Tag Archives: work

[brag] I love my job. [/brag]

Before I left college, I got some very good advice from a very good professor to seek out “jobs for learning.” He suggested an internship with the Student Conservation Association or a similar organization (realizing perhaps, that in this economy such internships are often easier for young college grads to land than regular work), but he also made it very clear that a regular old nine-to-five in the right environment could be a great place to learn. I was fortunate to get a nine-to-five, and even more fortunate that it has indeed turned out to be an excellent job for learning.

So now I sit at a computer all day cleaning up data, searching for even more data, editing HTML code and JavaScript and poring over discussion boards to figure out what’s wrong with my code. Did I grow up thinking, gosh I want a desk job where I can sit on my tuchas staring at computer screens all day! No. Are you kidding me? I wanted to be Dame Judy Dench when I grew up. Have I been surprised at how fulfilling, creative, and thrilling programming and GIS analysis can be? Oh yeah.

This programming business is particularly fun. My job is basically to create a mashup that uses the Google Maps API to show where the company I work for has done surveys and engineering work in the past. (This website has some totally awesome examples of mashups if the concept is unfamiliar to you.)

Programming is a blast because it’s this beautiful blend of back-end precision and organization and front-end design and functionality. It fosters creativity (which is not some latent thing inside each of us just waiting to be unleashed but something that is learned by rote repetition until you finally understand well enough to change the rules and see what happens) like nothing else. Like most people my age I suppose, I’ve been dabbling in HTML code since I was a teenager, but I basically only ever knew enough to force my links to open up in new tabs when WordPress’s “Open link in new window or tab” button wasn’t working.

So this job has meant I’ve had a lot of learning to do. And lest my boss worry that he’s paying me too much, I will say that my undergraduate education—yea, my humanities-based liberal arts education—prepared me perfectly for the kind of problem-solving I do everyday.  Meanwhile, I’m picking up all kinds of skills, learning a lot about the art and science of land surveying, and understanding what truly collaborative work can accomplish.

<brag>I love my job.</brag>

<confession>Recognizing how many of my friends are unemployed or underemployed, I feel extremely guilty about this, but that’s another post. </confession>

I’ll swing the hammer

My parents recently got a Wii, and when I was home over Christmas, I played a few games. The morning after three Wii Sports bowling matches and some baseball innings, my arm was sore—and it was my biceps, not tennis elbow. I realized that for the last three months, the 100 meter walk to the bus stop has been my notion of exercise. I am weak!

So it was both painful and thrilling to ‘help’ my dad today on the house he’s fixing up. I hammered, hauled, drilled furring strips into place and learned how to use two different kinds of power saws, and I went home sore. Feeling inspired by the pain, I went running—and spent the rest of the evening in bed with a heating pad, a cup of tea and a collection of short stories.

I am (or have been) well acquainted with manual labor. I idealize it, I am sure, and don’t intend to pursue it too vigorously beyond the years of my youth, but I was elated to go home with dirt on my hands. To spend the day tending to the physical structures of culture, whether they’re the plowed rows of a field or the exposed bones of a tired old house, to measure time by the voices on the radio instead of the clock on the computer screen, and to sleep well at night after having worked hard is to shine pure with joy.