Re: Too Late For Us

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Don't at least of us have that job?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:34 AM
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One problem with this plan: You have to spend your days talking to business people.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:36 AM
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But at least now we have a thread I can read without freaking out about all the ways we're all going to die of cancer.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:37 AM
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My dad's job involved (he's retired) learning everything he could about a specific corner of scientific research, writing that up, the end. I always thought that sounded pretty great, but it is not so much lucrative like being an equity analyst.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:39 AM
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AIMHMASPP, I was trying to figure out how to sell out. All I got out of it was some consulting work, but not enough to redo the kitchen in VOC-free cabinets and a freezer-on-the-bottom refrigerator.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:42 AM
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Buck's area of journalism is not too far off this kind of stuff; he does some consulting along those lines, and he does enjoy it. The kind of it he does is not crazy lucrative, though. Good money from the point of view of a typical journalist, but that's a low bar to clear.

(Have I mentioned his new gig, Theplatform.net ? Supercomputers, hyperscale data centers, and similar?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:49 AM
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I don't actually like research very much.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:54 AM
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LB, I love you, but you're not going to convince me to buy a supercomputer. Sheesh.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:54 AM
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You're sure? They can double as an attractive seating arrangement.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:57 AM
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The job I really wanted was working for the Office of Technology Assessment. Learn everything about some new technology, write it up in a form accessible to congressional staffers, boom! done! Just like college but funner and with money flowing in instead of out. Then Newt Fucking Gingrich and the congressional class of 1994 killed it like the bastards they are.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 8:58 AM
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write it up in a form accessible to congressional staffers

Have you met congressional staffers?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:00 AM
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Or the people who sell new technologies?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:03 AM
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Is there really demand for more people doing this? This seems like a lightly-reformatted set of database queries for example. There's a bunch of useful information that's kept secret (geological imaging of Saudi oil fields for instance). There's also a bunch of information that cannot be used for investing (Rajaratnam).

How much synthesis of public information is useful enough for someone to pay for it? I mean, maybe the answer is lots of demand and there are people willing to commission good analysis.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:03 AM
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I hate giving career advice to students, because everything is usually framed as "Pick and industry!" When really, what most aimless people want is good co-workers, tasks that aren't too boring but aren't too hard, and decent pay. The perfect job and the worst job generally co-exist in the same industry, side-by-side.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:16 AM
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There are whole industries with no jobs that fit those criteria.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:22 AM
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I hate giving career advice to students, because

...what the fuck do I know about getting a job in the year 2015? Not a whole lot, I tell you what.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:25 AM
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Aka being a "consultant", which is what every smart person I knew in college who didn't go straight to law/med/grad school is doing. The joke is you're usually just there to provide credentialed support for whatever whoever hired you was going to do anyway. The hours are bad but the pay is good. You might get flown around the country a lot and put up in nice hotels, if you're into that.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:34 AM
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We certainly have people here who do this job, whether from the journalist side or the investment company side (that was D2ds actual job I believe, he wasn't really a "banker").

My first 2 years or so as lawyer were largely spent suing a bank for reports done by an equity analyst, so there's that.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:36 AM
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I do think it'd have been an interesting track to take. It'd have worked well for people who are rigorous and like learning things; turning it into recommendations would probably be the tricky part.

After researching enough to write convincingly, it'd be tricky to walk the line between suggesting a course vigorous enough to rejuvenate the troubled company without triggering defensiveness or "what does someone who has never [X]ed really know?"


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:36 AM
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After research, you write some conclusions with very carefully crafted caveats and a call for more research. What else could you do?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:37 AM
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Aka being a "consultant"

Similar, but definitely not the same job.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:39 AM
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I believe it. I've never fully understood exactly what "consultants" do, other than that they work a lot. I've been seeing a consultant who gets dropped off at my crappy first-floor studio by a black car at 10PM after she gets off work, then picked up at 7 the next morning. Her job seems glamorous to me but she assures me it's mostly soul-sucking. I don't know if I know any equity analysts.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:50 AM
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I've never fully understood exactly what "consultants" do

Have you seen the movie Up In The Air?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:52 AM
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I'm pretty sure equity analyst skews heavily male and specifically a certain kind of male, so perhaps not "too late" for some of us to have missed this boat and been successful/professionally content.

