Monday, November 17, 2008

Daring to Dream

For the first time ever I'm thinking about my working life in something other than strictly practical terms.

When I started working full-time, professional gigs 12+ years ago I hadn't finished school. I was nervous like shit because I half believed all the people who were telling me that I just had to go back and finish school RIGHT THAT MINUTE or career and financial doom were sure to follow. At the same time everyone was telling me I had to finish school, I already had a decent job making about the same amount of money as most of my friends who had finished school. I found myself in a weird position; I was doing OK, but I thought I was lucky to be doing as well as I was and consequently I had no real ambition in my professional life.

My career continued to chug along, I moved from tech support to training and took a job at a kick ass, small company that had been founded by a guy named Mark Minasi. Ten years later I still haven't had a job that I found as challenging or rewarding as my first training job. It was an intense workplace filled with a lot of extremely intelligent and extroverted people who weren't afraid to get into arguments or challenge opinions. Part of what I loved about the job was that no one seemed to particularly care if you had a degree. The long pole in the tent there was were you smart enough and intense enough to keep up? I was and so it was all good.

Too bad Mark and his brilliance left the company shortly before I got there and the company was on the verge of collapse. I only worked there for four months before the shit hit the fan and I moved on to a series of short-term opportunities where every six months I found myself sweating through interviews hoping no one asked if I had a degree. Eventually I got settled into some more long term jobs (including a stint working for BigDaddyRat) and somewhere along the way I decided to go back and finish school.

Finishing school took longer than I thought, cost more than I thought, but proved to be much more satisfying than I thought it would be when it was finally over. It's been almost a year since I took my last exam and the thought that it's over still brings a huge smile to my face. WifeRat and I have gotten a lot done over the five years since we've been married; she's gotten tenure, I finished school, we had a kid, we bought a home, and now the future is starting to look like a limitless horizon of new possibilities.

So now I'm thinking about work a little differently. For so many years I was just worried about keeping the job I had, but now I'm beginning to think about what it is that I really want out of work. I have no idea where I'm going to end up, but I can see a few different possibilities.

If I stay with the massive government contractor I currently work for I have to get out of the job I'm currently in. Right now I'm at the USDA and it is the most toxic government agency I've ever worked in. When I get back to DC I should have a chance to take a proposal writing class and I would like to leverage that against my presentation skills to jump over to the business development side of government contracting. The upside is that I stay in a recession proof industry and keep some stability. The downside is that I'm still a part of big bureaucratic entity and these fuckers have shown that they don't like to pay people, so I'm committing to fighting for every nickel I get out of them.

I could also bust out as an entrepreneur. Using those same proposal writing skills I can start getting myself some small contracts because there's no sense in throwing away 12 years of government contracting experience. I would also get into some real estate development, I led a tenant-sponsored condo conversion over the last four years and learned quite a bit about real estate. Our technical advisor is thinking about retiring in a few years and we have talked about getting together once we close the books on our current dealings. If I get my own company going I would probably also do some independent sales for various entities. I have a buddy who owns a company that does the signs in new buildings, they currently have no representation in DC. The sales are long-term and big money, but while I'm working for someone else I don't have the time to develop contacts and formalize my relationship with the manufacturer. Upside is that I would diversify my income stream, be independent, and get to work on different things. Downside is that administration and paperwork are not my strong suits and you have to have those things straight as a small business owner.

My final possibility is to become a full-time creative writer. As I continue to blog everyday, I feel my writing getting sharper and more clear. If I'm going to pursue writing as a career I will need to take a screen writing or script writing class in the near future. Ideally what I would like to do is bring fully formed ideas to an established production company that would take me on as a staff writer and allow me to learn the nuts & bolts of creative writing. BET is also getting into the business of creating new programming, so I think there's an opportunity for me there somewhere.

I don't know where I'm heading or what the final result will be, but it's good to feel free to dream again.


Knockout Ed said...

I feel you. I'm getting ready to go back to school after being in the restaurant biz for 10 years. When I think about all the future holds for me. I get very, very excitied

Hill Rat said...

KE - Good luck brother! If you need help or assistance offline, hit me up on the e-mail in my profile.


Knockout Ed said...


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