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Jobs and Cycling(32 posts)

Jobs and Cyclingwerdna
Apr 7, 2003 5:11 PM
I am a student now and also a Cat 3 racer. I'm beginning to think about post-college plans and I was wondering what the people on this forum think are good jobs with respect to cycling. I remember from a job poll a month ago that there were many lawyers. Do most lawyers have free time to ride? I have thought about going to law school, and I was wondering the impact on cycling. What about graduate school (in literature or math)? Do grad students have any free time? What about government jobs? Or private sector jobs? Would you take a pay cut to be able to ride more?

Any advice is appreciated.

re: Jobs and CyclingSeth1
Apr 7, 2003 5:32 PM
I would not advise you to avoid law school simply due to its impact on your riding--there are other reasons for which you may want to avoid going to law school, but that's not what you asked. There are many different types of lawyers and jobs that you can take with a law degree and, just like any other profession, the hours vary greatly. That said, I am an associate at a large law firm and do not have as much time to train as I would like. I try to put in between 6-10 hours per week, but some weeks I struggle just to get in 4-6. However, I do not know any young professionals (or grad students) who have as much time to train as they like. No matter what job you take or career you pursue, you likely will have to either reduce your training time or make other sacrifices (e.g. less time going out; less sleep, etc.) I constantly am amazed by the number of miles some of the riders on this board log. I suspect that some of them work as many hours as I do or more, they just sleep less/manage their time better than I/ or lie ;) For what it's worth, if I were you I would just pursue whatever career interests you. After all, unless you become a pro, cycling will always be just a hobby, but your career is something that, like it or not, will take much more of your time and energy than your other pursuits, so you should pick something you can endure.
re: Jobs and Cyclingwerdna
Apr 7, 2003 7:58 PM
I am not thinking about becoming a pro, nor am I thinking exclusively about my cycling life. I was just wondering what jobs are flexible with respect to cycling. I have heard some horror stories about recent law school grads who get well-paying jobs but have to work 40+ hours a week. I guess my question is: how long does it take to work your way up so you don't have to work insane hours?

re: Jobs and Cyclingpurplepaul
Apr 7, 2003 8:23 PM
As it so happens, I work evenings at a law school for kicks (no, really, I enjoy being around the students), and many, many students cannot find jobs at all. They're in a panic because even with excellent grades, there just aren't that many jobs around (I'm in New York City).

I really feel for them and I've talked with a few who have become my friends about how much they've invested in school. My thought is if all you're looking to do is pay the bills, take that money and learn to trade because it can give you everything you are looking for without requiring resumes and long hours. Then again, I love to trade and wouldn't do it if I didn't.
re: Jobs and Cyclingc722061
Apr 8, 2003 3:55 PM
Well, find a job that you like. Chances are you have to put in 40+ hours week in most jobs unless you become your own boss. Even with some dead-end jobs, working 40 hours seems too little for some people (see my post below). So, if you like your work, 40+ hours seems like less than 40 and you will have energy to ride after work. Good luck!
40+ hours per week?djg
Apr 8, 2003 7:06 AM
Shocking. Here's the bad news: in most fields, a 40 hour work week makes for a lousy graduate student. Law? In most places, 40 hours is a part-time job, although there are some government offices where that's the standard.

Why pursue a demanding profession? There are lots of reasons. For some of us, the easy jobs get boring. I recently snuck off for 4 days of skiing with an old college buddy who is now a retina surgeon. He loves to ski. But day and and day out, he really just loves to do retina surgery. He thinks it's fun. So he's got a fun job where he helps people to SEE AGAIN and, on the side, he makes what most of us would view as a great deal of money. It's not a bad package. I'm pretty sure he'd do the job for much less money (I happen to know that he did, as an academic, for a number of years). And I'm pretty sure he would not take a job as head of the Alta Ski School (and he really likes Alta). I'm not saying he's the model for everyone's happiness (not even trying to be a retina surgeon myself). To each his own. But I do think that different sorts of challenges in life offer different sorts of compensation.

Look, it's possible to train while attending law school or graduate school. You have some flexibility with your time and if you are focused, and organized, you can use that flexibility to make time for cycling. People do it. A few people do it quite well. But to get the most out of graduate school or law school you'll need to devote yourself, chiefly, to school. At a top graduate school you'll be expected to live your work. Even at a second tier programe, an eight hour work day tends to make for a lousy graduate student. That's fine if you want to work below your potential, and perhaps cripple your chances at the sort of academic position you'd find most rewarding in the long run (or even any academic position). Can you work hard at school and still find time to train on a regular schedule? Yes. Just know that it's difficult and that you will not likely optimize your racing performance. I also came out of college as a Cat 3 and I raced three of the 6 seasons I was in graduate school. Sometimes I was a little more fit, sometimes a little less. By dissertation time it was all over. Do others manage to keep it going? Yes, absolutely--others have continued where I hung it up and others have progressed where I plateaued. But be aware that it's hard and that most folks don't keep it up.

