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Computer Engineer looking to move out west! Advice please

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,

 

Before I begin, I realize there are a couple other threads about moving out west, I have read them entirely, but I am asking for specific advice being a Computer guy (hopefully having some decent remote working capabilities)

 

I am currently a computer engineering student going to the University of Florida. I will be graduating in early December and I plan on moving out west (probably Colorado) to ski every day. I have had a few internships at corporate companies and I hate the full time corporate job lifestyle. I want to take a bit of a break and "find myself" while doing what I love most in the world, ski. I could theoretically just be a ski bum for ~ 4 months and not work because I have saved up some money, but preferably I would find a job that I could do part time, or have flexible hours so that I could ski the vast majority of each day.

 

I am not sure if I want to live out west for good, and that is something I hope to figure out with this move. Does anyone have advice or stories of a similar type move, specifically finding some kind of flexible computer based job that would allow me to live <20 minutes from the slopes?

post #2 of 25

Some brief points:

 

1. Tahoe isn't far from the one and only silicon valley

 

2. I'd be leery of hiring a kid just out of college with little real-world experience to do unsupervised work.

 

3. Computer skills can be perishable if you don't get/stay in the game.

 

4. Companies tend to be willing to let folks work remotely after they've "proven themselves", but they don't tend to want folks to switch to part time.

 

5. Working as a remote contractor can be 50% work and 50% finding work.  Are you good at the latter?

 

6. If you work for a year to gain experience, you'll still be young and spry next year.

 

7. Adventures like these are best undertaken when you're young, or at least without children.  Perhaps unmarried, too, depending on the spouse.

post #3 of 25

Speaking as a long time manager in the corporate world of techs and the wife of someone who is a computer guy who works out of the house for a major corporation and makes nice money, I think a lot of times you need to make your reputation first unless you want to spend your time just picking up odd jobs as they come your way.  Once you have your reputation, people are more comfortable with knowing your work habits, etc. and you can then do the virtual office thing more easily.  Face it, nowadays, there are a lot more tech-y types looking for the same thing you are.  Unless you have contacts who are going to throw work your way, there's only so many web design, software coding, or whatever companies who don't care WHEN the work gets done as long as it gets done.  Most are going to be companies who want you to show up for some kind of normal work schedule, whether that's a day shift or a swing shift (say for network support).  And actually, there's been a couple tech guys on lately asking the same thing.

 

 

....Ha, posted the same time as the guy above....see a trend here?

post #4 of 25

Think Oregon, we have mini Silicon Valley here around the Portland metro area (Intel, IBM just posted 600 SW jobs in Beaverton, Mentor Graphics is always looking for some good engineers and many more) minus SV traffic and with Mt Hood within 1.5h drive, Mt Bachelor - 3.5h drive and if you are really up to it - Whistler is 8h away.

 

It ain't Florida here, liquid sunshine is plentiful (this year especially) but moving to here from the AZ like place was my best decision ever.

 

Good luck,

 

Vlad

post #5 of 25

Your best bet for finding work and skiing every day is Salt Lake. Your best bet in CO for coming close to what you want is in either Colorado Springs or Denver. You might be able to find contractor work for a part time or short term assignment. But the traditional bum approach has been to wait tables or getting a grooming or other night shift job.

 

Any moron can make a living in the computer business. I know because I'm only an imbecile and many of my coworkers think I'm a genius. If you do your homework (stay current - don't depend on your employer for relevant/useful training) and you're good you can get a job easy. Getting one where you want and the pay you want, etc gets harder as the checklist grows. The computer biz is not the free for all that it was just a few years ago when the only criteria for getting hired was the right buzz words on your resume and the ability to fog a mirror. Most of the jobs for rookies are full time. Heed the above advice.

post #6 of 25

He said he wanted "flexible".  Speaking as a former employee, IBM is NOT flexible when it comes to just kiting off to go skiing.  He'd be doing to old nine to five...oh wait, more like the nine to nine, six days a week, thing. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by VladL View Post

Think Oregon, we have mini Silicon Valley here around the Portland metro area (Intel, IBM just posted 600 SW jobs in Beaverton, Mentor Graphics is always looking for some good engineers and many more) minus SV traffic and with Mt Hood within 1.5h drive, Mt Bachelor - 3.5h drive and if you are really up to it - Whistler is 8h away.

 

It ain't Florida here, liquid sunshine is plentiful (this year especially) but moving to here from the AZ like place was my best decision ever.

