Live your own life and don't let others tell you how you're supposed to exist.
Because "how do we know you didn't copy paste it from a tutorial and claim it as yours?"
It is insulting, and frankly discouraging. As if the only one true way to tell whether you know your stuff or not is to check if you can solve some silly riddle/puzzle under the gun.
One solution is to only apply to companies without a broken hiring process, but sadly they're very rare.
I'd hire that guy, but maybe that's why I'm looking for employment and not the employer? LOL
That sounds a bit harsh.
Unless you're going for a role that requires some kind of explicit/specific knowledge - and you're clearly not able to demonstrate any skill in that area - I wouldn't put too much stock in the interview processes of Unicorns actually being indicative of your true skill.
I've been told, during an interview, that I was clearly incompetent and the interviewer terminated the interview. This was because I stumbled on doing a series of whiteboard exercises to solve some obscure brain-teasers.
I ended up getting the job anyway (I had worked with people there, and they vouched for me) and learned that to many of the interviewers, they found great delight in finding the most obscure and weird problems, trick questions and coding challenges.
It didn't help with selecting for competency, and the product the company was shipping wasn't exactly ground breaking or needing of someone who could on the spot solve arcane bullshit.
But it seems they want people that have studied for months and probably have seen the problem before, so they can go thru all the possible optimizations and come up with the best answer in 45 minutes. Basically they are hiring an 'Interview Cracking Engineer'. Not a developer...
I thought it used to be that they look at your resume and they ask you questions to confirm that your resume is real. And that's that. Now it's basically just an exam, period...
Don't let it stop you from continuing to apply for jobs. If you have written a Django/Angular site from scratch you are more than qualified for a junior position.
Unfortunately the people interviewing are often going to be life-long employees that are expert of climbing the corp ladder, not so much the entrepreneurs who found and own the business.
Also off topic but what was it like working for non-profits, and what sort of work did you do?
All my work with non-profits involved doing open source in collaboration with them as a consultant. It was great :)
The most frustrating thing I have experienced is that society in general is still not accepting of people taking "sabbatical" in their 20s. While about 10% of people think it's cool that I quit my job and am flying by the seat of my pants, the other 90% hear that I'm unemployed and treat me like a pariah. It's been very eye opening to me just how linked your personal identity is to your job. And I don't mean job as in "I am a programmer", but specifically the actual name of the company you are employed by. I've had people be very interested in conversation with me at social events when I talk about work-related things, but when I actually say the words "I don't currently work anywhere and am taking some time off", those same people have literally picked up their drinks and walked away.
It's particularly bad with recruiters now that I'm ready to start looking for a new job again. Even though I left my company on extremely good terms (they literally begged me to stay!), recruiters seem to see that I left [insert major well respected company here] and assume that I must been have fired. Most still seem to think Google et al are some extremely coveted workplaces and can't imagine that someone would willingly leave them. It is a very tough hurdle to get over.
As long as there isn't something seriously wrong (such as depression that leads to inability to enjoy pursuits), maybe that is OK. It could be important to be able to accept that you don't always have to accomplish something, and that your life doesn't have to be about maximizing how much you can accomplish. (Which is a different thing than saying it's OK to never accomplish anything or OK to consistently accomplish very little.) You don't recover from burnout or whatever else by driving yourself crazy with worry and guilt over how you aren't living up to some standard.
About the weird reactions, I've been through that after making a similar choice, and I've found that with some people, they are just not even slightly open-minded about it and they are going to judge you instantly. You can't do much about those people.
But with other people, their reaction will depend on how you present it to them. You've just told them you're doing something far outside the social norm, and they're going to be thrown for a loop and wondering why and how to understand it. They don't know if you're a lazy, broke, aimless loser or a person who has a plan and is doing this for some kind of purpose and real benefit to making their life better overall. You're going to get a whole different reaction depending on whether you say "Uhh... so yeah, I'm not working anywhere right now" or "I was fortunate enough to be in a good place financially, and I really wanted to take a year off, so I am". The second one signals that you're in charge, you're content with what you're doing, and your successful enough to give yourself the opportunity.
>About accomplishment, maybe the thing you wanted out of escaping the rat race was to take a break from feeling like you constantly did have to accomplish something.
100% yes! In fact, when I first left my job, this was exactly what was foremost on my mind and I intentionally took a one-month period where I essentially vacationed and didn't "accomplish" anything. I was very proud of having escaped the rat race, and felt good about it. After that is when I started to "get back into it" and work on side projects, etc. I was still confident that taking time off was a great decision, even if I didn't come out of it with an MBA or a startup.
Unfortunately, ~20 months later, things have changed. I've gotten enough negative reactions in those 20 months, and enough rejected job applications and negative conversations with recruiters regarding my employment gap, that I really start to question (even if only subconsciously) the entire situation I put myself in by quitting. I've started to lose that confidence that I initially had, and once that confidence starts to erode, it's been really hard to get back.
You may want to talk to a coach about this. I'm sure you can find someone specialized in finding jobs. You make it sound like you somehow let yourself down, and if that shimmers through in an interview, you won't leave a good impression. I think you need somebody to help you with finding a good way to frame this time in a better light. Not only for your next application, but also for yourself. What started as time off might have turned into involuntary unemployment, with all the negative weight that this brings.
That's a challenging position to be in. Essentially you're facing what most people with new ideas face. I could tell you that everything will be okay, and that you'll be better off in the future...
Those comments are hollow until this passes, and expecting people in general to empathize is impossible. What I can suggest is to keep at it and re-evaluate periodically. You'll find someone(s) who will understand.