Now, I suppose this does work out very well for some folks. If you find yourself in the right sort of mediocre academic niche you may have something like a dream job--some interesting work, some gratifying teaching, very low publishing expectations, and a pretty flexible schedule. Just know that, in many fields at least, it's hard to hit this nail on the head (and not everybody who hits it ends up being satisfied with this particular nail).

Law school also gives you some flexibility but also is pretty demanding. It's not intellectually demanding, but it's hard all the same. And the legal profession is incredibly grade conscious--small variations in GPA can make for big differences in professional opportunities, at least early in your career. As with more academic fields, people race through law school and some do quite well. As for afterwards--as one of the posters above said, the law is an incredibly varied profession and provides many different models of employment. But if you want to work (or at least start your career) at a prestigious (or semi-prestigious) firm, or at one of the better (professionally) government offices, be prepared to work hard.
Horror stories . . .Geardaddy
Apr 8, 2003 7:22 AM
werdna writes:

"I have heard some horror stories about recent law school grads who get well-paying jobs but have to work 40+ hours a week."

OHMYGOD! A 40+ hour week! The Horror!

Sorry for the sarcasm, but being in the wonderful world of software engineering, I don't think that I've seen a 40 hour week in 10 years. On the plus side, there is this sort of unwritten understanding that says computer geeks don't get up early. So, you can take advantage of the fact that the important stuff doesn't happen until later in the day and do your training rides in the morning. The downside is that you'll probably still be at work at 7:00PM.

Lawyers, Doctors, sales persons, and other suit-wearing slaves all have to be in the office bright and early. Sometimes they work hard too, so don't expect much free time.

Grad students? They have all the time in the world, but they DON'T MAKE ANY MONEY. Government job? That sounds like the ticket to me, if you can stand the boredom and red tape, and keep your job. I have a friend that is a Bank examiner. He works a 4 day week every other week, and gets 6 weeks+ vacation each year. So, there is some hope out there.

Wow, do I sound cynical? Actually, I've found that raising a family with 3 kids to be a much bigger challenge to my "riding time" than any job. Oh, if only I had to worry about my job . . .
Seth has hit it on the headboneman
Apr 8, 2003 5:05 AM
Regardless, things have changed a bit from 10 years ago. Connectivity has vastly improved so it's a bit easier to fit in cycling and work requirements, regardless of job. The big variable is the client/customer which applies to any job. They want you or a deliverable at a certain time, that's the priority.

I work about 65 hours a week as a director of a finance company managing 50 people and also have a four hour/day commute (of which I can squeeze in an hour's worth of work/day on the laptop). I still manage to ride every day of the week and get in 5,000 miles each year which at 50 years old is okay. If you want to ride, you can fit it in somewhere, even if it means riding early or late. It also means being highly focused, efficient and productive at work.

Lawyers, investment bankers, advisors, etc. that I deal with and ride have all found ways of getting their mileage in around their work requirements.
re: Jobs and CyclingAndy M-S
Apr 7, 2003 5:57 PM
As someone wrote of graduate school, "It's not a job, it's an indenture."

To be quite honest, if you're at all serious about what it is that you're in grad school for, you don't have any time outside of that. If you're not serious, it will chew you up and spit you out. I know--I barely survived grad school.

That being said, I think I have a great job with respect to cycling. Being a programmer/analyst means that you don't have to wear a suit and tie, and as long as I stay clean, I can ride not only to and from work, but on my lunch hour. And I can (generally) leave the work at my desk at the end of the day and go spend time with my family (and if you don't have one, you can go ride instead).
Be a PJS!js5280
Apr 7, 2003 6:51 PM
"Professional Job Seeker" also known as an "Independant Consultant."

