Monday, 14 November 2011

Link: How to avoid ghetto jobs

A great post on women 2.0 about how to avoid what she terms "pink ghetto" jobs. These are jobs that are just as bad for men as for women, and are often the first job or two you fall into as a new graduate. eg unpaid internships, poorly-organised, unfunded startups and those dead-end jobs where you end up maintaining monstrous legacy code on very low pay, rather than learning new skills.

The article takes a good look at how to spot the duds, and how to find better employment options.

I've fallen into the trap of several of these myself, over the years. From the "100% equity (but the product is totally unsaleable and we didn't bother to research that before you spent 23 man-days working on it)", to the poorly-paid legacy-code maintainer (plus guilt trips to keep me on even after having three months of unpaid invoices), to a job for a "web developer" (that actually mainly works on resetting our customer's forgotten passwords). So - it's definitely worth knowing how to spot these trucks coming before they run over you and leave you in the dust, bleeding financially.

Have you had any experiences of ghetto jobs yourself?


davearonson said...

I once had a job where the vast majority of the work was to write parsers for CSV files to put their data in a database. Once in a while, just for a change of pace, they were XML files. Woohoo. :-| And that after over two decades of software engineering experience. For some reason, the boss's boss wanted to hire only senior and principal level people for that team, despite handing them mostly junior-level work. I quit that job after just shy of a year -- didn't want to even wait long enough for assorted stuff to vest.

Taryn said...

Ouch - yeah, that sounds like a classic ghetto job. I can get them wanting "only the best" but still...

Interesting case of hiring up, though. The exact opposite of when you're overqualified for a job and nobody wants you because they think you'll just leave for something better.

lawrence krubner said...

Did you see this?

Taryn said...

@Lawrence. Not that one specifically no, but I have seen this effect before. The problem is that office politics is a game. One to which women are often not taught the rules whereas men often are...

It's a really stupid game of manipulation - and women (on average) prefer not to have to play it. However - right now it's the "only game in town".

For women who want to learn how to play (or even just to understand the ground rules) I heartily recommend this book:

Hardball for Women

It was the source of many "aha!" moments for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm trapped in one now. 15years of c/c++ os and driver development. I'm now writing java script on good days. Excel spread sheets maintenance on the bad ones.
The problem is my CV has been shredded. Recruiters always ask me what I'm working on now. I hear it in their voice as soon as I say the word "script".
I was doing more advanced work fresh out of Uni' and they know it.
They hired a coder, because they thought they were high-tech.
The worse problem with these gigs.. how does one get out?

Taryn said...

Ouch. I feel your pain.

My recommendation: go find an open source project to work on.

It'll help keep the rust off your skills, and you can prove you've done some "real" coding work recently.