Basic skill set not dissimilar to anti trust litigation and an appellate practice with a wide range of cases, always learning about how some sector of the economy works.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:53 AM
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23: The kid who floats away with Ed Asner?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:55 AM
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The work I do is what equity analysts draw on, which means I know a good deal of what they do but don't get paid anywhere near as much and don't have to be an equity analyst. Seems like a win.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:55 AM
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23: A consultant friend uses that exact explanation.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:56 AM
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Wasn't that what McMegan did?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:58 AM
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My best friend is a consultant and he works and flies so much that I marvel at his physical stamina. But he makes very good money, and now that he's a partner could make great money, and if he can hang on for another 10-15 years, will get some ridiculous pension.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 9:58 AM
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When I was a reporter I wrote articles regularly about new businesses, or existing businesses new to the area or making big changes, and it was one of the more fun parts of the job.

At worst, it's usually easy: hiring X people, construction on this and that road between these dates, insert press release puffery here. But sometimes I also got stories out of it that were genuinely interesting, at least to me: a prodigal son returning, a business going far out of their way to make and keep their working factory a registered historic place because they liked the look of it, a portrait artist talking about love.

Doing that kind of thing as a reporter is even better than as an "equity analyst" for at least two reasons: more of the human interest stuff, if you're into that, and the ability to be more cursory - only spending a couple days on a business and then moving on and not worrying about it as long as you didn't commit libel or get the attention of a crazy person. But it certainly doesn't pay better than many jobs.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:04 AM
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This thread seems likely to send me into a lately very habitual tailspin of career regrets.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:07 AM
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Do I have to be the one point out that equity analysts don't actually make much money? (For a relative value of "much" that's based on the obscene standards of the finance industry.) It's basically an entry-level position in finance. Good analysts--those whose analysis and recommendations tend to prove out--get promoted to be traders, a job in which you're mostly digesting (and critiquing) analysis done by others and then making investment decisions based on it. (Or in some places traders do their own analysis, and then act on it.) Trading is where there's the opportunity for real money. (And real losses, but the losses are losses of other people's money, so that's okay.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:08 AM
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I mean in some ways my job is exactly what I would love to do: meet people, interview them, find out as much as possible about them, write about them, and hopefully help them. It's just that other stuff about it makes it maddening and tedious. Oddly, though, equity analyst sounds dreadful to me.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:10 AM
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That was what I wanted to do when I was graduating from college-- on the buy side--and a lot of firms used to hire college graduates, but then they decided that they preferred MBAs or people with Investment Banking experience. And there was just no way that I was going to survive that.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:12 AM
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9 cracked me up and 14 is very true and I am avoiding doing work. 17 reminds me that I think my working life would be different and better if I flew.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:16 AM
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Have you seen the movie Up In The Air? TV show House of Lies?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:25 AM
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36: I don't think equity analysts usually get to be President of the US.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:29 AM
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I've never fully understood exactly what "consultants" do

Canonically, "Borrow your watch to tell you what time it is."

In reality, it's so varied that it's impossible to generalize; akin to asking what engineers do (only worse, because anyone can call themselves a consultant, whereas engineers at least have professional credentialing).


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:34 AM
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(only worse, because anyone can call themselves a consultant, whereas engineers at least have professional credentialing)

The kinds of engineers that build physical things, maybe.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:36 AM
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he works and flies so much that I marvel at his physical stamina. But he makes very good money

Screw that. Moderate income + free time forever!

17 reminds me that I think my working life would be different and better if I flew.

