October 9th, 2003:

for a living

For the first time since I’ve graduated high-school, I’m starting to see the value of a college degree.

After a nice talk with Matt and a long talk, yesterday, with Tony, I have this overwhelming feeling that I need to get out of the field that I am in. Unfortunately, without a college degree in any specific field, the only thing I can do is something I already know how to do (programming and photography), or get an entry level job at some company and work my way up. While I’d probably make a good manager, I don’t have a Business degree, which makes it difficult to jump into a management job. And the only craft-based work that pays decent is work that requires prior knowledge. So, it’s like being 18 again and starting at the very bottom. I have two choices: a) find a low paying job and work my way up or b) go back to school.

Even if I were to go back to school (which is impossible… but let’s just humor the idea), I would still only be able to select ONE career and would then have to hope that I found a job in that field. If I didn’t, I’d have to go back to school again and find yet another degree. There are plenty of things that interest me, and I am a GREAT self-teacher, but, I can’t exactly learn EVERYTHING just in case I find a job in that field. And, even if I could do that, in today’s market, why would someone hire a self-taught person with no-experience when there are plenty of experienced and accredited individuals without jobs as well?

So, in order to make a decent amount of money, without having to train myself BEFORE getting the job I have a few choices: a) stay where I am, b) find another ITish job, c) start my own business doing… something. Option A sucks, and option B is almost impossible right now thanks to the fine leadership of this nation and the America-centric corporations that exist in it and repay its citizens by shipping jobs to India. So that leaves option A as a last resort, and option B if I get lucky, and option C as the only viable option to pursue.

So, okay. I’ll start my own business. I could easily be a technology consultant. With so many companies reducing work forces and not wanting to hire permanent labor, I might be able to find short-term contracts here and there by helping to optimize certain aspects of a company’s business through computer-assisted mechanization. Additionally, while it won’t pay as well at first, I could also seek out the Small Business sector: businesses that have, somehow, managed to thrive in this dying economy and assist them in taking the next step toward realizing even more profits: IP based business-to-business services as well as custom IP based (web site, e-commerce, etc) solutions to met their needs. The Small Business sector would be slow to start, and each job would pay considerably less than it’s corporate-america counter part. But, the work would be more rewarding and, if done correctly, lead to more and more work.

I could start a web-hosting company, but that’s been done before and is bound to fail. There are already dirt cheap services out there, so my only option would be to do it just as cheap, and hope for business, or just do it really well and work up a reputation as an outstanding company. Both of these options will take time before they generate any considerable income, if they don’t fail right away.

I could offer photography services: portfolio work, weddings, portraits, sell fine-art prints, and maybe, someday, open a gallery. I have most of the equipment I need to start something like this. Sure, a studio would be nice, but I can do it from my home at first. All I really need is a few good studio lights, a few location strobes and some paying customers.

I could invent something. Of course my expertise is in programming, so it would be related. Even Inklog or the Control Panel might be worth selling, if I finished them and started marketing. Inklog, for instance, might make a great TypePad style service. I could still offer the code for free but, I’m sure many people who found the code enjoyable, might be willing to webhost with me if my prices were competitive enough and if it came with a fully supported copy of Inklog. The Control Panel would most likely do best sold straight away on a domain-by-domain basis to other web-hosting providers. Most people are happy with what they have, however. And a lot of code would have to be written to support MANY different system setups. And it’d have to be better than the others, and cheaper as well (since most web-hosting companies are merely reselling it to their clients, they need to make more money off of it for it to be worth their time to switch).

So many options, and none of them are really good. Do you have any input?