Don't Quit Your Day Job!
January 11, 2010 3:44 PM   Subscribe

What's a solid day-job for an extrovert with problem-solving and analytical skills?

tl;dr version: I'm looking for a 40-hour a week job that pays decently, allows me to interact with a variety of people and solve problems.

I'm looking to switch to a career/job that will leave me more time and mental energy to devote to some creative pursuits. For the past 10 years, I've been doing advocacy work, which was fulfilling for a long time and gave me some great skills, but just takes up too much of my time and creative energy, leaving me drained at the end of the day/week.

So, for a few years at least, I'd like to take a break from politics/advocacy and work a job that will leave me enough time to spend a few hours a day working on creative stuff.

Factors that are important to me:

1. Pays at least $40k/year for a 40 hour week (I live in Seattle), more if it doesn't include benefits.

2. Involves lots of interaction with a variety of people, ideally in person, not over the phone or internet. This is really important to me, especially since the creative stuff requires a lot of time spent alone. My extroverted nature makes it important for me to get several hours of "face time" with other people on a daily basis.

3. In general, the kind of job where people leave the job at work. I certainly don't mind working hard while I'm there, but I'd rather not have to bring it home with me.

4. Doesn't have to be a "day" job per se - I don't mind working evenings/nights/weekends.

5. Allows me to use my problem-solving skills. I'm happiest and most productive when I have a fairly steady stream of problems to solve or situations to analyze.

6. Doesn't require years of additional schooling. I already have a MPA and I'm not planning to go back to school anytime in the near future.

I can offer skills in training, event planning, writing, fundraising, media relations, and statistical analysis/survey research. Plus the aforementioned MPA from an Ivy League school (kind of silly, but it does open some doors).

I realize this is quite a laundry list and I won't necessarily get everything I'm looking for, but it would be great to at least get 1, 2, and 3.

Jobs I've thought of: EMT, bartender, corporate trainer. Thoughts on these or any other fields that might fit would be much appreciated.
posted by wholebroad to Work & Money (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You may look into management strategy consulting. The job does require a lot of hours at the first level, so that may be a dealbreaker, but the work you describe as wanting is very close to what management strategy consulting covers.
posted by xingcat at 3:55 PM on January 11, 2010

I work in manufacturing quality control. Believe me there is PLENTY of problem solving involved. And you'll interact a lot with suppliers, customers, and people of all levels. Especially if you get involved with the ISO side of it.
posted by Caravantea at 4:10 PM on January 11, 2010

xingcat is right that your skills and background would be an excellent fit for strategy consulting, but that wouldn't really be a career downshift at all. It rings all of your bells except the hours, which would typically run closer to 60 or 70 / week than 40, and the not bringing the job home part (just go ahead and have the Blackberry surgically attached to your hand). Of course you'd also probably be on the road almost every week, which is a dealbreaker for lots of people. I suppose there's always a company's internal consulting group - I imagine it's a little bit more of a laid-back environment than your typical cut-throat consulting firm, but I don't know if the job market is very strong for those positions right now.

Maybe some kind of management consulting in the government sector might be closer to the mark - lots of times the hours are contractually capped at 40, the travel is much less, demand is very high right now, and of course that Ivy League MPA would be the perfect credential for it. Anything Federal would be likely to require relocating to the DC area, which would be something of a shock to the system coming from Seattle, but I suppose there's always state government. Might be some conflict of interest issues if you're coming from political advocacy, though I imagine nothing insurmountable.

BTW, I don't think either EMT or bartender meets your salary requirements.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:03 PM on January 11, 2010

In this economy, I'd take whatever you can get. Your criteria aren't selective (in my eyes), and most whitecollar desk jobs involve everything you mention. More details on "problem solving" would also be useful. What kinds of problems? Physicists solve problems, so do restaurant servers. I would head to Craigslist (the hyperactive Craigslist is one thing I miss from Seattle) and apply to anything that sounds appealing, then go from there. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I'd say it's the most practical approach right now.

Re: EMT. Googling suggests that paramedic might be more fitting. EMT doesn't even require a college degree (I had a friend who was one while an undergrad), and generally pays much less than $40,000/year.
posted by mnemonic at 6:06 PM on January 11, 2010

Sales will get you in front of a lot of people, and if you can parlay your experience into a sales job in a related field, (maybe selling to non-profits and advocacy groups) the 40K nut should be easy to hit. Generally speaking, if you are doing well in sales, nobody asks a lot of questions about how you spend your time.
posted by COD at 6:33 PM on January 11, 2010

Try taking a Myers-Briggs personality test. This one is free, and has some career suggestions at the end.
posted by blazingunicorn at 8:34 PM on January 11, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the helpful suggestions. I've often thought strategy consulting would be a good fit (and hoo-boy, the money!) but my friends who are consultants all work at least 50 hours and often 70 hours a week. The Craigslist suggestion is interesting - I hadn't even thought of it!

Your criteria aren't selective (in my eyes), and most whitecollar desk jobs involve everything you mention.

I'd agree that many do, but I might not have emphasized enough how important it is for me to interact with people in a job. A job where most of my work is done at a desk, in front of a computer, will probably be a bad choice for me at this point.

More details on "problem solving" would also be useful.

I'm mostly interested in solving interpersonal and logistical problems. I also enjoy number-crunching in limited doses.
posted by wholebroad at 9:26 PM on January 11, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, and I've taken the Meyers-Briggs twice - once I was an ENTP, once an ENFP. Hence the indecisiveness!
posted by wholebroad at 9:27 PM on January 11, 2010

posted by Muirwylde at 11:31 PM on January 11, 2010

Not sales, but sales support, helping the sales team. Tender preparation, research, estimation, client workshops, presentations.
posted by mattoxic at 4:01 AM on January 12, 2010

Project Manager?
posted by jasondigitized at 5:56 AM on January 12, 2010

Can you do high level statistics and regression analysis?
posted by anniecat at 7:15 AM on January 12, 2010

Response by poster: anniecat: I'd put my stats and regression skills more at mid-level...
posted by wholebroad at 9:54 AM on January 12, 2010

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