Maybe one thing that is specific (at least from when I spoke with people employing creatives) is that they have more leeway on what to do.
Are you sure it's that, or could it be because they find they have trouble relating to someone who is in such a privileged financial position to do nothing for two years, when they themselves may be financially insecure?
People relate through shared struggle and experience. When you say, "I don't work and I don't need to", you've dashed any sense of camaraderie a stranger, or even many friends, might have felt.
To answer your question more directly: I've considered it, and that's probably the case for some of those interactions (see above), but the majority of the ones I'm specifically thinking of are interactions with people that I know for a fact are much better off financially than I and make just as much (if not more) than I do/did.
To put it another way – who wouldn't take a two year sabbatical if they could? The fact that it's rare, even among well-paid tech workers, is a good indicator that it's not within the realm of relatability for most.
I also don't think it's necessarily a judgement of privilege. Consider the reverse scenario: a party of people enjoying their sabbaticals, and one person with a desk job. No-one's going to hold a conversation for long with that person, simply because their day-to-day experiences are not relatable. The sabbatical crowd will want to talk about long-term travel, how to stave off boredom, and the interesting startup ideas they're working on. No-one wants to hear this one guy's stories about scrum drama, getting a promotion, and taking their kids to the recent company outing. His stories may be positive or negative, boring or interesting, but no-one else can commiserate with their own current experience. For anything topical you're left with sports and the weather.
>To put it another way – who wouldn't take a two year sabbatical if they could?
It seems a lot of people, actually. Again, I can't speak for everyone, but even many of my close friends, who I know a lot about their financial situations and have actually had this conversation with, have even said that they could take time off just as I did and have no financial issues at all, but still would not do it because they feel too pressured by societal expectations to always have a job.
>I also don't think it's necessarily a judgement of privilege. Consider the reverse scenario: a party of people enjoying their sabbaticals, and one person with a desk job. No-one's going to hold a conversation for long with that person, simply because their day-to-day experiences are not relatable. The sabbatical crowd will want to talk about long-term travel, how to stave off boredom, and the interesting startup ideas they're working on. No-one wants to hear this one guy's stories about scrum drama, getting a promotion, and taking their kids to the recent company outing. His stories may be positive or negative, boring or interesting, but no-one else can commiserate with their own current experience. For anything topical you're left with sports and the weather.
There is far more to talk about than just sports/weather and work-related stuff. Even when I was employed, most of my friend group was not in the same industry and we were still able to have lengthy conversations even though most of the group didn't even know what "scrum" is, or never had to worry about a promotion, or never considered startups.
My experience has been that the topics of conversation or ability to commiserate isn't the issue. I've been in situations where I have had lengthy, wonderful conversations with a person where we clearly connect and can relate to each other, but as soon as I drop the "I am currently unemployed" bomb, their entire attitude toward me will change for the worse. (FWIW, I've also been in situations where their attitude has changed for the better, but I find those to be rarer)
I genuinely wish no one ever had to experience anything similar to what I experienced.
txcwpalpha, some portion of those who "treat you like a pariah" are probably these people. The good news is that such people are of no use to YOU, and you just dodged a bullet.
I don't want to necessarily promote a cynical view of the entire world, because these people are still thankfully a small portion of the total. My bigger point is that a surprising number of people whom I experienced as rude, standoffish, nasty, etc. turned out later to also have been dishonest, hiding something, and/or actively engaged in wrongdoing (be it right there, or in some other part of their lives). Not sure whether the stress of being deceptive leads them to be shitty toward others, or if a shitty worldview leads to both... probably the latter... but in short, shittiness is rarely confined to just the one area of a person's life that concerns social interactions. And rarely does it have anything whatsoever to do with you. It has to do with them - in fact I would say it's a marker, a fog beacon calling out "BEEEEP - this person is shitty in this observable way and probably other currently-unobservable ways - BEEEEP." Just think about it like this: if talking to someone feels like you're talking to a gangster, or like you just went to prison, that's probably because that person belongs there. I highly recommend spending time around some scumbags just to get the flavor.
The funny thing is that, even though my original comment hints at how regretful I am now of being unemployed, it didn't use to be that way. I used to be very proud of having left my job and being unemployed! I thought I had made a great decision and it didn't even occur to me until months later that people would see "taking time off" as an "embarrassed euphemism" rather than something good.
It really helps to work on something interesting, even if it's very part time, and purely for fun. That might also help with your recruiting woes.
Also, sabbaticals don't seem that uncommon in the Bay Area, at least among people I know. Maybe it's a regional culture difference thing that makes it seem so taboo in your area?
However, how you present that info can make a difference.
I think it might be attitude personally. I am 26 and have been making it on my own for the last two years, and I think I'm so excited about what I've been doing and sharing it that people always seem curious enough to listen. Be able to hype up what you do! Whatever it is. That's a skill for sure.
To me, this sounds like a good filter. In fact I have been using this sub-consciously with girls when they ask me about my day job. I don't answer with "serial killer", it is screaming "I'm unemployed and unsecure". But rather "I don't really work or have anything right now".
Start getting rid of useless people. The sooner, the better. It is very hard to get rid of people if they are opening discussions so this time they just disappeared away.
Wow. Really. Fuck them. Whats so great about talking to ppl with office job.
The trick for getting around this is to form an LLC and say that you were freelancing. No one will ask questions.
And, after all, it's true. You would have taken money in exchange for services rendered, had a sufficiently-enticing opportunity presented itself. So it's not even a lie.
But seriously, if you enjoyed the job so much, why leave? Why not just take a quick vacation and keep enjoying the job?
