Refusal of Work and Employability

Hacking employment, improving work, professional development
daylen
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by daylen » Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:28 pm

I am still trying to figure out what the game is. Not sure if I will ever be satisfied with a single objective frame. Whenever I find myself employed or engaged in an activity of any kind I tend to build toy frames that will probably be thrown away. Keeps me from becoming attached (except to my body in the past and future).

BookLoverL
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by BookLoverL » Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:49 am

I feel like one way to keep up employability is that rather than being unemployed, you can attempt being self-employed. Even if you are self-employed for a very small number of hours a week, you can put that on a CV when trying to get an employed job and you don't have to tell them exactly how many hours it was for, or you can just stay self-employed as you build up confidence that you can get money without HAVING to be employed by someone else.

Of course, whether you even WANT to be conventionally employable is another issue worth considering, because it can often involve putting on an act for part of the time.

suomalainen
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by suomalainen » Fri Aug 30, 2019 4:34 pm

For instance, if I have a steady paycheck does my jugaad dissipate? Do I lose my entrepreneurial Macgyver skills?
Yes. In the same vein as @jacob's institutionalization idea, this is what happens with specialization. You cannot, by definition, be good at something that you do not do. This idea applies to both hard (technical) skills as well as the soft (up/down/sideways management) skills attached to the position you occupy.

I've often wondered why my rich clients continue to do the work they do into their late sixties. I think the specific reasons vary (don't want to lose their identity, lack of imagination on what to do next, don't want to be stuck at home with their spouse), but they all boil down to institutionalization. They know and like who they are in that specific work context, so they don't want to leave. Another way to say it is not that they are "lazy", but that they are comfortable with the parameters of the game that they have adopted for the vast majority of their adult life and they simply cannot imagine a good enough reason to jump into a new, uncomfortable game. The devil you know and all. Frankly, this is a great concern of mine, as I largely think it is impossible to resist the effects of this Pavlovian conditioning. When my kids leave the house, will I, at 50, have the courage to leave the socially acceptable life/career-path in order to strike out on my own, relying solely on my skills and accumulated assets to last me the rest of my life?

Also, I did just want to say that I wonder if some of the article's point really is encapsulated by the high brow / low brow dichotomy noted in an embedded quotation. I just don't think Bertrand Russell really had his pulse on the common man's opportunities and interests. Some (MOST) people just don't have intellectual curiosity. It's always striking to me to remember that the average IQ is 100...meaning that HALF of the population has a lower IQ. And their vote counts just as much as mine, for better or for worse.

Jean
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Jean » Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:20 pm

I think this part of employability is out of one's control... M'y last hundredish application led to no interview, but once, a dude offered me a job on a completly différent field just because his wife told him i was smart...
Point is, the cost of maintaining a façade is probably way toi high.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Jin+Guice » Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:51 pm

To the OP article: while I do think the rise of something like "employability" is awful from the macro-perspective, my individual response is "what would happen if you just didn't do that." Slave mentality = slave reality.

If ERE is about one thing to me, it's about not having to give a single fuck about something like "employability." I mean, I have multiple YEARS of expenses saved up AND multiple skills AND extremely low expenditures (compared to the national average). I think a lot of people overestimate the difficulty and pain involved in earning $8,000 a year, especially when you've put yourself in a situation where you're going to have multiple years to figure how you'd like to do it.

Loner
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Loner » Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:30 pm

Jin+Guice wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:51 pm
I think a lot of people overestimate the difficulty and pain involved in earning $8,000 a year, especially when you've put yourself in a situation where you're going to have multiple years to figure how you'd like to do it.
Excellent observation. If you have skills in something (just about anything), an ounce of entrepreneurial spirit, and some form of social life in which you let others know about said skills, it's almost impossible that money making opportunities won't magically materialise with no effort whatsoever. Those might not sum up to 8000$, but that should be reachable easily for an ERE-type.

Frita
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Frita » Mon Sep 02, 2019 2:25 pm

Jin+Guice wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:51 pm
If ERE is about one thing to me, it's about not having to give a single fuck about something like "employability." I mean, I have multiple YEARS of expenses saved up AND multiple skills AND extremely low expenditures (compared to the national average).
Hell, yeah! This is the ultimate freedom of ERE. From my perspective, it is scary to realize that I am in control of my own life and not a slave to some BS system. For decades I have been fighting when the solution is to walk away with a big high one. As Kant wrote, “Dare to think. Courage to learn.”

