anarchism too which is the real fun - what would cities look like if there was no private property or need for profit? Anyway, I like teaching (in theory) and the only way to make it better is to keep doing it better, so I will probably keep doing it at least part time.

Unfortunately I still have to eat and pay rent so I work for a local developer. They are nice people and do really good architecture but it is absolute shit grunt work and 40+ hours a week when I am not teaching. Fortunately it pays well since I have my masters already.

Im not doing what I want exactly but Im on my way to it. I got into the field to help people - to build real communities, cities worthy of human occupation. And when I get bored or frustrated I tell myself I will be doing just that really soon.

My advice is to go into a field that allows you to put your politics into action. Teaching is the easiest way to do that but it requires a degree. Social work for an ngo is an option but I always thought philanthropy is a bandaid on cancer approach. The thing is, work that is fulfilling is never easy and rarely enjoyable, but any other job just sucks. Anything you do that directly makes you happy is a hobby. My hobby is growing medical cannabis for a local coop. I do it for free and the returns on it are amazing. Even the best buzz is nothing compared to the joy of caring for the plants and sharing the relief the medicine gives to my patients. Most of them are old people and have the most amazing stories to tell. And I simply cannot describe just how wonderful it is to see someone's arthritis and fybromyalgia pain just disappear before my eyes and think, I did that for them.

In summary, being happy is knowing you are doing something good with your life. And living is being strong enough to deal with the pain of doing it.

Redwinged Blackbird's picture
Redwinged Blackbird
Joined: 3-11-11
Feb 9 2012 04:55

university workstudy student at a nature reserve. shit pay. fun job. no levers for organizing in my specific shopfloor because it's just so damn easy and nice.

Joined: 12-12-11
Feb 9 2012 06:05

I cashier and bag groceries at a grocery store.

no.25's picture
Joined: 14-01-12
Feb 9 2012 07:19

I'm unemployed and drawing benefits, for which I feel like shit. I've worked in a wide range of industries, and always had issues with conforming to the ethic required of me, with the exception of maybe two of three, so I kinda have my bets hedged on revolution. Personally, I enjoy horticulture and construction.