Yea, I'm aware of that, and I don't necessarily blame the recruiters for that, but it does suck for me.
>But seriously, if you enjoyed the job so much, why leave? Why not just take a quick vacation and keep enjoying the job?
I didn't enjoy the job. I worked my ass off doing 60-70 hour weeks in a position I disliked with co-workers I didn't respect because I knew that sticking it out would get me early promotions and bonuses, which is what gave me the financial security to take time off. In doing so I guess I also proved that I am a good employee, which is why my company tried so hard to get me to stay (and has even tried to re-hire me a few times). But I didn't enjoy it, and would only go back as a last resort (unfortunately, because of the reasons mentioned in my original comment re: recruiting, it seems I may have to go with that last resort).
The specific company I worked for is actually known internally for being a place that people commonly work hard for 3-4 years, take the payday, and then quit to go do something else. But externally, it has a reputation of being a great place to work and I've had a lot of recruiters express surprise/disbelief that I would willingly leave it.
Nice; good on you for playing the game and walking away with the prize you wanted.
Hopefully other employers believe they can provide better work balance.
I think you might have good intentions with this question, but it seem a bit silly. You could ask the same question to anyone about any job. Why do you think the millions of investment bankers or consultants or lawyers or medical residents work long hours? Why do people work long hours in shitty retail or food service jobs? Why do people work in sweat shops? Not everyone has the opportunity to work somewhere they "enjoy more", but they keep working anyway because at the end of the day we all need a paycheck.
>Why not find a similar role at a place you enjoyed more?
That's precisely what I'm trying to do now. If you mean "why didn't you find a similar enjoyable role to begin with?", because those enjoyable roles don't pay nearly as much, and I wanted to build up a decent-sized savings so that I could take time off, travel, and work on side projects. My "plan" was to spend a few years working hard, build up a nest egg and a resume, and then transition into something more "enjoyable" though lower paying. The first part of that plan went swimmingly, but the transition part has been a little rocky.
I thought lawyers worked reasonable hours. The medical industry is it's own special situation. Those investment bankers must be bad at math - for overtime-exempt employees, each extra hour worked past 40 reduces your hourly pay rate by 2.5%.
Retail, fast food, office, IT, software development - all jobs pay 150% pay after 40 hours, and 200% pay after 80 hours. At least in WA State, it's the law for non-exempt employees.
Aren't sweat shops illegal?
You did have the opportunity to work somewhere better. Were you suffering out of a solidarity with the less fortunate?
At least you admit this was your plan from the beginning.
It's not about the OT pay working at an IB; it's about the bonus -- which is often a multiplier of your base salary.
Not really. The first one does, then the effect is getting smaller with each hour.
Those first few weeks of unstructured time were essential. Not framing the time as having to accomplish something is important - I found that my intrinsic motivation came back on its own anyway.
If you’re looking to take a break, then just do that like the OP. Take a break and do some light coding only if you want to.
If you want to do entrepreneurship Then you need to cut down the risk when you are going full time. So have some momentum for an idea - Ie you’ve vetted it, built it and charging at least 5 people for it. Something that lessens your risks.
Also make a commitment on a timeframe after which you would quit and start looking for a job. Eg: if I have 0 revenue after 1 year I will quit.
It doesn't have to, a lot of the people I know started their business because they wanted to get away from that culture.
Consider broader definitions of "accomplishment" and "wealth" than "job" and "paycheck."
I speak from experience on this. A few months into a year-long sabbatical my brain had rewired itself and the burnout healed. I started finding enjoyment in the small quiet moments again. 4 years later, I can say that the sabbatical was the best career move, the best financial decision, and the best personal decision I have ever made. It led me to a new home, a new career, and much new wisdom.
I knew I felt weary, but everyone around me seemed to feel the same. I was honestly surprised when the color came back. I was almost too busy to notice it was missing.
Now that I know how my own burnout symptoms manifest, I can keep an eye on my stress and work-life balance to make sure I don't get so far gone again.
This is what I did for 2-3 years.
I slept in everyday, went to the gym or for a run, rode my bike around, read books, went to movies, watched TV, shopped for groceries, cooked most of my meals, went on dates, and pretty much never left town.
Eventually I only had like 6 or so months of expenses in the bank and got another job.
Wasn't a waste to me, I loved it.
My background is writing/marketing though so it’s not like my skills were particularly out of date.
Usually I take a week or two letting myself experience calm and boredom, and then reading what others are doing inspires some ideas.
Usually I then write myself mini proposals like you'd do for your boss or a grant, clarifying what I think I know, what I think might work and why it works be interesting, how the problem I'm considering is done best now, and how I'd go about developing that problem into a project.
It takes maybe a day or three per proposal, but saves months of chasing bad ideas like a new electronic device that solve a technical problem in a cool new way (but does it worse than the current solution.
It just takes a different amount of time and introspection and recovery for each person. There are so many ways to live a good life, and many are better than what we thought we wanted in high school or college. Don't be afraid to explore things that seem silly, no one is watching and it's the only way to learn.
But boredom while alone is critical. Perhaps the most important part to redeveloping curiosity and processing what we think we want is silence.
Though, that's not to say discipline isn't an issue as well. I've had several ideas, and never really followed through because of lack of discipline/not seeing how it's going to help me earn money, etc.
Also, if you're going to use this opportunity to learn a new language/framework/etc, I'd dip the toes in the water now.
I quit my job to work on a project (http://ngrid.io). I’m close to being done but in the process I’ve met a lot of people and I have three job offers lined up without interviewing.
The best part of doing this myself was to become comfortable with this. At the end of it, you feel more free than most people. Or at least I did.
