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So, I had my first day working with Volt, working for Accenture, on… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

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[Feb. 6th, 2006|07:08 pm]
John
So, I had my first day working with Volt, working for Accenture, on the Microsoft Issaquah campus. So far, so good. I mean, I just got paid for eight hours of work when all I was able to do was sit in the office and do some reading... you can't get much better than that. Well... not being crammed in with four people in a small room, and having 'net access, and such would be better.

But it's helped me hammer home my desire to 1) keep my skill sets just barely current, and 2) strongly look into going back to school for psychology (or some other counseling profession). I don't know if counseling and healing are where my life is going to take me, but I'm more convinced than ever that my life path is not about administering databases.

Nothing special happened to convince me of this... I just spent some time imagining various and sundry IT industry positions for myself, and realized that none of them made me think I'd feel happy or accomplished. No, what I want out of life is to start looking into how to help people feel better, and see if I can learn if (and how) some of the ideas I have mesh with science. I've heard, for example, of people who are trying out meditation and relaxation techniques, matched up with cognitive therapy, to help folks with depression, anxiety, and more. That sounds like a damn good idea.

In keeping with my apparent belief that one can never have too much stress in one's life, I did some heavier than normal exercise tonight. On the plus side, I should sleep well tonight. On the minus side, it might be because I've tired my heart out a bit more than is, strictly speaking, a good idea. I went out jogging and walking, and, you know, there are hills all around me.

Ah well... at least I'm finding all this stress on the heels of a wonderful weekend with kightp. Wonder of wonders, she was able to make it up this weekend after it turned out I couldn't come to visit her the last two weekends I'd intended to visit her. I really, desperately needed good, happy-making company before starting this new job.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sfw_dc
2006-02-07 03:29 am (UTC)
Find a school that offers a program you like, and get a job with them.

Here the colleges pay their IT people decently, and give wonderful tuition benefits. That's how I got an MA without paying for it! Plus, I rather like the working conditions. It might be a way to stay satisfied with your job while investigating what else you might want to do.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-02-07 04:45 am (UTC)
Nod. That's part of what I'm hoping, though I think if I get back to school, I'll eventually be able to earn my keep with a combination of tech work, math teaching, and possibly stats for social scientists. I'm just a wee bit nervous about finding the school with the best program is a Unix shop :-).
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[User Picture]From: calpatine
2006-02-07 03:39 am (UTC)
If it helps at all, I've taken to seeing my job as a means to an end; going to the office for nine hours means I have the opportunity to do the things that DO see me happy and fulfilled.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-02-07 04:48 am (UTC)
Nod. That's not working for me, because what I want to do really needs to be pursued full time. I just realized that, if someone gave me one of those "genius awards" (a foundation gives yearly stipends to certain people to see what they could accomplish if they were freed from the burden of making a living), what I'd do, instantly, is go back to school and study psychology. I need a lot more background information to do the things I want to do, I think.
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[User Picture]From: teddywolf
2006-02-07 03:56 am (UTC)
I'm fond of making people feel better, myself; but I don't know how I'd feel about it if my job was directly about their happiness, such as a therapist, as opposed to something that can lead to their happiness, such as clueful tech support.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-02-07 04:49 am (UTC)
Nod. For me... well, I want to unlock the secret of human happiness, I suppose. Or something. Whatever it is, I think going back to school is what I need to do.
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[User Picture]From: kyra_ojosverdes
2006-02-07 05:03 am (UTC)
FWIW and not knowing precisely what area of helping/healing/counseling you want to aim for... for me the book learning was very useful, but I learned far more about "actually helping, without hurting" and "actually helping, while not hurting oneself" volunteering as a peer advocate at the campus crisis center for sexual and/or relationship violence. It was good to have the theory first so the actual "doing stuff" slid neatly into place, and I'm sure that at some point I'm going to need the piece of paper (note to self: get piece of paper), but at this point, doing volunteer advocacy has taught me more than all the classes put together.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-02-07 05:35 am (UTC)
Nod. What I want and need to do is see what science is out there, and gain a better understanding of it, and to learn what's (probably, or almost certainly) out of my hands. And I've been noticing some interesting crossovers; for example, I realized that shamanic healing is (or can be) very close to altered states of consciousness, and hence, probably like hypnosis, and I want to figure out what (if anything) is known about the connection, and learn what other forms of consciousness alteration are known about, and how useful they've been, and....

