SSi Forum

What do you do for a living?


This actually sounds really, really awesome!!! I think it’s fabulous that you did this and have that memory to look back on - gigging freely and sharing your talent - now that’s really living - well done, you!

I guess the reason I’m being drawn to mini Bootcamps comes from my love for entertaining. I love having lots of people around/people to cater for and combining that with the gift of language really excites me.

One thing’s for sure, whatever I end up doing, I’ll always need a strong creating output, whether it’s drawing or writing or other - this is what feeds my soul! :slight_smile:


Sounds like you do some wonderful work @Isata! I read your story with great interest. It seems to me that you are one of those people who’s career has really stemmed from your soul, from your interests and loves. I love it that you find your work so fulfilling and that you can almost tailor it to suit your life, whatever may be happening with it at any given time. Thank you for sharing!!

You are right about the ‘living out in the sticks’ bit. it could be a real challenge with commuting. This, I guess, is why I’m drawn towards home based stuff.

The story telling, I think, is a bit of a dream. It isn’t an additional learning resource which schools can easily afford, unfortunately, and even if they did, the work would automatically go to known and experienced authors who worked through their own material - so I guess I need to do some more writing first! :wink:


Thanks so much for sharing @philipnewton! I love reading about different perspectives and work experiences and I think it’s amazing that you have been able to stick with the same job. I really admire this. I admire the dedication and the fact that you have obviously become such a valued employee - well done!

The above scenario is very familiar to us. We have often toyed with the idea of renting an office, or moving office space to a different room/building to fit in with family life and the idea of ‘peace and quiet’. It’s a difficult thing to get right!


Thank you for your input @Kimberley and for being so honest. It angers me that this happens so often and that when it does there often seems to be very little real support. It’s fantastic though that you’re now really happy in your current department.

Your work sounds very interesting and it sounds like you have worked very hard and have been really dedicated throughout your journey, in order to reach where you are now, despite difficulties along the way. I admire this greatly.

Diolch! :)…


Diolch @henddraig for your input and ideas!

I’ve actually never thought of writing for learners!

I’m officially being published for the very first time next spring. It will be a short story in Welsh in a volume of short stories by various Welsh authors. I’m very excited about this, my first real step on the ‘Author’ ladder!

I’ve a novel that’s cooking, but not fast enough at the moment as I’m really finding it quite hard to find the time. But I’ll get there.

Unfortunately, I’ve no chance of making a real living form being a writer any time soon. It fulfills my need for creativity and feeds my soul, but it won’t feed the bank… :wink:


I’m a software coder, and have been since before I was born, and if there’s one thing they say about coders, it’s that mostly it’s typing and sitting around in meetings, interspersed with occasional mutterings about other people having broken stuff.

But…some things that are maybe useful

  • A friend of mine does freelance copywriting
  • She started out by writing articles for local publications that are always on the look out for new contributors, mainly because the pay’s poor to none. (In Cardiff it was buzz magazine). But she has interviewed some famous faces - Bill Baily was one I think.
  • She also had to start pushing herself to get out places and talk to any likely looking people who might need a copywriter
  • The upshot is that now she gets to spend some days in cafes knocking out articles on margarine and doing bios for people’s websites. Not glamourous, but at least it pays

I like the welsh learner’s books idea (from @henddraig, I think). I’d like some books on Kindle.

The chalet
There was a recent grand designs episode where a couple who ran some kind of winery/grow your own food business wanted to build a training space, so they crowdfunded some of the money they needed by offering courses in the future for money up front. Perhaps that’s a way to get the money needed.

As for its use - given that I do freelance coding it means that I can work from literally anyway, which in practice means I work from my office. I’ve often contemplated finding somewhere Welsh speaking and heading up there to work for a week, but the reason I’ve never done so is because in reality I’d head up there and work for a week, and probably end up speaking less Welsh than in Newport.

So if there was somewhere available that provided bed and board and Welsh speaking chances I would surely give it a go.


Oh, that’s got a touch of genius to it…


Sounds like normal for many people i guess.
Speaking as a much older person you will just become more philosophical about it.
I had a very basic start to life on the farm, left school to work at 14 and knew very little indeed, that’s how it was then so i’m not angry about it.
But stemming from the above i often felt a failure and a dunce.