Flexible hours, low responsibility, generous vacation plan, etc. Compensaton plans vary though, see your State Unemployment Office for details. Today's the my 1st year aniversary as a PJS and I love it! Professional Trust Funder is even better but those positions are very, very hard to come by, short of nepotism. Other honorable mentions are;

1. Panhandler
2. Politican, could be considered same as panhandler though. . . e.g. "Will solve {Insert Social Problem} for Tax Dollars."
3. Road construction worker
4. Maytag Repair Man

Professional Student is also a very worthy profession and sounds like you'd fit naturally into that job track. The Graduate Program pays $18,500 (minus 3-4% APR). I'd recommend subjects other than law. While law is ultimately about making money without doing anything of societal value what-so-ever, excessive ambulance drafting is ultimately detrimental to a successful amateur cycling career. Sure Doug makes it seem very desirable, but he's the exception rather than the rule. The PJS support group meets at random times on bike paths and lanes in just about every community. Just ride around a while and you'll be sure to find a chapter. Good luck with your career path!
re: Jobs and Cyclingpurplepaul
Apr 7, 2003 6:52 PM
Why not try to do something you love? If you want to ride more, why would you think of a job that would take you away from that?

If you must work outside of the cycling world, and have no particular passion, I guess picking something that would give you the most free time with the least effort is a way to go. I just can't imagine being very happy doing it.
Work, family, playms
Apr 7, 2003 10:00 PM
I am a lawyer, who did not take up cycling until I was 41 (three years ago). Your ability to cycle, or pursue any other sport or hobby, depends upon what else is happening in your life and your priorities. I worked very hard in law school, to the exclusion of lots of things. The same is true of my years as an associate in a large law firm. What little time I had apart from working, I spent with my family (too little time if you ask my wife). My ability to ride now is not so much a function of my profession, as a function of the other time demands on me. I still work a lot more than 40 hours per week as a partner in a small law firm. But, now that my daughters are 11 and 13, the family time demands on my life are a lot less. Also, my wife and I now pay other people to do things around the house (e.g., repairs, heavy yard work, housecleaning) that we used to do ourselves so that we have more free time (riding time for me). If you do not want to work more than 40 hours per week, I would not recommend law school or your being a lawyer. The practice of law can be very rewarding personally and financially. But, you have to put a lot of time and effort into it to get those rewards. From my observations, the same is true of most trades and professions. Even if you are spending more than 40 hours per week on school or work, you can find riding time, but you may have to give up other things.
re: Jobs and Cyclingreklar
Apr 8, 2003 1:49 AM
Yeah, the cycling is important, but at this point having a job is the most important move. Gradual school (not a freudian slip!) can be very intense. Math especially.

A graduate degree isn't like an undergrad--the work is harder, the competition more motivated, smarter, tougher. Generally a graduate degree is a better credential. I don't think you will regret going to graduate school even if you do have to tone down your riding for a couple of years...but you should go for something which will have a tangible benefit, like a law degree. An M.S. in literature isn't going to get you a (decent) job in this economy.
no degree is gonna gaurantee you a good job in this economyColnagoFE
Apr 8, 2003 8:51 AM
There are plenty of lawyers out there. You gotta network and keep your skills up no matter what eduication you have to get a good job. This coming from a person who has done just fine with only a BA in English--maybe the most worthless degree other than Philosophy or Art--from a non-Ivy league liberal arts school. Then again...a medical degree seems to always be a pretty safe bet if you can hack it financially and academically.
Jobs vs. careersfiltersweep
Apr 8, 2003 5:27 AM
I'd argue that law school should be more of a "calling." If you go into it for the free time, you have the wrong reasons.

I skipped grad school and stumbled into a great career that bridges public and private sectors. I'm not discouraging grad school, but the more professional the grad degree (like law or an MBA vs. liberal arts) the less grant money is available....

The key, in my opinion, is to find something you love (so you can be emotionally healthy) and something that more than pays the bills, so you can buy all the cycling gear you want.
Don't do it...TJeanloz
Apr 8, 2003 8:23 AM
The biggest mistake I see in professional people our age (in their 20s) is that they are working to enable themselves to do what they love. Invariably this leads to a situation where they hate their job, but can't give up the income, and they end up miserable. Do whatever you want to do; if you still want to ride your bike a lot, you'll find time for that. Don't plan your life around cycling, unless you take a job in the industry (which is a possibility). It doesn't seem to me to be worth it to be miserable 50% of your waking hours so that you can enjoy 20% of them.
It can workColnagoFE
Apr 8, 2003 8:46 AM
Then again I'm closer to 40 than 30 and have 2 kids and a wife, a mortgage, and a car payment to worry about as well so working in a bike shop isn't gonna cut it right now financially. I think you can become a semi-successful corporate whore without totally selling out. I probably will never get to be a VP in a corner office because I don't do the kiss-ass thing (though I do what I do very well), but I do have a relatively flexible schedule that provides me time for family and fun as well. Until I win the lottery or find my dream job that still pays the bills, I'm gonna need to do some kind of work and while this isn't ideal, it isn't all that bad either. It's much better than when I was contracting and making much bigger $, but never feeling like I could take a vacation or time off because I wasn't getting paid when I wasn't working. I often thought that working at a place like Starbucks or some other funky coffee shop would be a decent place to work for a 20 something single person. Not much stress, flexible hours...better atmosphere than fast-food.
re: Jobs and Cyclingkevinmd
Apr 8, 2003 8:43 AM
Listen to us...

