[music-dsp] Re: [music-dsp][OT] job posting .....

Erik de Castro Lopo erikd-music-dsp at mega-nerd.com
Sat Jan 24 23:14:00 EST 2004

On Sat, 24 Jan 2004 13:26:43 -0800
"Joshua Scholar" <joshscholar at yahoo.com> wrote:

> And after a few years of working "14 hours days, 7 days a week" you have a
> breakdown and never want to see a computer again.
> Even better after a few companies fail and you have tons of stock options
> for toilet paper. Next time I'm going to ask one or two ply.
> I think it's pure exploitation to require that none of your engineers will
> ever have a life. If you want 14 hours of work a day, then hire two people.

I have worked 14 hour * 7 day jobs and in hindsight, I believe that was my 
fault as much as my employer's fault. It was my employers fault for setting 
unrealistic deadlines. It was my fault for saying that I'd try and meet 
them. Instead, I should have split the project requirement into smaler pieces 
and estimated the time for each of the smaller pieces to show that the sum of 
the project requirements was greater than the time scale the employer was 

My last and my current jobs were both strictly 40 hours/week with the 
understanding that ocassionally I might need to do overtime but that I would
be able to take time off in lieu later. That happened about 4 times in 3.5 
years at my last job and has not happened yet in my current job (7 weeks).

Some of the secrets to making one's working life manageable:

 1) Anyways break larger projects into smaller projects or milestones of 
    4-8 week's duration. The bigger a projects is, the more difficult it 
    is to manage and track.

 2) For each smaller project, always estimate the time required as 
    realistically and in as fine detail as possible (should take no more 
    than 4 hours for an 8 week project). Assume a 40 hour week and at 
    least 6 hours lost per week in meetings and other admistrata. This
    project plan should have no component that takes more than 10% of the
    overall estimate.

 3) When working on a 4-8 week project email your manager at least weekly
    with a project report which includes the original estimate, an indication
    of where you should be and an indication of where you are in the plan.

    Managers LOVE this. In addition, if you can estimate accurately and hit
    or better your estimate, this is a GREAT bargaining tool when it comes
    time for salary/performance reviews.

 4) If a project is insufficiently defined or too far outside your area of
    expertise, say so, right at the start, and suggest a research phase so 
    that you can get enough information together to make a more accurate 
    estimate. For large projects of a year or more, 4 weeks of research is
    not unreasonable.

 5) Don't be afraid to ask more senior or experienced engineers for advice.

 6) Be suspicious of any employer who does not employ both junior AND senior 
    engineers. Senior engineers are survivors who have learned to manage 
    their jobs and their managers/employers so that they do not burn out.
    Senior engineers have experience and knowledge that can only be obtained
    from a decade or more in the engineering trenches.

 5) Realise that if you are consistently working more than 50 hours a
    week, your productivity, creativity and concentration will plummet
    making you less effective than if you only worked 40 hours/week.

 6) Realise that if you are a competant engineer, you cannot be easily
    replaced. That means that if you refuse to work more than 45 hours
    per week, your manager is unlikely to fire you, because finding and
    hiring someone to replace you will cost far more time and money
    than allowing you to have a life.

 7) Stay an engineer only if you love it. If you are not in love with
    engineering, work towards a job in management or something else.

Hope this helps,
  Erik de Castro Lopo  nospam at mega-nerd.com (Yes it's valid)
The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola
burns longer.

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