When I was working in telecom ages ago I was getting flown around not a ton but fairly regularly and the novelty wore off quick. But maybe Tindr and Grindr have improved the whole flying to random cities experience.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:42 AM
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Aka being a "consultant", which is what every smart person I knew in college who didn't go straight to law/med/grad school is doing.

I see the point of consultants; they seem useful to me. What I find confusing is young consultants. Isn't the point to gain the expertise of someone who has seen it all and has a good sense of the big picture? What on earth is the point of paying a fresh-out-of-college 23 year old gobs of money to give complicated organizational feedback?

Granted, plenty of consultants are older than 23, but I don't see the point of the young ones.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:44 AM
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41: knecht threatened to explain that to us once.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:45 AM
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Nobody else does either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:46 AM
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In my view and experience excessive business travel is about the most soul crushing thing there is. I honestly can't imagine bring a true management consultant with a constant rotation of 3 weeks in different cities, etc. It's fun for about a year if you're staying in nice hotels and are young and single, after that yikes.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:48 AM
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Not just any 23 year olds. 23 year olds who are confident bullshitters and went to Harvard.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:50 AM
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It's fun for about a year if you're staying in nice hotels and are young and single, after that yikes.

Which of course answers the question "Why 23 year old consultants?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:52 AM
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Consulting jobs differ starkly according to what kind of consulting firm you are talking about. Very roughly speaking, we can distinguish:
(1) Top shelf strategy firms. This is the glamorous version, where you are stereotypically advising CEOs on how to reinvent the company. More commonly, you are helping a senior vice president make some modest but financially consequential change to the business. Or you might be doing true scut work that could be accomplished at a fraction of the cost by someone else. There just aren't enough greenfield strategy assignments to keep 40 or 50K "strategy" consultants busy.
(2) Descendents of accounting firms. This segment is employs many, many more people, and can therefore be thought of as the modal consulting job. The work is heavy on massive IT implementation projects employing scores or hundreds of consultants at a time. Their characteristic feature is that they stay in shittier hotels than strategy consultants.
(3) Pure IT consulting firms. Same thing, only without any pretense of being strategic. Arguably the most soul-sucking form of consulting.
(4) Functionally specialized boutiques. For example, shops focused on branding or supply chain or compensation. Some of these are big enough that "boutique" is probably the wrong word.
(5) Industry specialized boutiques. There are tons of these, covering every important industry. They tend to be smaller and to hire more experienced personnel.
(6) Scientific and technical consulting. A completely different world. Their characteristic feature is that their reports are written in portrait rather than landscape format.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:52 AM
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knecht threatened to explain that to us once

See here.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 10:57 AM
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Scientific and technical consulting. A completely different world. Their characteristic feature is that their reports are written in portrait rather than landscape format.

!! But please tell the reports are still in powerpoint format? I can't imagine a consultant's report in anything but powerpoint. I don't want to imagine it.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:00 AM
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Not just any 23 year olds. 23 year olds who are confident bullshitters and went to Harvard.

This is much less true than you would imagine. Yes, they are 23 years old and went to Harvard (or Yale, or Stanford). But only about one in ten are actually confident bullshitters. Those are the ones who go on to make partner. The rest are just wicked smart and willing to work long hours. Some of them are even introverts.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:03 AM
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Moderate income + free time forever!

Yes! Also, short commute and solid job security.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:05 AM
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In my view and experience excessive business travel is about the most soul crushing thing there is.

It makes a huge difference where you are traveling to. If your assignment is in a prosperous major metro area (or exciting overseas destination), it's much easier on the soul. If you are out in some third or fourth tier MSA where the best local restaurant is Applebee's, your life is a living hell.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:11 AM
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I've taken three business trips in my life. They were to Columbus, OH, Hilton Head, and Philadelphia. I'm not sure how those will count.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:14 AM
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I think I actually did eat at the Applebee's in Columbus, but it wasn't while I was there on a business trip. It was while I was there on a not-finishing-my-dissertation trip.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:15 AM
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50: There was a designation for guys who had been there long enough to make partner, were valuable enough to keep around, but weren't going to suddenly develop the ability to bullshit confidently and bring in clients. "specialist" or similar.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:16 AM
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51: Add in low cost of living and ability to sew or knit on the job and you've got my life. (Though OMG if this fix doesn't make the two sides of the back on either side of the zipper line up, I'm going to cry. Or grow my hair out, which might be more practical.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:18 AM
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Granted, plenty of consultants are older than 23, but I don't see the point of the young ones.

