Midlife crisis: Suggestions for a career path out of media?
January 13, 2014 8:39 AM Subscribe
I'm nearly 40 years old and by some measures, successful. I graduated from a top university and have been employed by major companies for nearly 20 years of my professional life. I've grown increasingly dissatisfied with my chosen career though, and I was hoping some of the wise minds here could give me some advice. Details follow.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My entire career has been in the media. Unfortunately, the media isn't what it used to be. I joined the media because I liked words more than numbers and I was a liberal idealist. My work in the beginning had meaning. The Internet has changed all that. All we do is chase clicks (and ad dollars), with the goal of distracting, rather than informing our audience.
I started on a part-time MBA a few years ago. I thought it would be interesting to get a professional degree, and if I was going to deal with numbers and chase money, I might as well get paid better for it. There were already plenty of media refugees getting the JD, and the MD was too much of a commitment. Plus, I ostensibly joined the media to better understand the world -- and money makes the world go 'round.
Now, I'm about 75% done with my degree, and I'm wondering what I should do with it. I know myself a little better now. I make a decent wage, and have some savings, so I'm not so interested in high salaries. I still yearn for meaning in my work though.
I'm also looking for work that's sustainable, work in which I can develop a body of knowledge and win respect for my mastery of it. I had once believed media fit this mold. Put enough years in at the copy desk, or on the beat, get a sense of your audience and how stories should go, and your experience would be valued. The Internet has invalidated this type of experience as well.
My MBA opens doors in the consulting and investment banking worlds. I think careers in those fields would be more in line with my idea of sustainability than the work I do now. The problem is, I've never been a fan of long days, and those professions are notorious for long days. There is much more to life than work.
I've also realized at this stage in my career that I've seldom been promoted to management because I've never been the type to overwork to impress the boss. (Well, that, and I don't fit the mold of an alpha male.) I'll do an excellent job within my 8 or 9 hours, but I just don't have it in myself to torture myself that way.
I'm not so young anymore either. I'm cognizant of the time I have left on Earth. I've always been very conscious of my health. No job is worth risking that. I don't want to spend the rest of my life acquiring a fortune. I'd rather spend it enjoying a modest income. But maybe the extra hours is what's required for the mastery I'd like to enjoy. It's been widely observed that the more education and the better paid you are, the more you work -- to recoup the cost of education, to better leverage that education, and because the opportunity cost of down time is greater.
Academia might fit the bill for me, given my predilections, and given the fact that I have savings -- but maybe some time in the marketplace might help raise my value in the marketplace as well.
Others have suggested entrepreneurship, seeing my reluctance to put in long hours as simply a reflection of my disenchantment. Find something I love, and I should have no problems working hard. It wouldn't be the best use of the MBA, but using the MBA isn't 100% necessary.
This is all a bit unfocused, but I've seen some smart folks respond here, and I'm hoping to hear from some of you -- if not to get an answer, then just some feedback for more orientation. Maybe there are other resources I should pursue or questions I should ask myself. Or, on a more basic level, do you enjoy your work? What do you do? Thanks!