Now you have put a long list of things you have done and i have not (my list is completely different).
you could think about what you can do.
what you would like to do.
and what is available today that seem beyond your consideration. (this is where you may find yourself one day).
As an example, when farming went through a big upheaval mid 80’s much work dissapeared and i had no idea of what to do.
A year later (by chance/luck) i found myself kind of self training myself as a carpenter (books and working with others) and having quite a good time, this sort of chaos has continued since then, often self employed, no job security but the phone may ring today.

The knowledge side i dealt with by working with the open university (that was a brilliant decision on my part) starting with the real basics of maths and other subjects i had left school without any qualifications, this all led to me nearly completing two named degrees as evolution does not fit one. (it fits across biology and geology).
so i have done quite a bit on human biology including some very interesting brain stuff, geology, archaeology, plant and human development (oo, a bit of astronomy), bio chemisty and probably many other subject i can’t remember of the cuff.

Now a few year ago i decided that i had done an awful lot of work while missing out on just living, so i work part time (if i work six months of the year that will pay the bills and then rest of time is to try and follow up what is interesting to me).

As for bullies, it’s a problem hard to deal with in a way we can feel good about ourselves, there is often an underlying problem behind their behavior, sometimes i wonder if the problem is more difficult for them to live with than for those around them which does not help i know.

I have a mother who is registered blind and we have great fun going on coach holidays together (Criccieth in March), that is my only juggle with family and work as i’m hopeless at relationships.

I have been very lucky at not having a long term illness to stop me from working (or wandering), just the occasional trip to outpatients to have a finger stitched up and antibiotics for blood poisoning following some scaffold colliding with my leg. (did break a collar bone but that is just a case of grin and bare it with healing taking time).

Hope i have not got boring when i should have said more about you.
You obviously have the grounding to tackle anything, enjoy.

This forum is great, reading of others completely different lives keeps me aware of how different we all are but still the same species.

Cheers J.P.


Crowdfunding is a way to get the money you need to renovate the chalet to do what you really want. It’s not easy but if you were to know exactly what you needed to do to make your chalet inhabitable, price it up, be professional about it, I don’t see it as an insurmountable problem. I’m not sure you could make a living out of your chalet but monthly (say) weekends for Welsh learners, or skill swappers, could be part of a portfolio life. Airbnb? Remember, you have your own ready made crowd here.

A local organic veg scheme, of which I am a member has just raised £6500 for a tractor to make things easier. They had match funding for the first £5000 so have in total £11,500. You might be able to get match funding for a certain amount.

Are you aware of Jack Monroe? The food and poverty activist? She has crowd funded the writing and publication of her latest cook book. She’s been ill so it’s late but I have every faith it will arrive. Other people crowdfund all sorts of projects and I really can’t see why your chalet can’t be one of them.


Hmm. I think I know who you’re talking about. Didn’t realise it had been quite so successful, though. You can get a good amount of tractor for that.


Thank you @CatrinLliarJones. I’m sure you will find your “thing” (if you see what I mean). Even if it takes work.

It sounds exciting to be starting writing in Welsh. What kind of thing are you writing?

Also, I’m loving @jamesmahoney’s suggestion about crowd funding. There’s an independent bakery about 5 minute’s walk from my department. They set up their business using crowd funding (enough to rent the cafe and pay to have it kitted out). So it’s definitely doable. Perhaps you should look into it. I’m sure loads of us would contribute.




I’m probably not much help to you given the stage in my life I’m at, but in the interests of sharing I’ll have a go anyway!

I graduated from uni with a masters in maths, having had an incredible four years. The maths had very little to do with that, as the majority of my time was spent in music society, ballet society and ballroom society. My roles on the committees for these societies (choir rep, president, project manager for the musical, society involvement coordinator, health and safety officer and charity officer, at various points) were what made up most of time and effort, and I think helped me get my job much more than my degree ever could.

