I found a new job. It’s a 3 month contract, with a possibility of an extension.
It’s document review for Dodd-Frank compliance. The bank stores its documents in a bunch of different databases and programs. There’s a new program that rescans the raw documents, compares all the databases, and looks for problems. If a set of documents is flagged as inconsistent data among the programs, I have to look through and figure out the error and how to correct it. I’m also verifying and fixing OCR scans. Essentially, I’m getting paid to solve CAPTCHAs.
It isn’t programming-related. The req asked for SQL experience, but that isn’t what I’m doing. It sounds like I have a similar job to this guy.
Bank X hired consulting company Y which used staffing firm Z to hire people. That was amusing. If I’m getting paid $X, the bank must be getting billed for $3X or $4X or more.
“OMFG! We have to obey Dodd-Frank!” caused the bank to open its wallet and hire a lot of people. The consulting firm is mediating disputes among the various bank divisions, as the data is sanitized. Every manager wants to defend his turf, refusing to admit that one of his clerks mistyped something in the database. Instead of working to ensure the database is 100% accurate, each manager would rather refuse to admit that someone in his division mistyped something.
The motivation is that a regulator can ask “Give us all the information on X!”, and the bank has to answer immediately. They can’t do that if their databases are an inconsistent mess.
It is amusing that my job only exists because of the Dodd-Frank law. As usual with the financial jobs I’ve had, it has no real economic value.
Surprisingly, I’m getting paid a high rate for simple document review. It’s slightly more than my last job. Some headhunters say “A highly-skilled programmer with 10+ years of experience should be getting paid 2x-3x what FSK is earning.” I haven’t found any decent opportunities, not even for cheap rates.
This job could be useless experience if I go back to programming. “Computer programmer” is a dead-end career. Maybe I should try something else? Even though I’m a CAPTCHA solver, a more sophisticated name for my job is “Data Analyst”. (That’s what the paperwork says.) Maybe I should try a career switch from computer programmer to data analyst?
Amusingly, all my co-workers are Indian. Is it cheaper to hire a US citizen than import an H1-b? It feels weird to be the token white male in the group.
There was another amusing bit. It was only a phone interview, no face-to-face. That made me suspect it was a scam, but it turned out to be legitimate. Apparently, they needed to hire a lot of people in a short period of time.
They don’t expect me to already know how to use all these programs. They actually are (*GASP!*) showing us how to use the programs. They have a bunch of screenshots and flowcharts that show all the common cases. They called it “deskilling”, attempting to reduce the job to a flowchart.
Instead of the usual idiot idea “We need someone who can hit the ground running!“, they hired everyone to start a month early, and actually are training everyone on how to use the programs. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that for a computer programmer job. However, they need a lot of bodies to wade through the mountain of data in a short period of time.
These database programs are pretty obscure. I doubt anyone has experience in all of them. However, if one bank is using these programs, other banks must also be using them! They could be useful resume keywords, if I apply for another “Data Analyst” job.
For some of the jobs I was rejected from, the idiot hiring manager was still looking a month later. In a month, I could have learned a lot about whatever language they were using, and learned a lot about their code base. Of course, an idiot hiring manager will always say “FSK is not an exact match for the skills we need.” instead of “I’m threatened by FSK’s experience and ability.”
I’ve never heard of a programming job where the manager said “I’m going to hire someone who isn’t a perfect skills match, and I’ll take a few weeks to teach them what they need to know.” Why doesn’t anyone do that?
It’s actually no more boring than programming. Does it make a difference if I’m reviewing OCR scans, or writing data manipulation scripts? A few years ago, I would have been offended by the idea of getting a job as a CAPTCHA solver. Now, the economy is so bad, that I’ll take whatever I can get (as long as it’s a decent rate). Given that computer programmer is a dead-end career, maybe I should try something else? I can still write software for personal projects and my website. Maybe I’ll be more motivated for personal projects, if I’m not writing software for abusive jerks at work?
However, Data Analyst is a job with less leverage than Computer Programmer. I estimate that, at best, I’ll be 2x or 3x faster than the others. In software, I can be 10x or 100x more productive. However, in software, an evil manager will outperform a competent worker. Even though I’m a great programmer, it’s almost impossible to find a job where that’s appreciated. If you’re technically illiterate, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between a good programmer and a good liar. Therefore, the software profession is dominated by evil liars. If I review 2x the documents as every else per day, with a low error rate, that should be obvious in their tracking system.
It could be useful experience, to work as a “Data Analyst” instead of “Computer Programmer”. I know I’m on the top end of the ability scale, but I haven’t found any computer programmer jobs. Every hiring manager has evil tendencies, and would never hire someone smarter and more experienced. This could be bad experience if I try to go back to software, but maybe “Data Analyst” is a better career choice? After all, there must be a shortage of data analysts, if this employer was willing to hire and train people.