I think they're sent out in pairs, IME, one 23 year old and one grown up. The point is that the 23 year old can program the spread sheet for the morning meeting while the grown up gets drunk in an expensive restaurant with the client. It way work differently in America.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:20 AM
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48: I knew knecht would come through with the link.

How it comes to pass that some 24-year-old Ivy League snots can be better at generating those facts than "the people who do the actual work" is a complicated story, but it's not a myth. I see it every day.

If that wasn't you I would say that's delusional. Actually even though it is you I still think it's delusional. But then again I'm just a bitter 50-something who make about 10-20% of what those 22-year-olds make straight out of college.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:21 AM
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55: In lawfirms, that guy's job-title is "Of Counsel".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:22 AM
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I think they're sent out in pairs, IME, one 23 year old and one grown up.

Maybe that's LDS missionaries?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:22 AM
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Law, banking, and mangement consulting form the three-legged stool that is the "Ivy Leagie graduates who get paid well to bullshit for capital" professions. Of those three management consulting is in many ways the least offensive but also in many ways the most bullshitty.*

*also the one I'm least familiar with, since strategy consultants are addpt at not being sued.


Posted by: Tim "Rippper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:27 AM
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No, but similar principle. See also Spartacists.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:28 AM
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I had no idea they still existed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:30 AM
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I guess there's only so many consultants with ice axes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:30 AM
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I have had the opportunity to spend time with a Very Regionally Successful Consultant Who Was Consulting For Big Important Businesses Straight Out Of College.

The main thing that strikes me is this person has a huge ability to oversimplify and extrapolate convincing yet wrong narratives from a few facts. (Every time this person has spoken about anything touching on my areas of study, they've been way, way off.) This has given me a LOT of doubt about the rest of their work.

Although to be fair, I think that this person is also successful because they're tough without being ruthless - my sense is that they've been able to build a lot of good relationships because they're able to get good deals for their employers but not make the other guy feel crushed/cheated.

Mainly I've just been surprised by this person's lack of...hm, not exactly intellectual curiousity, more like lack of interest in complex narratives or the way the past persists in the present. Just this pure creature of the optimistic-business-speak neoliberal Now.

In a way it's a relief - I don't find this person to be some kind of towering genius or anything so it validates my belief that high-paid corporate work is generally just handouts for the upper classes.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:32 AM
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63. The probably don't. But when they did they were always sent out in pairs to keep an eye on each other. A friend of mine was briefly sucked in while she was going through a bad time in her life and when she got better she explained that they even had to take their minder into the ladies' toilet (though not the cubicle). She was never told why, presumably the higher ups thought they might use it as a dead letter drop to contact the Maoists or something.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:35 AM
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It makes a huge difference where you are traveling to. If your assignment is in a prosperous major metro area

I disagree with this, I think. My big traveling days were roughly 50% to NYC, which was obviously great. I just think there's something inherently soul-sucking about traveling for work so much, moving through airports, staying in fancy hotels but only for work, becoming obsessed with frequent flier miles and good hotels, etc. It's pretty much guaranteed to make you alienated and materialistic, maybe even evil (actually Up In The Air did a decent job of capturing the vibe). I think probably being super-religious would be the best defense.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:35 AM
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66: I looked on Wikipedia because I had no idea what you were talking about, but it said they are still there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:37 AM
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I think I actually did eat at the Applebee's in Columbus

You might think you know depressing business dinner but you do not. I've eaten at the Hooters in Saginaw.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:38 AM
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How can you be depressed at a Hooters?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:40 AM
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31: Eh, not me. I couldn't have anything like my current lifestyle with my previous job. (Some reporters make more money than I did, but work much, much harder.) And the money wasn't the only reason I was unsuited for it. No rose-tinted glasses here. I'm not happy with my current job, but that's a known issue. I already am looking, and feel guilty that I'm not looking harder, but don't expect to get too many offers at the moment anyway.

