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10 years and some advice to young people

Looking back 10 years.  

I was looking back at blog post from 10 years ago, and I was reminded just how bad those days were.  The economy took a terrible hit; it was the start of the great recession.  At the time, our son was only a year old, so that consumed most of our time, but it was hard not to notice how bad the economy was going.  

Over the next year or so, there were two rounds of layoffs where I worked.  Eventually, I think they shed over 40% of their workforce!  I weathered the recession fairly well, except for the fact a ‘new normal’ was set with no raises, unpaid time off, and a cutbacks at every level.  As a word of warning, if the company you are working for switches from Spoons, Knives, and Forks to Sporks in the lunchroom, they are in trouble.  I think we, as a country, were really changed by that recession.  The whole employer/employee relationship changed.  You could no longer just ask for a raise, you should be happy that you have a job.  For the generation that entered the workforce at the time, they will always have a skewed sense of what is appropriate or not.

For the young people out there:  You should expect a raise every year.  You should get paid vacation and sick days off.  Your raises should be more that just inflation.  If they are not, you are actually making less every year.  You should have decent health insurance.  I have heard of some nightmare plans out there, where you are more or less given a credit card, and when that money is gone, it is gone.  Your employer should work hard to retain you, not you having to justify your position every 90 days.  You should be able to work for years at the same company, no more of this ‘gig’ economy crap.  You should expect free or inexpensive coffee.  Most importantly, men and women died for you to have a 40 hour work week.  Do not let their sacrifice be in vain.

Don’t let employers take advantage of this new normal.  There are a lot of jobs out there, looking for skilled people.  If you have any skill in engineering or mathematics, the industry really needs you.  Get a STEM degree or a practical trade certification.  There are not enough graduates or tradespeople to fill the positions.  Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.  Programming is great and all, but those willing to build and fix real things in the real world are well rewarded.  Enough of my graduation speech, get out there and live!

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Posted by on September 27, 2017 in General Comments, Social

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The Challenger

24 years ago the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after it was launched. I was 11 going on 12 years old at the time. I was sitting in an English class in 6th grade at the time. I still remember the look of shock the teacher had that day when she told us what happened. I guess it is like you will always remember where you were when you first heard about the World Trade Center on 9/11 or when Kennedy was shot, or where you where when man first stepped in the moon. I didn’t get to see it live, since I was in school and most of my siblings were home sick that day. It was a sad day for Americans, and a sad day for space exploration.

Today, it is used as an engineering and management example of what not to do and how important communication is in an organization. I think most problems stem from communication issues. 9/11? Lack of communication between Federal agencies. Marriages breaking up? Lack of communication between the partners. Mars Lander failure? Lack of communication between the designers for what system of measurements was used. Hurricane Katrina? Lack of communication with FEMA and the inability to warn the residents in timely matter. In this day and age of world wide communication, it is the lack of proper interpersonal skills and clear understanding that gets us.

Unfortunately, this mistake gets repeated over and over and I really don’t know if it will ever be fixed. I think it is really part of human nature. It could be because we evolved to deal with relatively small groups and our genetic heritage just fails us when we pass a certain point of people. Where I work, word of mouth is so much faster than formal e-mails it is not even funny. It was like that at my last job as well. I would be willing to bet it is a pretty common problem not just in American culture, but a world wide phenomenon in corporate culture with companies with over 15 people.

So, in th end, if we just communicated more effectively, a lot more people would be alive right now. Thank you for teaching us an important lesson, flight crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger, but I doubt it will really sink in for a long time.

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Posted by on January 28, 2010 in Social

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