I was going to be an architect. Throughout high school I worked for two different architectural firms and this project I worked on won a low-cost housing award, and this other one I worked on and have been to countless events inside of it, over the years.
I got out of school about 2:PM, went to work at Michael Moyer Architects or for Angela Danadjieva who is ... rather ... well ... known.
I loved that work. But I loved all work when I was 18. I washed the dirty coffee cups in the sink. I built scale models of huge construction projects. I drew presentation drawings - in ink! - on vellum and used a Kroy lettering machine to single-punch out every single letter used on the drawings. I made $8/hr, I think? And was happy to work as many hours as they wanted me around...
A week before I graduated from high school I got a job with a tech company making good money doing technical support for a hard disk manufacturer named Jasmine Technologies in 1987. I seem to remember it was $16k/yr. But who knows...?
The next time I looked up, it was 1998, I had worked for 6 different tech companies, was in the process of getting divorced, didn't socialize with anyone outside of work. When you moved to a new company you got all new friends, because there just wasn't time (or places) to meet up with people you didn't spend all day every day with. I was making $80k/yr.
Moved overseas in 1998. Back to the USA in 2005, or something.
After moving back to the US, the Boy Genius who had worked for Apple and NASA and had gotten $5m in funding from Esther Dyson AFTER the dot com crash, couldn't get a job. I had been off the treadmill so long (7 years) I might as well have been a high school student again. (LinkedIn had just started, and was inaccessible overseas. So I was starting from scratch on my job history.)
So went to college. Well, trade school. Got a job from the internship. Went on over the next 10 years to get fired from three jobs. Got hired for more. Started my own consultancy. Was a tour guide in Pike Place Market.
There's never been a time I was not sure I was totally indispensable to the company... right up to the moment I got fired.
The urgency of work and perception of need impressed upon the worker-bees in any organization gives the worker-bees a false sense of importance and value.
With the ultra rare exceptions of truly unique souls (who mostly perish from the work they do) you don't matter a bit to your employer. You die at your desk today, and they'll have the job posted tomorrow, and filled by Thursday. "Bummer about Bob. Everyone welcome Wayne to the Corporation Co. family!"
When I started work in the late 1980's, two of the previous generations worked with me at every job. And they'd been there for a decade or more.
My current company is VERY proud of the fact they have kept their employee turnover rate to just under 25%, which is unheard-of low in the Seattle tech industry. This is something they boast about... that only a quarter of our employees leave every year! We are a company of 400 people. I've been here for 5 years. The number of people who have been at the company longer than I have I can count on two hands and one foot.
AND, HR professionals in this market say that if you spend more than 2 years with a company, you are literally losing money. Because a new company can hire you for more money than your existing company can match with raises.
And I'm looking to retire in 10-15 years.
But I may have to involuntarily retire earlier than that, because I can't imagine anyone hiring someone of my broad and ill-defined skill set, at my age, for ANY reason.
And the work I do today puts me in a liability hot spot where if something bad happens with one of the contracts I have worked on, literally the easiest thing for the company to do to appease an angry customer worth millions of dollars is to fire my $90k/yr ass, and hire two bright-eyed college students to replace me for a $15k savings overall.
Work is already part-time. If you get a new job and take 4 months to ramp up, then at 16 months start looking for a new job, there's a small 9-10 month window of actual work and productivity in there sandwiched between job searches.
A local bar just advertised for a door man for $21/hr, and I thought, "Fuck. I'd LOVE to do that! And I could do my day job as well!"
Call it OnlyFans or Uber or DoorDash or bouncer or Amazon driver or Etsy or eBay or Mechanical Turk... the "gig economy" started in the 1990's and is only going to get bigger.
And it's the workers who stand to lose the most. As usual.