So my career is kind of a disaster and I am not sure what to do about it. This is a bit of a wall of text (because I want to give a lot of context), so thanks to anyone who gets through it.
posted by argentum to Work & Money (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This is my first AskMF, and it's not actually written by me. I'm posting this on behalf of someone close to me, mostly to anonymize them :) I hope this is acceptable, thanks very much for your understanding.
My problem has three main strands.
The first is I have become very discouraged in my career over the last few years and my attempts to get somewhere better for the last 9 months or so have pretty firmly ended in failure. I get to the last step in interviews with Prestigious Program, Big Well-Known Company, Small Well-Run Company, and then uniformly founder on the shoals of not being good enough on one dimension (a different one each time). And so I feel like I need to do things to be better, but I am not sure what. I don't even know if the problem is lacking skills or doing a bad job showcasing them or how to find out.
The second main problem is social. I'm a girl and not white, and I have a lot of opinions. It is shitty but that means that where dudes get praised, I get dinged for being "aggressive" or "argumentative," regardless of how politely I put things, even in cases where peers I work closely with, who on the whole like me, think it is bullshit and tell me this unsolicited. This is not going to change. (Seriously, I am not going to grow a whole new personality; I have tried and it doesn't work and frankly I don't think I should have to. My shrink supports this as do my friends, so I don't think I am delusional.) But it means I need to find a place where that is ok.
The third is I have a little bit of a checkered history, which is to say I have a handful of 18-month jobs. The first 1 or 2 were more my fault: I had a big anxiety problem and it often manifested itself in being hard to get along with. After that, it has been a string of bad luck, mostly taking roles at startups against red flags. Again this is an interpretation I have tested with outside opinion, so I think it is accurate. But these last two things do really worry me, though like I've said, my therapist and other humans who know and have worked with me don't think I am actually doing anything wrong.
So that is my problem. Now, I'm back in New York after living in San Francisco for a few years with savings and a little time to invest on improving things. But how? As far as I see, as of now my situation can be broken down thus:
Things I have going for me:
+ I have a very nice boyfriend who is okay with me not working for a bit and we have savings. (He is on a hiatus, too, attending a program where he works on personal projects, but should be back to work by mid-October.)
+ I have a small network of people who have been introducing me around for freelance, but nothing has really come of it, yet.
+ My LinkedIn is full of recommendations and things like that. If you look at it, I look normal-ish, except for the number of positions, which since tech may not be the worst thing ever.
+ I've given a few talks lately and a conference is even flying me in to give another in September. People seem to like these talks and people I am impressed by have started following *me* on Twitter. (A lot of the data community is there, so it is pretty good.) I think maybe I could do more to make this into something but not sure how.
+ I helped found a Meetup in SF around the kind of datavis I am into and have been introduced to some community members here in NYC.
+ I'm pretty smart and good at teaching myself things.
Things I have going against me:
+ I'm entirely self-taught.
+ My last few jobs were pretty crappy which means a lot of things I designed never got made or have been butchered since I left. And that makes them hard to talk about much less post on my portfolio.
+ I don't have a lot of mobile experience, which is becoming a you-need-it-to-get-it kind of thing.
+ I'm getting old. Which I think is dumb that it matters to people, but I can't discount that sometimes it does.
Things I can do:
+ Spend the next two-ish months working on freelance (if I can get more when this project ends) and the mobile app I want to make, plus redo my site, rewrite my portfolio, try to add to blog stuff and just put together the best things I can. And keep working on programming. This seems like the best option right now, but it also seems overwhelming and not-guaranteed. I probably need a better idea of an end-goal to better prioritize the things I *could* be working on.
+ Go to grad school for an Interaction Design MFA. It's also expensive but ends in an actual degree and may give me the time and space to get better at visual design, create projects that don't have to make compromises to business decisions, and just seem more current when looking. Pretty much all my designer friends have one. I'm worried I won't get in though, and I've reached the point where every no puts me closer to a tailspin of depression.
+ Just keep trying to get a job now. This option depresses me the most, because I don't know how much more rejection I can take. I have a friend I admire who says it took her 82 noes to get the position she has and loves now, but I don't know if I am that resilient. And I have the time, in theory, to not do that, so I shouldn't squander it.
+ Something else?
Thanks for making it all the way down here, and I look forward to your advice.