Communes are looking increasingly appealing
September 25, 2013 10:49 AM Subscribe
I am a college grad with a fairly useless degree, I've been in an industry that I just sort of fell into for two years now, I am pretty certain I would like to NOT be in this industry in the future, and I have no idea what to do now.
posted by showbiz_liz to work & money (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The industry is nonprofit grants management. I'm on my second job in the field right now. The first job began as basically data entry, but I worked my way up to compiling and editing major reports to donors, as well. New job involves more writing, including on proposals and projects. I also have done a little layout work, which I have no formal training in but used to do as a hobby. Theoretically there's also some prospecting, website management, etc involved, but I have had little time for that so far.
With the new job I make ok money for a 25 year old, and even in NYC I can now begin to save a little. I have insurance. I can pay my loans. But.
I am not invested in my work, either the day-to-day tasks or the org mission. And the idea of advancing in this industry- to being a full-time grantwriter or a development officer responsible for relationship-building- fills me with dread. I do NOT want to do those things. I would hate them and be bad at them.
Thing is... my coworkers, both at my old and new jobs, LOVE me. My current HR person told me that my references were the best she'd ever heard. I am happy to do whatever is asked of me and more, am a skilled writer and editor, am cheerful and know how to "go along to get along," can usually come up with creative solutions to problems, and am good at organizing things that need to be organized. But. Those things, while they make me good at my current job, are not special enough qualifications to get me any OTHER job.
Worse, the idea of waiting around for a couple years and then moving to a new industry sounds like a life-ruining mistake, because if I go BACK to entry level in a new field in my late 20s I will never, ever make money or catch up to my peers. It was ok starting with no skills in a new industry when I was 23, but at 27? Different story. So now I feel like I am trapped in development, a field I do not care for, and will just have to keep doing it forever. And, going back to school? I already pay about $400/month in loans. I'd have to know I could make enough upon graduating to cover what I currently make, plus the payments on whatever new loans I'd have to take out. And what would I go for, anyway?
What do I LIKE to do? I like to solve problems, do research, communicate my findings to people. And I like my findings to actually have an impact on peoples' lives. The happiest I have been with a job-related task was designing and executing a semester-long survey study in college, on a team with other people. In this job I have now, there are no problems with unknown solutions which require problem-solving skills to fix- there are only problems that can be solved by rote editing or by repeatedly submitting proposals in hopes that one sticks.
Taking a fun trip down posting memory lane reminds me that I was unsatisfied with my previous job over a year ago, and yet here I am. I guess I thought getting a higher-level job doing the exact same thing would be better... more fool me.
I feel trapped, and like I've doomed myself forever by choosing that first entry-level job two years ago. I know that's silly but I just can't see a way out. I can't even afford to quit and move to a cheaper city, and I just keep picturing myself doing this same work at ago 40 and I want to scream. But I have no special skills that would compel anyone to hire me for anything more interesting- this is all I know how to do.