As for the OP (this interest in research being spurred by home remodeling), that, I don't get. We've done some remodeling and are planning to do more, and it's mostly been an unpleasant chore. Maybe that's a matter of personal temperament (I'm not the handyman type), maybe it's a matter of circumstances (we're doing them for practical reasons rather than for fun, and it's hard to schedule the time off), but home remodeling isn't one of the things I enjoy doing research on.

As for traveling a lot for work, a friend of mine does that. Her soul seems in good shape, but it probably isn't good for her body. Her modal place to eat is probably McDonalds. (Obviously, her bad health isn't entirely caused by the travel, but it doesn't help.)


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:42 AM
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How can you be depressed at a Hooters?

Yeah, when I think Hooters the first word that comes to mind is "perky".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:43 AM
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Speaking of fitness, my phone has a pedometer thing. I'm already at 5,000 steps and I didn't even leave the building for lunch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:49 AM
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I've eaten at the Hooters in Saginaw.

And then it took you four days to hitch hike back.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:50 AM
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I'm with Frowner in 65. There's a lot of remuneration to be had in what people these days like to call value-added services, but it's quite frequently dubious how much value is being added. It's just as often a house of cards, a grifters' game, so much prancing and garbing in the cloak of knowledge -- choose your horrible mixed metaphor. But you can make money at it, sure.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:51 AM
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74: America has to be around here somewhere.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:54 AM
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Consultants are people that know one thing, and since they only know that one thing they believe in it totally, and faith can move mountains and sometimes even a bureaucracy.

(that one thing is usually a meaningless phrase which includes the word quality)

(this was just for fun -- I don't know anything about consultants)


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 11:59 AM
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America has to be around here somewhere.

Random trivia: I hadn't known the TV program, "Good Morning America" took it's name from the Steve Goodman song, "City of New Orleans."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:04 PM
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59: That reminded me of my friend from high school who is very smart and conscientious, but is about as far as a person can be from a salesman type -- I looked him up and sure enough he's "Of Counsel".


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:08 PM
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People denigrating the 23 year old are misunderstanding the point. The goal of hiring a consultant is to get a document, on prestigious letterhead, that says that what management want to do is a good idea. A 23 year old can take dictation from management as well as a 40 year old -- better, because charts and graphs.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:34 PM
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We are in the process of hiring a consultant who'll look at one of the areas that intersects with my area of expertise. The person we are hiring is (I think) in her 50s, and very experienced. But the job she is going to do for us probably could be done very well by a smart 23 year old, since essentially what is going to be done is a survey and assessment of user needs, a bit of business analysis, and a survey of the state of the art in commercial software in the relevant area. The ability to talk to people, collate and analyse that information is what's needed. Not deep experience of the area of work.

_I_ probably could do it better, but there are very good political and operational reasons why I'm not the one doing it. And I'm pretty glad someone else is involved.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:41 PM
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The goal of hiring a consultant is to get a document, on prestigious letterhead, that says that what management want to do is a good idea. A 23 year old can take dictation from management as well as a 40 year old

Dude! As if we let the 23-year-olds talk to management!

