How can you survive precarious employment?
January 29, 2013 11:10 AM Subscribe
I've historically chosen the World's Most Precarious Professions (tm). I'm about to turn 30 and I'm filled with fear and regret. How can you survive and perservere when you may end up unemployed/unemployable at any moment?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've only really worked in two industries. Industry 1: anthropology, where I finished a well-received fully-funded PhD that I undertook when I was way too young, and upon completion I panicked and lucked into Industry 2: design.
If I thought anthropology was difficult, the overnighters and insane competitiveness of design blew it out of the water. I'm a few years in and doing okay, but I feel like I'm living in Logan's Run and the light in my palm is about to go out. Worse (and I can feel the howling NOOOOO! responses), I'm finding myself drawn back into anthropology. Despite 14 hour days and rare weekends, I've managed to publish a couple of papers in decent journals and a chapter in the past year from my old research, and I'm actually scratching away at a couple of postdoc applications right now. I really really miss being in the field, talking to people and telling stories; if you were to ask me what I'd do if money wasn't an option, I'd be a researcher again.
I know, I'm a moron.
On the one hand, I kind of want to defend myself - I've had a few stints of unemployment, but I've been, on the whole, pretty lucky on the job front. On the other, I feel like I've wasted my life. I look at my peers who started working in sensible industries straight out of college and I feel like an overgrown teenager. I know universities are horrible, no good, very bad places to work, but I've also seen the churn in my current industry. And, worse, I just feel like I don't care about design the way my successful friends do. Increasingly, I find myself going through the motions at work, uninspired and unhappy. Who in their right mind would hire someone like that? I've toyed with the idea of veering into UX design or information architecture, but balk at going through more training (I'm nearly 30, for crying out loud!) and trying to shoehorn my way into another tough field.
I'm not expecting anyone to help me make my mind up - out of anything, the impossibility of finding work in my former field will do that for me. I just want to find a way to live with this fear and distress. I'm aware that I'm not the most employable person. How do you keep going when you feel like you've trifled away your time in work that is either dying or you suck at?