How can I make myself "job-ready" for a marketing career in 2009?
December 2, 2008 5:26 PM   Subscribe

I have not worked since April 2005 due to bipolar disorder but my mood has been better lately and I want to use next year to get myself ready for returning to work, maybe even actually getting a job if that's possible. However I have had three years of depression - lying in bed listening to music all day or surfing the net, getting no exercise, eating junk foods. I feel my mind has turned a bit mushy and that if I was to start in a job tomorrow I would shortly end up the way I was before I left my last one (feeling overwhelmed, paralysed into inactivity, sometimes just staring blankly at my PC monitor). I feel I have a great deal of intertia to overcome. Has anyone been in a similar situation, and what's the best way to proceed?

There are several areas I need to work on - physical energy, mental sharpness, confidence. I want to work in marketing (that's what my degree is in but I got it in 1991 and haven't had much experience in that field since, so it would be an entry-level job I'm looking for). I have a general feeling of being very "out of shape" in both mind and body and in particular I lack the self-discipline to do the things I should. Having said all these negatives I do have a few positives :-

* When I was a student many moons ago I was very interested in the subject and found it relatively easy.
* I am staying with my fiancee and don't have an immediate financial need to get a job in the next two months or anything. Getting the right job and making a good start when I do get a job are more important than just grabbing the first job that comes along.
* My attitude is more positive than it has been in a long time, and I am willing to put the work in to make things happen. I find all the free time I have without money for going places pretty dull so I am not one of those with no incentive to go back to work.
* I don't have expensive tastes and could manage on a not-so-great salary, in fact I would work even if I wasn't making much more than the welfare benefits I am currently getting purely to be building skills and having current work experience on my CV.

Give that I have plenty of time to devote to this, what sort of activities would either A) help me, or B) be viewed as beneficial by an employer? I already plan to take a software course in the new year, what else can you lovely people out there suggest?
posted by AuroraSky to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Assuming you are in counseling and/or have a pdoc, perhaps they have some suggestions?

Having been somewhat in your shoes I would like to suggest as a very practical matter that you try to get in some regular exercise. This helps with mood regulation as well as helping you feel more energetic. As a former couch potato myself I can tell you the difference is astounding.

I'm also thinking that perhaps a class or two or some volunteer work could get you in practice. I myself used volunteer work to help me get back in the swing of things-it built my confidence in my abilities and also gave me options for good references when I was ready for paid employment.

Also, for your first venture back into the job world, I'd advise you to look for a congenial atmosphere-having low interpersonal stress in a job, even an otherwise stressful one, makes a big difference. I work for people who LIKE me and that is worth its weight in gold.

One suggestion is to perhaps consider seasonal parttime employment-this gets your foot in the door and helps an employer see you as a valuable asset instead of just another face in the crowd. That's how I got my present job.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:48 PM on December 2, 2008

maybe some small steps. get into the gym and work out with a personal trainer--feeling physically fit will help your brain sharpen up. take a class in a foreign language (or return to one you used to study), which will also get your brain juices flowing. or supplement your computer course with an english or design course.

on a very basic level, you will be needing to get used to a routine and demands on your time and attention--these are low risk ways to break your inertia and get you in the habit of meeting expectations.

good luck!
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:55 PM on December 2, 2008

I second the voluntary work, especially if you want to get back into marketing. All the non-profits I've worked with/for could have used some marketing trained volunteers. Plus this will give you something to put on your CV when a paid job comes up.

And also seconding the exercise. Employers, for better or worse, take physical appearance into account when hiring, and you'll feel better about yourself.
Best wishes.
posted by Kerasia at 6:41 PM on December 2, 2008

Small steps are key. There was a time that getting showered, dressed, commuting and making it through the workday were major victories for me. Giving myself permission to tackle one thing at a time (for me it was job first, then a social life, then a workout routine) and allowing myself to just chill at the end of the day was a huge help. Since it sounds like you don't need to jump into an intense full-time job, I think the suggestions to volunteer, intern, or work part-time are all excellent ideas. Temping might be a good route for you to go as well.