Anyway, isn't true that consulting is all about putting a fancy imprimatur on what management already wanted to do. There isn't enough money in that.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:52 PM
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80: I don't see how that fact mitigates denigration of the 23 year old.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 12:53 PM
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Anyway, I get that parsimon doesn't understand how 23 year old consultants can add value, but I'm surprised that the lawyers in the house don't intuit it right away: it's about leverage. The 23 year olds are cogs in a machine, just like first and second year associates in Big Law firms. Very expensive, high quality cogs, but cogs nonetheless. You don't ask the first year associate to develop the litigation strategy; you have them review documents. You don't ask a 23 year old consultant to develop business strategy; you have them analyze data* or create spreadsheet models (and, of course, make PowerPoint slides). So the partner who knows what he is doing (statistically, it's a he) can work across multiple clients at once.

*which the 23 year old can do 1,000 times better than the partner, because the partner never learned SQL


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:02 PM
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I assumed it was about leverage but do the 23 year olds bill out? I actually have no idea, my vague impression was that the teams were relatively small and under-leveraged. Also in terms of making "we actually for real provide value to a client"* analogizing to BigLaw 1-3 years is ... not helpful.

*I actually do believe, without much knowledge at all of management consulting, that consultants in most cases provide real, significant value to clients AND have found a niche for skimming off a ton of cream from the top of the milk of capital** by selling overpriced but credentialed bullshit. Not slamming consultants in particular, the same is true for each of the law, finance, consulting legs of the three-legged stool of Ivy League bullshitters.

**not too sure if this metaphor works b/c I don't actually know anything abuot how milk is produced. Isn't there cream on top that gets skimmed?


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:14 PM
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knecht, my feeling is that such cogs are paid far beyond their actual value *to society*. They may be quite valuable to their firms, but they add little value to society. To the public good. Sorry. I tend to think that people should earn incomes in keeping with their contributions to the well-being of the polis.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:16 PM
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Clarifying: that's what I mean by adding value.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:17 PM
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Jesus, 85 was badly written. No McKinsey for me, I will be doing IT consulting* in Fresno.

*do not hire me for this purpose.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:20 PM
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I'm off now, and dearly hope I haven't insulted knecht, whose clear knowledge on any number of topics adds value at every turn, no kidding.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:23 PM
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consultants in most cases provide real, significant value to clients

A recent article on rising college tuition noted that, in the late 80s, upper level administrators brought in management consultants and the consultants quickly concluded that upper level administrators were being woefully under-compensated, at which point the salaries of presidents, deans, vice deans, associate vice deans & etc. began to increase rapidly.

If upper level admins were the clients, then the management consultants unquestionably provided significant value.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:27 PM
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Isn't there cream on top that gets skimmed?

Assuming it isn't either skim milk or homogenized milk, yes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:28 PM
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I shouldn't make jokes about other professions.

|| So, I just got my save-the-date email from the Idaho Bar annual meeting (late July). It's in Sun Valley this year. Come to think of it, I do need some Idaho CLE . . .

I'm sure it'll transfer, if any of you lawyers are looking for some credits with mountain biking and food fit for zillionaires. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:37 PM
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And if you are pouring unhomogenized milk for your kid you can only lightly shake it so he gets big delicious lumps of cream in his glass. So even though you keep him firmly under the jackboot of politesse he will still love you.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 1:43 PM
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93: Nice to see a commenter live up to her name.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 2:03 PM
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94: HEY! I AM PLENTY PRICKLY, THANK YOU.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 2:11 PM
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My dad's job until semi-retirement was a combination of this and Tweety's dad's job. He kept up with things industry would like to do, and with research results mostly in physics, and worked for a Japanese conglomerate that decided whether the now-possible engineering he had identified could be done profitably.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 2:23 PM
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I know a bunch of underemployed English majors from liberal arts schools. I always thought that if through some terrible miscalculation I ended up in charge of an investment firm I would hire them all as equity analysts, since the reports are just like term papers (albeit on pretty dull topics).


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 2:52 PM
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I do a version of what ogged is describing, but its public sector, so policy development, not equity analysis. But its basically doing a bunch of research and writing reports, basically saying, "this sector needs to get its IT shit together - here are some ideas on how to do that." And then, if I'm lucky, some people will read the reports and maybe some papers will pick up on whatever press release gets sent out.

