The Job Experience, Tech Support: Year #4, Part 2

Back to School

I checked out classes at the Academy

Yeah, I checked out classes at the Mutant Academy

An alternative to finding an alternate position at SoftwareCompany (or, AnotherSoftwareCompany, for that matter) was to look into a career change.

Career changes usually meant more school, and school meant money, so I wanted to look carefully before I leapt.

Still, there was one career I thought I wouldn’t mind getting into:  Video Games.

Gaming was half of the reason I became a computer science major in the first place.  And more than a couple of my college projects involved the creation of simple digital diversions.  I programmed a card game, a pac man clone, and a basic 3D engine from the ground-up.

But I didn’t want to program engines and rules.  Nope, what I really wanted to do was draw and model, and then map those characters and shapes into games.  I called a few companies and poked around job listings.  Sega was based right in San Francisco, and Electronic Arts was close by.  Turned out that they preferred graduates from one particular university:  The San Francisco Art Institute.

I took a tour and was blown away.  The professors seemed fun and engaging, and they taught all sorts of neat classes like wire-framing, pixel art, polygon reduction techniques, as well as basics like drawing, shading, lighting.  It seemed perfect for a guy like me who appreciates the intersection of computing and artistic design.

Then I looked at the cost:  25K a year for tuition.  Another 11 for board.

I spoke to a few people in the financial aid office.  They said that most people qualified for something, and given some ballpark figures I provided, I’d probably get down to about 24K a year total for a 3 year program.

So we were talking 75K for the duration.

I ran some additional numbers.  I was making 70K a year, keeping perhaps 48K after taxes.  48×3 = 144K.

I’d pay 75K and miss out on earning 144K, making the total cost of going to school a staggering 219 thousand dollars after factoring in that opportunity cost.  It’s even more (much, much more!) when you consider the compound growth of that dollar amount over time, had I been able to save it instead of spend.

For a pile of money that large, I’d better be absolutely ecstatic in my new job as a video game developer.  I’d better be jumping out of bed every morning with a smile permanently affixed to my face, joker-style.  I’d better be drenched in liquid awesome from my helium-filled head to my constantly tapping toes.

Would I be?  In order to answer that question, I had to do some additional investigation.

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5 Responses to The Job Experience, Tech Support: Year #4, Part 2

  1. Madison says:

    That is totally bizarre what the director did to you. So strange.

    About the only smart thing I did at the start of my working career was signing up for the 401K as soon as i was eligible and dumping in enough to get the full match. Smart of you to finally take advantage of that.

    • livingafi says:

      Yep. I’ve sort of concluded that there was some kind of mix-up or misunderstanding, internal to my director and the company. Maybe he “meant” to clear the position but got caught up in his own personal stuff and never took action on it. It’s incredibly hard for me to believe there was anything malicious going on there. But weird, yes. Nice that you signed up for your 401(k) right away. It obviously took me a bit more time to get things together.

  2. Good read. I actually thought before the reaching the end you might have stayed with Software Company now that it relocated to a more Waldenesque Colorado location. Apparently you were done with that chapter of your life. I can’t wait to read the next episode.

    • livingafi says:

      I was only in Denver for 2 months but I *really* liked it there. Wide streets, modern zoning, great bike lanes, and lots of outdoor activities. It sure beats the suburbs of Boston, which is where I am right now. Streets around here were created ad-hoc, as needed, and it shows — you’ll get wrapped around and lost in about 5 minutes without a guide or google maps open at all times. Seems like lots of FIRE-types are in CO, although I didn’t know it at the time.

  3. Svnaoki says:

    You probably never going to read this, but every blog entry is just so helpful and fantastic – and I am sure you’re helping many more people and not just me. I hope you enjoy your life right now. Cheers from Europe!

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