There's a lot I could say here, but I'd rather keep it to a more private conversation. If you want to chat, email me. My address is in my profile. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 6:44 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Though this seems harder to find than 40 hrs/wk, how about four hour shifts till you want more?
posted by captainsohler at 7:12 PM on December 2, 2008

Have you thought about joining a local support group? If you talk with others in your area that may have been in the same situation, it might help you with what to expect in your area, which will be a different experience than you might have with other areas.

Also, one thing to keep in mind is that many jobs may require a much more regular schedule while going through training.
posted by slavlin at 7:20 PM on December 2, 2008

You said one thing that really struck me:
I don't have expensive tastes and could manage on a not-so-great salary, in fact I would work even if I wasn't making much more than the welfare benefits I am currently getting purely to be building skills and having current work experience on my CV.

First, I would look at the concept of getting work versus welfare in a different light. Don't look at work that pays what your current welfare benefits do as merely something to get on your resume. Maybe work - period - should be the goal to getting off any and all welfare. Being active in a job will stimulate your mind, body and spirit.

Second, Consider a "bridge" job before going back into your chosen field. A low stress job, that would require little more than just being there and doing simple mind work, will train you for the long haul. A job like this will help you as you get back in the world by allowing you to concentrate on the little things like getting up with an alarm clock, showering every morning, eating better, not spending so much time online, etc. You'll find all of these things a shock to your system after a long period of inactivity. A first job without a lot of responsibility will help you merge all these things at once.

Third, Confidence. You have taken a beating to your sense of self and probably lack confidence in your ability to handle things. This is normal. Remember that your confidence will return after you are back in a routine that promotes a sense of, well, normalcy. It's like exercise in that respect. One day will build on the other.

Finally, take care of your physical self which will, without a doubt, improve the state of your mental health. Recent studies have shown regular exercise to be as beneficial to depressed patients as SSRI prescriptions. While you are battling something worse than depression alone, your illness will also improve with physical activity. I would think getting off the Internet as much as possible and getting back into a more OFFline world will help in your reintroduction to a day to day healthy lifestyle.

It won't be easy. It's been almost four years and that's a long time to find yourself with ingrained habits that you'll have to change as you proceed in life. But, your coming here to ask this question tells me that you are ready. You can and will find your way back, through trial and error and persistence, my guess is you will look back on these days as times of trial that you managed to get through and now - the rebirth.

Good luck to you, my friend. All good wishes as you start over. It's a clean slate!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:25 PM on December 2, 2008

I work in mental health. Bipolar is a challenge. Its wonderful that you have begun thinking about working again.

The advice given to you has been good, esp the suggestion to take small 'baby' steps first. You have acknowledged that you can get overwhelmed, learn to incorporate a life that is challenging ( to give you confidence) ; while also balanced. You know best what you can handle. Make sure you find a job you enjoy; working only an amount you feel comfortable with. And then go from there .

Above all don't ever allow the the mistakes of the past get in the way of what is possible for you in the future.

All the best!
posted by learninguntilidie at 10:20 PM on December 2, 2008

Stop feeling bad about yourself for being an introvert. It is just the way you are wired. Have you ever heard of Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences? It sounds like you have a strength in the intrapersonal area. Intrapersonal, not interpersonal. Note the spelling. Do some research in this area. I think you should recognize this as a strength, and consider it as just the way you are wired. You are right to look for a job that would be suitable for a person having this type of make up. I would keep exploring this, but off the top of my head, I was thinking of a stock market investor or day trader or perhaps even a real estate investor or flipper. I like the ideas that other people have given you, including volunteering or working seasonal jobs. You might also consider writing a book, but selling it would be the key. Also, as fun activity, rent The Secret and watch it a few times for inspiration. Don't give up. There is something that is meant just for you, but you do have to seek it out. Good luck.
posted by bitsnpieces at 11:03 AM on October 10, 2009

« Older People cooperating complicatedly?   |   Can't close my bathtub drain. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.