April 25, 2013

A Job Update of Sorts

First the good news: I’m going to graduate this summer. My adviser has given her blessing for me to participate at Graduation in June (about 5 days before the deadline to register!) and I went ahead and paid for my cap and gown rental. Happy progress.

I’m having less happy progress on the job front thing. I’ve had a lot of interest in my resume, but finding a good fit almost seems impossible.

Most (all?) of the jobs I’m well suited for are located 45 minutes away without traffic. Today it took me two hours to get to my interview when driving during rush hour thanks to a stalled car. That’s obviously less than ideal for a young family. Nicki’s bed time is at 7. Even if I left at 5 (which is a sign of a serious slacker here in the silicon valley), I wouldn’t make it back in time to tuck her in! That means I’d basically be a weekend parent. Or we’d have to move to be close to my job. Domingo would have the reverse commute, but he still wouldn’t make it home before bath time.

All this is making me rethink the start-up angle again.

Pros:
* Flexibility. I’ve become quite use to this grad school perk. I typically pick Nicki up from day care before the 5pm rush, and whip out my laptop to continue working after she goes down at 7. Nicki’s sick and needs to come home? No problem.
* New Skills At my last job interview I thrived in the high level product ideas discussion. I loved brainstorming new features. I suddenly realized that maybe I’d be better suited in a technical project management (PM) role. Yet I have no experience to show I would be good at it. Even an unsuccessful star-up would give me experience points as a PM.

Cons:
* No fixed salary/benefits. I’ve been lucky in grad school to be on several fellowships & GSRs. Those will look like a king’s salary to what I would be looking at starting out.
* Possible skill atrophy. I am a data scientist. That’d be nearly impossible to capitalize as a startup. No company likes to share there data, and unless I’m trying to break into the hardware business (super expensive, and see above bullet point) it’s unlikely to happen. For that reason most of my ideas don’t involve (much) data science.
* Isolation. I loved my internships because I got to work with incredibly bright people. I find gradschool lonely at times. It would be lonelier still to do a start-up.

I realize how crazy a start-up sounds to a mother of a sub one year old, and that’s why I keep hesitating. My goal wouldn’t be to be the next facebook (a company worth billions), or the next instagram (bought for billions). I have a much more modest ambition to be able to replace a salary I would otherwise get from working for someone else.

So I decided to do what any data scientist would do: collect and analyze data to see if it’s a viable idea. I decided to put adds on my webapps projects page (my blog is just too fledgling to really analyze my ad revenue data). Using ad data will give me a baseline of how profitable I could be. In general, though, I’m not a fan of the ad revenue model, at least not as the sole source of income. There have been some reports of ISPs swapping out webpage ad blocks with their own ads. In other words some visitors can come to my site, view my content or use my web app, click and ad and someone else gets paid for it. Not cool. To be fair, I believe this practice is rare. Still, I don’t want to be relying on a revenue stream that could get hijacked.

I’ll probably also work on some mobile app ideas I have. It would cost money to list it in the iTunes store, but I could write that off as a business expense and mobile is a valuable skill set to have!

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  1. […] that I’ve had ads up on my webapps page for a few days now I thought it’s time to analyze the numbers. I assumed the amount of […]


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