Friday, June 22, 2018

Kids are working again and that's a good thing.

Scrambling for workers, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk hires 14-year-olds.

I actually started noticing this in my city for  the past few months with the gardeners. You could tell they had their kids working for them. It's such an unusual thing that I wasn't even sure that was legal these days, but I started working about the age of 14.

By the time I was 16 I was lying about my age so I could work in chip quality control at NEC which is now Renesas. And yes... I have a good enough diploma. None of my family actually graduated high school. Welfare dependance sort of does that to a family.

I haven't written about it because I wasn't sure this was a trend or otherwise. Work while you are young - or you will be forced to work while you are old.


  1. Capital of Texas RefugeeFriday, June 22, 2018 4:46:00 PM

    Here's a funny thing about credentials: they only tend to bolster the documentation for those who are otherwise unqualified for a position.

    I started working at age 13, but in a different capacity.

    I volunteered to help out with some projects that were needed for the public sector, including some with ties to public broadcasting. Later I used this experience to land a "real engineering job" while I was still an undergraduate, and also while I was still an undergraduate I created my first two start-ups.

    Enough money came in from the start-ups that I didn't even bother with completing the undergraduate degree, but my parents insisted that I actually finish the high school "degree" and get an actual diploma, which is why I don't have a "good enough degree".

    While still in high school, I was sought out by a regional high school with a focus on science, but when they talked with me, they didn't know what they could teach me. They weren't used to their students already having advanced ham radio licenses and who were building compilers at age 11, because these were things that undergraduates were supposed to be attempting, let alone doing properly, when they were in their later undergrad years.

    I was also sought out by some regional tech companies who wanted me to work with them part-time while I was still in high school, but the volunteering job was a better fit for my skills.

    This sounds all great and wonderful, like I was some kind of young Bill Gates, but ...

    As in your case, my home situation was not good, although the family did a great snow-job of convincing me that it was. I didn't get over most of that until I was in my mid-40s, and I'm still unwinding some of the crap that they created. It was bad enough that I'm not speaking to the ones who are still alive.

    So I hit everything incredibly hard because my entire life was full of highly significant stakes. That's why I didn't understand poker playing for a long time, but now I get it: if you didn't grow up with a miserable background noise in your life that kept telling you that you were going to fail, you probably would enjoy a past-time where you get to make small gambles for modest stakes.

    I also don't understand people who have no hobbies.

    I turned my hobbies into several lucrative professional ventures because my hobbies wound up representing meaningful stakes, and in fact the new stuff I'm doing now consists mostly of yet more hobbies that are becoming meaningful in other ways.

    There's one positive way of looking at working when you're young: you get to make most of the dumbass mistakes when you're in your teens and twenties, and so you get that out of your system. You get to choose careers that will keep you fed, but you also get a chance to see your way out of those careers earlier than everyone else.

    The thing is that I'll probably always be working at something even if I don't need the income from what I'm doing.

    It's the pattern of my life: anything that amounts to something with reasonable stakes attached changes from a hobby or an interest into something resembling a professional pursuit. For a few years, I may suck at it and I may get nowhere with it, but that doesn't mean that things will stay that way.

    What did Malcolm Gladwell show, that it takes ten thousand hours to develop skills to a level of mastery and expertise? That's five years at two thousand hours per year. (Also, I pass Malcolm Gladwell's test of early potential: name any five Ivy League schools and there will be two at least that accepted me. Instead, I went somewhere else that helped pay the bills.)

    So there's hope for these SCruzian boardwalk kids: five years of gardening is enough to get good enough to build a landscaping business, and the others who aren't into this will have enough time to figure out something else to do.

    I wish them lots of luck, and not in a sarcastic way.

  2. With my family I learned to swim because my only other choice was to sink and repeat the pattern. I had no backup. So I took whatever job I could get. Kids these days just don't appreciate how working a crappy job can help you out later in life. They want their perfect job.

    Plus it gives you better stories later on. Life with no struggle is sort of boring.