Tech Stories: You Know Computer Science Therefore You Know Linux

One of the first jobs I worked where I was trying to build up my resume was a small chop-shop over in Mission Viejo editing simple HTML for an online document system. It was my first “real” job outside of college where I would get to sink my teeth into doing something semi-related with the five years of studying at UC Irvine. But it’s always funny trying to finagle what you learned into what you ought to be doing.

So the work itself wasn’t difficult just super boring. Basically, we would receive raw text coming from another company who would use us to edit and format their text for online course material. Part of the job was correcting simple grammar mistakes and ensuring that it would be readable. There were two additional ladies in the office as well as the manager. I even heard that there was another guy who ran the manager’s server who would come in later in the day.

At any rate, I started off okay but was required to be onsite for a bit. It was far so I had some leniency, especially considering that I only was earning $12/hour at that time. To me money was money and I needed the experience and a way to slowly start digging myself out of college debt. What I wasn’t ready for was some of the harsher realities of the work environment.

Part of my problem was that I simply wasn’t very focused. So while I managed to do the work to a degree, I don’t think it was adequate to what they were expecting. My distance was another massive issue. But the guy felt that I could do more technical stuff, which enticed me a bit. So the manager requested that I help setup the Linux environment. It was kinda funny because I was shocked at the request as my Linux knowledge was limited at the time. However, the manager resolutely stated, “Hey, you have a computer science minor. You should know Linux.”

What a statement that was!

I always felt that the way computer science and technology have been moving that there’s too much of a spread in terms of what is expected of people. Luckily, these days there’s a better respect for the split of duties for what an engineer does just due to the sheer complexity of the evolution of technology. Still, it really should’ve been a warning early on for what I would encounter later in life where the vast majority of people just don’t get what technologists truly know.

Needless to say at the time, the only thing of benefit that came from that conversation was acquiring the Linux book. I don’t think I ever did a thing with it. Back then things were so much more difficult in terms of finding good resources. You would typically hit a bookstore and ravage through the various publishers to find the information you need. These days, we’re lucky to have the knowledge almost all online.

Shortly thereafter, I lost the job as I proved to be inadequate for what they probably needed. The response I received from the manager was simply, “I don’t have anymore work for you.” Translated, it meant you’re fired and I don’t have to pay you anything additional since you’re just a contractor.

I kinda wish I could see these people now to show how far I’ve come. Honestly, the manager was a bit old so I doubt he’s alive or running a business. More than likely, his business probably sank around 2001 while the other two women probably are married with a few kids and probably either stay at home wives or working at a marketing agency.


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