Short term work to discover long term goals?
October 19, 2009 6:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm a new grad, only going to be in my current city for a few months, and I suddenly find myself unemployed. Oh, and I don't know what my career goals are, but I'm impatient to get started on them. How can I use my short term job hunt and work to build some long term goals?

Just finished a degree in theater and nonprofit arts management, unfortunately in the last year I have pretty much fallen out of love with that profession. It would have been nice if I had realized I wouldn’t like working in the theater before getting a degree in it, but the deed is done.

I moved to another city to be with my girlfriend while she finishes with school. I had a good job with a trendy computer retailer who will remain nameless, and I was led to believe that I would be able to continue with my job at another location. Unfortunately when I got here that turned out not to be true.

I’m now hunting for a job in a city that I only expect to live in for about the next 8 months. My question is: What are some things that I can do in the short term that will both help me to find a new path and build a resume so I can hit the ground running when I move again later next year? I'll be around if there are follow up questions. Thanks for your help, internet people!
posted by shanevsevil to Work & Money (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Think_Long at 7:04 PM on October 19, 2009

Unfortunately you have about everything against you to make this situation beneficial: a not-so-pragmatic degree (and I don't judge - I am sooooo with you there), a very limited time span, and no clear goals. sound like, yep, pretty much the majority of college grads these days (myself included, probably worse).

My honest advice? If you don't know WHAT you want to do, and you have only 8 months, there really isn't any good answer to your question. I would suggest to do something, as 'empty' periods sometimes raise an eyebrow on a resume, but at your age and in your situation, I don't anything you do for the next 8 months is going to help or hurt you with any significance.

If you don't NEED a job (i know, it'd be nice, right?), consider using this time to job hunt for something you DO want to do, volunteer (you do have some background in NPO management), figure your shit out (figuring your shit out is hard no matter what - it's even harder with a 40-50 hr a week job). I you do need a job, go for the one that pays the most and save as much money as you can. Really, if you have no clear goals, there is little advice to give other than...just go.

Whatever you do do, either you will hate it, love it, or think it's ok. And you'll be able to make your next move based on that. Love it? Pursue further. Hate it? Drop completely. It's ok? Well...don't sell yourself short.

Good luck man.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:08 PM on October 19, 2009

Just work retail. With your experience, they'll hire you quickly and you can leave quickly.
posted by k8t at 8:18 PM on October 19, 2009

While the words in your question focuses on this eight months, it really should be about the ninth month and beyond. My two-step recommendation would be:

1) Figure your shit out, months 1-n
Whatever you do, don't take the chickenshit way to figure things out by removing yourself from the "rat race" to "find yourself." It is the easiest way to laziness, depression, insecurity, and lack of confidence.

Instead, prepare for a lot of face-to-face work. Volunteering is GREAT, especially if you are still into the NPO management idea (even if it is not theatre). Informational interviews - where you call up or meet up with or shadow someone who has a job you might someday want - are also super ways to find out if something is "up your alley" or your personal hell on earth. It can also be the foot-in-the-door for a real job in this city or elsewhere in that person's network.

Also, keep preparing for the next step. Submit your resume for jobs you might want but don't care about too much. Resume revamping and practice interviews can help you get ready for the Real Thing in step 2 (below).

2) Prepare for month 9+, months n-8
Especially with a change in career plan, another relocation, and oh wait yeah the sucks-shit economy, you NEED to have your shit together for after the school year ends.

Do you know where you are headed in month 9? When will you know? How are you going to find a job there, or start a career? Have you ever considered starting your own thing (this is the bonus level)?

You should start building a network and looking for jobs in that place now. Ideally, you are headed back to somewhere you have a network to work from. If you are not, then you have to work doubly hard. Make some visits there, and reach out again to the people you contacted in step 1.
posted by whatzit at 3:53 AM on October 20, 2009


You probably need to temp. Unless you are independently wealthy, you probably need to start working sooner than later. Temping may put you in a job for tomorrow. Not ideal but if something else comes up along the way, that's great. But you are not putting yourself in the hole too badly in the meantime.
posted by sully75 at 6:05 AM on October 20, 2009

As a theater graduate 13 years removed from high school, even the most sterling charismatic member of our class, who briefly had his own children's show, is no longer working as an actor.

Honestly, I'd turn right around and go back to college. See if any of the classes you took can transfer into a new major. I know that sounds like dramatic advice and I imagine one you'll immediately recoil from, but this is the remainder of your life we're talking about ... and at times, I grumpily wonder why they even allow people to major in theater, since it nine times out of ten seems to be a damaging move to take to your future. The success rate is so infinitesimally small that I just don't think, inherently, that it's worth its "cost."

Obviously, though, that's probably not a choice for you at the very moment. So here's a more helpful data point.

A Mefite went through about five years' worth of threads on people asking questions nearly identical to yours on career advice, and parsed through them for the most recommended books. Here's his results.

Or to save you a trip: either buy, or borrow from your new town's library, the most recent edition of Where is My Parachute?, Po Bryson's What Should I Do With My Life?, Barbara Sher's I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It, Nicholas Lore's The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success, and Studs Terkel's Working.

Read through 'em all over the next few months while, as sully75 suggests, temping.
posted by WCityMike at 2:52 PM on October 21, 2009

« Older Novels about early Christians but not about Jesus?   |   Boltbus Refund Question Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.