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Author Topic: At a Crossroads
Flashfire
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Icon 1 posted April 24, 2004 12:49      Profile for Flashfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My life is coming to a crossroads, and I'm scared... I'm not sure if there's anything I can do about it, but maybe saying something will help...

As I've mentioned before, once or twice, my main source of income is software (specifically, games) testing on a contratural basis. Incidently, that's why I haven't been around recently -- I've been on a new contract and working my arse off. Anyway, I there have been some major shifts in the Product Testing division of the company that I usually test for, which includes re-evaluating the temp agencies they get testers from. So, I'm facing the very real possibility that this contract I'm working on now will be my very last one.

I don't like that. I know, intellectually, that I can't be a contract game tester forever -- no health plan, or job security, or anything like that -- but each time I get a contract I forget that, and feel that I can keep doing this...maybe I just don't want to face the fact that without this job, I'm completely aimless. I don't know where to get a job, or who would take me, or anything like that. (This is not to say that I have no job-hunting skills, I do, I just don't know what I can put on the resume to reflect my current skill-set, or who to give it to.)

I would love some stability and permanence -- a real salary, a steady schedule, paid sick leave. I've dropped off resumes at a few places, but haven't heard anything back (big surprise). Maybe the problem is that, although I like testing, it's not really what I want to do.

What I really want to do is concentrate on my art -- I love drawing my comic; but realistically, it doesn't pay the bills. I wish there was some way it would, but I know that'll never happen.

I suppose I could go back to a part-time retail job, but that would be admitting defeat -- I want to think that I'm...smarter than that. No, more unique than that. I don't want to be just a cog in a corporate wheel, interchangable with anyone off the street, nameless and faceless. I want to contribute something, do something useful.

If I had the money, I would go back to school and get a degree that actually means something, maybe in astronomy or neurology or some other field where I could actually make a difference. But I'm too old and poor for that, and I don't want to burden my husband with the responsibliity of earning all the money. He has his own dreams to chase, after all.

I'm sorry to vent at you guys and drop all my problems on you. I know you all have lots of your own -- I just feel so trapped and helpless right now, that I have to scream...

Thanks for listening, I really do appreciate it.

--Flash, lost and frightened, but not alone

--------------------
"No silicon heaven? That's absurd!
Where would all the calculators go?"
--Kryten, Red Dwarf
-------------------------------
My Web Comic: NSTA: Semper Vigilantis

Posts: 368 | From: State of Denial | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
hey-U
SuperBlabberMouth!
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Icon 1 posted April 24, 2004 12:55      Profile for hey-U     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
'fraid I can't offer one single shred of practical advice - but I *do* empathise, really...

/shivers in the cold winds of "downsizing" that are howling round his door...

[Frown]

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Callipygous
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
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Icon 1 posted April 24, 2004 15:46      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, if all this tedious decision making and living stuff becomes to tricky there is always

sloth - stay in bed all day or

apathy - spend the whole day browsing aimlessly on the web

lust - as above but downloading porn and hearing the sound of one hand clapping

death - when all of the above get too boring

Otherwise just make any decision. Usually it has about a 50% chance of being right, and if it isn't you'll find out soon enough.

The only Golden Rule is there are no Golden Rules.

--------------------
"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

Posts: 2922 | From: Brighton - UK | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
hey-U
SuperBlabberMouth!
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Icon 1 posted April 24, 2004 15:49      Profile for hey-U     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Just the small matter of paying the rent...
And paying the grocery bill...
Oh god AND the phone bill...

Posts: 1263 | From: London | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
hey-U
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Icon 1 posted April 24, 2004 15:50      Profile for hey-U     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
AND I missed saying woo yay houpla to post number 1024
[Frown]

Posts: 1263 | From: London | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Twinkle Toes
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Icon 1 posted April 24, 2004 16:49      Profile for Twinkle Toes   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Your situation reminds me of the one my boyfriend, Scott is in (and has been in for a while). He's 18, already graduated from high school, and unemployed. He used to have his own apartment but got kicked out (monetary issue, of course) and is currently living in his cousin's parent's house (his parents moved to California a long time ago). The only thing you have to envy is how much time he has on his hands [Wink] .

quote:
Originally posted by Flashfire:
I've dropped off resumes at a few places, but haven't heard anything back (big surprise). Maybe the problem is that, although I like testing, it's not really what I want to do.

Like you, Scott is interested in game testing but isn't sure if it's what he want to do. All he really knows it's harder than it sounds, and that he's into computers but wouldn't consider anything along the lines of programming and the like (no love for computers themselves). I'm not sure if you had a better reason for wanting to become a game tester than simply liking games, but maybe you're tired of it because 1) you didn't know it was going to be so difficult or 2)you're tired of just being a tester and want to get into, say, game design.

