New transition

I finally managed to land a job in my area. It took about 3 months from lay-off to hire. With an unemployment rate around 6.3% in California, I thought the job hunt would taken longer; I’m glad it didn’t. If the job hunt had gone any longer, I would have run out of unemployment altogether. It’s been a little over a month since I started working in the aggregate industry, and so far I like it. Some of the tasks I’m obligated to do are a little outside my comfort zone (like occasionally batching concrete), but that the hazard of taking a position with a broad title like Operations Specialist. I do at least get to gain experience doing things I went to school for. My next goal is to steer the this position toward the environmental compliance work, since that’s the most applicable to my career prospects.

Unemployment: week seven

It’s been seven weeks since I became unemployed. I’ve watched movies, read, written, and traveled across country to be with family. I’m even turning my master’s thesis into a publishable manuscript. I’ve applied to about 20 positions in the last 7 weeks, and landed one interview so far. Overall, there are fewer positions on the geoscience job market than usual. This time has given me the time to do atypical things, but I need to stay focused on my career. What is my next move?

Academically, I’ve completed a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, and a Master of Science in Geosciences, so I could go on to do a related doctorate. Professionally, I’ve been a mud logger, an assistant geologist, a teacher, and a draftsman—which qualifies me to compete for consulting, public service, or general technical work. To summarize, I could do a doctorate, find another geoscience position, or completely change fields.

A doctorate is appealing, but would take an about 5 years, I would need to move, may leave me financially destitute, would place an extraordinary level of stress on relationships, and I could fail. Consulting is somewhat volatile, but it is experience in my field—plus income. Public service, although difficult get into, is stable, and experience in my field—plus income. Technical work could be in my field or not, and might net relevant experience, but would at least provide income. Overall, public service and consulting are the clear winners since they would add financial stability to my life.

Netgear R6250 & PIA VPN service

Maybe you’re like me, and you use a the Private Internet Access VPN service. Below I have compiled data on for different encryption settings. This assumes you already have a VPN client up and running; if you don’t, try this guide.

Type Regular Faster Fastest
Port 1194 1196 1195
Data Cipher Blowfish CBC AES-128 CBC None
Authentication SHA-1 SHA-1 None
Speed ~15 Mbps ~20 Mbps ~50 Mbps

Note: I used the Kong DD-WRT firmware (available here) and OC’ed to 1ghz.

If you still can’t get this all to work, you can cut your losses and use PPTP or L2TP via the WAN settings in DD-WRT. I get ~15 Mbps with PPTP, and ~65 Mbps with L2TP. More importantly, PPTP/L2TP have a keep alive option; which solves the issue of OpenVPN turning off occasionally—or not working at all.

Unemployment: week two

Early last week I was given the unfortunate news that the oilfield was going belly-up, and that I was to be in the first wave of mudlogger lay-offs. It was a bit of a shock to say the least, but I had been anticipating an oil-bust. Though, I had hoped a geoscience master’s would have kept me working longer . . . I found out the hard way that seniority matters; of which, sadly I had none. In fact, I always wanted to avoid the oil-and-gas sector, since climate change is the major issue of our age—but sometimes you have to take the job you need, rather than the job you want.

Here I am nearing the end of week-two: to date, I have applied to more jobs than I care to count; though, perhaps I should. Luckily, I have landed an interview with the State Water Board, which seems like perfect timing—maybe too perfect. Over the past year, if I had interest from a prospective employer, my former employer knew . . . somehow . . . and I would be dispatched to the field. Conspiracy? No. They just worked me endlessly; to the point where I was rarely home for more than a week at a time. Looking back, it was worth the time investment, but I don’t think I would want to do it over again.