Finding work is hard to do

I’ve recently moved back to the US after living in Aotearoa New Zealand. While there, I tried hard to put down roots, and establish some sort of career stability. That was not to be, however, as it became clear that I would be able to help family better being back in Portland.

Returning to Portland has not been easy, from a career standpoint. And it has had me thinking about the nature of careers in academia and tech industries.

I’ve always been a learner. I’m good at grasping concepts and ideas, and figuring out different ways of applying them. But I’ve also always been curious about too many things. So I’ve ended up with a very broad understanding of a bunch of things, but haven’t had the opportunity to really dig deep into anything – except teaching.

I’m a good teacher. Because I’ve always been a learner. Understanding where your students are coming from is critical in getting them to learn. Because ultimately, there is no teaching, only learning. There’s nothing I can do to get someone to learn something, who isn’t interested in that learning.1 Also, generally I love the stuff I’m teaching, and that shows.

But the problem with teaching is that that career toolset doesn’t carry outside of the discipline. Of course, it should, but in reality it doesn’t provide you with the portfolio to step away from teaching. Yes, I can absolutely do the job, but can I show that I can? I can show that I’ve taught other people how to do it, but that doesn’t wash. And I understand that. I also understand that there are probably 100 other people applying, who have prior credits, who have portfolios. Bless them.

So I’m in a bit of an emotional gully these days. I’d like to take the time to build a portfolio of work that I can be proud to show, but there are bills to pay.

  1. And vice versa – there’s nothing I can do to stop someone learning something, who has the gumption to learn it.