BookLoverL
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by BookLoverL » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:41 pm

What Jin + Guice said is a big mood. I COULD make myself more employable by conventional standards, but... if I focus on doing the sorts of things I prefer to do, I can easily bring in enough to cover my expenses and more, because my expenses are not exactly high.

Also, to some extent, your actions now create your future lifestyle, in any case. So if you focus too much on making yourself Employable to people who interview you for standard jobs, you'll end up with a standard job. But if you focus on doing the types of things you actually WANT to do really well, and building related skills that synchronise well, you end up with people offering you money to do things you liked doing anyway.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:07 am

Employability really has to do with getting a job. Whereas work is something different.

Hiking is work, but I really enjoy it. However, if I got a job hiking, there is a big risk I'll lose my love of it. The job will likely have some requirements to it. It may require that I get up at 5AM several days a week, have to hike with a guy whose personality annoys me, and hike the same 5 hour stretch, day, after day, after day. Soon enough the idea of hiking will probably become much less attractive. So I quit. Now I'm out a job and a hobby. OTOH, if I find a job that provides enough diversity in activities, a flexible schedule, great coworkers, even if I'm not really interested it, I can still gain competence in a skill and not grow weary of the time I spend doing it. Of course the combination of low expenses and lots of money provides us the opportunity to work on what we want without a job (or at least spend less time at a job) as well. If someone is in a goldilocks zone of doing what they love with the flexibility, and great work environment to boot, I'm not sure why they'd ever retire. So I tend to think that person really wouldn't worry about employability. For the rest of us, jobs are going to require some form of significant sacrifice. IOW, great pay, flexibility, passionate & meaningful work, great working environment, ability to gain competency in a new skill... pick two, three if your lucky.

Back to employability itself. I think most people who have been in, or have been grooming themselves for, a specific career path for a number of years end up with tunnel vision. They view employability through the very narrow lense of their specific career. It's hard not to get this way. Afterall, we each picked our careers for a reason and want to be successful. Our mentors, coworkers, and the system in which we work take up the majority of our time, and they are all focused on this select career path. I think this can place a lot of undue pressure on folks here because we think in terms of all or nothing with current job/career.

So while it may be a very legitimate argument that employability in a specific field can self destruct quickly, or slowly dwindle with time away from the specified path. It certainly should not be translated into "I'll never have the chance for a serious career again", or the analog "I'll never make this kind of money again". That's just not true for intelligent, capable people.

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Ego
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Ego » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:36 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:51 pm
If ERE is about one thing to me, it's about not having to give a single fuck about something like "employability." I mean, I have multiple YEARS of expenses saved up AND multiple skills AND extremely low expenditures (compared to the national average). I think a lot of people overestimate the difficulty and pain involved in earning $8,000 a year, especially when you've put yourself in a situation where you're going to have multiple years to figure how you'd like to do it.
What if the things you'd like to do in retirement require certifications or other employability items?

For instance, Jacob didn't need the quant job. He wanted it. I think he said something about the desire to play with big computers that he would never have access to on his own. But to get access to those computers he had to get a CFA(?) cert. I may be wrong about the details but you get the point.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:36 am

If $8000/year USD PP per capita annual spending is roughly the boundary of "extreme", the realm where the book-keeping starts to get weird/unconventional one way or another, I think part of the disconnect in the discussion or definition of "semi-ere" might be due to the notion of need to place it beyond this boundary. IOW, it seems to me that there is one definition of "semi-ere" which might look something like $4000/yr passive investment income combined with $4000/year miscellaneous earned income, so in this case the "semi" means semi-FI but just as extreme. OTOH, if the miscellaneous earned income is meant to cover spending above $8000/year then this definition of "semi-ere" means something more like "semi-extreme."

Since the bookkeeping does get weird around $8000, this is further complicated by the fact that sometimes it is hard to differentiate between spending on tools/supplies/training towards greater frugality/savings, small business, or hobby. Simple examples of this would be buying some fruit trees for your garden or paying for a short course on the topic of programming in R. Far end of curve example would be recognizing that you already have far more investment income than you will need for life even if you purchased an annuity, so trading/investing in the equity market is just a fun hobby for you.

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Dream of Freedom » Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:27 am

I wonder how much of this credentialism is just insecurity and how much you really need.

