Thursday, September 9, 2010


Greetings bloggies.

I am facing the mental struggles that in part define the place of life I am in. That is I am looking for work, and worse trying to have the work be part of a career. To get myself moving, not just in the right direction but in some cases just moving I have to remind myself of the hows and whys. How I have managed to make things work in the past and why I want do things differently now.

Firstly I always start off rather pessimistic about finding work. This is my default starting point from which I have to shake myself free of it is also reenforces by the low success rate I have in landing interviews. Of the handful of interviews I have had only one lead to a job. That was Harvey's in Kelowna where I spent some time flipping burgers. I landed that job walking in on the day someone else failed to show up for their first day. All other interviews have been dead ends. Weather it was office depot in Kelowna, MDA in Richmond, I have not gotten past that gate keeper.

The professional successes I have had have been in mineral exploration. Geology runs in the family and mining is a perfectly fine industry but not one I ever planned to get into. I knew when I was 5 I wanted to be a scientist, when I was 25 I had enough of university and did not want to remain on an academic path. Steering me off the academic path was landing a field tech job in 2004. It paid well and I had some adventures along the way. I was also hired sight unseen.

In 2006 I got wind of a company needing some aid dealing with some out of date data. My tip came from my economic geology prof who had studied with part of the management team some time back. A little aid on fine tuning the application with a friend at Tim Horton's and I had landed me the job. Once again shipped out to the boonies with out even an interview. Taking that job was a no brainer, I had $300 to my name and well little other prospects. I stayed there for Two and a half years, till I got recessioned. I admit that my motivations were weak form time to time and by the time of the layoffs I was glad to going. My attention span was expired. I also wanted a personal life and at the time of the layoff I had one that made staying up north far less attractive.

The end of my stint with Tyhee, lead to a period of decompression. Having spent more then two years working 6 weeks at a time with two week breaks tired me. I saw the flaws in that life style that punctuated equilibrium of work play work, and the difficulty in keeping normal friendships. I took some time to not think about work.

When at last I did start thinking about work I found my self stuck. I admit that basing my self at my folks place also in the boonies though not as far from any thing as the North West Territories was a poor tactical choice. It has taken me some time to want to take the risks that can truly lead to a better life ( more on that later). I found my self looking into environmental science consulting firms. I had gained an interest and respect for them when working up North.

There was something interesting and well just a little healthier about the work the environmental consultants and government scientists did. For starters the shifts they did were much shorter, a few days to a few weeks followed by returning to the office to draft reports, a far cry form the 6 weeks in the medium security installation that is a fly in camp. The government scientists caused resentment among some of the more senior camp staff, getting called lazy and such. I place that down to envy, of course you are going to not like some one who reminds you of the flaws in the choices you made, like coming home at the end of the day benefits, more paid vacation, did I mention benefits. Things somewhat lacking to a junior person in the exploration sector.

I chipped away at getting into environmental work for some time in a very half hearted manner. I think the overly long stint with Tyhee made me somewhat negative about work overall, I had too many hours logged and not enough stimulation. I would like to add that this is not Tyhee's fault for say, there are many dull aspects of the job, core logging will never be thrilling, it was my own fault for not trying to push myself into other areas. At that time I though perhaps the work world would be kinder then it was. In the end I had a bitter taste in my mouth from too many hours of the same thing and had taken that bitterness with me out of camp.

Spring came a long an little progress was made. It became clear that I was not going to get there from here. I invoked a ten year old suggestion. A geography prof back at Okanagan University College, recommended going into Geographic Information Systems as a way to get a head. I looked into and applied to two different programs ultimately going to BCIT because of the branding associated with it. I am glad I did. It broke a overly long period of irrational self imposed isolation, it let me make new friends and live in a new city. GIS is my first best hope.

Stepping back a few months. After receiving confirmation that I got into BCIT I set about doing some foot work. I knew that the program placed a strong emphasis on its practicums and I knew that the course load would be large especially considering how mentally soft I had become since the layoff. So I spent a large chunk of the summer, in between trying to teach my self the basics of visual basic, trying to land me a good practicum.

It was for me a stressful process, writing emails, and much worse phoning people, learning the art of getting past the front desk. The work did pay off in the end. By the middle of august last year I had lined up 10 or 12 firms that I was in a position to visit and or talk practicum placements. The choice ultimately came down to two things. One I liked the management at one place the most, ESSA Technologies, and that the manager had the ability to make the choice about taking me on with out having to go through too many steps. By this time last year I had my practicum lined up while some others had yet to think about that yet.

That practicum was a positive time. The people in that office were closer in ideology to myself, no global warming skeptics there. The work was hard, I solved cool problems all be it slowly. I even got a portion of my work incorporated into a software update. In the end there was not a place for me after my practicum wound up.

The end of the program brings me roughly to now. Granted I had the one job between then and now, a job that followed the pattern of the others. The capricious whims of the markets lead to a demand for geologists and on short notice, through a camp cook on face book I applied for a job. You can see how it went from previous posts. You can also see from previous posts how I ended up in Vancouver.

So here I am, in one of the best places to live on Earth and stuck. Yesterday I got a job offer kind of may by. A contact I reached out to as part of my preGIS program foot work emailed me to see if I was interested in a short term contract. There are too many ifs for me to even believe if this is going to go through, and I am not sure other then money if I want to do it. Its another geology job. Its good to make money and I can make good money that way if I can get my self to do it, but it reenforces a path I want to leave. I find my self stuck. I am too much of one thing not enough of another and every thing I know I know to a shallow depth.

There in lies either a very real obstacle or a large imagined one. I sit here with a BSc in Earth and environmental sciences and an Advanced diploma in Geographic Information Systems. I know my BSc is highly general, I did do much of the geology classes offered where I was but I was also top of the class in my freshwater sciences class. All my applied experience is geological, but there are better trained geologists out there. I am not exactly sure what I want to do, I know what I have learned about what I don't want to do. I am also unsure of what I can do. Or perhaps it would be better to say that I am unsure of what I can say I can learn todo.

So this brings me to a point like I was last summer but worse. Last summer I was wrangling practicum options, I found it easier simply because I was not asking for work. Now I have to try do define what I am and offer and then convince them to offer money for that. I know that in practice I can execute that. In fact the tentative offer I got yesterday proves the value of the long game of keeping people in touch and getting a name out. I know the value of the long game, but my finances tell me I need to play a shorter game. I also know I want to play that game in Vancouver.

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