I do about 75% that and 25% software development. I'd prefer a 50-50 split.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 2:59 PM
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65: I have a cynical theory that one key to success in business is the ability to make decisions in the absence of any information on which to make a decision. Managers basically never know what they're doing, but they need to pick some direction for the company to follow. Someone who can make dumbed-down and vaguely convincing stories has got to be an appealing source for advice.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 3:36 PM
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underemployed English majors...investment firm I would hire them all as equity analysts

DE Shaw beat you to that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 3:45 PM
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And yet when you look at the people on their "meet some of our staff" page, it's all econ or some technical field.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 3:48 PM
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I noticed that too, but I do know humanities people who have worked there.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 3:49 PM
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I applied for a job there. They flew me to NYC but I didn't get an offer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 3:50 PM
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Dickheads!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 3:52 PM
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Fools!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 4:06 PM
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This is the same D.E. Shaw who now does protein folding, right?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 4:13 PM
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there are very good political and operational reasons why I'm not the one doing it

This seems to be one of the major reasons to have consultants. For instance, I'm fairly sure I could effectively counsel my business on things they could to do to be better, but I have to work with them and no one likes to be told they could be doing something better by an underling. (Well, really good employers do like this, but in practice it's dicey.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 4:23 PM
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My high school ex-gf whom I followed to Ivy League School briefly worked for DE Shaw after graduating with a history degree. She was laid off after about a year, escorted to the door by security with a small box of personal items. She did some tech consulting in Senegal, got a degree at LSE, quit it all to stick it to her 'rents, got an artist-in-residency grant from a small town in Minnesota, married a guy on the arts council and never went back to NYC. Now she makes music videos about oddball characters from the history of the Upper Midwest and they play them on Fargo public TV.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 5:34 PM
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Other than you making all that up, it's a great story.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:03 PM
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93: Nice to see a commenter live up to her name.

94: HEY! I AM PLENTY PRICKLY, THANK YOU.

Aren't I creepy?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:21 PM
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All of my posts live up to my name.


Posted by: Unimaginat | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:33 PM
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Except the one directly above, and only because the stupid iPad mangled my name..


Posted by: Unimaginative | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 6:35 PM
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I am a maze of twisty messages, all alike.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 7:06 PM
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"UNIMAGINAT" is what Disney would have been called if it had been a Soviet design/film production agency.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 7:57 PM
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YHUMA7UHAT


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-25-15 7:58 PM
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Another important consulting function: borrowing the client's watch, holding it up in front of their face, and explaining in great detail with at least one chart per page that the time is now 1450 exactly, not 0934 or 1211 (on an adjusted basis).


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 7:51 AM
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WRT "Of Counsel", the idea of a special job title for people who are actually competent but who aren't going to be the boss because they're human (or sometimes, too far the other way) is common in a few other fields. IBM has "Senior Technical Staff Member", which means either "knows everything in the world except how to make tea" or "knows everything in the world but was taught at the Cambridge Maths Lab that success is a sin, may be a secret Maoist", either way, old-school, pre-geek boffin. The Royal Air Force has a thing called the professional aircrew spine, which exists to keep the guy with 25,000 hours on the F-Whatever who won't kiss enough arses, shut his mouth long enough, or eat with a knife and fork often enough to be promoted from quitting. It's as if the very nature of hierarchical organisation required it to subvert its own values in order to survive!


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 8:00 AM
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"Senior Technical Staff Member"

Fucking self awareness. How do I shut it off?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 8:06 AM
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re: 117

We need that. All of our actual hands-on technical staff -- software developers, etc -- top out at grade 8. Which pays really not a lot of money once you are talking about technically skilled people with, say, 10 years in the job.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 8:12 AM
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The opinionated academic is basically in this position, although they're ad-hocking around it.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 8:14 AM
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a special job title for people who are actually competent but who aren't going to be the boss because they're human (or sometimes, too far the other way) is common in a few other fields. IBM has "Senior Technical Staff Member", which means either "knows everything in the world except how to make tea" or "knows everything in the world but was taught at the Cambridge Maths Lab that success is a sin, may be a secret Maoist", either way, old-school, pre-geek boffin.

