New Job - New Concerns

How about a Thread about people who have or are thinking of switching jobs, and maybe even fields?

I switched jobs at the start of the Pandemic, but only recently completed my training and become a CS at the Social Security Administration. Basically, I make fixes in our system for Social Security Disability recipients. I update payments when the system fails to do so, I review Reconsiderations when a Claimant disagrees, and I request, review and complete the calculations necessary for people that are getting Worker’s Compensation, are getting paid on their parents’ accounts or have payments from multiple sources.

Basically, for anything the system can’t handle, I start the initial work, and either complete it, or let our BA team know the exact changes that need to be made.

All my teachers tell me that it will take multiple years to truly feel comfortable at the job, even after 2 years of training. We have a lot of rules and regulations, policies and systems to learn.

Anyway, @cornchip, I thought I would just get the ball rolling on this topic.

Im a junior web developer, now on day 10.

And nearly everything is done via wordpress.

I’m loving the job and the people, but I have had to do maybe 10 minutes of html work, no css, no javascript and I am seriously wondering what the point was of my year-long expensive Bootcamp!

I’m spending alot of time using containers and local hosting services to test websites, and changes thereof, none of which was covered in the bootcamp.

Woes are that the commute is long and expensive, sufficiently so that I may have to rent a room for use during the working week.

And a recession is coming/has started and as the newest employee I would be first for the chop.

A long commute can really be painful.

In my current job, the commute would be a little over an hour each way (much longer if I don’t beat rush hour traffic). I’ve done it before, and it was a huge strain ony family.

But with the SSA, I work remotely 4 days a week, which makes it far less of an issue. Plus, Maryland has cheaper gas and Milk than Pennsylvania, so I stop and pick those up on the way home. Well, gas, but I probably should pick up milk too.

I went from a career in fine dining/hospitality management to a career (after my 50th birthday) in tech that includes data and statistical analysis and market research. AMA. ;)

As someone who also works for the US government, now that you have your foot in the door it’s easier to make a move to other jobs. You might be able to get a 100% remote job if you keep an eye on, assuming that interests you. I moved from my VA finance job to DOI finance because it’s 100% remote.

@legowarrior, this may seem like two odd questions, but: how tall are you? And do you have easy access to a step stool? The reason for the questions:

My wife is a social worker, and the agency she works for used to do a lot of case management for clients who suffered from disabilities or were otherwise unable to manage their own finances. Many of these clients received either traditional or disability benefits, so, because they were literally managing hundreds of these cases, there were a fair number of issues that would arise and would require manual intervention of the sort it sounds like you’re doing now. As a result, one of my wife’s co-workers would regularly (like every two weeks) have an in-person meeting with a case worker at SSA to go over the outstanding cases, resolve issues, etc. Given the volume of documents that got passed around, it seemed pretty normal that things would occasionally get lost and need to be re-submitted, although the volume of things that needed to be re-submitted seemed a bit higher than you would expect.

At one of these meetings, the SSA case worker shared that she had just received a step stool, and, as a result of having the step stool, “discovered” several dozen case files that had been put on top of a filing cabinet. Some of these were cases that my wife’s co-worker had been following up on literally for years, where documents were re-filed again and again because they were “lost” (apparently on top of the filing cabinet). As a result of this experience, my wife and I think SSA should probably institute either an employee height requirement (you must be taller than any of your office furniture), an office furniture requirement (your office furniture must be shorter than you are), or simply issue all employees step stools.

Lest I sound too negative, the SSA does phenomenal work with limited resources, and is an absolutely vital line of support for many in American society who might otherwise end up indigent. Thank you for the work you and your co-workers are doing!

The VA was had similar issues. They were still trying to convert from paper to electronic files when I was there. So many files it was easy for things to get lost. They had done a lot to convert though so things were getting better.

I am glad you mentioned this, because I have been curious about this. How did you do it? How do you go from hospitality to data and statistical analysis? Do you have a degree in it? You are a natural at it? How did you make what seems like a huge jump?

That is some real shit. I am 6 ft 1 and I don’t have a stool.

My job is all back end though, and only dealing with payments and money. Everything I do is based on letters and documents, that although mailed to us, are scanned into the system. So, everything should be digital although the actual files can be saved multiple locations, depending on the type of document.

So, my typical week will involve cases from the SSA courts, and setting them up in the system (and following up on Worker’s Compensation, Prison Time, Attorney fees and other things as necessary), verifying that Children are on the record. Following up on prisons, and calling jails for people that were in prison, and our records are incomplete on. Working through cases in which attorneys weren’t paid. Following up on even more Workers Compensation. Updating payment changes, and working through Over Payments to claimants (this might happen if they claimed earnings that the IRS changed, went to prison, received Workers compensation they didn’t tell us about, or started working again, but failed to tell us).

I feel a small obligated to work here for a bit. The SSA is so understaffed and once a week isn’t the worst. But I definitely got this job with the idea that switching jobs in future would be much much easier.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I am so out of shape and I assume the job is harder than it looks, I would definitely go out to be a Park Ranger!