Becoming ok with not being defined by money or accomplishments is one of the nicer parts of growing older. You can finally relax and shed some of the angst from youth.
Everyone needs money, but ultimately if you live a simple life with simple tastes then you can still afford some gadgets to satisfy your hacking spirit.
It takes at least a year just to decompress, and then another year to become comfortable with not having anything to show for your time. That is the growth.
Disclaimer: my CV has often been a horrendous mess of 3-6 month "gaps" (during which time I learned many of my most valuable life lessons) and it never cost me more than a month of training myself up, networking, and interviewing.
Another disclaimer: I've always been of the habit of saving my money so that long gaps feel stress-free and I don't have to take the first job I'm offered.
If they ask for details, then list all the places you went, and then if they're curious about any individual one give them more details about what you did there. If they don't ask for any details about travel, then they don't care, and you're not wasting time with irrelevant information by going into detail on travel from the beginning.
yes, they've been collecting this since the 70's/80's.
I consider this a self-reflective question on the interviewer's part. If your interview can't sniff out the gap in their experience, then there are two possibilities.
A) The most likely one: your interview sucks and you're not as good as you think you are
B) The gap doesn't matter.
I'm frankly confused as to why a resume gap would be relevant to anyone. If anything, my resume gap cleared up my head and I've dabbled in some things I don't usually touch so it made me a better employee, if we want to use that language.
This just seems like a cultural holdover and one we could eliminate with more people taking breaks.
I took six months off after being fired(!) (four months truly off, ~6 weeks prepping, looking for new role and interviewing). During my time off, I traveled, got healthy after years of neglect, created a couple of mildly interesting side projects, read oodles, and generally was just a man about town.
I told recruiters in month one that I was taking some time off but that I'd love to speak to them around month four. When the time came, I still had very good choices and landed a fairly coveted position.
I did have one particular worry that I guess aligns with what you're saying. I felt that if the three or four good companies I'd hit snooze on in month one all fell through and I had the explain the six month gap after the fact rather than prior to, the onus would have been on me to prove that I hadn't just been applying everywhere for six months with no takers.
What I see a lot around me are people quitting their job to join the new one on the following week. I never understood that either. Besides retirement it's probably the only time in their life where they can take long holidays.
Overlap it with public holidays, and you can get 17 or 18 days off in a row for 10 vacation days - 10 weekdays, three weekends and a public holiday or two. But it's usually better to plan a public holiday somewhere in the middle because of the extra traffic.
As terminology though it's not a sabbatical either. 6 weeks off sounds more like a gap between jobs with gardening leave or travel or some other project that wouldn't fit in a work vacation.
Jokes aside, that's a really admirable - and in my experience, rare - thing you're doing. Your employees are really lucky.
This guy has a biography online about what he did so screw that. Just post a link to this article if you re-enter the work force. But you'll have something to put there anyway.
Take time off (I definitely needed it, my anxiety was through the roof, my sleep schedule was really fucked up). The days just seemed to be slipping away. Work was both stressful and boring. I'm actually pretty happy these days which is something I haven't felt in a long time.
I've convinced two friends to do the same, they are both very thankful.
My skills are 10x what they used to be. There is a lot of non-linear gains from working 10 hours a day at your pace, on shit you care about. There are days where in 2 days I do stuff that might have taken me 2 weeks previously.
My confidence as a programmer has also really improved. Like few things are truly impossible given enough time.
The thing to remember is that even if your thing doesn't work out, you'll be in a better position.
Hit me up if you want to talk about your plans, my email is in my profile.
Check out the project I'm working on if you feel like it http://ngrid.io.
3 months in a job search to end this retirement funds burn... Still haven't gotten a single offer. Rejected post-interviews by Triplebyte, Google, Blockchain.info, Snapchat thus far. Plenty of mid interview ghosting by startups. And with technically only 1.5 years doing iOS, plenty of companies didn't even pick-up my resume...
And gosh are these processes super slow. Maybe cuz I'm interviewing mostly remote from Vancouver BC with mostly US firms...
Current music theory is kinda terrible. I’ve developed something that I like to think supersedes it and I’m beyond pumped to show it to the world. But it’s hard so it’s taking some time.
Devil's advocate: career breaks can be toxic to your getting hired. I recall once reading that it can be comparable to a criminal record.
If your going to travel, travel. Travel around the world, drive the pan-american highway. Travel can be cheap as long as you can save up enough for transport to a cheap country: Go to mexico, learn spanish. Go to India, live on a mountaintop. Its actually fun to keep in the loop tech wise from a random location somewhere! And the hiring manager in two years time will be jealous, not suspicious.
If you really want to work (during your only long holiday for the next 30 years!), then make that your focus. Make the side project happen, join an accelerator, make it a full time job - because it will be if its successful. If its to learn a new field (carpentry, art, mechanic) then take the time to be become an apprentice, don't just google youtube videos.
Do something fun. Take a few chances. And I can pretty much guarantee you wont regret it at all.
I'm very happy right now, but mostly that's because I have a roommate who's unemployed right now, so most of the time I'm not alone in the house and have another person to go on adventures with, as well as have most of my network of college friends and friends still in college around.
On the con side, I've discovered that unstructured working at home descends quickly into distraction and browsing HN too much. I think I might try setting time each day where I go to a coffeeshop and work on coding projects, creative writing, and reading, as the change of scenery might help change my focus modal.
Finally, I recognize that I'm incredibly privileged to be able to do this. Having well-payed internships and a 1%'er family is giving me an opportunity for relaxation and travel that most Americans lack. I'm planning on spending more of my hiatus time volunteering for local causes for what I wish I could say is the goodness of my heart, but is honestly out of guilt and boredom.
