Since I’d been laid off from work in December, I’ve been considering my next steps. Desktop computer repair is no longer the certain profession it was, as several events occurred to make things rather difficult at best.
The first thing that happened was the specialization situation; when I started getting interested in computers, it was the 1980s, and computers were the skill in question; there might have been some programming and maintenance, but the skillset was much less involved before the intricate interconnections made possible by the Internet, and it’s internally-designed clone, the intranet. This means that the computer is not just in the box anymore.
The second thing that happened was the introduction of mobile smart devices, particularly tablets and phones. While they are very useful devices that makes me feel like I just found myself on the set of Star Trek, my skillset doesn’t mesh with these devices as well. I can’t assemble a tablet or phone like I am able to construct a desktop or laptop, and upgrading requires disposal of the previous device. Repair skills become limited in this regard when it becomes a case of “discard and buy” to fix problems.
Finally, the political climate is making offshoring a VERY promising prospect. Face it, the cost of low-end labor in the US is far in excess of what is affordable, leading to less people being forced to do more, and when the resulting loss of productivity occurs, the cheapest jobs are shipped off to foreign shores. And, as sad as I am to admit it, computer repair technicians are a dime a dozen.
Now, I’m not going to go into political discussions of the ethics of offshoring; supporting the free market means that this is a valid strategy, and instead of complaining, I need to choose my own actions in response to the circumstances.
One option would be to go back to school to update my skillset. However, my interest in computers has since died. I’m sick of repairing computers. I’m sick of dealing with people who attempt to either guilt or trick me into giving them free service, particularly as an employee who doesn’t have the discretion to actually make the decision one way or another.
Another option would be to go into business for myself. The problem is the supply; you can’t swing a cat 5 cable without hitting 5 or 6 computer repair technicians these days. The market has a glut, both as employees, and as self-employed. This means that I am getting crowded out by people whose skillsets are more up-to-date.
The final option would be to completely leave the technician field and go into something else. For the last couple years, I’ve gotten interested in voice over and media production, something that becomes pretty obvious when looking at my other website, “The Penguin Producer.” Of course, I want to still continue finding ways to use Linux to that end.
To this end, I have made the decision to go back to college. Instead of computer science or any of its contemporary equivalents, I am choosing to go for Communications, with a focus on media. With the knowledge I gain in this, I will have ample inspiration to create new content for the Penguin Producer site, and can work towards a career where there is more room for personal and professional growth… not to mention the opportunity for passive income.
In addition, I plan to minor in Entrepreneurship. At this point, it’s becoming obvious to me that there are no longer stable jobs. Employment can only be guaranteed if you provide your own, since you then have complete control over what your own company does. If business goes down, you can change your strategy (or focus) instead of waiting for someone to drop the axe on your pipeline.
On the side, I am also looking into real estate investment. Having gone through nearly the entire line of “Rich Dad” books, I’m really starting to understand just how important having cashflow-producing assets are; if enough passive income comes in, I no longer need a job, and instead can enjoy one.
One thing of note: the topic of investment has gotten my attention, so you will probably be seeing more posts covering this topic as I get deeper into the research.