Frita
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Frita » Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:59 am

@7Wannabe5
Interesting distinction between semi-ERE and semi-extreme, it seems that many features could be on a continuum. If one starts to categorize purchases apart from one general spend, the waters are muddied. We calculate our daily spend for three for each year and also year-to-date: $72/day for 2019, up a buck. This is all in so it includes our 5-week trip to Guatemala and Belize, the new irrigation system for our house, a major tuneup and new tires for our 4WD, a couple bikes for DS50 (a roadbike he rebuilt and a used custom fixie), a Spring Break ski trip, plus the usual stuff. Other than the automotive maintenance, the rest is probably in the semi-extreme category.

@Dream of Freedom
Credentialism has been created to develop and expand the post-secondary business. Insecurity and fear are necessary to get consumers—ire, students—through the door. At least for awhile, people viewed a college degree as a golden ticket to a decent job. I am a Gen Xer and saw the beginning of the cracks in the system. There just weren’t enough jobs to go around in the late 80s/early 90s, and there still aren’t. The biggest difference is that Millennials come out with a lot more debt. Then some brainwashed people (to include a younger Frita) think going back for another degree with improve one’s competitiveness. I look back and wonder what I was doing and why I continued for so long. As the Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”

7Wannabe5
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 2:41 pm

@Frita:

I didn't mean that there was some kind of "luxury" line between "extreme" and "semi-extreme." My own "extreme" budget is very "luxury" laden. I was thinking more about how the line between very small business vs. hobby can simply be a difference in intention combined with bookkeeping. For example, if your intention is to earn 4 X $1000 year with micro-businesses based on your hobbies of ceramics, yoga, video-game programming and gold-panning, then from the get-go you would keep track of expenses accumulated in each micro-business in an account separate from personal spending. OTOH, when you happenstance start earning money from a hobby, you don't account for initial expenses in this manner.

This can be extended into the realm of investing in "certification" towards paid employment opportunities, and could be accounted for into the future prior to leaving full-time employment. Many certificates are quite inexpensive to acquire or maintain, but can open up access to a variety of opportunities. For instance, by investing $103 and one 8 hour day, I could be certified in Infant CPR, which would better qualify me for seeking a temporary position as a Travel Nanny. Or I could take a short course and exam towards Home Inspector certificate prior to investing in decrepit duplex renovation, etc. etc. etc. It currently costs me $49 and a couple hours of watching videos each year to maintain my substitute teaching certificate, and it's probably going to cost me about $250 to pick up an online data science certificate. I could also pick up a Permaculture Design Certificate while taking a fun trip to someplace like Costa Rica.

This is the same thing that happens if/when you invest $250 in the stock market vs. your own micro-endeavor, except you don't directly make the decisions on R&D spending. The interesting (scary) thing that is happening these-a-days is that it very much might be the case that you are investing your money in a company that has a billion dollar market cap and only 67 employees, so there's obviously oodles of slack on just about any alternative investment you might wish to make leveraging your own human capital. I mean even that old guy wearing no shirt drinking beer out of a cooler sitting in a lawn chair next to a rusty cash box while running a perpetual barn sale located at the end of a 8 mile drive down a wash-board road is likely making better than 3% profit.

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Lemur
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Lemur » Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:35 pm

I had this 'employability' discussion with a friend recently and we did some reminiscing about the times when we were younger (high-school) where we were not worried about our resumes or whether what we were doing day-to-day was productive or not. Playing football/basketball in his backyard, video games, catching movies, and basically just screwing off were all 'truly free' activities. None of those activities made money and none of them improved career/job prospects. I could have certainly used this discussion to drive into FIRE/ERE concepts with my friend but we're a bit too apart for this one (the level that I save money is deemed craziness to my friend).

Anyhow, speaking of employability, there is certainly a level of institutionalization I've undergone myself. There are many times that call for me to appear more extroverted then I really am. I have to be keenly away of growing markets in my field (robotics process automation is one...block-chain is another, etc.) and I also have to keep showing some type of 'growth' to keep moving forward. My career has an 'up or out' culture. There will come a time will I will need to decide whether to obtain the skills needed (or gain political capital) to keep moving up or simply go out and find a different job. And this different job is 90% likely to be in the same career field...because that is where I'm institutionalized.

