Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Trials and Tribulations of the Unemployed Wargamer

As many of you that read the blog may be aware I was made redundant from my last job some five months ago. you may also be aware that I worked within the financial sector, in the city of London to be exact, as a Compliance Officer with leanings toward Operational Risk (in which I am qualified to advanced level). After five months of trying and shed loads of interviews, applications, phone calls and letters I am still no closer to getting back into employment. This enforced absence has given me a lot of time to think about what I want from a career and how I should try to achieve it. The upshot of this soul searching is that I have decided to pursue a long held ambition to work in the field of further education - more specifically adult education and in a lecturing/training capacity. My plan initially is to sit the appropriate teaching exams whilst additionally studying to the appropriate level in my preferred subject - history. With this in mind (and certainly taking the financial side into very careful consideration) I shall be starting the first primer course in September with the main course taking up next year. I estimate that it will be around the two year mark before I shall be back in gainful employment (although I will of course be taking advantage of any temporary positions that I can fit around my studying) so my gaming activities will need to take a financial back seat as the basic mechanics of living will take priority. This is in itself a welcome challenge in many ways as it means I will need to fully explore the concept of the credit crunch wargame and ensure that I get the maximum return from any outlay into figures, models and books etc.

I am looking forward to the challenge of all this and the blog will be peppered with the odd mention of my academic progress thus far as well as updates on the gaming front. The medium of the blog has been for me an absolute god send as it has enabled me to not only air the concept of a particular project but to also receive much useful feedback and observations which is fully appreciated and valued. This has been particularly beneficial as for the first time in a long while I have actually been finishing things rather than abandoning halfway when something more attractive comes along!

I hope this entry has been received in the spirit with which it has been written and that those followers will continue to do so for the reasons mentioned. I just needed to make my situation known and in the public domain.

Thanks in advance for the continued support.


El Grego said...

Good luck to you sir - such a drastic change in career course is not an easy decision.

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


It will be a long, hard slog ... but in the end you will find doing what you have decided to do very rewarding.

Despite what Shaw said, those that can do teach, and your life experiences will make you a better lecturer than someone who has only every 'done it' by reading. It makes a whole lot of difference to students if you can talk about ';when I did this, this happened ...' rather than 'if you do this, I think that this might happen'.

I began my working life in the 'soft' end of banking, working for Coutts. The pay was very good, as were the perks ... but I found the work unfulfilling. After a few diversions along the way I ended up in education ... and love it! The pay is not good, but it is not too bad either. The conditions can sometimes be difficult as can the management, but that seems to be the same whatever job you are in! The human rewards are magnificent, and sometimes forgotten by teachers who get too involved in what is going wrong rather than what is going right (a result - I suspect - of the 'target driven' system that education works under in the UK). The 'buzz' you will get from the sudden look of enlightenment that comes over a student's face when the 'get it' cannot be measured. It will make your day, week, or even month.

You have had plenty of practice of late on wargaming on a budget as I did some years ago when money became tight after I was made redundant. I ended up be 'de-cluttering' (i.e. selling on ebay) a lot of stuff that i was never, ever going to use. I used the money to pay for things that I needed, and spent money only on wargaming stuff that I was going to use. I still try to do the same now, and it is a good thing to ask yourself every time you go to buy something 'Do I NEED it, or do I just WANT it?'

Good luck with your return to education. You will be surprised how much your working life has prepared you for 'school work'. For one thing, you will know about time-management, which is something my less mature students have no idea about!

Bob Cordery

PS. If there is anything that I can help with – except money – let me know.

PPS. If you do become a lecturer and are offered the chance to join the pension scheme, look very seriously at it. The Teachers’ Pension scheme was a final salary scheme when I joined (where have they all gone to now?) and increases are tied to the cost of living. I don’t know if the lecturers enjoy the same level of benefits BUT if they do it will be worth your while joining it if the opportunity arises.

Ogrefencer said...

It most certainly is not but I am looking upon this as an opportunity to change my career for the better and so will give it my absolute best shot! Many thanks for the kind words though.

Ogrefencer said...

Many thanks for the kind words and offer of support Bob - it means a lot. The funny thing is that my early days seem to follow a similar line - I drifted into financial services and partially because of the overinflated salary levels stuck with it. Funny thing is I am now not concerned about such things to anything like the same degree - I want satisfaction for my labours and my experience of training and teaching thus far, although limited, has been amongst the most rewarding I have had in my years at work and for the same reasons you indicated. I will have much work to do in the short term (by that I means the next 18 months to 2 years) but I am sure the game will be worth the candle.

On the gaming side, the pursuit of the credit crunch wargame will now assume significant status within the beleagured budget!!

Tas said...

Well Bravo Sir, cheers to your new direction and the courage to pursue it. A difficult choice with dependants I know. Offset of course by your passion to be successful and knowing you I think you would be an engaging educator. I also wish to nominate now for the first "Alternate History of the 19th Century" course which you will ultimately deliver :-)

Seriously though, should the need arise I would be willing to donate from the spares box towards future projects. Just let me know mate.

Ogrefencer said...

Many thanks for the kind words and support and rest assured, if an alternate history of the 19th century needs writing and offering as a course I will not fail to ensure that mention is made of the strident advances and endeavours on the part of our antipodean cousins receives due credit! Thanks also for the spares offer - you may be surpised at what I can find a use for.....;-)