I don't know how much help I can really offer you, but you seem quite similar to Scott. He and I - mainly myself [Razz] - are in the process of going through occupations to see what he would consider majoring in. If you're like him, you'd do best as a creative consultant, critic (book? food?), or something else relating to English and/or opinion.

quote:
I suppose I could go back to a part-time retail job, but that would be admitting defeat -- I want to think that I'm...smarter than that. No, more unique than that. I don't want to be just a cog in a corporate wheel, interchangable with anyone off the street, nameless and faceless. I want to contribute something, do something useful.
I think everyone wishes they weren't considered a "nobody" by society. The fact is that you only get labeled if you allow people to do so to you. This world's pretty cruel. There simply isn't room for being picky - you take what you can, especially right now with employment opportunities so low. I'm not trying to lecture you, but if you want to become a somebody, you should try to get back that retail job. It wouldn't be saying that you're not "smarter than that"... I think it'd be wise of you to go back to it.

quote:
If I had the money, I would go back to school and get a degree that actually means something, maybe in astronomy or neurology or some other field where I could actually make a difference. But I'm too old and poor for that, and I don't want to burden my husband with the responsibliity of earning all the money. He has his own dreams to chase, after all.

If he really cares for you, he'll be willing to help. Partnership is about equality, where you work together to solve your problems, whether they're individual or within the relationship. From what you've said it doesn't sound like he's having any crises of his own. I know you care about his dream, but that must also be reciprocated. Might I ask what his occupation is?

Regarding the predicament about lack of money for an education: this is certainly a goal that you'll have to put off until you can get ahold of some moolah. But I'm sure you know that.

Anyway, I hope that I was a little helpful and that you don't take offense to anything - some say I can be rude. Hang in there, Flash...

Posts: 1617 | From: a membrane near you! | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Stereo

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Icon 1 posted April 24, 2004 17:41      Profile for Stereo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey, Flashfire, my turn to offer some advice.

First, and really REALLY important: find out what you want to do. Take some time to really think about it. What you like, what you don't. Just wanting to make a difference isn't enough, unfortunately. It can be pretty motivational, but it doesn't matter how fast you drive - if you don't know where you want to go, you'll never get anywhere.

You talk about astronomy, neurology, drawing, and you actually work as a game tester. What is the common ground of those? What do you like and dislike about each one? Would it be imaging? Signal analysis/interpretation? Communication? Or is that science-fiction? Maybe you could be a writer/illustrator/comic author (well, you are already the latter, but many people make money out of it, why not you?)

Once you find the answer, you can begin to move. Plan how you're gonna get in a position to change the world with that, and enact your plan. If you wait 'till you have the time and money - sorry dear, nothing's gonna ever happen. Money can be found. A part-time job in retail can help you pay the tuition, look out for bursaries, etc. Considering that getting a better education will (likely) land you in a better job with all the extras, you may, with your husband, decide that a bit of budget thightening can bring much rewards.

I'll disagree with Twinkle Toe on this one point - don't go back to a job you don't like, unless it is a part of your plan to get somewhere else. Don't let yourself get trapped into something leading you away from your goal. And remember: you are ultimately the only one who is responsible for your life. Don't give up that responsibility.

Ok, I think I've said enough. Best of luck (and continue your good work on your comic - I like it! [thumbsup] )

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Eppur, si muove!

Galileo Galilei

Posts: 2289 | From: Gatineau, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sinn
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Icon 1 posted April 25, 2004 07:19      Profile for Sinn     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
With your game testing background, and love of art, why not go for something in game map design? Get Half-Life and Far Cry, use their map editors to get used to it, then take some schooling.

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Sin is a dangerous toy in the hands of the virtuous. It should be left to the congenitally sinful, who know when to play with it and when to let it alone.

Posts: 64 | From: Kerhonkson, NY | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Flashfire
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Icon 1 posted April 25, 2004 11:26      Profile for Flashfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
First, thank you for all the supoprt and advice you've thrown my way -- it really does make me feel better about the whole ugly situation.

From Twinkle Toes:
quote:
Like you, Scott is interested in game testing but isn't sure if it's what he want to do. All he really knows it's harder than it sounds, and that he's into computers but wouldn't consider anything along the lines of programming and the like (no love for computers themselves). I'm not sure if you had a better reason for wanting to become a game tester than simply liking games, but maybe you're tired of it because 1) you didn't know it was going to be so difficult or 2)you're tired of just being a tester and want to get into, say, game design.
My original intent was to get into game design -- I have an associate's degree in Computer Animation that I was hoping would help in that direction, but game design jobs are few and far between. So, I took the closest thing -- testing. And found out I was really good at it. I've tried to get hired on permanently as a QA specialist a couple of times, but it never worked out.