 

Good luck,

 

Vlad

post #7 of 25

Minor inconvenience on the way to the goal Who said that:

 

"I think a lot of times you need to make your reputation first unless you want to spend your time just picking up odd jobs as they come your way"

 

TANSTAAFL. I know many single young guys in our offices who cut it earlier for the night skiing and sacrifice weekends for the mid week skiing...

 

Edit: I'm not employed by IBM, used to work for Intel. Agree with the 9-9, in my case more like 24x7... But there are many more here

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

He said he wanted "flexible".  Speaking as a former employee, IBM is NOT flexible when it comes to just kiting off to go skiing.  He'd be doing to old nine to five...oh wait, more like the nine to nine, six days a week, thing. 
 


 

Edited by VladL - 6/23/10 at 5:09pm
post #8 of 25

Well, I was thinking more 24x7, but I thought, well, maybe some accounts demand less than what my husband and I experienced......
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by VladL View Post

Minor inconvenience on the way to the goal Who said that:

 

"I think a lot of times you need to make your reputation first unless you want to spend your time just picking up odd jobs as they come your way"

 

TANSTAAFL. I know many single young guys in our offices who cut it earlier for the night skiing and sacrifice weekends for the mid week skiing...

 

Edit: I'm not employed by IBM, used to work for Intel. Agree with the 9-9, in my case more like 24x7... But there are many more here


 
post #9 of 25

You probably aren't going to get a job where you can ski every day right out of the gate.  They do exist (and I have one), but I also paid 15 years worth of dues at a major software corporation to get it.  Remote work opportunities--particularly those that would combine with a flexible schedule and allow you to live where you want are still somewhat rare in the industry (though that is slowly changing).  As others have pointed out, you would typically need to have several years of proven performance before most corporations would even think about letting you try (assuming they even have a remote work policy).

 

As far as ski towns go, tech jobs are non-existent.  You have a better chance of finding a girl friend than getting a tech job--particularly one that would let you ski.  Which isn't to say that there isn't tech in ski towns; its just that the jobs are few and far between and people that have them tend to never let them go.  You might check Park City though.  IIRC there is actually a software company based there.

 

Realistically, you should probably plan to just ski bum for a few months after graduation.  Take a ski bum job to cover your expenses and figure out where you want to live and what you want to do. 

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice everyone,

 

I definitely see that a traditional corporate job would not provide me the flexibility I would want going hardcore into skiing. (Not to mention I would like to stay away from that type of job regardless, having worked and hated jobs at 2 very large corporations so far on internships) Has anyone here had success with a type of IT support roll for one of the resort corporations? I have seen a few network/DBA jobs on Vail Corporation's website.

 

I guess I'm just really looking to see if there is something that I wouldn't have thought of that people in a similar situation as me do. Anyone out there find something that you didn't even know existed as a job that totally works for ski bumming? Also, I'm curious about jobs that are heavily based around skiing, ski teacher, ski patrol? How numerable are these jobs? How much experience is required? I'm a vacation skier, and thus have never gotten to an extremely high level of skill (I do blacks, some tree skiing, but nothing too insane), but I have previous lifeguard experience, Eagle Scout, etc so I feel I would be good as a rescue type person, especially given a month or so to hone my ski skills.

 

Thanks again, keep the advice coming, I appreciate it!!

post #11 of 25

Just remember that if you work in a skiing job, then skiing becomes work.  The "man" can tell you what to do and when to do it and you can say, "yes sir" or leave.  If it was me, I'd look for a job that was in the area but not ski related, learn to live on next to nothing, and ski every day.

 

In a past life I was a patroller and it's a great job that brings a lot of satisfaction, but it isn't one that lets you free ski much.  They pay you because nobody would do the job without it.

post #12 of 25

I'm not sure I'd want to do DBA or IT support for a big ski resort.  This sounds to me like a job that needs doing right when the skiing's good.  My guess is that they can't sell lift tickets when the database or network are down.  Suddenly, that's high stress work right when you want to be on the slopes.

 

Bartender.  That sounds like the ideal ski job.

post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 

Anyone have experience being a bartender? How tough is it to get a job doing this? It seems like a thing I would need experience doing in order to secure a pretty sought after job.

post #14 of 25

Aw, you went from computer engineer to bartender pretty quick.  You worked for that degree, and now you want to starve so you can ski more?  Did you get that degree to make your parents happy, or is it what you wanted?

 

We can't help you until we find out what's your motivation?  Vacation skiing is the background, but would it still be fun after 100 days straight skiing in all kinds of weather and conditions?  (I already know the answer to that - it's "hell yeah").