And wow. I think I just proved to myself (again) that this is the next step to take. :-)
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[User Picture]From: kyra_ojosverdes
2006-02-07 02:23 pm (UTC)
Done much reading on Carl Jung's work?
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[User Picture]From: kyra_ojosverdes
2006-02-07 02:30 pm (UTC)
Oh and... if you're interested in some psychology texts which are a few years (but only a few) out of date (the field changes quickly, but three years shouldn't be a problem), I'd be happy to put a few in the mail, on long-term loan for you. Let me know, and I'll make a list of what I've got. (My undergrad emphasis was on Clinical Psych.)
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-02-19 09:04 pm (UTC)
Sorry for a late reply... I don't think I'd want to borrow your books... but if you have some that you tell me were inspirational or important, I'd love to know what they are. I can order them myself, now that I'm slowly getting rich again.

But there is one thing that I'd love it if you could help me with. Do you know, or do you know someone who knows, how I can try to learn about what schools are out there that do what kinds of things?

I've just heard about Steven Hayes, and it sounds like he's tracking down exactly the kinds of things I am. I e-mailed him to ask advice, but so far, no answer (and he's had 20 minutes, maybe longer!). My obvious hope would be to find that there's a school in the PNW that would be ideal for me (for bonus points, "and curse the luck, the IT department desperately needs someone who can run SQL Server! If only there was someone who needed a job in academia so he could take courses to ready himself for graduate school!") However (looking longingly southward), I have to go where the knowledge is, no matter how much it hurts.
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[User Picture]From: kyra_ojosverdes
2006-02-19 09:28 pm (UTC)
I just did a quick Google search on Steven Hayes. (I'd just been reading about him a couple weeks ago... did you link to him?) I'll look around and see what I can find for schools. Often it's a case of finding a specific professor who is working with someone... there's a prof at UM-Missoula who works closely with Marsha Linehan on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, for instance.

Now, will this be for undergrad or graduate work? Most schools set up their residency requirements (for lower in-state tuition) so that you've got to be living in the state for a reason other than attending college for at least six months, and up to a year, before you're counted as a resident for tuition purposes. I'd been living in Montana for seven years (taking classes for 6.5 of those years) before I qualified for in-state tuition. That need would probably be met by your "find a good school, find a job there, work for a while then take classes" plan.

It looks like Hayes is at University of Nevada, Reno? I know that's not PNW, but it's only one time zone away.

Important book: Motivational Interviewing (Can't recommend this one highly enough. The original focus of MI is on addiction, but the technique is very useful in many other areas. Our advocate training for the campus crisis center was a blend of Active Listening and Motivational Interviewing, adapted for short-term intense contact.)

Other books which I've found especially important or inspirational tend to be more focused on the specific issues which draw me (post-traumatic coping and healing, specifically in women who've been through sexual and/or relationship violence... there's a lot of area there, but compared to the whole of psychology and humanity it's also fairly narrow). I'll mull it over and see if I think of others.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-02-19 09:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Reno, "only one time zone" is the difference between "a weekend visit is possible" and "a vacation of sorts is required". If I have to, I'll go where I can learn... but damn, do I want to not lose my ability to visit Pat regularly. Plus, obviously, a Washington university means I already have residency.

I don't know if I'll be going for graduate or undergraduate studies. It depends on what's recommended to me. I don't have the background to jump right into graduate studies, but I don't know if that means I go for undergraduate studies, or if I work within the department to make up my deficiencies, or what. I mean, I'm sure part of undergraduate psychology work is experiential. Learning to conduct testing, interviews, etc.. Those are things that can't be learned in a book. Other things can be. That's the kind of thing I'm trying to learn about.