It's good to be self-aware enough to recognise this. If you're privileged enough to be able to afford yourself a sabbatical or if you belong to the 1% the best use of your time if you want to give back probably isn't to volunteer for a local cause.
At best it's only a drop in the ocean. At worst it's a self-serving effort to absolve yourself from the 'sin' of privilege.
If you're well off one way to help is Effective Altruism ( https://www.effectivealtruism.org/ ), particularly the pledge to give: https://app.effectivealtruism.org/pledge
That isn't to say that helping others around you by putting in time and effort isn't a worthwhile, rewarding endeavour but one probably shouldn't trick oneself into believing that by doing so one automatically has made a considerable difference.
Can anyone guess how many 1%'ers are on HN?
That part is key. It's really a combo of working hard in some way during strong economic times. You can do it in a down market but it's much more difficult. Building generational wealth in the 1950s was much easier than in the 1850s or than it will be in the 2050s, for example. If this isn't true, I'd like to institute a 100% inheritance tax and see how well someone like Meghan McCain or Paris Hilton fares against the rest of us.
My credentials in this.. my family did the exact story described here. Post-WW2 American family that built out an excavating company into a multimillion dollar empire that now includes a chain of banks and other side businesses. My wife's family, same thing but in the textile industry in Latin America. We were both tossed out, because our families are full of psychopaths and horrendous behavior, and we're actually decent folk who won't murder you for a larger inheritance (yes, it's happened in our families). So we never received any assistance, in fact, far less than even a normal, loving family of meager means would give their kids. She's out of her father's will because he blames her for his divorce, a 13 year old daughter at the time of his infidelity, and I'm expecting my brother and aunt to rob my parents blind. We have our own small side businesses but I'm currently hunting for a fulltime job and my wife is a public school teacher. From what I've seen in my life so far, I've never seen money do any good for anyone outside of basic needs. Maybe in the hands of a really wise, smart individual but that's tough to find and a fool is born every minute.
Working hard part is important and is before. Because if you get lucky first, you will lose it all and likely won't know what areas to take risks in.
Specialties: web dev, ios, coding bootcamps
Sounds like a good time for an impromptu poll?
Say you get 5% real returns in stocks after taxes on distributions. After 15 years, you've lost about 10 months of salary at your effective rate.
Having to work 4 extra months 15 years in the future to take 6 months off now seems like a reasonable trade. (It's a 3.5% annual discount rate on the future).
PS: if you get into a situation where you have an income surge one year (say an IPO), it's a no brainier to do this. The tax rate differences on income now vs future can be high enough to match all stock returns.
I'm currently doing a smaller version of what Joshua describes and had to get approval from manager to get unpaid time off from work. His response: I wish I could have done the same thing. He later even admitted that he was living vicariously through me!
That being said, do save as much as you can as early as you can. Just don't let saving get in the way of living your life
They/we aren't, for the most part, privileged - they land in London with 50 quid, buy an A-Z at the airport and doss with friends under the kitchen table till they land a job doing whatever. Save and party until summer and then a long af van trip around Europe seeing the sights. Rinse and repeat if you've got the stomach for it. Variations exist.
The leaving your country part is the important part. Even if it's English speaking you'd be surprised at the resilience you need to just get s* done arriving somewhere at midnight with no idea where you're going to sleep.
Being punished for 'gaps' in your CV is a cultural thing. There are no gaps in your life, just... life.
One thing that I've discovered working on my own is the value of solitude. When I'm really alone, I can talk to myself out loud and I've found that it allows me to think 10X clearer. Maybe it's just me, but externalizing my thoughts without bothering about what others think it's great for creativity.
If you graduate with lots of student loans, aren’t making a salary that makes it easy to save (which is common even for high earners in expensive cities), and don’t have a network to get reliable freelance/contract work (assuming what you do could be freelanced/contracted out — engineering can but some jobs/skillsets are much harder to do, especially if you’re in your 20s), this is the sort of thing that might be good for your mental and physical well-being, but could end up causing more stresses in the future.
As others have said, fair or not, having gaps on a resume can be problematic (and ageism in tech is a real thing) when trying to reseek employment. At the very least, re-entering the workforce at the same level (assuming you left at “senior” or a mid-level equivalent) might be tough. I suppose if you were a junior dev or just starting out, it would be easier to come back at the same level — but rob may not have the same burnout in that case.
That said, I do think it’s very valuable to recognize what you want and what you don’t want out of life and a career. And that might mean not being in the rat race in your 20s and it might mean realizing you don’t aspire to have the lifestyle that comes with being a well-paid tech worker if it means you have no work/life balance and are slowly killing yourself.
I used to dream about just quitting my job and taking a sabbatical. I was too scared that after the break was over, I wouldn’t be able to find employment the same way. Maybe that was unfounded, but that was my fear.
I wound up switching careers and even though I make more money, I have a better work/life balance and I no longer dream of quitting. And for what it’s worth, the extra money is nice — but if I made what I made before and had the same lifestyle I have now, it would be worth it. I’d even take a pay cut.
Definitely agree with the negatives, the procrastination and loneliness is very real when you're on your own. I tried to make my own app and started getting depressed when I associated its failure with my own (since who else do you have to blame).
Still don't regret it though, I think it actually helped my career by forcing me to learn parts of running a business and programming I never would have done otherwise. But it's not all roses for sure.
I work hard on my community projects, and then actually go out and socialize when I'm tired of working. Sometimes that's every night, but sometimes (if I'm feeling invigorated by a task), I will work nonstop for a week, before I need a social recharge.
