Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life with a Job

It's been just over two months at the new job. The newness of things is starting to wear off and I'm regaining equilibrium. Having a consistent livable paycheck and health insurance has a way of doing that. I have my own office in the back with the other data analyst. The office is huge by my standards and comes with a tall window, a big desk (which I turned into a standing desk), and a chair comfortable enough to fall asleep in.

Let me offer a typical day for curious folks:

My day starts roughly at 8:30am. I commute 50 minutes one-way so no one is shocked if I don't show up right on time. That's definitely an upside of an academic setting: as long as the work gets done and you show up to meetings, the exact hours you keep are largely irrelevant.

I start up my computer whenever I get in. I have a two monitor set-up which I've never had before. It's down right decadent! Check the email and then start working on whatever analysis or report I have pending. I can listen to music, so that's usually playing in the background.

Lunch rolls around some time between 11 and 2 - whenever I get hungry and need a break. I bring my lunch but everyone can run into town and get food. There's a good sushi joint, a Vietnamese restaurant, and really good Mexican food within a 15 minute drive. There's also a bunch of chains nearby if that works for me too. Food is important. Good food can do wonders for your morale.

Then it's back to analysis and reports. It's not exciting, usually. But that's my day. It ends at 5 and only comes home unless I want it too. Some time during the day, one of the bosses may randomly wander into my office and ask about a crazy huge project they're thinking about but doesn't have legs yet. None of these projects generally involves data analysis, so it's an interesting change of pace.

It leaves a lot of mental space for trying to decide on my next move and has the resources for additional classes if I want them. I'm considering going for a master's in statistics. It makes sense if I want to continue in the data analytics field and the credential could be useful if I want to strike out on my own. Master's in statistics sounds more like I know about data analysis than a Ph.D. in social science does, at least according to laypeople.

I haven't been as busy as they claimed I would be. This is mostly due to a dearth of projects and to an upcoming management change. The lack of projects is problematic from a revenue standpoint but they're working on it. All the grant cuts people have seen in the big academic funding sources are echoed in the cuts to community development grants. The management change is problematic because it means no new big projects are being green lighted until the new person comes in. Since I was brought on for the big projects, this seriously diminishes my workload. On the upside, this has given me time to get some cavities filled, pick a retirement plan, and build some liaisons with people in various other departments.

So that's what life is like at the moment. Bills are getting paid. Health issues are getting fixed. Life rolls on.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I Got A Job!!

Finally! It's been 21 months of un- or underemployment all together and over 100 job applications sent in. And now it's done!

I mentioned in my last post about a job at a local U that I thought was an inside job and had a weird interview. Whether it was an inside job or not, they offered me the job. It is a nonacademic position working for a nonprofit center that works with a lot of civil organizations.

So here's how the interview process went all together: I applied in October last year. I got a call for an interview in December. The interview was several hours long, most of it involved being given a case/project to do an abbreviated round of what I would be doing full time in the job. And then there was another wait of several weeks.

When they initially called to ask if I was still interested in the position, we talked a little about salary and I asked if they could get the salary higher. This was tricky since this position was offered to them by the university. Most of the positions there are grant-funded. They were able to raise the starting salary slightly. The position already came with my own office (don't know if it has a window but I think it does).

I'm not sure what the benefits package is in total. I know it comes with insurance. I'm seriously looking forward to dental insurance. You can't begin to imagine how much I miss the dentist! Down the road, I'm hoping I could get some flex time or be able to work from home, since it will be about an hour commute.

I'm looking forward to having income. There are all sorts of things I want to do that I've put on my wish list. If I tried them all at once, I would have no income for six months! Thankfully, I won't get paid until after I've worked a month (they only pay monthly). So I'll have time to figure out my schedule and figure out what all I can do with the non-working time I have before I actually have the funds to do anything.

One of the things being unemployed for so long has taught me is the need to diversify my income streams. I'm hoping to start a side business of data analytics consulting. The general wisdom is that it takes at least two years to get a livable income stream from a business like that. The position I've been offered is guaranteed for three years so, with a little luck, I'd have my own business by the time the money runs out.

So, there's an update and a bit of hope for other folks looking to make a plunge.