For example, I've never taken abnormal psych. However, I'd be surprised if I couldn't learn that on my own. But, would a typical grad student have worked in a clinical setting, observing patients? It's one thing to hear that bipolar folks in a manic phase might have "high pressure speech"; it's another to feel a stream of words pounding on your psyche. It's still another to hear an ADHD-person babbling happily away because you aren't saying "shut up!"
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[User Picture]From: kyra_ojosverdes
2006-02-19 09:54 pm (UTC)
A typical grad student wouldn't necessarily have worked in a clinical setting, but would have a few years of work in the area of interest... for instance my volunteer work with the crisis line, given my interest in crisis work and post-traumatic coping. Or my current work, for an MSW program.

Some undergrad work is experiential, but perhaps less than you're thinking. Most of the experiential stuff in my undergrad program was 400-level and optional, unless you wanted the pre-clinical emphasis (I did).

I'm told that some departments don't like their students to do both undergrad and graduate-level work at one school, because of "intellectual inbreeding." They want a broader range of experience.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2006-02-07 04:13 am (UTC)
What happened to the Gates Foundation gig? I feel like I missed a crucial episode.

You were smart to bring a book!!! Now if we can only get you knitting...
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-02-07 04:56 am (UTC)
Well, the Gates foundation decided to pick another candidate. Before I learned that, I asked the Volt recruiter to see if they would give me until Tuesday or Wednesday of last week to make a decision. The Volt recruiter told me that

a) working for Microsoft is *just as good* for my religious beliefs as working for the Gates Foundation (since money for Microsoft = money for the Gateses)
b) I was being terrible and selfish for not taking what I was offered, and
c) poor, poor, *poor* Alexey, making an offer and then *MAYBE* not getting his first choice!

I wasn't in a very talkative mood, and much of what I would have written would have put me in an awkward situation if the recruiter had ended up getting hurt by an "unknown assailant".

As it turns out, the recruiter didn't do me any *harm* by lying to Accenture and saying I might not have an answer for weeks (or, alternatly, by lying to me, when he claimed he talked to Accenture - doesn't matter, he's a lying scumsucker regardless). But, boy, did he make taking this job a much more bitter pill to swallow.

Chuckle; as for knitting, I think reading was better in this case. I was reading up on scripting using VBScript. I think knitting would have been interesting for the office mates, but this way, I had an excuse and could pretend I was being productive.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2006-02-07 12:29 pm (UTC)
a) cracks me up. Well, okay, a-c crack me up.

I'm sorry you didn't get the other position--and I agree that reading up on VBScript was the better choice.:)
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2006-02-07 07:33 am (UTC)
Well, he did mention, casually, that someday I ought to show him how this knitting stuff works. And we all know that's the first step toward the yarn-crack addiction ...
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2006-02-07 12:30 pm (UTC)
Yes! It's a slippery slope.:)
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[User Picture]From: kyra_ojosverdes
2006-02-07 04:34 am (UTC)
Not that my experience has anything to do with yours... but I've not regretted my switch from computer science to psychology. Not for a minute. Even with the "Oh, so a four-year degree qualifies me for ... retail?"

Best of luck (and everything else) with the new job.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2006-02-07 04:56 am (UTC)
Smile; unsurprisingly, you are, once again, an inspiration.
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[User Picture]From: kyra_ojosverdes
2006-02-07 04:58 am (UTC)
*is surprised*

Wow. Cool!
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[User Picture]From: wyang
2006-02-07 02:05 pm (UTC)

It's not the degree.

"Oh, so a four-year degree qualifies me for ... retail?"

Ultimately, I don't think it's the degree: as someone who's hired a fair number of people over the years, I've found that degrees only say to me that an applicant can navigate bureaucracy, finish what s/he starts, and meet some minimum threshhold of skills and knowledge that's far below any position I've ever wanted to hired for.

Me, I have a degree in Philosophy (where I learned a great deal about logic, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and the phrase "do you want fries with that?"). Ultimately, one's ability to leverage events, to seize opportunity, and to interact well with others has been the critical linkage in at least one way (but not the only way) of measuring "success."

-Bill
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From: sagittaria
2006-02-07 07:22 am (UTC)
Consider getting your psychology degree online, or at least beginning that way. It's so nice to work on your own schedule and be able to fit it around the paying job. And the idea of volunteering somewhere that interests you is also an excellent one.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2006-02-07 07:34 am (UTC)
*smile*

I'm glad the weekend made you happy. Heaven knows it did wonders for my outlook.
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