I am a physician in an emergency medicine residency. Residency sucks just as bad as you have heard, in fact, probably worse. The hours are awful, but I routinely put my bike in my car, change on the way out the door and drive to my local ride start location and put in an hour or two before going home and sleeping for 7 hours to start all over again. Granted, I don't do much else, but I can find the time to get riding in. When I am done, I will work about 40-60 hours a week, but at all times (nights, swing, days, weekends, holidays) so group rides and races are difficult for me to get to regularly. However, I have a lot of time to do stuff I want to, but I have to be very flexible as to when and how I do it.

I love my job, and I can't imagine doing anything else. Do not pick a profession to support your riding, you will hate that job and that trickles into everything else you do. Do something you love and you will find the time to do other stuff.

-- Kevin
re: Jobs and Cyclingwerdna
Apr 8, 2003 1:04 PM
I totally agree with you. I'm not going to base my life around cycling, but at the same time, I'd prefer not to base my life around a job. I really don't want to live to work. I don't want to see myself as merely a cog in a machine passing life and making money. I guess my problem is that I have no idea what kind of job I would enjoy. But I do know that I don't want my job to define my life, even if I do love my job. I suppose I phrased my question poorly. I was merely asking what kinds of jobs are available that don't require you to live for the job.

As a final question: Do you really love your job? I guess I'm a little cynical to think that people cannot honestly love their jobs. I suppose the only exceptions are jobs like yours and other humanitarian positions. I don't see how businessmen (i.e. people whose jobs is to make money for a company) can love their jobs. I suppose that I'm looking for a job that has some other end besides money and that doesn't consume your life.

I'm sure there are some who doColnagoFE
Apr 8, 2003 1:21 PM
The test for me would be whether or not a person would come in to work whether they were paid or not? I'm guessing unless you were/became independently wealthy and/or really did love your job that most of us would be out the door so fast that it wouldn't have time to hit us in the butt on the way out.
I'm sure there are some who dowerdna
Apr 8, 2003 2:48 PM
Exactly. Hopefully I can find that job that I really would do even if I didn't get paid.
Sometimes yes, sometimes nopeter1
Apr 8, 2003 6:26 PM
Oddly, (or perhaps not) the job i loved the most allowed me the least time to ride...there's your answer right there. I'm an editor at a New York newspaper, working evenings, which gives me plenty of time to ride, but I have to say i preferred reporting over editing, even though I often worked 15 hour days and weekends when big stories broke.

I love my job, in the sense that while I'm working for a corporation and peripherally helping them to make money, I'm also in some small way helping other people understand the world. That makes me feel good when my job gets boring or frustrating...

Personlly, I "settled into" my career -- journalism -- rather than going into it consciously. But for many others, that isn't the case. My father was a lawyer who went to law school because he couldn't think of anything else to do. But I know that he would rather have been a woodworker or a writer or anything else, because dealing with other people's problems for 40 years wore him down, physically and emotionally.

My .04.
Hey Kevin!Matno
Apr 25, 2003 8:07 AM
Quick question about ER residencies...

How many hours do you work? I have been considering ER (I'm just finishing 2nd year of med school) in large part because of the residency hours. (OK, I also think it sounds fun). The ER residents around here (NYC) usually start out at about 60 hours/week then taper down to the 40's by the end of residency. (The implication at a recent panel discussion was that 60 was a state imposed max for ER residents). After residency, it's almost always even less than that. Where are you, and how is it where you are?
the view from both sides...M_Lou
Apr 8, 2003 8:51 AM
Hi Andrew,

I can speak to your questions regarding lawyers and grad school. If you want time to train and compete, law school and practicing law (at least in the private sector where I work) are not your best options. True, working as an attorney may give you a paycheck to buy that Colnago C-40 but it's really not worth it if you don't have the time to ride it.

Before going over to the dark side and becoming an attorney, I was in grad school for French Literature. The obligations of grad school are much less deadline oriented than in law and I was pretty much able to have as much free time as I desired outside of thesis work and teaching.

My advice would be to talk to attorneys in different areas of practice and ask them to be as candid as possible about their quality of life... you'd be surprised that there are alot of discontent attorneys out there (yours truly included). If you value lack of stress and the ability to set your own schedule over a large paycheck, then I would look into grad school. A caveat though, a grad school education may not translate into a job relevant to your studies or even a job period...