Obviously, that is a single person's perspective of it, but I feel like it would be comparable if I'd been in a relationship :)
Re Europeans traveling around Asia - Europeans tend to graduate university later than Americans and then embark on one or more internships before diving into their work contracts. It's not uncommon to take a break between those transitional periods to travel for a bit. But it is uncommon to leave your permanent contract to travel Asia for two years.
Conclusion: It's really all about a plan first, discipline about the plan's boundaries and self-confidence when you present your achievements after. Else you may be viewed as a lazy hedonist.
E.g., My PLAN is to take year to train for an Ironman. That's about 4h a day on average. I'd also eat well, stretch and keep up with the ancillaries of such hard training to prevent injuries. Then I'd be studying 4 online courses à day in whatever I want. My goal would be to finish a few nanodegrees and a few specializations on Coursera. Courses would be about 5h per day. Every day, non-stop. At the end, I would have done one Ironman AND add a whole lot of skill to my arsenal. It's not cheap - calculated it to be about $40K so far with a mortgage and rent to pay but I'm working on creative ways to lessen this. Last but not least, I have three non-profit projects I want to do. One huge dream, one medium, one small. If I went to an interview à year after this starts having been disciplined enough to accomplish even 75% the above, I'm pretty sure not even the hardest interviewer would be skeptical.
Basically, I view the monk year as the year where I still grind. But I grind to add value to yours truly NOT the corporation.
I read a shit tonne this last 8 months and have noticed a big upgrade in my worldview. I shipped a couple of projects on my own which I'm proud of too.
I grew immensely from the experience and a whole bunch of things I always toyed with the idea while working I actually got to try out and see how I really felt about them and not how I thought I was going to feel.
The recruiters being suspicious about the time off thing is something I wasn't suspecting but I did get that vibe. I made a point to network the whole time I was taking off and have been invited to visit a small company I'm pretty excited about after an hour chatting to the CTO. Political savvy was one of my unexpected skills at my last job, so I feel like so long as I can get in a room I can get a job (provided I'm actually interested and think the company would be a good fit).
So many lessons learned. Perhaps both good and bad.
So far very disillusioned. Seems like if the projects didn't become million dollar businesses, then it's algorithm puzzles or working at McDonalds. Shipped products doesn't matter one bit...
Side projects aren't the be all end all to gainful employment. You need to use your network to build relationships and engage with people you know that can help you get employed.
This is new territory for me though, so we'll see.
I'm not in the US on, so I don't play the whole unicorn game. I imagine that's a whole different ball game.
I would say I learned more in the 2 years than I did 10 years as a Firmware Engineer. But if I stayed my course just lurking in my old job I'd have been a Firmware lead. I can't even get an intermediate development job now...
I should have spent some more time on job hunting, in retrospect. At my current job as a consultant I am back-end code-monkeying in a large team where most developers don't have a technical background - it's not very challenging from a technical perspective (even though I like the working environment in other aspects). My current employer pushes me to get certified for some front-end technologies, which I don't find interesting (and have no value for the gig I'm currently assigned to).
My true interest are OSes, drivers, optimization, FPGA's, electronics, compilers, assembly, microcontrollers, graphics... But I can't seem to find a job in that field, mostly because I don't have work experience in those fields. I also have a tendency to be very humble about my experience, which I think is a good thing in general, but I think sometimes people wrongly classify me as 'very junior'. On top of that, everybody seems to be looking for C# programmers, but the pay seems to be a bit lower in more technical fields. I don't care that much about my salary, but right now I am the one with literally the best background (4 academic studies), and the lowest income (basically every time I talk about it with someone, he/she goes "hm, that's pretty low"). I have had some good offers (about 15% more than I currently earn), but they came with a traineeship which seemed not very challenging and would force me to stay with that company for 2 years.
A very common scenario I end up in is that I'm talking to a very enthousiastic HR person ("I think you're a very good fit for our company!"), but the offer ends up very low ("Well, you're a junior after all.").
I am thinking about quitting my current job to brush up some skills (mainly Python, Vulkan, OpenGL, and some OS API stuff) and build a portfolio, but I'm too afraid to be unproductive and end up in a worse situation than before (about 1 year of working experience and a giant gap in my CV after that). Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any advice?
I also saw you writing that European companies are very driven by specific technologies. I do not think this is true. Sometimes companies will write "5 years of React" but what they are actually looking for is an experienced frontend developer.
What you should show is your ability to solve problems and learn independently. A company that does not believe a skilled frontend developer can learn another framework quickly (or don't want to give you the time to do so) is probably not a place you want to work.
I'd consider it, for the right job. I haven't looked for jobs in the US, and I would prefer a job in the Netherlands, but it's a possibility.
> I also saw you writing that European companies are very driven by specific technologies. I do not think this is true. Sometimes companies will write "5 years of React" but what they are actually looking for is an experienced frontend developer.
Possibly. From my perspective, it is hard to tell the difference, since I don't have a lot of professional experience.
Studying 'Cracking the Coding Interview' like everyone else. Nobody cares about specific technology either it seems like these days... Including Triplebyte. Sick of it.
Are you from the US? It is not in line with my experience. Employers here (in the Netherlands) care very much about experience with specific technologies. It is common that job offers demand a couple of years experience with very specific frameworks, libraries or programming languages, even for entry-level jobs. Anything having to do with data science is also out of question (even though I have a math background), since I didn't study data science and have no work experience (never mind that I am interested in data science and read stuff in my spare time).
This sucks if you want to switch jobs, because it dramatically limits your options.