But so far, it seems most of our records are digital at the SSA. It helps that the disability section rarely works with anyone over 62. Those become RIB.

I always wanted to get a job with some government organization, either locally or nationally. I’ve only worked for small private companies and never had much in the way of benefits. Yes, I can wear whatever I want to work and can take time off with no problems but no benefits other than PTO…I really didn’t set myself up for my retirement very well. My wife sends me Indeed ads all the time but it’s hard to leave an 18 year old job as an accountant when I’m wearing sweats and a F trump t shirt to work.

I have worked for the federal government most of my life. Military for 23 years and now the civilian side for 4 years. It will drive you insane if you are used to the civilian side of things. Everything is slow, their systems are outdated, and there are a lot of people I question could hold a job at a normal place.

That said, it’s really easy, and pretty stress free if you stay out of management. Can’t beat the time off.

Always check out
You never know when something will meet your financial needs there.

Also, Health Insurance alone is worth dropping in salary. I left my position at a Retirement Consulting Firm, and thought I would be losing 2 or 3 thousand dollars a year in salary, for the first year, but I saved so much more on health insurance.

When we closed the family business after 48 years I went to work at the local IRS service center, not so much for the paycheck as the health insurance. It carried me thru to Medicare, and it really is good insurance.

Government work is different and parts of it can drive you crazy.

My difficulty with the federal system is I have a BS in accounting, but for a new hire, you have to have a masters to qualify for a GS9 or higher position unless you have experience. So to get my foot in the door I took a GS6 job and moved my way up. But now that I have been doing this awhile, I can tell you in places I have worked, GS9 jobs are often at about a HS graduate level. The scale does not make a lot of sense.

One of my old coworkers worked at the IRS call center, she makes it out sound like the worst job ever. Angry people calling to yell at you.

I got lucky. After 10 years, I finally finished my Masters Degree, and applied under the New Graduate program.
Started out as a GS-7, than the next year a GS-9, and after I completed training, a GS-11.

The job is not easy. There is always something to do, and it’s not infrequent that you are fixing an oversight someone else made.

My degree is in English, so when I left the restaurant biz I really, really didn’t want to go back to it again and wanted to try freelance writing. Thanks to the help of some friends who work in the writing space, I got enough contracts to keep up with the bills, but man was it soul-crushing. “Workdays” began around 7am and just never ended. It felt like just when you were thinking “OK, day’s over” at 7pm or something, more work would come through.

And when I had downtime during the day – which sometimes would be hours long – I’d try to fill it with jobs from Fiverr. Because doing the freelance thing means you constantly have to hustle.

Anyway, one of the Fiverr gigs I picked up was to be part of a group beta test for a software platform. After the test, there was a form to fill out with feedback. Apparently, I was one of the few who didn’t just collect the 5 bucks for a half hour of testing and send back a perfunctory feedback form. I went into detail on it, and tried to be as helpful as I could.

Apparently I was one of the few, maybe only people who spent that much time on detail, because the software folks who’d done the beta test contacted me for more work on Fiverr. And then they mentioned that for 6 months they were going to try out their platform as a sort of social media thing, and would I be interested in moderating for 40 hours per week, which was much less hit-and-miss than freelancing.

Long story short, within a few months the company decided it wasn’t a social platform, but instead had tons of application in B2B communities in market research, c-suite decision making, public opinion surveying. And since, thanks to what turned out to be about 50 hours weekly of being on the platform as a moderator, I was by then the expert within the company for using their own product, I got a full-time offer off of that at executive level. :)

I also got some secondary education once I was employed in statistics, data, and such to make up for some formal education shortfalls there.

I wouldn’t call that lucky, you worked for it and you were smart to look for graduate programs. I went into the civilian world after getting my degree, before I went back to gov work. So I missed that opportunity for graduate programs and then found getting my foot in the door at a decent pay grade was difficult. Being a disabled vet helps a lot though.

Oh no, this was lucky. Those recent grad positions don’t open up frequently, and I just made the cut off for it.

It’s next to impossible to get a job with the US Government without either a very specific skill set, or military service. That Veterancy Preference is absolutely no joke.

But, the Recent Graduate Program means there are far fewer veterans to compete with.

I had assume it would take me several months or years to get my foot in the door, like it did my brothers.

I’m pulling for you. There are a lot of us here who’ve been the former geeks turned IT workers turned IT management by this point. The only thing I can recommend is that nothing is ever what you trained for. IT changes constantly. The more open you are to those changes, and learning those changes and helping others with them, the better off you will be. This includes the platforms you develop on, the applications you are working on, hell, even the entire industry or company you work for. I made it a point each year to enroll myself in either some sort of online training course, attend a work related conference, or go through 1-2 tech books on my job each year for the longest part of my career. Now it seems like I’m still learning but in smaller segments, like mini-training to drill down into a particular new item for something that affects my work day to day.

Never. Stop. Learning. You will be top tier IT quickly because your effort to understand even more will take your career beyond others at your level.

I’m very happy to see someone cross over into IT work though. Nice work, man!