I have often thought this sounded like complete heaven, to be nurtured and valued as a special exception to all requirements outside the tasks of thinking about things one is good at thinking about. On the other hand, I am pretty sure the main reason anyone actually keeps me around is that I elevate my rough qualifications for thinking about things with a pretty full complement of interpersonal and organizational competence, so it's lucky for me there aren't only boffin positions to go around.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 8:14 AM
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Have you tried letting them take on some jobs as "consultants" for additional pay?


Posted by: Very Thinly Veiled President | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 8:14 AM
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re: 119

Yeah, at our place there are three extra points, above 8.n [where the grade officially tops out], which can be awarded on a discretionary basis, but there's still no route to grade 9 and above unless you essentially become full-time senior management.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 8:21 AM
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I have often thought this sounded like complete heaven

It also works pretty well for gilded cage marginalisation and for sheltering people who are technically ept but total dickheads.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 8:44 AM
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My ex FIL was a b-school prof and corporate consultant, and he did stuff like this, for ridiculous amounts of money. His goal for me was to get a phd in my current discipline, get an MBA, and then go to work for him flying business class around the Asia-Pacific region making gobs of money telling multinationals how to run their businesses. In points of weakness, I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had gone to the dark side down a career path that led to a potential 7-figure income.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 03-26-15 10:43 AM
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It's odd to me that consulting looms so large in the fantasies of what the uber class is like. In b-schools, consulting is a solid, somewhat interesting (because you get to see a variety of business problems for a few years) track into a management job at one of your clients. A few successful McKinsey folks will end up as CEOs. But finance has the most likely path to stratospheric wealth. And as the number of entry level jobs for MBAs has shrunk students have doubled down on going for them because the future NPV is so high.

I think equity analyst has the advantages Ogged described. And some people really do it for a career. (I taught an interesting case for awhile about building a top ranked equity group at a big bank) But you have to live with being a second class "cost center" in a ruthless field.

D-squared did this for a long time, and now - though he's mostly traveling around the world with his family this year - he's joined a startup that says it is training bright educated young Indians to do it cheaper & better. So maybe it's another service field primed for outsourcing?


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 03-27-15 12:32 AM
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Sometimes I've wondered if I'd like doing specialized consulting in the cultural heritage/archives field. There's a lot of work in A/V/digital media consulting because many places have enough stuff to need help dealing with it but not enough to have a full-time specialist on staff. It seems like many conservators do consulting as well.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-27-15 5:09 AM
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126: it's a 2nd class cost center on the sell side. On the but side you can become a fund manager. My childhood dream was to become the next Peter Lynch. My beyond-my-wildest-dreams dream was to be the next Warren Buffet.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-27-15 6:21 AM
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I think you meant "butt side".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-27-15 6:41 AM
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The main reason consulting came up was that torque wanted to boast about his consultant booty calls, but why wouldn't it loom large?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-27-15 9:20 AM
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My childhood dream

ha! I grew up watching Louis Rukeyser with my parents and bought a stock with my elementary school allowance. I suppose it's not shocking I ended up in business geekery today.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 03-30-15 2:49 AM
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re: 127

I occasionally think about that. I really do know a lot about running digitisation programmes, and also about digital archiving, and collection delivery. And really really a lot about delivering image based content on-line. With a side-order of being able to talk to senior management, academics, and hard-core techies alike.

I know at least one person who has retired from the B/ ritish Lib\ rary who does this, and while he retired from a more senior post than the one I'm currently in, I'm a lot sharper on the hands-on technical side.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-30-15 2:57 AM
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131: I watched Louis Rukeyser too!


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-30-15 5:06 AM
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