 

"Just remember that if you work in a skiing job, then skiing becomes work."  So true, Posaune.  I've got friends that patrol, and it's a pain to ski with them 'cause they're always stopping to help people.  Soooo inconvenient.  I wouldn't put up with it except I get free lift tickets from them.

post #15 of 25

One thought:  when a technology is new, lack of experience is less of an issue.  And if a technology is hot, employers can't be too choosey.  If you were a kick-ass iPhone or Android developer, you could probably work the way you want.  Check out a place like elance.com to see what's available.

post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 

Well, I really just want to take a break from the constant school/work at a corporation and try to find myself while doing something I love. I wouldn't mind working some part time type jobs to help pay for what I'll be doing. If I end up loving it so much that I can't move, then I guess I would end up transitioning to something that would take that into account. And btw, I love my degree, I just have the misfortune of hating using it in reality at a full time job. (at least at the places I have worked so far)

post #17 of 25

Mammoth has had some tech jobs posted for a while.  Almost too long... 

post #18 of 25

Well, someone had to say the truth...

 

If you don't really care about computer and are not excited about it as you're just leaving school, I fear you may be in the wrong career entirely!

 

As someone else had mentioned it, it's a "perishable" skill. The need to "keep current" is pretty brutal. Most manager would say experience beyond 5 years are not worth considering! So, on the one hand, you need to build a reputation in order to get your "long leash" to work un-supervised. On the other, your skills beyond a few years aren't worth much. What does that leave you?

 

It would mean you'll have to work extra hard if you want to have your cake and still eat it. Personally, I see most people can't take the pressure, except those who're really motivated. I've had many co-workers who works off-site. (I've done it for a while myself too) They all work literally 24x7. Any time there's an issue, they're there to take care of it promto! That's the price to work off-site. Not working less than 60 hrs week, never mind < 40hr/wk! :(

 

Playing with computer can be super fun. That can be its own motivation. But if you don't feel the calling, you'll not likely be able to compete with those who do. I've seen many more ex-computer jocks who got washed out mid-way through their career than those who "graduate" into making the flexible work transition.

 

Sorry for the harsh words. It's now summer, "cranky season".

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

Well, someone had to say the truth...

 

If you don't really care about computer and are not excited about it as you're just leaving school, I fear you may be in the wrong career entirely!

<snip>

It would mean you'll have to work extra hard if you want to have your cake and still eat it. Personally, I see most people can't take the pressure, except those who're really motivated. I've had many co-workers who works off-site. (I've done it for a while myself too) They all work literally 24x7. Any time there's an issue, they're there to take care of it promto! That's the price to work off-site. Not working less than 60 hrs week, never mind < 40hr/wk! :(

<snip>

Sorry for the harsh words. It's now summer, "cranky season".

Very true.  24x7 is the norm for off-site work.  When you're on-site, spending half a day by the water cooler, everyone knows you're at work.  When you're off-site and don't respond to an email for half an hour, everyone assumes you're at the beach, skiing, etc.  So there's an enormous pressure to always be in touch.  Been there done that.  And even if your manager and coworkers trust you, and know that you pull your weight, with every reorg, somebody will ask (behind your back) to prove yourself again.

 

I have the feeling the corporate route will be miserable for you.  You're young enough, go the ski bum route.  Go work at a resort.  Ski instructor, bartender, whatever - at the end of the season decide if it's for you.  You might even get into the resort's IT department that way, as an insider, but I wouldn't plan on it.

 

If you still have energy left, after all the skiing and doing whatever else to support yourself, look on Craigslist for programming gigs.  There are quite a few of those which will actually let you work remotely (with a remote chance of making a decent income), but it will let you stay sharp, and even gain experience with technology.  There are plenty of dreamers, who have an idea and want to create the next Google, but are only willing to pay $12/hour.  You'll be looking for one of them.  In exchange for the shitty pay, they'll let you work from home, whatever hours.  Latch onto one of these guys, ride it out, and re-evaluate at the end of the next season.  (If you strike gold remember to reimburse me for the advice)

 

If you get a job as a full-time instructor at a resort, your skiing will improve a lot.  You'll always be able to work part time as an instructor.  A year or two out of college are not going to ruin your technical skills if you do something to stay fresh.  At the very least, get involved in an Open Source project.  Sounds to me like that's the right path for you.

