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Career Problems -- Please Help!

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posted on Dec, 26 2006 @ 06:58 PM
First off, I want to start with a disclaimer of sorts--this is dealing with what may be a legal issue, and I want to state right off the bat that any advice given here will not be held against anyone. I'll take everything with a grain of salt, and I'm fully aware that anything anyone suggests is still my own responsibility--no worries.

Basically, I don't know what to do. Like most other people I'm sure, I hate my job. Aside from the normal and childish "man, I have to wake up before noon again?" type complaints however, the work I've been hired to do is unethical at best and very likely illegal. It isn't anything destructive or something that I truly believe anyone would ever charge the company with, but there's still federal laws against it. As far as the ethics go, well, I'd rather not do it, but at the same time it isn't clubbing baby seals or anything dramatic. Put it another way, I'll never loose any sleep over it, and if I hadn't recently discovered the legal aspects of it I'd have no problems with it whatsoever.

FYI: I'm being intentionally obscure; I'll clarify if it's truly needed, but suffice to say it's a crime more punishable with a fine than jail time or anything of that nature (I believe, at least.) And yes, it is federal legislation; perhaps not an enforceable law, but...

Anyways, this is what I've been hired to do, and while I knew it wasn't something I'd proudly exclaim on the streets that I'd do, I only recently found out the legal aspects of it. The quick and simple solution, of course, is to quit and find another job.

Unfortunately, I've been skimming the want ads, and there's virtually no jobs that will pay me enough to live off of. Every job I've read in the local papers is either part time, full time with minimum wage (I'm at $13 right now and we're scraping by; couldn't handle $7.)

I'm a software developer by trade, with lots of experience in several technologies that are quite popular now, but I was never able to finish my degree--that eliminates all but maybe 5% of the tech jobs I've found. Of those that remain, they of course require more years experience than I have, and since most of my professional life has been spent working for non-programming related industries, it's hard for me to see any company hiring a shipping clerk with no degree as a junior .NET developer.

Moving isn't a viable option either; not only are my fiance and I a bit attached to the house, but we'd still need to come up with the money for a deposit and everything. I'm keeping the "reducing the lifestyle to fit the low-paying job" as the option I'll take if I start to get itchy at night thinking the feds are coming. Hasn't gotten that bad yet...

So I'm stuck in this job that may get me in trouble with the law. If I understand the whole "corporate umbrella" concept, then technically I won't get popped, but the company will get hit pretty hard. Even if they can handle the blow, my position will bite the dust I'm sure. I could blow the whistle myself, but then I'm out of a job in that scenario as well, and like I said, what I'm doing is hardly bad enough for me to think I'd be helping the world out enough to compensate for telling my fiance that we're moving in with mom. Aside from that, wouldn't I be blowing the whistle on myself as well? I don't know how that would work....

I'd really like some advice here, anything at all. Nothing is actually going "wrong" yet, but I don't have the slightest idea what to do in the off-chance it does go wrong. I want to get out of there before anything hits the fan. Not that it would be anything along the lines of Enron--I'd be damned surprised if it even made the local news--but it isn't something I want to be a part of.

Please Help!?!?!?! Anyone?

[edit on 12/26/2006 by MCory1]

posted on Dec, 26 2006 @ 11:22 PM
I'm not going to give any moral advice as I don't know the particulars, but I'd definitely start looking for another job.

Start cruising job websites as well as resume matchmaking services such as, .

Start doing freelance work through .

And start padding up your resume with every single piece of real job experience you've ever had, no matter how trivial it may seem. Don't lie or embellish as that will reflect on what type of person you are and that stuff follows you around. Each time you complete a job for rentacoder or finish a short contract, add it to your resume and do not remove older information that is still just as accurate today!

Apply to the jobs that seem just out of reach, you may surprise yourself.

The 3 year rule. If you are unhappy with your job after 3 years, then look for another one with better pay and benefits. Only quit your job when you have a new one secure.

Network, Network, Network!

Treat yourself as a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. Selling that house and relocating may become economical if you can get a doubled salary elsewhere.

Finish your degree in part time courses or online. Take out a loan to do this, the wage increase after the degree comes will be more then worth the sacrifice.

