Update: What I’ve Been Up To

By | October 14, 2014

The past several months have been a whirlwind of the following:

  • Searching for a job
  • Putting various aspects of my life in order post-college, including sorting and fixing a lot of stuff that just wasn’t important enough to take care of while I was a student, but definitely is now that I’m not
  • Back-to-back: A nearly-free trip to Cabo and then a trip to Illinois for my sister’s wedding
  • Dealing with treatment and surgery for a torn peroneal tendon in my left ankle

Job Search

I have the unfortunate circumstance that I have a gaping hole on my resume from August 2002 to December 2008, primarily due to the tech crash that followed the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11/2001. When I graduated with my BSEE in August 2002, new graduate unemployment in my field was over 50%. There was a deluge of laid-off, experienced engineers, all clamoring to take any job, even entry level.

I was also living in my hometown of Mattoon, IL after college. In spite of my eagerness to relocate, this did not help my odds of getting a job. Between August 2002 and December 2008, countless applications and resumes sent out yielded a total of five honest-to-goodness electrical engineering job interviews. I applied for other types of jobs too, but none of that ever bore fruit, not even a single interview. I did a bit of temping, taught myself to code, and even consulted on a Second Life game called Tringo, which earned a mention in the Wall Street Journal.

Since I earned my MBA and MSCE and finished 2 graduate internships with major semiconductor manufacturers, interviewers care about that employment gap slightly less. I’ve had about a half dozen interviews since December 2013, mostly with solid companies. Getting those interviews is still challenging, enough that each one I get feels just like I imagine winning the Little Lotto would. I do my best for every interview to show that I’m a great candidate, but I’ve not had any offers yet.

I’ve recently started working with a couple of recruiters, so hopefully this will also help in my search. I’m sure I’ll find something, as I have the talent and skill and I’m working to demonstrate it in every possible way (e.g., this site and projects I can demo in interviews), but there’s probably still a lot of work ahead before I’m employed.

Fixing Stuff

Just like nearly everyone else of the “handy” persuasion, I have a backlog of unfinished projects. No matter how hard I work to minimize that backlog, there will always be a few things. But, to put it simply, I have too much of that stuff right now, partially as a consequence of getting advanced degrees and not having the time to sort through stuff. As I’ve had the time, I’ve been working to do something about it since I graduated in December.

In late July, I took on my cache of damaged electronics and small appliances. As a result, I did a half dozen or so major restorations and repairs. I think some of them are worth posting on here. I’ll surely have time to do some of that over the next several weeks.

Of course, I also gave away some things, donated others to Goodwill, recycled some, and just plain threw some it out. All of that helps too.

Trips

As I said above, I traveled to Cabo and Illinois several months ago.

The Cabo trip was wonderful. It was part of a service award that my wife, Teri, won at work. We were able to extend it to 9 days total. It was so nice to get away and spend some quality time on a beach again. We hadn’t had that kind of a vacation in about five years. I’ll probably post something more about that eventually.

And a short visit to my hometown of Mattoon is always interesting. At the very least, it’s nice once in a while to go back and visit places like the local Burger King. My hometown isn’t a very exciting place, but it’s still pretty unique.

Surgery

Until 3 weeks ago, I’d been tolerating a split peroneal tendon in my left ankle for between 16 months and 5 years. I have a few guesses about when and how I injured it, but none stand out enough that I’m certain of the cause. It was likely an injury of attrition, resulting from too much walking and not enough time for the tendon to repair itself. I do walk around quite a lot.

Once I knew what the injury was, I did my best to let it heal on its own. But that isn’t easy with a torn tendon. The human body is generally amazing at healing itself and indicating that it needs a rest. Tendons are an absolute exception – the pain goes away far more quickly than they heal, tempting the risk of further injury. With a tendon in the ankle, it’s especially tough, because life frequently presents scenarios where the choice is to either take a fall or undo weeks of healing. And that’s just what you get for walking around; anything requiring more exertion is a greater risk.

Six weeks ago, after trying to let the torn tendon heal on its own, I decided to have it surgically repaired. This wasn’t an easy choice, since it meant up to six weeks without walking. As of today, I’ve been out of surgery for three weeks. It’ll still be another three weeks before I can use my left leg for walking or even holding up my body weight. After that, I get to walk in one of those huge boots for two more weeks. Then, it’s on to physical therapy, to learn to use my left ankle properly again.

Since I’m mostly going to be sitting over the next three to five weeks, I’ll hopefully also finally get to spend some more quality time with the Pi cluster too.