Help me turn the weirdest job ever into a career
December 30, 2008 8:24 PM   Subscribe

I have fallen into a strange line of work. I like it. I would like to turn it into a career of some kind.

I was in graduate school a year ago for social work and really unhappy with the whole thing. Too many things going wrong to explain in this post, but basically social work isn't for me. Before graduate school, I worked in schools, summer camps, or doing other social service work. I freelanced a lot too doing some writing gigs, or personal assistant work, but I felt like I needed to move on. Some of these jobs were good, some bad, but overall I was never very satisfied with them in my core. I love people, and I am very empathetic and warm, so I sort of figured I would just make a good social worker or therapist. My parents were really thrilled about the idea of me going to graduate school and since I didn't know what else to do, I just kind of headed along course.

I ended up leaving graduate school, not knowing what in the world else to do. I was having a really hard time. Doing therapy, watching a lot of "In Treatment" and kind of freaking out. Then I found a job, just through kismet, buying and reselling vintage audio equipment. This wasn't even a job really at first--just kind of tinkering around with someone I knew who offered to pay me a little to help do some research. I would have never "chosen" to do this if hadn't been sort of desperate and in total limbo.

Turns out, I really like it. It's like the weirdest job ever- you'd never see it listed in the classifieds. I do a lot of research and work on the phone a lot developing leads, finding clients, and figuring out where to place our bets. I love the research side of it more than trying to close a deal, but the business/sales side can be fun and I don't mind it as much as I thought I would before I tried it.

Basically, I work with a couple other young, smart people. We're not making great money yet but we're getting by as a small company. I know this job itself probably won't last forever (too much chaos in everyone's lives, and probably not enough money in the long run for the equipment we deal in). But I 'd like to find something in a related field. I've thought of things like headhunting, real estate, antiques, or other sales work, but I'm not sure. I can not STAND the corporate lifestyle, but I am very driven, self motivated and independent. I am a hippie girl who secretly wants to make a bunch of money (*make* it, not just have it or be given it). All I know is that I like this job much more than anything I was doing beforehand. I'd like to see what else is out there for me in this field.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
IF you are just talking about vintage Hi-Fi stuff, there is a strong market for those items. Also I would suggest looking into vintage analog synths. Even if the old stuff for Hi-Fi dies down - there are always going to be people wanting an old Moog or an Arp Odessey. It would help if you know a little bit of electronics to fix little bits that have gone wrong - but it's not necessary if you can find an old TV repair guy that's down on his luck. Cheers and it's nice to hear about someone that has found their dream job.
posted by bigmusic at 8:48 PM on December 30, 2008

Could you clarify the question?

Are you referring to the audiophile industry? If so, then this is probably very lucrative. Google up macintosh tube amplifiers, titanium plate speakers, turntables with marble bases, etc. Then maybe you get into musicians gear and it gets totally insane.
posted by ezekieldas at 8:48 PM on December 30, 2008

This sounds like the beginning of cxtec, except cxtec began in networking equipment. Try reaching out to the owner of that company after reading up about the history of the place. Mefi mail me if you want more info to broach the subject with him.
posted by lorrer at 8:54 PM on December 30, 2008

We can't do anything for you. Only you can do it. But,lucky for you, you are already doing it.

I think we use words like "career" and "job" because we like to classify ourselves. I guess a career is something where you decide you are going to focus your energy on something vocational. Then do it. Actively start planning how you can make more money with the line of work you are in. Do what the pros do--seek revenue streams.

Learn more about the stuff. Start working on the insides too, just so you know how the equipment works. This is how you get a career--actively work to be better at what you do.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:42 PM on December 30, 2008

Why not just expand your business and take it online with a nicely designed website? Advertise, network and let people from all over the country and world know what are buying and selling.

If what you are doing makes you happy and is what you love, then you should keep doing it! You could expand to other types of electronics AM radios, hand held video games, etc.

I have worked on and off in a related field for years. One perk was taking cross country buying road trips, hitting auctions and estate sales to buy inventory and stopping to visit friends along the way.

On the downside, the instability of the collectibles market can be stressful, with some months making good money and other months making very little. Going without health insurance or paying for your own insurance can kind of suck too.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:54 PM on December 30, 2008

One line of work you may want to consider is working in libraries or archives, with a focus on audio (or audiovisual) material. There is a TON of important historical recordings out there just waiting to be preserved/archived/made accessible.. There's not a business end to things like you describe, but it is often incredibly rewarding. Memail me if you are interested in discussing further.
posted by ethel at 3:42 AM on December 31, 2008

Stick with the company you're in, gain experience, a customer base and contacts list and you'll have the career. The other people you're working with may move on, but that doesn't mean you have to - you never know, one day it may end up being 'your' company.

Also there's no reason why this company can't branch out into the areas suggested by the other posts.

Sounds great! good luck!
posted by mairuzu at 4:36 AM on December 31, 2008

Buying and reselling old things is hardly the weirdest job ever. At my last job in a cable company, we'd frequently get calls from companies who buy and resell old set-top boxes and cable equipment. At my current phone job, I hear all the time from companies who buy and resell old phone gear. There are a ton of companies out there both trying to sell off old gear and trying to buy hardware and parts to support the old stuff they have.

Personally, I think you could make a go of it in vintage audio, but if that falls through or you want to expand, try doing the same thing with the kind of old, big-ticket computer or electronic equipment that companies need. The key to your research will be finding out what kind of major gear your leads already have in place and what kind of spare parts and additional equipment they need to support it.
posted by pocams at 7:30 AM on December 31, 2008

Your career is "entrepreneurship." Keep working at it.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:08 AM on December 31, 2008

Well, what about taking that knowledge and moving it into consulting roles in TV and film? Look at MadMen. Someone had to consult with the set designers to find out what would be considered top of the line, cutting edge design in furniture, office equipment, audio equipment etc for all thes sets in that show and then go procure them. That person could be you. This can also be expanded to dept store window dressing or merchandising design, advertising shoots, etc etc. Your knowledge of the vintage market in audio equipment and how to procure this stuff and what is authentic or not can be useful to someone who needs to build an authentic period set.

For example, I recently bought a vintage typewriter. I paid for it but was not allowed to pick it up for a month because it was on loan to Bloomingdales for a MadMen tie in window display. I asked the guy how he got involved in that and he said the show has consultants who scour vintage stores for the set pieces they need and then rents or buys them. You could do this on the side while you continue to do what you are doing now. It could be really really fun and also you could make A LOT of connections that could lead to other kinds of work.

I think you are in a really lucky spot.
posted by spicynuts at 9:17 AM on December 31, 2008

« Older Trippy music is my favorite   |   Why are helicopters hovering over San Francisco? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.