 

 

I strongly advise against getting a serious IT/programming job with the idea of doing a half-ass job and focusing on skiing.  You'll be miserable.  Your employer will be miserable.  You'd be surprised how much employers dread to fire a non-performer.  Large corporations have these "walking dead" people, who have been there forever, hate their jobs, won't quit, and nobody will fire them.  It's a sorry sight.  Don't be one of them;

 

Oh, and someone mentioned that the Bay Area is not that far from Lake Tahoe.  That's true, except for Friday and Sunday afternoons.

 

Good luck!

 


 

post #20 of 25

The economy right now sucks.  It was bad when I graduated from college in 79 so I took a job with a Dallas company even though living there was incompatible with the things I loved to do.  I was in exile for 6 years before returning to the Pacific Northwest but when I did I had a decent career with good pay.  Most of my friends that hung around Oregon or decided it was a good time to be a ski bum were still struggling and continued through the rest of their life.  My advice is to suck it up and pay your dues.  Build your career and keep your debt low then you will have the option to do what you want the rest of your life.

post #21 of 25

What he said is especially true about keeping your debt load low.  My husband and I have said so many times to ourselves lately how happy we were that we lived well below our means for so many years. 

 

We just refinanced our house at these super super low interest rates and sharply reduced the years left on our mortgage at the same time and the monthly payment barely increased at all.  We asked the loan officer, how come everyone isn't doing this?  She told us almost no one could qualify.  Well, we thought that was due to the high unemployment in the area until they went and appraised the house.  Damn thing came in at well UNDER what it cost us to build and what we thought, based on asking prices locally at the moment, and based on current land prices, etc. etc. that it should be, like HALF of what I think the house would be listed at..  And I realized that if we'd had a "normal" mortgage for this house that the normal person would NOT have qualified for refinancing because the mortgage remaining on the house would have been well over the bank appraisal.  So, THAT was the reason no one was qualifying.  Banks are so worried these days the appraisers are lowballing appraisals like crazy, even now that the market is coming back.  We qualified only because our mortgage is a pittance, well under even a lowball value on just the land.  And so, we reaped the benefit of that low mortgage to the tune of saving $87000 over the life of the loan by refinancing.  If we hadn't been crazy savers when we were young, we couldn't have given up a whole salary and moved out here to the land of the blessed while we still had the youth to enjoy it, either.  We took advantage of the 401k's not only to the employer-matched rate of the plan, but above that.  Invested in bonds, plus regular deductions to savings accounts on top of that.  Every time I got a raise, 50% of that raise was immediately added to my deduction for my savings account.  I "paid myself" first.  We never bought a thing other than a car or house on credit and the last two cars I paid cash, as did my husband. 

 

It's nice to spend a year or two doing as you please, but after you sow your oats, it's time to turn into a squirrel and starting storing acorns.  I'm stunned by the number of people living their lives by running up credit card debt.  I still own a 19" TV.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rio View Post  My advice is to suck it up and pay your dues.  Build your career and keep your debt low then you will have the option to do what you want the rest of your life.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by incognito View Post

 

I strongly advise against getting a serious IT/programming job with the idea of doing a half-ass job and focusing on skiing.  You'll be miserable.  Your employer will be miserable.  

 

 

Good luck!
 


He said what I can't find the word to say.

 

IT/Programming isn't the kind of career for the half-hearted. If you don't love it, you'll not be motivated to throw in the extra hours volunteerily, which is what makes you sharper than the next guy. (it's probably true of some other careers too, but less critical if it doesn't involve technology that changes monthly).

 

Until you find the nitch which you know every single detail in your sleep that no one else knows, you really can't relax in your learning. So either you goof off for a year or two to "re-charge" your enthusiasm now, or you pay your dues now in the hope of getting the pay off later. Just don't try to do both at the same time and end up not accomplishing neither.
 

post #23 of 25

Check out ball.com in Colorado. I heard they are very close to a variety of slopes and have very sweet skiing benefits.

 

BTW, by Computer Engineering, I assume you don't mean Software Engineering but like architecture, firmware and such.

post #24 of 25

Originally Posted by chanwmr View Post

 

Check out ball.com in Colorado. I heard they are very close to a variety of slopes and have very sweet skiing benefits.

 

 

I'm pretty sure Ball is in Boulder... so that that all depends on your definition of "very close" to the slopes... about 1-1.5hr to the closest resorts on 70 (Eldora is closer... but it's Eldora).

 

post #25 of 25

Take a look at Boulder, CO. You may find some.. not so traditional corporate and it's means jobs not so unflexibile ;-)

 

Good Luck!

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