In the summers between uni I worked at a Manor house, doing silver service and the bar at weddings/anniversaries/50th birthdays etc. That job was so much fun, we had a three course meal (from the spares) during the speeches and gossiped with the other girls about the choice of colour scheme, dress and everything else. You also get tipped well at weddings, once we had £50 each from the father of the bride!

I’m now on a graduate scheme at a small bank in Manchester, rotating through various departments whilst also studying for a professional qualification. I have the ability to work from home if needed, and they are pretty flexible with my hours as long as I’m getting my work done.

My other half is finishing his last year of uni, so he’s not around most of the time, but I keep myself busy with tap/ballet and a brass band (which yet again I’ve found myself volunteering to help organise…).

I’m enjoying my job, but actually get most of my life satisfaction from the extra stuff I do.

In terms of yourself, as a creative person have you thought about an etsy store? My friend has one and takes commissions for personalised drawings, quotes in nice writing, embroidery, wedding invitations, cards etc, which she does in her spare time as an outlet and bit of extra money. She seems to really enjoy it! You can tailor it to pretty much anything you’re interested in.

Edited to add another etsy thought:
I saw some super cute paintings for children’s rooms the other day, their first initial surrounded by pictures of animals that start with that letter. I imagine that sort of stuff is hard to find in Welsh/Cornish/Gaelic/etc! Similarly personalised children’s stories with their names in.


Oooh… Jackanory time, is it?

There’s a short answer and a long answer to this one. The short answer is that I have just started working part time in a warehouse (yay for working for people who think everybody working in their warehouse is a liar and a thief), and I intend to stay there until I start doing my resits back in Aberystwyth in the end of January (need to resit my major project, due to having had a minor breakdown in my final year).

As for the longer answer, well… I should probably preface this with something I mentioned in another recent thread: that I am autistic. I started suspecting that it was probably the case about three years ago, was referred for diagnosis about two years ago, and finally received my official diagnosis about a month or so ago.

I bring up my autism because it has coloured my entire life up until this point, whether I realised it at the time or not; from the bullying (real or perceived - it can be difficult for an autistic 10 year old to tell the difference between playground banter and actual meanness, but with some people it did get physical) that I received as a child to my struggles in some areas of education and later in finding work.

I left high school with 4 GCSEs at A*-C (A in Science, B in Maths, C in French and Drama), and went to the local sixth form to resit my English GCSE and, because they could only accept full time students, study a VCE (Vocational Certificate of Education, which was worth 4 GCSEs) in Business Studies. After I finished that, I got my first job - a casual job at the local hotel waiting tables for weddings and the like. It wasn’t that bad a job; I did some bar work (even though I was still only 17, making it technically illegal) and gave people their food. I only received £3 an hour, if memory serves, but it was some pocket money while I started my A levels.

It was while I was doing my AS levels that it was discovered that I had learning difficulties - I was diagnosed with dyspraxia (though the paperwork has since been lost), and I started getting 25% extra time in exams. This didn’t help much; in my three AS Levels (Computing, Theatre Studies and Psychology), I only achieved a D and two Es respectively, and then I dropped out of sixth form deciding that academia probably wasn’t for me, and decided to join the army. Those of you who have met me can probably tell that I am in no shape physically to be a soldier, and I wasn’t in much better shape back then. Given that autism is an automatic bar to entry into the armed forces, it might be for the best that I didn’t get in anyway - military life probably wouldn’t have suited me very well.

Around that time, I started working at the restaurant that I have since worked at on and off for nine years, and a year later I went to a different local college to study for a BTec National Diploma in IT. I passed, barely. I had two friends on this course; one who was diagnosed autistic as a child (we sometimes joked about him being so special that he had to go to a special school - I’m fairly sure he took it as a joke, though as it happens, he actually had gone to a special school), and one who was diagnosed with autism himself about a year ago. I suppose in hindsight, it’s rather telling that they both seemed perfectly normal to me ;). It was also around this time that I started doing some coding on a voluntary basis for a text based online RPG (a MUD) - largely just fixing stuff or very occasionally implementing a new feature, such as a unified chat system to replace the three separate ones that were in use previously. I learned more about C in that short period of time than any number of books could have taught me…

It was also around this time that I got into playing tabletop RPGs - specifically the Star Wars d20 Revised system, for those interested in such things. I enjoyed the game, though I enjoyed a couple of the people less so. Among other things, I still found it difficult to tell what was banter and what was actual meanness.