As for a creative consultant position, I know I would really like a job like that, but I don't have a clue as to what I would need to qualify. Often, I've found myself reading job ads that would be perfect for me, but I have nothing on paper to back up that idea up. If I knew where to start, I'm sure a lot fo this would be much easier.

quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If I had the money, I would go back to school and get a degree that actually means something, maybe in astronomy or neurology or some other field where I could actually make a difference. But I'm too old and poor for that, and I don't want to burden my husband with the responsibliity of earning all the money. He has his own dreams to chase, after all.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If he really cares for you, he'll be willing to help. Partnership is about equality, where you work together to solve your problems, whether they're individual or within the relationship. From what you've said it doesn't sound like he's having any crises of his own. I know you care about his dream, but that must also be reciprocated. Might I ask what his occupation is?

My husband works as a shipfitter at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard -- good, honest, dirty, manual labor. I guess I wasn't very fair to him in my first post -- he is very willing to help me, and always has been. The problem is more on my end; I would feel bad making him bear the financial burden for something that is, really, only for me. I guess I should learn to swallow my pride, sometimes.

From Stereo:
quote:
First, and really REALLY important: find out what you want to do. Take some time to really think about it. What you like, what you don't.
Oh, I already know the answer to that, you can see it on my website. The fact that I got up enough courage to make it public shows how dedicated I am to that project.

quote:
Maybe you could be a writer/illustrator/comic author (well, you are already the latter, but many people make money out of it, why not you?)
I would love to be able to do my art for money. If people would actually pay me for my comic, I would be in heaven. Every time I begin to think that might be viable, the practical side of my brain chimes in with, "Are you kidding? Your work isn't nearly good enough for that. Go do something else." [ohwell] I'm very good at hamstringing myself. I just don't feel that I'm in the same league as the people who draw professionally...

Besides, I'm really, really slow (at drawing, that is). I draw about 1 page a week, which equals 1 issue every 6 months. Not a schedule most publishers like.

quote:
Best of luck (and continue your good work on your comic - I like it! )
Thanks very much. [Smile] Maybe someday, if enough people like it, I'll be able to make a living off of it. I hope. It's just that I've had it drilled into me from a very young age that art is a hobby, not a career. It's a bad attitude that I have to change, but I need something solid job-wise to cling to until I do.

quote:
Don't let yourself get trapped into something leading you away from your goal. And remember: you are ultimately the only one who is responsible for your life. Don't give up that responsibility.

This is definitely something I need to remember.

From Sinn:
quote:
With your game testing background, and love of art, why not go for something in game map design? Get Half-Life and Far Cry, use their map editors to get used to it, then take some schooling.
I've thought about level design before, but that's a very saturated area. As I've said before, I have a degree in Computer Animation, so I would prefer a modelling or texturing position. I've applied to many different companies -- none of them have picked me up yet, though. Besides, I royally suck at FPS's, so it would be hard for me to design a decent level. [Big Grin]

Thanks again, everyone, for all the help and advice. I really do appreciate it.

--Flash, not feeling so bad now

--------------------
"No silicon heaven? That's absurd!
Where would all the calculators go?"
--Kryten, Red Dwarf
-------------------------------
My Web Comic: NSTA: Semper Vigilantis

Posts: 368 | From: State of Denial | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Twinkle Toes
BlabberMouth, the Next Generation
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Icon 1 posted April 26, 2004 00:19      Profile for Twinkle Toes   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stereo:I'll disagree with Twinkle Toe on this one point - don't go back to a job you don't like, unless it is a part of your plan to get somewhere else.
Hmmm... now, just for clarification: does Flash's statement about not wanting to "admit defeat" really mean she disliked the job? I thought it just didn't want to go back because it might be embarrassing, like she doesn't want to admit that she couldn't 'make it on her own'... ?

quote:
Originally posted by Flashfire:My husband works as a shipfitter at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard...
Hey! Another Washingtonian, alright [Smile] ! I'm from Everett...

quote:
It's just that I've had it drilled into me from a very young age that art is a hobby, not a career. It's a bad attitude that I have to change, but I need something solid job-wise to cling to until I do.
YeUP, I'm the same way. I draw cartoons a lot, especially one little guy I named Hubert. Others seem to really like him, and I'd love to get involved in creating a comic and putting in online, but I just don't have the resources for that. Photography's another thing that I really love, but my fear of lack of job security would scare me away from turning the photography and comic hobbies into a full-time job.
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Stereo

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Icon 1 posted April 26, 2004 03:56      Profile for Stereo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi there Twinkle!

