Just got an email from a friend I work with about a unique engineering opportunity. (He still gets stuff every now and then from listings he signed up for a few years back.) It's not exactly my engineering specialty but I'm confident someone with my focus would also be in demand for similar positions.
Check this out... A one-year contract position (read: no benefits like retirement plans, health insurance, etc.). Working off the coast of Russia (obscure foreign location, check). Typical work day of 12-14 hours (read: 14+ hours). Typical work week of 80-90 hours (read: 90+ hours and you're too stressed out and exhausted to do anything at all during your miniscule amount of time off). Work environment = oil platforms and refineries; I briefly looked into that some years back and engineering doesn't get much rougher. Sounds great, eh?
Well, not quite. Until one reads the other half of the story. Salary of $120-145k (that's one hundred twenty thousand dollars a year, folks -- not small change), possibly tax-free
depending on some overseas income rules I know nothing about. Not too shabby, but it gets better. Four weeks on, four weeks off, of which two to four off-days will be paid travel days between the work site and your home. So that's paid travel time, far too many airline miles to count (read: free personal-use tickets almost at will), and huge chunks of time off such that you never get too bored at home and no matter how bad it gets you always know some time off is within sight. [Borat voice] Very nice!
I mean, HFS. That's what I'm in this for. To heck with this normal work schedule crap, I've been saying for years I want a job that lets me go nuts for a while and then take a while off. Well, voila. And at $120k? Are they kidding? Suddenly that PE license exam looks eons away from now. If only there were a fast-forward button for life.
There's a bit more to it than that. If there's one thing about engineering I've learned, it's that it isn't a glamorous, high-paying, sought-after career field. It's the last market I'd expect to find a something-for-nothing deal in. In other words, no company dangles a carrot that huge for nothing. I'm sure that's a HARD
job that will completely beat the crap out of anyone who takes it. And it'd be hard to really lead much of a consistent life over here and keep up with friends and such when you're gone most of the time. One's spiritual walk would get stronger in some ways -- tough circumstances have a way of bringing that about -- but would suffer in other ways, in areas like close relationships and ongoing involvement in...well, pretty much anything.
But do the math here. Assuming something close to worst case, we have four weeks of hell (which would get less hellish as one got used to it or at least numb to it), a week to wind down and catch up on rest, and a week of dreading having to go back to work. That still leaves two weeks in the middle to chill and do squat, or travel around, or hang out with friends, or whatever. And at 120 G's, savings and trip finances would work themselves out just fine. From where I'm sitting, that adds up nicely. Jesse wins.
I suppose for now I just need to stay put and keep my sights on doing every freaking thing I can to make damn sure I pass the PE exam next fall. And a job like that leaves no room for on-the-job training so I'd better have some knowledge of what I'm doing before I jump in over my head. For all I know, those types may only be interested in people with several years of related experience. (Then again, given the wacky schedule and travel requirements, they're probably taking in a lot of young, single, adventure-thirsty folks like myself.) So, first things first I guess.
But it's sure as heck nice to see some potential light at the end of the tunnel. The kind of job I want and am convinced would satisfy me is out there, and surprisingly accessible from what I can tell. Even if this isn't it, it's got enough in common with The Perfect Job that one can dream and know that there's a little bit of reality mixed in there. It's at least worth keeping in mind if for no other reason than as proof that the work/life balance I've been chasing is at least possible.