Good luck in your search.

the view from both sides...werdna
Apr 8, 2003 1:39 PM

I'm not dead-set on racing; I just want a job that gives me free time to do other things I love (riding, hiking, reading novels, etc). I am interested in law because it can be such a diverse field and also because it may have ends that isn't exclusively money (i.e. constitutional law, etc.) I'm very interested in literature and math so I think law might be a good application of both because law is partly based on logic, but also on narrative and fiction. I have heard that patent law is an apt choice of law for math/science types. Could you comment on that? If you don't want to post it on this board, you can email me at (obviously, remove "NOSPAM")

I did both,jefajones
Apr 8, 2003 9:01 AM
went to grad school and law school that is. Now I'm underemployed and working for the state. However, I only work 40 hrs a week, get plenty of time off and decent benefits. Plenty of time to train and spend time with the kids. The up side is that my wife does pretty well in her career. I could practice on the side or consult more for extra money, I just chose not to do so at this stage of my life (plus my wife works enough that I basically manage the household as well). My wife did rope me into an adjunct position with her department, but that is only 1 class a semester so I think I can manage . . .
pursue a career that you love to dotarwheel
Apr 8, 2003 9:14 AM
No matter the profession, work takes up so much of your time that it's most important to choose a career that you love or like. You will find the time to ride if you want to. But if you are miserable at your job, you will be unhappy no matter how much it pays or how much free time it allows.

My observation is that most people who work superlong hours (50-60+ hours a week) are workaholics and would put in those kind of hours no matter where they work. I have worked for businesses, newspapers, nonprofits and government -- and there are workaholics in every profession who don't seem to have a personal life. I have had some very demanding jobs, like working as a daily newspaper reporter for 10 years, and always found time for my personal interests and family because they are important to me. In every one of these jobs, I had coworkers who couldn't seem to stay away from the office. They would come into work early, leave late and work holidays and weekends. That's their business if they want to live their life that way, but it's not for me. Watch out if you get a workaholic boss who expects the same out of his or her coworkers.

BTW, a 40-hour week is standard for most jobs -- although some professions (such as law, medicine, computers) seem to expect much more.
re: Jobs and CyclingSkidoo
Apr 8, 2003 9:26 AM
You may be asking the wrong people for career advice if you are seeking it here.

I know this sounds like more work than posting a topic on a message board, but if you are serious about getting good advice and planning for life after college, you should talk to the career counselors at your college (assuming there is a career center at your school). The next obvious source of information is your undergrad academic advisor or other trusted professor. This person will not be able to tell you how to fit cycling into your life, but s/he will be able to tell you what to expect from grad school/law school.

At a minimum consult Richard Nelson Bolles' "What Color is Your Parachute" for timeless career plannng advice. Finally keep in mind that if you do jump into a career that you don't like, just relax. Most American workers will change their career (not just their job, but their entire career field) 3-4 times in their lifetime. You will have plenty of time to re-do it if you get it wrong the first time.
re: Jobs and Cyclingwerdna
Apr 8, 2003 1:29 PM
I agree with you. I'm only a sophomore so I haven't checked out the career services center at my school. What prompted my question is the fact that I'm picking classes now for the fall of my junior year, and I want to leave all my options open (for grad school in math or literature, law school, etc).

Thanks for the advice. I will contact someone at the career center.
re: Jobs and Cyclinglc21998
Apr 8, 2003 9:54 AM
Whatever you do, don't go to law school just as a way to get a job that will make you some money. I am a very happy lawyer. I love what I do. However, there are many, many unhappy people out there who went to law school because it seemed easy to get in and guaranteed a paycheck when they got out. Being a lawyer can be miserable if you don't like the work. Moreover, because it's fairly easy to become one, there's a glut of lawyers on the market now. If you start law school now you may come out in a better economy, which means that you could find a job more easily but you still might be doing something you hate. If you hate it you won't do it well either.

Figure out what you want to do. Then figure out how to make time to ride. Law school and most grad programs are such different propositions that your choice should be based on more than which gives you an easier schedule to ride.

re: Jobs and CyclingMatt Britter
Apr 8, 2003 10:08 AM
Pick something that you can commute to on your bike and stop watching the boob tube. You will have a ton of time to ride.
re: Jobs and Cyclingmapei boy
Apr 8, 2003 2:18 PM
Have you thought about the movie business? You get on a production, you work crazy hours for eight or nine months, then you're spit out back onto the streets, a whole lot richer and with scads of free time. Sure, you always wonder whether you'll ever get another job again, but if you're good at what you do and you make some friends in the biz, another job will (almost) always happen.