I don't know for you, but I don't like to admit defeat. If Flashfires goes back to a retail job, and she consider this a defeat, even if she doesn't hate the job per se, she would soon do so because she'll hate herself for giving up. Ok, I might not be clear here, what I mean is she won't be happy with the job as it's not what she really wants, and that's just a short step away from hating the job, herself, and her life.

Flash, if the only thing preventing you from trying your talents as a moneymaker is the (perceived) quality of the product, why don't you take some drawing lessons? Get better, and then just kick out that little voice who scares you and take control of your life. It's really not that hard.

Warning - comparison to self! - As you know, I'm back to school (part time) to get a master degree, so I could work on my project of rescue robot team. Well, last week, I read a team was starting to work on a project very close to mine. So close it would mean I wouldn't make much of a contribution with my own ideas. Still, it wasn't enough for me to give up. I still want to do it. I'll just use their work and go a step further. And that proves me I'm doing the right thing - I just can't give up. So, if really you can't give up on the idea of drawing for a life, just act on it, and things will soon feel just right too. I promise.

Ok, enough. I have to prepare for work. Good luck!

--------------------
Eppur, si muove!

Galileo Galilei

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ooby
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Icon 1 posted April 26, 2004 13:44      Profile for ooby     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The problem with testing games is that a bajillion people want to do it, and they will do it for less than you are willing to be payed. You can still do software testing for a company that doesn't design games. You still get to point out problems, only instead of pointing them out in games, you could be pointing them out in mission critical systems. Then, you might not only be doing a relatively similar thing (breaking the software), but you will also have a significant societal impact (such as preventing the deployment of a life threatening flaw). In order to get that job, however, you might need to go back to school. Hopefully, you can find a job that will send you to school.

Best of luck!

--------------------
"haven't you ever wondered if there's more to life than being really, really, rediculously good looking?"

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nekomatic
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Icon 3 posted April 27, 2004 03:35      Profile for nekomatic     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't know much (well, anything really) about game testing... but QA in general is a good field to be in - it can take you far and pay decent money! In fields like pharmaceuticals where QA and validation involve regulatory compliance as well as just making satisfactory products, it's a whole industry in itself. I don't see it exercising your artistic skills, but if you get a buzz out of dotting i's and crossing t's it could be for you. If that appeals, I'd guess that getting 'QA specialist' on your CV would be a really good plan - if you can be a QA specialist for computer games, you have what it takes to be a QA specialist for anything else because you have the transferable skills.

Actually, that makes me wonder about editing, technical writing and so on - some kinds of publishing are very competitive to get into and pay peanuts, but others probably aren't too bad. Do you like writing manuals? (and you could illustrate them!)

quote:
Often, I've found myself reading job ads that would be perfect for me, but I have nothing on paper to back up that idea up. If I knew where to start, I'm sure a lot fo this would be much easier.
Do you mean you know you could actually do the job, but don't have the experience or qualifications you think they'll insist on? Or do you mean you know you'd like the job, but know you don't yet have what it takes to do it? If it's the former, maybe you need to do some work on how to sell yourself, or how to come to the notice of the people who could hire you without getting screened out by the human resources box-tickers. It sounds like you could really benefit from some networking with people higher up in the industries you are interested in getting into - find people who are doing the sort of job you'd like and ask them 'how did you get your job' or 'how would you advise me to go about getting a job like yours'. Or better still, find their boss and ask them 'how would I get someone like you to hire me?'. The standard text on this kind of jobhunting is probably What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles, which is worth a read - it also contains lots of tools for figuring out what you really want to do.

Having said all that (and read WCIYP), I got every job I've had by the bog-standard route of answering job ads, so don't necessarily take my word on all this! (I have had a couple of interviews result from phoning the right person up on spec though...)

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cheezi git
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Icon 1 posted April 27, 2004 04:17      Profile for cheezi git     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stereo:
Hey, Flashfire, my turn to offer some advice.