[edit on 26-12-2006 by sardion2000]

[edit on 26-12-2006 by sardion2000]

posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 07:01 AM
Thanks for the response sardion. I checked out RentACoder--looks neat, some of the jobs they have on there are right up my alley too. Unfortunately, they seem to be having technical difficulties right now; the registration page (among a few others) won't load.

I'm trying my luck with a more localized job search site, (I live in WA) as opposed to careerbuilder or monster for now. I will probably go along with those later today or tomorrow; they've just never helped much the other times I've used them.

I have applied at several firms in Seattle that I found that actually don't require a degree, and we'll see how that goes. Unfortunately, getting one of those may be kinda bittersweet--it's a 90+ mile one-way commute and my car scares me just going a few blocks over to Wal-Mart.

I do plan on getting back into school as soon as I can. Unfortunately though, I'm not even in a position to take out a loan at the moment. My credit sucks, so a straight personal loan is out of the question (and I'm renting, so can't even go with a refi); I also owe my previous school in Texas quite a bit of cash, which is preventing me from getting federal aid. I've tried looking into scholarships, but I have a bad habit of looking at the wrong time of year, when all the ones I might be able to get are either months away from closing or just closed. By the time it comes around again, I've completely forgotten about them and have moved on to other worries.

As for being so obscure last night, I figure that if I am going to get any further advice, I might do better to give some more details. I've had a couple of hours of sleep since then, so it doesn't seem quite as bad as it did then.

Basically, I send spam on a daily basis. It isn't the standard Viagra or Home Refinance emails, and I'd be pretty surprised if there were a single member or regular viewer of ATS who receives any of the emails I've ever sent. I aim at a highly targeted market in a specific metropolitan area. The content of the mailings is also quite informative, more of a newsletter than "click me and buy my services."

We're also pretty good about handling any remove requests as well; it isn't completely automated, so every once in a while we may goof on that, but it isn't from just wanting to keep that extra lead.

Based on the content of the mailings and how we've handled ourselves in dealing with removes, I have no ethical problems with it at all. Where I have a problem with is how we obtain the addresses, and that's also where my skills as a developer have been mostly used.

There are several industry websites pertaining to our target market that contain the vast majority of our potential clientele's contact information. I've developed software to rip the email addresses off of these, and if it were for any other use I'd be quite proud of the work involved--probably even try and sell them for a couple of bucks.

This causes me only mild ethical problems--we don't have an opt-in subscription, so we are sending these out to people who may not want them. But at worst the receiver wastes five-seconds of their day clicking reply and typing "Remove" in the subject line. Not the greatest scenario, but not the worst either.

I started to get scared when I found this one day while surfing the web. It's a link to project honey pot, a project dedicated to stopping spammers. The page I linked to has excerpts from the CAN-SPAM act fo 2003, dealing explicitly with email address harvesting--basically, what I do on a daily basis. If I'm interpreting correctly, there's a potential fine there of up to $75 per email sent; even on a "slow" day, that's still more than I make in a month.

And, to top it off, my personal computer's IP is already on a couple of email blacklists for this stuff. I know that's pretty irrelevant unless I ever want to set up a server of my own, but it's just one more nuisance this caused.

I know I very well could be shooting myself in the foot here by talking about this this publicly, but it's starting to bug me a little bit too much to just sit by and blow it off any further.

Thanks again sardion

Edit to add: rentacoder is back up now...I'm going to be trying my luck there.

[edit on 12/27/2006 by MCory1]

posted on Dec, 31 2006 @ 05:21 PM
Just a minor update here in case anyone's interested. Nothing big, but...

I'm now officially in the market, no longer just wanting to try my luck. I've been looking on and that I'm over qualified for and that don't require a degree start off at well over what I'm making now. Some are even twice as much, and they all offer full benefits (and I have none at my present job). A few of these have been open for quite some time--they haven't found anyone yet, or at least that's how I'm interpreting it.

Really gripes me; I've been hanging on to this job and my previous job because I didn't think I had a chance in the market without a degree, and now that I've actually taken the time to look, I see them all over the place. Granted, a degree would get me about $10K-$25K more for the same positions, and it would open a few more doors as well, but...

All I got to do now is pray my references don't screw me over--my current employer won't be crazy about the idea of me looking for work elsewhere. Hopefully this new year will start off good though. Thanks again, sardion

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