After finishing college, I went to university for the first time. I was 21 years old, and I had received an unconditional offer from Huddersfield University. It was here that I was introduced to the Java programming language (which has thankfully improved a great deal since then) and to RPG systems not based on D&D. I didn’t even last a whole year before dropping out. It was one module: professional studies. It was the only module that had absolutely nothing to do with the subject itself, the first year of a degree doesn’t count towards the final grade (provided you fail no more than one module), and I found it utterly boring. So I barely did any work for it. As a result, I failed that module - the only module which (unknown to me at the time) I absolutely had to pass in order to continue onto the second year. Sure, I had one other assignment for that module, but since I would have needed to get 110% of the marks for it to pass the module overall, I had clearly failed.

So I stopped showing up to lectures and practicals, I didn’t bother doing the exams, and I just went back home; scared to even tell anybody how utterly I had just f***ed up, though of course I eventually had to. I worked at the restaurant over the summer, keeping up the pretence that I was going back to university that October, and then I spent a year and a half unemployed until eventually I got my old job back there. Most people who know me are aware that I have had problems with depression, and while I don’t know precisely when it started, I know that my disastrous first attempt at university did not help matters. What very few people know is just how bad it got. By 2012, I had forgotten what not being depressed even felt like. I didn’t seek help, even though I almost certainly should have, and if I hadn’t met a certain Welsh lass on New Year’s Eve, I would never have have applied to go back to university; I would never have left that restaurant that by this point I utterly loathed working at and there is a very good chance that I would have killed myself by now.

It also didn’t help that all of this was happening over the backdrop of my granddad’s dementia - by the time I returned to university, we were locking the front door and hiding the key at all times to make sure he couldn’t sneak out of the house - he still succeeded a couple of times, and while he was usually found safe and sound by the local police, one time he was found floating unconscious in a river by someone walking their dog. He went into a nursing home not long after I went back to university because looking after him was making my nan ill, and as of two years ago he no longer recognises any of his family. This may be a somewhat controversial choice on my part, but I have not visited him since then. There seems little point to it; he doesn’t know who I am, and within minutes of my departure he would forget I was ever there. Everything that made him who he was is gone, and I prefer to remember him as he was. If I am completely honest, I sometimes think it might have been better had he died in that river. Then, at least, we could mourn his loss and move on.

Of course, just because I have been working on one of the underlying causes of my depression doesn’t mean that it just went away, even if it did lessen for a time. Depression is as much a physical illness as a mental one; it alters one’s brain chemistry and it has been shown to reduce intelligence over prolonged periods. The fact that I took so long to seek help, and the fact that that help wasn’t there when I needed it (in part because I lack the ability to easily describe my symptoms) has now led to a situation where I failed my final year - though thankfully I am allowed to resit for full marks instead of with a maximum of 40% - and I honestly have no idea what I’m going to do if I fail this one last chance at a degree.

Well, that took a turn for the depressing. Sorry about that, but I needed to get it off my chest. There is, at least, a more optimistic ending to this post: I have a better idea of the kind of help I actually need now, and I at least know why I have always been different from other people (and why they so often seemed so less accepting of that than I was). Also, I have a decent chance of succeeding in that degree (my previous marks mean that I am highly likely to get a 2.II overall), and my autism diagnosis gives me a good reason to give to employers as to why the result wasn’t better. As such, the future appears somewhat brighter now than it has done in a very long time.


That is a searingly powerful personal story, Hector - and I’m glad you feel you can share in here (because I know from personal experience that sharing in a supportive environment can sometimes be very helpful with depression).

It leaves me wanting very strongly to say one thing - that this second attempt at a degree does not define who you are and who you can be. I hope very much it all goes well - but if for any reason it doesn’t, I’ve learnt enough about you from your contributions on here to be able to say that you are intelligent and thoughtful and supportive of others, and that counts for a LOT. As does your coding, of course, degree or not.