First, and really REALLY important: find out what you want to do. Take some time to really think about it. What you like, what you don't. Just wanting to make a difference isn't enough, unfortunately. It can be pretty motivational, but it doesn't matter how fast you drive - if you don't know where you want to go, you'll never get anywhere.


i agree, this is very important, and we're not talking job titles here. what you want to do should drive everything you do.

the thing to remember here is that most people don't have something that they just have to do, no matter what. most of us are not driven by a passion. we are not a van gogh who has to paint and to hell with everything else (although even van gogh did several things before painting).

it doesn't matter though, you still need to find out what you like. seems easy enough, but most people don't really know. what do you talk about with friends? what books do you normally browse in bookshops? what types of tv shows do you prefer?

once you have found out what you like to do, you can then find out how to do it.

let's suppose you really want to draw comics (you talk about drawing your own comic). a lot of people make good money doing that. maybe you won't (and maybe you will) make money with your comic, but what about working in a design agency. at least that would be more what you like doing, even if you only answer phones. you would also have access to people who can give you ideas and advice about your comic.

as other people have said, lots of people make money from drawing. why not you? are you crap, or lazy, or maybe lacking in confidence?

hope this helps

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted April 27, 2004 06:28      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Actually cheezi it is v hard to make a living as an illustrator. My wife runs a graphic design company, and so knows far too many talented but skint illustrators. Just about everything is done with Photoshop at the moment and illustration is out of fashion. Even the BBC's Radio Times, which used to be use many illustrations now barely uses them at all. I expect the tide will turn one day, but now is not a good time to be an illustrator.

--------------------
"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

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cheezi git
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Icon 1 posted April 27, 2004 07:02      Profile for cheezi git     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Callipygous:
Actually cheezi it is v hard to make a living as an illustrator. My wife runs a graphic design company, and so knows far too many talented but skint illustrators. Just about everything is done with Photoshop at the moment and illustration is out of fashion. Even the BBC's Radio Times, which used to be use many illustrations now barely uses them at all. I expect the tide will turn one day, but now is not a good time to be an illustrator.

ok, point taken.

but, there are loads of images out there, and someone must be creating them and making money out of it. but i agree, they are probably made using photoshop.

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MTB Babe
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Icon 9 posted April 27, 2004 14:55      Profile for MTB Babe   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
there are loads of images out there, and someone must be creating them and making money out of it. but i agree, they are probably made using photoshop.
I was just reading an article about that. The only successful illustrators, which are few and far between, are usually people who broke into illustration when it was big in the early eighties. They managed to keep their contacts, and are now Photoshop pros.
Its really not a good time right now to be an illustrator (in the classical sense anyway) [ohwell]

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Samir: No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It's not that hard: Na-ee-ana-jaad. Nayanajaad.
Michael Bolton: Yeah, well at least your name isn't Michael Bolton.

Posts: 1003 | From: State College, PA, USA | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
Flashfire
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Icon 1 posted April 29, 2004 11:13      Profile for Flashfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Again, thanks for listening to me whine, everybody -- all the advice you've been offering has been a great help.

From Nekomatic:
quote:
Do you mean you know you could actually do the job, but don't have the experience or qualifications you think they'll insist on?
That's exactly what I mean -- I don't have the right type of degree for a lot of the jobs I've seen. Of course, the answer to that is to go back to school and get the right degree, but then I run smack into the Wall o'Funding. Plus, I'm a little worried that the job market will shift again while I'm in school, and render the new degree useless, too...

From cheezi:
quote:
as other people have said, lots of people make money from drawing. why not you? are you crap, or lazy, or maybe lacking in confidence?

You can decide for yourself -- the URL is in my .sig, after all. [Razz] As for working in a design agency, I'd be competing with loads of starving Graphic Arts students, who would give their right eyeball to work at any job in a named design firm. I specifically didn't get a Graphic Arts degree to avoid this, hoping that the Computer Animation field was a little more open -- unfortunately, I was wrong.

Stereo: Good luck on the robot project -- that sounds very interesting. You were right on the money with my feelings about the retail job; I didn't quite hate it, not yet -- but I felt I was stagnating there even more than I do now (hard to believe, but true). When I began to dread going to work, I knew it was time to leave. I've thought about taking some drawing courses from the local community college, but I know me -- no matter how good I get at something, I'll still never think I'm good enough. I hate perfectionism...

I am not going to give up on this project any time soon, though. It really is something I have to do -- I just want to make sure that I have the resources to continue it, and a job that allows me time to devote to it.

I know this will eventually work out, but there are times when it's hard for me to see that. I appreciate everyone's willingness to help me through the dark bits. Thanks again, and again, and again. [Smile]

--Flash

Twinkle: You should post some of your cartoons.. I'd like to see 'em.

--------------------
"No silicon heaven? That's absurd!
Where would all the calculators go?"
--Kryten, Red Dwarf
-------------------------------
My Web Comic: NSTA: Semper Vigilantis

Posts: 368 | From: State of Denial | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged


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