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Abstract Musings on Job Hunting

I'm applying for jobs, primarily in PHL, but because of changed circumstances, also in a few other cities. This is pretty daunting, primarily because I have a weird skillset and am pretty particular in the kinds of jobs I want. Universities tend to list their "IT/Programmer" jobs separately from their research jobs, and often divide the IT jobs from the Programmer ones. Although getting all three components together in one job practically never happens, I'd be happiest with at least two of the three:

  • Psychological Research (alternately, research in some other field where I have a strong interest and some proficiency, like Bioinformatics)
  • Programming
  • Systems Administration (or other use of my systems skills)

Unfortunately, these jobs tend to be created on-the-fly around an applicant's skillset, so they're hard to arrange unless one's already in the academic community of the proper region.

I can use my personal ties to (likely) get a job in the PHL region working with Emulab, but not for a University (and I have a strong preference for University environments and benefits). Maybe I need to think about other people to use as job ins. Other options: nonprofits, or particularly hip small businesses. Other other option: contract work (ugh paperwork though). Other other other option: Just not work for a year, and work on personal projects.

In theory, Boston would be a better place to find a job (by several notches), but it's also colder and more expensive. I need to remember that whatever I get, I'm likely staying for only a year; maybe that'll help me lower my standards. I'm not disposed to take a pay cut (especially when moving to a more expensive city), but maybe it wouldn't be so bad. I need to get beyond this psychological block that prevents me from strongly considering specific jobs. No job will be perfect.

But what would a perfect job look like? My current job is pretty awesome (small group, where I'm the technical lead and developer for one project, hands-off management, and where I administer a decentralised lab/machine room), and my last job was also pretty awesome (small group, where I'm the systems wizard among researchers but where I get to do MRI research too). I think I'm happiest being the systems wizard among people doing other things (Where I can do those other things too). I'd rather be the Font of Knowledge than the Font of MonoSpace, eh?

Maybe some of this connects with broader questions I have about my career. I do intend to try grad school (as soon as I can get in), but would being a professor be right for me? (Becoming a benevolent dictator of some second-world country, another job I think I might also really like and be suited for, has a pretty rough interview process!)

So far very impressed with how well VirtualBox runs on my laptop. The hardware-assisted emulation works pretty well (even as sound and video are sometimes a bit flaky).

A quick weighing in on PZ's latest post on a debate between Sam Harris and William Craig: It is possible for two people in a debate to be both terribly wrong. A secular moral absolutist (Sam Harris) versus a religious one (William Craig) does not have a winner; both claim an impossible objectivity and rely on sleight-of-hand for their arguments to work. Sam Harris's arguments are not worth the paper they're printed on, as they're built on such a novice mistake in philosophy of ethics. William Craig's arguments are based on similarly broken arguments, plus some mythology. Discarding either should not lead one to the other.

Recently Knuth 4A arrived. YES.


your background has changed. o_o

boston is a nice place. there is a lot of life, and it is pretty regardless of temperature. i guess i can't speak to philly.