Before master's, I worked as a full stack developer (1 year) and for a data science startup (8 months) which did not get off the ground. It seems that managers ask about short stints even for junior positions and one manager asked me "so you weren't working for the past 2 years?". On sites like https://www.honeypot.io/, a platform representative told me that I should write in my profile why I left the jobs after such a short time.
Regarding job ads, most of them are for specific languages and frameworks (Java developer, Python developer, Spring Developer, Django Developer) and very few have a generic title such as Software Engineer. Companies like to cram both language nuts and bolts questions and CTCI questions in 1 hour.
During recent interviews, I have received questions such as:
"In Java you have this try-catch-finally code, in what scenarios the finally block does not get executed?".
"How do Python generators work under the hood?"
"You have a Python class, when the __init__ method is called, does the object already exists?"
"In Python, what is with statement and why it is used?"
Btw, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lmCu8wz8ro is a great presentation about Python features.
Actually I started setting up a Redmine to pursue more complex goals that are usually not related to work.
In the past I also used classical todo lists on a sheet of paper or Asana for some time. But I gave up both, what I observed happens after using this 'tool' after a while: indeed a lot gets done, it's even fulfilling check an item, especially on paper. So after a year or so, the things on the list end up being more and more difficult to do. The only easy tasks are the recently added ones but the list becomes more and more static.
Problem with todo lists is that they are the end product of some ideas that happen at random times. But you lose the idea behind it, so a proper project management tool is worth it. (In fact when you look at how Asana developed over time, it converges into something like that...)
Something like trello seems more the scale.
Personally I just wish it had TeX support. Does anyone know a good, personal project management tool that allows writing sections in latex?
I found that once I got over the hurdle of learning emacs, the friction in managing tasks once you have learned the tool is nearly nil.
Further, it definitely supports embedded latex fragments, exporting to pdf, etc.
Except all the challenges echoed by others in the comments are real: overcoming procrastination and doing focused work. Actually the former I can manage, the latter is harder. All I have to show for side project time is a long list of smaller projects, I can't manage to take one of them and build/polish it into something significant. Somehow having the choice 100 fun project makes devoting time to just 1 super hard.
Maybe half-time off to some extend is worse for procrastination than full-time, since I can always fall back on my work at BigCo as a sign of progress in my life.
This situation should be ideal, I know the path I should take, the opportunity is there for the taking, but so far have not managed.
I cannot help but feel related to the author himself. My career, short in tech terms (2+ years at current job, similar durarion at previous job) has reached a stagnant phase, where motivation and professional growth almost do not exist.
As a consequence I'm thinking of switching jobs, but have no idea where should I aim for, for what kind of role and industry I would like to work for...Right now I'm lost regarding jobs lookup.
Maybe I should take a sabbatical period to think things over, but it's quite a leap forward, mostly economically.
At the moment, career wise, om not in a position to go down in hours but that is what I'll explore in the future. A 6 hour workday, working remotely more often and/or trying to split my workday up by going to the gym during work hours. This is tough though with meetings and all that.
I've also done a 1.5 year sabbatical, and I can relate. It's both very challenging (to pull off successfully) but also can be very rewarding.
It would cost the company next to nothing, and it would be a preferable alternative to the employee quitting due to stress or burnout.
For the employee it significantly lowers their risk of unemployment. They can either 1. go to a better company, or 2. return to their old company.
In the case of US companies, there's also the added benefit of the possibility of the employee and employer coming to a mutually beneficial arrangement on maintaining the employee's healthcare plan during the sabbatical.
It would cost the company next to nothing, in my view, because the steps the company has to take is almost exactly the same:
1. Employee quits. Company immediately looks for a replacement. One year down the road, when the company is expanding, they have to look for another worker.
2. Employee goes on sabbatical. Company immediately looks for a replacement. One year down the road, when the company is expanding, they first contact the sabbatical guy if they want to come back, and if not they have to look for another worker.
In scenario 1, the company pays for the cost of two hirings with 100% certainty. In scenario 2, worst case the company pays for the cost of two hirings; best case the company only pays for one.
Did the same - took a sabbatical. The main thing is to come up with a cool story of what you did.
Maybe he creates a successful business and never has to work for anyone else again, maybe not. Either way the author will have had the valuable experience of not only trying to build a business, but also living life on his own terms - something that we give up (often without realizing it) when we sell ourselves to the corporate world.
I'm 10 months into my sabbatical and have spent the last 8 months living in countries/continents I'd never been to, learned about different cultures, improved my Spanish (now trying to learn Russian), met a ton of people, and grown enormously as a person.
Career-wise and financially was this a good decision? Probably not (at this point at least). But I wouldn't trade any of this for the world. Had I spent another year living in the same damn city doing the same work that I was bored to death of, I might've jumped off a bridge or something (not really, but in hindsight I was depressed without really realizing it).
I will now shift gears towards working on my own project(s). If it works out - great, I will be living my dream. If it doesn't work out - no problem, I'll figure it out - even if I have to return to the U.S. and find a job again. On my deathbed I'm not going to regret taking a year off to travel the world when I could've spent that year continuing to work a job I was no longer passionate about.
One of the things I've completely internalized from my travels is that I have no interest in the corporate rat race. I don't care about "career ramifications" because that's not a ladder I want to devote my life to climbing. Last night I hung out with a 21 year old from the hostel who's making $6k/month from online businesses working 1 hour/day, and has spent the last 1.5 years living abroad (I never met these kind of people when I was working my 9-5). That is my dream - not being a tech lead at Google (I don't need $6k/month either, $1.5k/month and I'm good).