Let us know how it goes. We’ll be willing you on… :slight_smile:


It doesn’t define who I am, but it does affect my ability to get a job doing something that I can actually tolerate doing for 40+ hours per week in the long term. It is very rare to find job openings in software development that do not require at least one of a degree (usually 2.I or better) or years of commercial experience. A lot of the time, even entry level positions ask for both.

Unless of course that’s your way of subtly hinting that there’s a job going? :wink:


Hi Catrin, I’ve only met you briefly but the impression I get from that and your narrative is that, far from “wanting to be useful again”, you’re much too useful to too many people to have time to breathe. I’ve no idea how you’d change that or even if you’d want to change it. However, it sounds like you could do with some thinking time and to get that, you may need to temporarily drop something off the wagon.

This sentence; “I’m very creative, I can draw and am crafty, love to write, love to cook and garden, love interior design”, is one of a confident person and maybe that’s a list of areas where the answer lies. Of course, making money from some aspect of that is the difficult thing. My experience is that one never really makes a success (or money!) from something one loathes. So, step 1, do something to work on and develop something you love and step 2, find a way to turn it into cash. How’s that for glib?:grin: Being serious about it though, I’m sure you know you’ll find some time if it’s something you really love and that will fire up the creative motor for converting into brass or pres, rhywbeth felly.
Good luck and read that sentence :point_up_2:again when your confidence wobbles.


When I was interviewing it was the HR people who stuck the degree requirement onto job ads. I must have looked at hundreds of CVs over the years and it was always down to people’s practical experience whether we interviewed or not - if we needed Sql Server and Visual Basic then that’s what you needed on your CV to get an interview, not a degree.

I’m sure there are some companies who insist on having a degree, but I have worked for companies with that kind of attitude, and since I am degree-less it just goes to show how hollow that requirement can be

As for the problem of getting experience:

  • start out with a crappy low paid job for a year or two, but that is still commercial experience that gets you an interview for a better job
  • Maybe you spend weeks reading through printouts of old Fortran source code looking for numbers to be entered into a spreadsheet, but on your CV that goes down as “Responsible for the migration from legacy Fortran based reports to a state of the art plant automatation system using Visual Basic and Sql Server”
  • After taking some time out to travel the world, a friend of mine got a job in the local council doing something exceedingly dull, and only marginally related to the world of design, but he was able to use that as experience to get an interview for a local design firm. It’s a few years later and they charge him out at a day rate of crazy money.
  • Help out with open source projects - looks good on your CV if you’ve fixed bugs in the web server software the company happens to use, and who knows whose eye you might catch online
  • Or write some software that solves a problem for someone you know. Doesn’t matter that you did it for free over a couple of weekends, it’s still something you can legitimately put down on your CV as experience.


Oh Hector, I went to Huddersfield when it was still a Tech, to improve my Chemistry Qualification. I was on day release and commuting from Harrogate. The staff I met were so nice…I have very happy memories! Sorry @CatrinLliarJones for infiltrating your thread, but, Howard, do the starlings still congregate in the centre of Huddersfield prior to flying off somewhere for the winter? I will never forget the experience of being surrounded by flocks, wheeling and meetng, landing and greeting, every possible perch full, all talking at once. And then the hush of the station platform and the quiet, sad coo of all the refugee pigeons hiding in the rafters of the station roof!!
Oh, Hector, I just read on past the word ‘Huddersfield’ enough to see it wasn’t very happy for you at all. I will finish reading your story, but so far, I think you are an example of doing brilliantly against all the odds and with virtually no help from any of the professionals you met!
Edit: Have read and I still think that!! Dal ati! I am sure you will get a job you like eventually, even if you have to write a successful ap/program in your back room on a laptop to do it!!


Hi Hector. Your story rings so many bells with me as it is very similar to that of my son. I really do hope that your plans turn out well and that you find work appropriate to your abilities, and that you are happy. Keep on with the Welsh.


If we get the cash flow we want to grow properly, there definitely would be. Probably not a short term likelihood, though…:frowning:

But what James said. It’s just occurred to me that I don’t even know if Ifan’s got a degree, and if so, in what. Our discussions were much more along the lines of ‘But why would you be insane enough to come and work with us?’…:wink: