Monday, May 24, 2010

The Lunatic Contemplates a Career Change...Seeks advice...

Okay, so you pretty much know how difficult it is to find work in the Programming field when those jobs are rapidly disappearing, and who the hell wants to do minimum-wage or work-on-commission bullshit when you've got bills to pay, and now some expensive medical care to pay for?

I thought about changing careers before, but I've only recently been looking into it seriously. See, I used to be a System's Programmer, and before that a Computer Operator, and those where some high-skilled jobs. Once upon a time. But nowadays, automation has reduced the need for actual people, and outsourcing has ruined the job market for the higher-end skills.

And adding insult to injury, I don't have a degree. I never studied computer programming, computer science. In my day, the only people who did that were suckers who wanted to be saddled with the debt of a college loan to pay back. "Back in the Day" you learned by doing; millions of people started out in Operations, where they learned the principles behind large-scale data processing. Along the way, they were often given specialized training by their employers (on all aspects of data processing), and then they moved into different areas (programming, communications, data storage, etc) as they gained the experience. There were no schools to really teach people the skills they needed to enter the field at that time.

Nowadays, you can't get in the front door without an expensive piece of paper that basically says "I'm an idiot, but I was able to parrot whatever my professors -- who know even less than I do -- said faithfully...and oh yeah, I'm desperate, so underpay me, please?" And, like I said, the field has imploded because of the "progress" made in the field of automation (I used to be an Automation Programmer, so there you go!).

So, I've come to the conclusion that while I might have marketable skills (albeit, in a diminishing market), I don't really have a trade. It's not really so much a career, as it used to be, but more like having a job...if you can even land one. There really isn't much difference between the modern IT worker and the Assembly Line Worker anymore, except for pay-scale (the Unionized just-barely-finished-high-school knuckledragger -- who's still slightly smarter than the college graduate -- is still overpaid, considering his job is even more heavily autmoated than mine is).

So, I thought about it. Change is good, right? So, what to do? Real Estate? Are you kidding? This market isn't coming back for at least a decade, maybe more. Manual trade, like electrician or construction? No way; I'm old, have a bad back and giving me tools is like letting retards run free in a nuclear plant. I am NOT handy. Whenever I fix something, I have parts left over and then wind up hiring professional help anyway.

I thought about learning to cut hair, if you must know. Becoming a barber --excuse me -- Stylist, seemed like a good idea. People will always spend money on personal grooming, and some people are dumb enough to be quite vain, and so spend more. But then I thought about having to rub elbows with that many homosexuals, and that idea was shot down. I spent 20 years surrounded by homosexuals on Wall Street, and I don't think I could take that much drama in my old age. It made me vomit 20 years ago because of the over-the-top campiness some gays exhibit, and I'd probably end up beating someone bloody now. Not because I hate homosexuals, but because I can't stand people who whine incessantly about a lifestyle that involves both a violation of a Cardinal Rule of Nature -- Your Rectum was Purposely-Designed to be Exit-Only -- but which also requires people to know entirely too much about shoes, make-up, proper skin care and Oprah, without your actually having to be a chick.

I just couldn't make up my mind. Enter my four-year-old nephew, who planted the seed during playtime. We were playing with his Play-Doh Bakery. He would ask me what sort of cake, cookies or pies I wanted, and he would whip them up out of Play-Doh. Where it got interesting was the creative aspect of it.

Because after you run the gamut of "the Standards" (Apple, Peach, Lemon, Blueberry, Cherry, Mince, Pumpkin and so forth), in order to keep a 4-year-old entertained and engaged, you must start making up new sorts of pies on the spot...and boy, was my imagination fertile that day!

And then it dawned on me: Baker and Pastry Chef. Not only a Trade, but pretty honorable Profession, at that. So, I've done some research, and I can get some Federal retraining money,and there's a load of good Culinary Arts programs around here, and the best part, you can be certified in about 18-24 months, so why not? Better than leaping from job-to-job, ain't it?

Except that I don't know any bakers/pastry chefs, so I'm unable to find out if it's worth the effort. I mean, is it satisfying work (I would think it is)? What exactly is involved in getting your certification? Anything I should know about culinary arts programs before I get in over my head?

So, if there's anyone reading this who is engaged in the Culinary Arts, or knows someone who is, please give me some advice before I go ahead and sign up. I still have some time to commit, both for the re-training grant, and before applications are being taken for the culinary program at a local college.

You can drop your suggestions/advice at Please address your note with the subject "Baker/Pastry Chef". Thank you!


Sabra said...

Not going to try to discourage you, Matthew, but... My son is in "culinary arts," and that is what he went to school for. He is working at a really nice "bar and grill," that has offered him a kitchen management opportunity in December - he will have to move from NC to Tennessee. He is planning on doing it. However, the hours are long. The work is NOT easy. The pay is not great. Not everyone gets to be a Jamie Oliver or whoeveriscurrentlyfamous... At the same time he is working he is taking college courses to become an x-ray technician.

The health field, Matthew. That is where hiring is still happening and there is a shortage for filling many health care positions.

Just a thought.

Matthew said...

I'm not wiping some Baby Boomer's cancer-striken ass for a living! In fact, I'm inclined to help them shuffle off this mortal coil, if given the opportunity.

The possibility of "Celebrity" chef never crossed my mind since I think most of those guys are pretty gay.I was just thinking of something my grandfather once told me: when you have a TRADE you are never unemployed.

And besides, this was the only profession on the list of "recession-proof businesses" I came up with that didn't involve the possiblity of jail time or venereal diseases.

Don't tell me your son went to Johnson and Wales, please?