Archive for the ‘job’ Category

I just got a great email from J. Peter, who was kind enough to fill us all in on what it’s like to be a watchmaker. There are some great links in this post, and I especially encourage you all to find out more about the watchmaker’s curse…body cheese. If you’ve got questions about what makes watches tick, J. Peter is definitely your “go to guy”. Without further ado, I present his views on his cool job:Watchmaker, Watchmaker, Make Me a Watch…


I have a cool job. At least I think I do, which is the best part about it. I love what I do. I am a watchmaker. I don’t regularly make watches, I usually repair them, but I have the skills to make watches and as I become more established in my career I plan to do more on the creative side. I work for Beauchamp Jewelers in Albuquerque, NM. For more about my job you can visit my blog at ticktalk.wordpress.com.

I love my job because it is a lot of fun. I spend my day solving problems. Probably the best part is I can usually see having accomplished a complete task from start to finish at the end of every day. I love that sense of accomplishment. There isn’t a whole lot to hate about my job. Some people might find the repetition somewhat monotonous but I think that is one of the things I actually like. If there were something to really dislike it would be body cheese.

I am a graduate of the Lititz Watch Technicum a school fully funded by Rolex teaching the art of swiss watchmaking. There are two ways to become a watchmaker. You could apprentice with a master watchmaker or go to a school or both, but a good school can prepare you for working on your own without the apprenticeship. The demand for watchmaking is really high right now, since the average age of a watchmaker is about 47. There are about 4000 watchmakers in the U.S. and about half are expected to retire in the next 10 years. As a watchmaker you would be able to work in any sizable community in the U.S. or even from home, but I would recommend you get some experience somewhere else before starting your own workshop.

If you are interested in a career in watchmaking visit my blog, ticktalk.wordpress.com, and feel free to comment and I’ll gladly respond. You can also contact the American Watchmakers Clockmakers Institute and www.awci.com. If you are looking for a watchmaker in your area try the AWCI Referral Directory at www.watch-clock-makers.org.


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groovy specimens from the mammalogy departmentMy BFF Erica P was kind enough to take a few minutes to fill you in on what it’s like to work in the Mammalogy Department of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. I have been “behind the scenes” there myself and I can attest to the utter coolness of her job.

Job Title: Scientific Assistant. I work in one of the research departments of a natural history museum. My primary responsibilities are curating (identifying and re-identifying specimens, keeping current with the scientific literature) and maintaining (boring physical stuff like organizing, labelling, cleaning) the expansive collections of mammals therein.

Upside: There are many. I get to see some of the world’s most interesting, obscure, and downright bizarre creatures, and that’s besides my colleagues. Oftentimes the curation work is actually mentally challenging, or at least engaging. A nifty perk is that, as part of the “sisterhood of museum workers,” I (and whomever I’m with) have free admission to other museums; it’s nice to pop into an art museum just to look at a painting for 15 minutes and not feel obligated to spend the better part of a day! I occasionally liaise with the Exhibition department here, giving them scientific advice and providing them with specimens when they are creating new shows and exhibits. I’ve also gone “into the field” to obtain new specimens for the collection, although I don’t do that as often as others. For the most part, things are low-key and there aren’t too many critical deadlines at my job. Very gratifying is bringing people to my workplace because they’re always so excited to go “behind the scenes,” which renews my own enthusiasm, plus I can impart some of my knowledge about the natural world.

Downside: The pay is not exactly stellar. Sometimes dealing with idiosyncratic personalities, people who couldn’t survive in a normal work environment, isn’t pleasant, or is at the very least capital-F frustrating.. (I’m sure other people here say the same about me.) Some of my responsibilities are unchallenging, boring and stultifying. For instance, it’s the only place I know where “cutting corners” makes things take longer, because you actually have to cut the corners of things (like labels and tags so that sharp corners won’t damage specimens).

How I Got Here: Combination of education and luck. I have a degree in biology, but I answered an ad in the newspaper and, after a series of interviews, was hired.

A Funny Story: I’ve definitely had some good times here, but nothing is leaping to my mind at the moment. One vignette: I may be one of the few people in the world who’s played a real-life version of Barrel of Monkeys, although it was a giant vat and they were gibbons.

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this is a performing artist…of some sortI’ve delved into the darkest forbidden corners of the net and the blogosphere to get you information on what it’s like to do a wide array of interesting jobs, and courted a large number of people by email to get you firsthand information on the work lives of surgeons, magicians, watchmakers, ornithologists, farmers, cartographers and other people who have more interesting occupations than you and me (well, me anyway).

It’s been fun!

I’m hoping to feature jobs in the performing arts next week, so I’m putting the word out: if you are any sort of performing artist or know someone who is, please send them my way and get them involved!

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Fellow wordpress blogger prarieflounder (who also has a great hobby in addition to a cool job) was kind enough to share with me what it’s like to control building systems for a college campus from a secret undisclosed location. If you are like me and wonder about what it would be like to do other jobs, please check out his post here that inspired me to ask him to be a contributor. Thanks, prarieflounder!

prarieflounder.jpgI am a control systems specialist for a community college in Colorado. I administrate, and operate the control system that manages all the heating, air conditioning, lighting, CCTV, and Card access systems on three campuses.
I love using computers to control real world things like pumps, motors, power, that effect people. It is really satisfying to create a program from nothing to efficiently operate an entire building. I also really enjoy the ability to diagnose problems simply by observing changes in behavior in a complex system.
There is a joke around campus among teachers, facility, and staff. “If it weren’t for students this place would be a fun place to work” For me the students are the easy ones to please. They are just visiting; it is the facility that is never satisfied. Having to cater to the needs of people who don’t really know what they want but are willing to stand in the way is probably the most frustrating part of the job.
I am sure there are easier ways to getting to where I am. I spent six years in civil engineering with the USAF bending sheet metal, welding, and working as a general mechanic on doors, gates, hangers, and other improbable gadgets. My hobbies included robotics, computers, and general gadgetry. I left the active duty military and joined the reserves where I learned control theory, boilers, chillers, refrigeration and electrical control systems. I worked for years with many companies including Hewlett Packard. Now I work for a Community College and go to school on the side to complete my education.
Shortly after 911 a HP engineer from India who was working in Colorado had a package shipped to him to work from his home in India. The package was full of coffee, sugar, creamer, nuts, and some ethnic candy of some kind. It was postmarked from Pakistan and was all ripped up and messed up looking. In fact it was leaking a white powder from the corner of the package. The package lay in the hallway for days before security noticed it and sounded the ‘anthrax’ alarm. I was contacted as part of the emergency response to stop the air handling equipment and assist with an orderly evacuation. After all the dust was settled and the package was soaked in water and analyzed it was determined that we just may have a hole in our security. My part was to create a control scheme for security to be able to shut down air handlers anywhere on the campus in an emergency. Thousands and thousands of dollars were invested in this effort. The system was used over a year later when someone left an orange in their desk drawer when they were laid off. It rotted and created a ‘chemical’ smell that evacuated the building.

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