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What should I be when I "grow up"?
October 24, 2006 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Based on my job skills, what should I go back to school and study, in order to have one of those "career" thingys?

I’ve recently come to the realization that my dream of being a working actor may be just that; a dream. I’m not giving up on my artistic pursuits; I’m just trying to rearrange my life in order to maximize my ability to earn money (that sounds better than “I’m giving up on my dreams and selling out to the man”).

I’m thisclose to being engaged to a really wonderful woman (literally, days away), and I’d like to start living my life in a slightly more adult fashion (i.e., I’d like to have health insurance, a pension, and be able to save some money). I’m one of those “smart people” who got sick of high school and dropped out. I went to college for a short time, but stopped, and never went back. I’ll be 36 next year, so I’m not a spring chicken, but I’m also not ready for shuffleboard and prune juice just yet.

I currently do a lot of temp/contract work. Over the last 18 months, I’ve discovered that I’m really great at database management; I’m currently on a long-term contract in the recruiting department of a big company, helping them clean-up, organize and maintain their candidate database. It’s a terribly healthy outlet for my OCD, and unlike many jobs I’ve had in the past, I may even love it! Most temp jobs make me want to just goof off most of the day, doing the bare minimum to not get fired; at this job, I’m sad to go home (overtime is encouraged, and there’s plenty to do), and happy to get to work in the morning.

In terms of other job skills, my theatre experience has also made me good at managing logistics, manpower, and time. I also have a lot of experience in event management and party planning. Jeez, this post is starting to sound like a cover letter. Sorry.

I’ve decided to go back to college in order to expand my career options beyond the temp/contract world. Based on my love of/great skill at organizing data, managing logistics, event planning, and generally bringing order to chaos, what would be a good path for me to take? I apologize for the length of this post, and would appreciate any advice the hive mind could provide, especially from individuals who have been in similar situations before. Thanks!
posted by weirdoactor to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Is getting a regular full time position at the big company where you are temping now a possibility? I would suggest you look into it, because if you really love it, you should try and continue. Going back to school is great, and it sounds like you might enjoy it, but if you can get a well paying job that you love now, I say you should try for that. If you do get the job, you could go to school at night to get the degree so you have more room for advancement.
posted by sulaine at 9:13 AM on October 24, 2006


Perhaps something in information systems management or library and information science?
posted by penchant at 9:16 AM on October 24, 2006


I'll start with the following adage: When someone asks you to "grow up" what they're really asking you to do is stop growing.

That includes yourself.

Database management can certainly be very lucrative, though it can require some on-call duty. There is always more to learn about databases, especially in the areas of performance, scalability, security, and availability. Employers will usually shell for advanced training as your skills improve. This is also a highly portable and in-demand skill.

If you're a good organizer, and don't really feel like working for The Man, a gig as a personal assistant for someone who can afford one might be a fun and challenging thing to do. Such a person arranges all of the non-business details of a busy person's daily life. It involves alot of time on the telephone, and probably a fair amount of driving (and, also will probably only be in an urban center).
posted by jimfl at 9:17 AM on October 24, 2006


You can have a career without having a degree or any other qualifications besides experience, knowledge, and willingness to do a job. When we talk about 'careers', we're simply talking about a progression of experience and job titles that indicate that you're moving up in the world, making more money, and continuing to grow. (I disagree with "growing up = stopping growth". Wholeheartedly.)

A degree program that you might be interested in is "Operations Management" or "Supply and Logistics Management" -- both are business degrees, and a variety of schools offer them. Portland State University offers these classes exclusively at night, because it's a degree that's sought by a lot of professionals to tie their experience together. I think UMich offers a similar degree program, not sure if it's at night.

If you want health insurance, talk to the company that you're contracting with. That's the kind of thing you can negotiate into a contract, or otherwise charge more on your contract for so that you can pay for it yourself through a provider of services for contractors or small business people. You can live a perfectly 'adult' life ... which, btw, is a total stereotype and not a reality anyway ...
posted by SpecialK at 9:39 AM on October 24, 2006


oops ... while contracting. I've done it for years, and so have many of my peers.
posted by SpecialK at 9:39 AM on October 24, 2006


A couple of things I forgot to mention:

- My girlfriend/fiancée supports my artistic pursuits; and has not asked me to be more of a grown-up insofar as jobs, etc.

- Point of fact, she makes more money than I probably ever will; and would be fine with me being a house-husband, should we have kids...money is a non-issue for us, I just want to make more so I can feel more like I'm contributing to our collective future.

- The company I'm on a long-term contract for does not want to make my position permanent; this was made abundantly clear in the interview. That said; the person I replaced at this job at been here on contract for three years.

- The agency I'm contracting through offers some basic insurance after 1250 consecutive hours (about eight months, and I've been here about two); I need something a bit more comprehensive than they offer, with a better drug plan, and some help with my as-yet undiagnosed sleep apnea (i.e., coverage that would cover a sleep clinic, and possibly surgery or a CPAP machine).

- The company I work for in general (and my direct bosses specifically) are very supportive of the artistic pursuits of everyone here; pretty much everyone in my department is an actor, musician, singer, or artist of some stripe or another. I'm still acting, writing, and working in theatre; I just don't think I'm going to be the next Philip Seymour Hoffman or Jack Black anymore, especially since those jobs seem to be taken (I know, I know, I should want to be the next "me"...but they are both sort of my "type", as casting people tend to think).

- When I figure out *what* I want to study/pursue, I intend to keep my job, and go to school at night, online if possible.
posted by weirdoactor at 10:29 AM on October 24, 2006


Check with your local health plan providers about insurance. In Portland, Oregon, I had a 'Self-Employed' plan through Kaiser Permanente (a HMO) that only ran me a hundred dollars per month. It covered everyting up to and including psychological care. Another friend of mine, who is a self-employed web designer, has a plan through Providence Hospitals that even covers his psychological medication for $150/month.

And yeah, I'm oK with the house dad thing myself, and my ex-girlfriends mostly will make more money than I do ... I date a lot of vet students... ;)
posted by SpecialK at 11:34 AM on October 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Something you might consider is getting a teaching certificate.

Here's why:

1. It's a real job, with responsibilities, an income, a future, and very good bennies. Also, summers off.

2. You don't have to give up acting, especially if you're in LA or NYC. In fact, most of the substitute teachers I know are actors. There are a lot of crossover skills between teaching and performing--you're basically giving five shows a day, plus lunchroom duty and a prep session. (This jibes especially well if you do standup.) Also, teaching looks good on the "miscellaneous" section of an acting resume--it implies that you're a reasonably intelligent person who shows up on time, has a work ethic and isn't crazy.

3. Over your life you will have several careers. Teaching is a good springboard for whatever you decide to do next.
posted by MollyNYC at 4:43 PM on October 24, 2006


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