Blue-collar jobs might be the best jobs (ELLE GRIFFIN, DEC 4, 2023, The Elysian)

Technology is ethereal. You might have a feeling that something’s going on behind the scenes, but you can’t see it or touch it. Similarly, the “product” sold by most tech companies is immaterial. You might be able to use it on a phone or computer, it might make work more convenient or life a little easier, but for the most part, it only physically exists on a server out in the ether.

That’s exactly the sort of thing that could spur on an existential crisis. “Those of us who sit in an office often feel a lack of connection to the material world, a sense of loss, and find it difficult to say exactly what we do all day,” says Matthew Crawford in his book, Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value of Work.

When we can see the work we’ve done, when we can actually feel the heat of a blast furnace singing the hairs off our skin, we are more invested in what we’re doing. “You’re making something,” says Saskia Duyvesteyn, chief R&D advisor at Rio Tinto Kennecott. “And I think sometimes that’s missing from other jobs. We are actually making a product in the end, and that’s one of the things that’s different about what we do than a lot of other industries.”

Bhavana Mukunda is an electrical engineer at the copper mine, and she actually considered a job in tech before deciding to study power systems instead. “In the tech industries, you have your code, you wrote your code, it may be used, it may not be used, but [at Kennecott], the challenge is there, it’s solved, and I see the effects of it… I got to see a plant go back online because of what I did, which is pretty cool.”