Institutionalization kind of sucks mentally (Cognitive Dissonance)...but I've accepted it because it puts me closer and closer to my financial goals (Rationalization). The trap is that I've accepted it for the most part. And I rationalize this that because restarting now (having already restarted once from leaving the military) would be my third go around and that just ain't worth it if I factor in the loss of income and the opportunity cost of losing that income that would've been saved and making money. I would much rather the economy make that decision for me (like my job gets automated or something) and then I become forced into a new career. Sounds very odd to say this last sentence but I think the opportunity cost is too much financially.

Also I picked up gardening 2 years ago mainly for having the sole activity where I have something that I enjoy...keeps me outside...and it has nothing to do with resumes. Useful for small topic conversations though....

classical_Liberal
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:02 pm

@7WB5 @Frita
I understand the need for rough definitions of words/terms for clear communication. However, I think the more we try to pigeonhole a term, the more likely it is the definition won't match someone well enough, and then we need yet another term. The problem is ERE (and I'm not sure I understood this when I started using the term, sorry @Jacob) is very different for each person who pursues it. This is why I find the FI Wheaton level concept so helpful.

Since, I feel somewhat responsible for the use of the phrase semi-ERE around here, I'll define how I use the term. When I use it, I refer to Wheaton levels. Someone who has not yet reach ERE Wheaton 7, yet still quits their full time job/career with the goal of eventually reaching that level. This person may not be FI in a traditional sense, and it may not even be a goal to become FI. However, they do have the resources to stop working full time through some combination of low spending, cashflow, savings, investments, ect. Hence freeing up time to work towards Wheaton 7, along with whatever other life goals they have.

I think the 8K/yr inflation adjusted is simply one tool to measure a person's wheaton level. @7WB5 is correct that certain goals may require some additional monetary outflows from time to time. The key is how much of that spending goes towards consumptive activity vs capital investment for productive activities.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Jin+Guice » Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:53 pm

Ego wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:36 am
What if the things you'd like to do in retirement require certifications or other employability items?
To me employability means things like having a consistent work history, having the right friends and opinions, making the right choices outside of work, etc...

Maintaining skills for employability could also qualify as maintaining employability. If you really want to do something, then developing the skills necessary for it shouldn't be that bad. You're theoretically doing it voluntarily already. I think rather than doing something to "maintain employability" a smarter approach would be developing or reactivating skills when you are about to use them.

Certifications are a combination of both. You may have to study or do a few things that aren't completely in alignment with what you're interested in learning, but they should have something to do with the skill you're trying to develop or "reactivate."

This discussion lead me to think about something else which bothers/ intrigues me about ERE/FIRE. If you're goal is to quit your job and have 100% self-guided time, you must be really good at self-directing. Personally, I am constantly frustrated by my own failures and laziness during my self-directed time. It's still usually more pleasurable than work, but not always. Sometimes, it's nice to just go somewhere and do something with a group of people I would never otherwise talk to, in this insane system we've set up where people, who are essentially strangers, come together and accomplish something that presumably benefits someone else, all while presumably benefiting themselves. Sometimes, even when I show up totally only showing up to shit for the money, I learn something or get an idea that I never would've gotten. Sometimes I waste a whole day voluntarily sample replacing a snare drum and questioning why I voluntarily get out of bed in the morning.

I seriously question whether controlling 100% of your time and never doing things you don't want to do is really even possible, much less desirable. How does this relate to employability? If you've spent 1,000 hours developing a skill that you "like" or are interested in and have to spend 50 hours getting some stupid credential with a job that is super interesting waiting on the other side, that's really not that bad. 10 of those 50 hours might even be beneficial or interesting to you.





7Wannabe5 wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:36 am
If $8000/year USD PP per capita annual spending is roughly the boundary of "extreme", the realm where the book-keeping starts to get weird/unconventional one way or another, I think part of the disconnect in the discussion or definition of "semi-ere" might be due to the notion of need to place it beyond this boundary. IOW, it seems to me that there is one definition of "semi-ere" which might look something like $4000/yr passive investment income combined with $4000/year miscellaneous earned income, so in this case the "semi" means semi-FI but just as extreme. OTOH, if the miscellaneous earned income is meant to cover spending above $8000/year then this definition of "semi-ere" means something more like "semi-extreme."
O.k., this paragraph has several ideas that are super interesting to me, but that aren't *directly* related to this thread or even the point you were making.

When I talk about semi-ERE I'm assuming that the audience already agrees that frugality and not working full-time for 40+ years are desirable. What I'm referring to when I say "semi-ERE" is any method leveraging frugality to shorten a working career in some way that is different than Jacob's "work only 5 years (full-time) or 5 hours per week," which for most people is more like "work only x years full-time or x hours per week," where x<40. In other words, you are saving money with the hopes of using that money to take time off in the future, but you're also not saving all that money in one continuous period in which you work full-time.

To me the crazy part of the FI community is that it starts with the same two assumptions. That it's possible to lead a decent (some would argue better) life while being frugal and that not working 40+ hours a week for most of your adult life is achievable and desirable. This leads everyone to the conclusion that you must save 25-33x your annual expenditures in order to stop working for even a little bit.

I think the semi-ERE strategies work best if you are between 1 and 2 JAFI/ person, which is around what I think makes becoming FI in less than 20 years or working less than 20 hours a week forever feasible, without a super high income.

Which leads to the second interesting point, that ~1 JAFI does seem to be the cutoff point for appearing to be "normal." Like, it's pretty hard to live in a rich country, in what would be traditionally thought of as a house, and buy all of your food, and wear clothes, for less than that. I don't know why this is so interesting to me, maybe because it seems like no matter what strategy you employ ~1 JAFI seems to be the boundary for "normal?"

classical_Liberal
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by classical_Liberal » Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:19 pm

@J+G
I have a bit of a problem with the concept of "normal" when looking at spending levels (follow me to the end and it will tie into employability). "Normal" for a 20-30-something struggling musician in New Orleans is very different than "normal" for a 40's middle class nurse living in a college town in the Midwest. In my situation (the latter for those who don't know me), it's VERY abnormal to not own a house. Unfortunately, the cost of housing in my community makes it absolutely insane to buy vs rent from an ERE, or cost analysis perspective. So I rent. My coworkers see that as abnormal. Personally, I have the saving grace of self identifying as a travel nurse, so i'm not considered quite as abnormal for being a renter.

My point is, to reach ERE wheaton level one has to be contrarian to norm in some fundamental way(s). I've argued before that we get to decide our peer groups. On a personal level, I think this goes a long way to provide us with the feeling of normalcy, if we have decided wisely in that realm. However, that doesn't mean we will appear "normal" to a broad audience. I offer the historical mainstream reaction to ERE as a proof to this theory.

Bringing this back to employability. I think a large part of employability, and certainly the part people worry about here, is the need to appear "normal" enough to employers to become employed. In certain career paths "normal" requires a level of consistent commitment that comes into conflict with ERE or Semi-ERE. I think most here are more than talented, intelligent, and skilled enough to do most jobs well, if they put their mind to it. If you look too abnormal to a potential employer, you may not be able to convince them of that.

Edit: IOW to maintain employability in a particularly job market your lifestyle and history must fit within the context of somewhat "normal" for the story employers look for in that job. If it is very inconsistent with the standard script, it becomes much more difficult. An ERE-er may need to invent/explain a story that makes sense to the employer, to compensate for the variations in their life. ie, I retrained from banking to nursing because I wanted to help people.

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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by Jin+Guice » Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:27 pm

@c_L: Normal was a bad choice of words. I'm not sure what the thing I'm talking about would be called though. I really just mean you live in a house, as opposed to a tent or a van or a shanty you built. Everyone I've read about who lives on less than 1 JAFI doesn't live in a house. I think it would also theoretically be possible to do this if you lived in a house and scavenged everything else, which would mostly be food and clothes, and didn't own a car.

Definitions aside, you've got solid points. To me, one of the main selling points of doing any kind of ERE is not having to fit anyone else's definition of normal. Not that I never do, but when someone says "employability," I think of being forced to meet someone else's definition of normal when I don't want to, because I have to.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Refusal of Work and Employability

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:09 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:27 pm
when someone says "employability," I think of being forced to meet someone else's definition of normal when I don't want to, because I have to.
Right, this is essentially what I was getting at and probably the biggest problem for ERE employability... And I agree by the way, the thought of it pisses me off. What I'm trying to hash out here is whether or not there is something we can do in ERE/Semi-ERE that keeps us employable when our resume looks like some weird combination of swiss and co-jack cheese. Of course, outside of becoming conformist normies 8-)

The best I can think of is a combination of social skill and making sure we put in the effort to achieve basic height requirement in any field of interest. Unfortunately, that necessarily limits the slices of pie we have access to. For example, an MD/DO needs 4 years of school and a similar number of years of residency, so no one is going to go through that, just to try it out.

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