In essence, the sabbatical drove home the point that I had been climbing the wrong ladder. So even if I have to eventually go back to the job market, I will be targeting totally different jobs, and my mindset towards work, money, and life in general is totally different. Before I was living in a permanent state of delayed gratification, saving money with no clear vision for what I was saving it for. Now I have a better idea of what I want out of life. Or maybe I just have more confidence to go out and chase what I want when in the past I would've simply fantasized about it.
At the end of the day I'd rather try and fail then have lived a safe boring life slaving away in some job I don't care about being depressed and wishing I had the balls to live life on my own terms and go after the life I want.
More importantly: has it really been the best thing you've done for your career? It sounds like you've had a great time but we don't know how this materially affected your career.
What about your sabbatical has made your career better now that you've done it? All I've seen is that you've open sourced a Hugo theme, read a few books, and you worked on a side project. Sounds like something plenty of people do with 40 hour workweeks.
As for your other point, does the best thing for a career have to make it _materially_ better? For me personally, the time off and self-reflection has been a better learning experience than if I hadn't quit, especially the ideas regarding agency and productivity, and these are things that will stay with me into whatever I do next.
I don't doubt that people with 40 hour workweeks can do the little that I've done, but if you see the goals that I set out for myself these were just a minor aspect of what I wanted to accomplish.
I don't doubt taking a sabbatical was good for you in various ways, but your career is probably not one of them as of now.
I've taken numerous lengthy sabbaticals, and find them the only way to maintain anything resembling a fair work:life balance. But I am under no delusions of them being good for my career, they're practically explicitly anti-career - I deliberately walk away from the competition for extended periods of time. I've just chosen to not care, because I prioritize other aspects of my life differently than one who lives to work.
It is not safe to assume those potential benefits will outweigh the substantial negatives of not participating in the competition while your peers continue without you.
To be fair, he says the exact same thing in his opening paragraphs. I think there's value in people sharing their experiences, even if it isn't directly applicable to 99% of the population.
I agree with your other points though. It sounds like he's happy with his decisions for personal-fulfillment reasons. He didn't do a good job of explaining how it advanced his career.
Saying that it's the "best thing I've done in my life" is way too dramatic, but at this point in my career it has been the best thing I've done because of how much I've grown personally.
I don't consider myself a good writer so your point is very helpful.
Despite the misleading title, I still enjoyed the read.
Watched all if breaking bad, did stuff like that. No achievements. Its nice to just rest. With kids there is still a lot to do. It feels like no job + kids is enough to keep me fulfilled if I had unlimited money.
Most people 18-25 can.
First, tons of people at those ages actively burn tons of money on BS like a useless college degree (and not even the kind that lands you an actual job). Not doing anything would be an improvement for them (and cost less).
Second, you can do that with no money at all (tons of people do it on $5 a day style, or getting some work where they travel to pay for the costs, or just using one of the several of networks where you can exchange places for free, etc.). I know lots of people at that age that work for a few months and live off that for the rest -- and I'm not talking about making a full yearly wage on those months, they just live on little. When you're young a futon and a few pieces of stuff will do. (I actually know older people living like that too -- in cultures where not following some career and making do with little is not considered "white trash" or "hippie", e.g. in the countryside in Europe and so on).
Also, you seem to be harshly criticizing the author and what he done in this span, but how are your choices working for you? Not great from what we read in your comment.
Fallback is important though; that is the "if I run out of money, seriously, then what do I do?"
There's a huge different between a $5/day lifestyle and a fallback to your parents basement vs a $5/day lifestyle and a fallback to, well, I guess I'll be living on the street.
The difference in cognitive load and stress between the two is staggering. Having a fallback is a very privileged position to be in.
Most entrepreneurs don't want to admit they can fallback to a parent's basement somewhere as it kind of kills their image.
I dunno, in many cases I know (or used to know, not so young myself anymore) the fallback was either "back with the parents for a while to sort things out", "find some place to rent with/without a roommate(s) and get a job" (which could be waiting tables too). Nobody really has any "fallback" in the sense of money in the bank or family fortune.
So not much privilege required. As said, when you're young and without spouse/kids.
Those without college degree have scrappy jobs if they have them and those with degrees as you said are in debt. Worst off are those with college debt but who did not finished college.
Nevertheless, young people without degrees can't really reasonably abandon their life.
Maybe in America. But when I was in Spain this summer, I met some Aussies who do seasonal summer work then go blow it all on word trips yearly. Said it was decently common among a certain crowd of people.
How? That's $150 a month, I'm not sure if you can even find a place to live with that money.
Even in a first world country with $1500+/month average wage, getting by on holidays with €150-€200 is something a lot of younger friends do, if anything because they have to (not many saved from poorly paying and scarce regular jobs anyway). If you bunch up a few together, or just go camping, it's quite cheap.
For comparison, in Greece there are tons of young (and older) people actually working full time for ~ €400/month.
(Before the crisis, in say 2006-2010 those were called the "€700 euro generation" for making around that amount per month, then considered very low).
Here's a similar case in Spain: "“We’re not mileuristas. We are just poor. I wish I could earn €1,000, but my generation is earning between €700 and €800 a month,” he says, adding that he personally takes home around €450 a month for a 20-hour week, and describes himself as underemployed."
It's far better to be positive. For example a good friend of mine founded a successful crypto shop. At the time, I thought the idea was stupid. However I didn't say that, I told him I wanted him to succeed and I was happy to listen to him describing what he wanted to do and how he was going to do it. Now our friendship is even closer and he's doing great. While it's unlikely given his personality, if I had been negative I might have talked him out of a big success and that isn't what good people do.