You're probably wondering why I'm here, and so am I... so am I.
January 18, 2010 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm very close to walking out on both of my shitty jobs. What the hell can, and should I do with myself?

I work two jobs, both of which are telemarketing, and I'm about to walk out on both. One job, calling for a theatre in Philadelphia, I used to love (or at least tolerate), particularly when I'm doing fundraising for them. This year's fundraising campaign, however, has been terrible. I've been calling for five years, and even other long-term, top callers are struggling to meet goals and make money. Our new manager isn't helping matters.

As for my day job, I've only been at it for slightly over a year, but I'm burned out. I make well over 200 calls a day, barely speak to anyone, and pitch products by one of the most maligned companies in IT. I've never made goal, I'm still an entry-level employee, barely making ends meet, and nothing seems to change it.

I can't say I know what I want, specifically, but I know what I don't want. I don't want cold-calling, sales, and telemarketing. I also don't want to teach. I want something creative where I'm actually thinking and making stuff. I like doing web design, but I don't know if my skill set is good enough to get a professional job. I like writing. I like music. I like technology. I don't know what else. Also, I have a degree in English, which leaves me unqualified for a lot.

I've considered getting an A+ certification, and trying to get into IT, because I figure it's something I could tolerate. The certifications, though, cost money I don't have. I'm lost.

Someone, help. What can, and should I do with myself?
posted by SansPoint to Work & Money (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe you could work a day job as an office temp (if you can type, have basic proficiency on Word and Excel and a pleasant phone manner, you would probably make in the $15-22/hour range). Meanwhile, take a night course or two to gain some skills in web design or something else you like. Telemarketing can be a very shitty job- I did it for years, both for an arts organization I liked and a terribly scammy company. I don't blame you for hating it. You can do better, I'm sure. Good luck!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:41 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't have advice as to what field to go in, but I say pick something that you like that you know will pay a living wage and go back to school. Even part time.

Also, I have quit a miserable job without a back-up plan before. It worked out, but I learned: I would suggest hanging on to at least one job until you're registered for school and try and keep it through the first semester or so of school as well. A job that you've been at for a while is more likely to work around your schedule than a new gig. You don't want any more money problems than necessary while you're hitting the books. And you will probably still hate the job, but knowing that you're in school and moving toward another goal may make it more bearable.... for a while.

Good luck.
posted by roxie5 at 11:48 AM on January 18, 2010

I've had a few friends make themselves pretty decent careers in IT by starting out in tech support. Tech support, from what I hear, can be really annoying, dealing with people who are frustrated because their computer isn't working - however - if you have been able to do telemarketing for as long as you have, it might not bother you as much, clearly you have a talent for talking to people.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:11 PM on January 18, 2010

I feel your pain, SansPoint. I'm about your age, I live in Philly, I have an English and music degree, and I was recently on the job market. I think pseudostrabismus's suggestion of a temp agency is good, but maybe a little overly optimistic in terms of pay, based on my experience.

I say try the temp thing anyway and scour craigslist consistently. Lots of interesting and legitimate jobs pop up there in between the scams. You might try applying for legal assistant and other clerical positions. It can be very tough to find a well-paying, satisfying, creative job right off the bat. Good luck.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:14 PM on January 18, 2010

SansPoint... I think we've all been there at some point - I hear your frustration and in the current economy even well-meaning people will make it worse by suggesting that you not leave anything that's bringing in any income.

In terms of what you want to do or seem qualified to do? Maybe being an English major doesn't make you feel like a million dollar earner right now but in most businesses today - the quality of the writing is abysmal and companies all over the place need employees who are both creative AND reliable grammarians...

I agree with the person who suggested office temping - it's a great way to get started in an office situation anyway and with good writing skills, you'll be seen as valuable rather quickly.

Have you considered a career coach? They aren't very expensive and they can be well-trained - it's usually only a matter of a few sessions to get you on the right track - and if you are inclined to search for one - look for one that uses the DiSC assessment tools - they can be extremely helpful in helping you decide what kind of work environments you will excel in - and where your own strengths are - in terms of selling yourself (i.e., the kind of language to use in a resume or cover letter).

Lastly, if you are really strapped for cash, consider this about all good coaches - most offer free sample session (usually 30 minute sessions)... and most will happily give you a free session when you explain that you are trying out a number of coaches to find one that fits you - this is common practice. Connect with a few and ask them for the same help: you need to get a job you love and get out of the ones you are in. See where they take you!

In you want more information, let me know - I am really well informed about how to find the best trained coaches, career coaches specifically, the International Coaches Federation standards, and other questions you might have about career coaching.

Best of luck... Rachel
posted by RQP at 12:20 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you considered technical writing? I wear many hats, among which "technical writer" is one (I have a degree in French language and literature, grew up in a family of IT engineers so have always known how IT stuff works, can "translate" it well for regular people/users/etc.). The skills you have in HTML will come in handy, since many help files are written using it, and in any case, having a good grasp of basic layout skills is absolutely necessary. Technical Writer skill sets gives a decent overview. As a matter of fact — it mentions usability and testing — my own management suggested software testing to me, which has been another area I really enjoy. I'm very analytical and detail-oriented, and have made a name for myself as the tester to call on when people want to find defects that no one else can (a.k.a. bugs). You could look into the ISTQB for well-regarded testing certifications; the "Download" area has free documents available. (Bias alert, I'm "Foundation" certified and helped translate their 2009 "Advanced" level syllabus into French. I don't work for them, though.)
posted by fraula at 12:23 PM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: fraula Every single Technical Writing job I've found requires someone to have a degree in a specific field, like Chemistry or the like. Very frustrating.
posted by SansPoint at 12:28 PM on January 18, 2010

Would you consider a development job for the the Philadelphia theatre? You're already familiar with their history and past fundraising campaigns. If a development assistant/associate position opens up, you might want to give it a shot. Here's an example of the job description. You'll see that your computer skills and English degree would both come in handy.
posted by zerbinetta at 12:30 PM on January 18, 2010

Response by poster: zerbinetta Already applied for that!
posted by SansPoint at 12:31 PM on January 18, 2010

IT is a field full of people with degrees in the humanities who would rather be doing something else but need to get paid. You could certainly do worse.

Forget certifications for now. In 5 years I haven't met one working tech who had an A+ and would admit to it. Concievably it's desired by some HR departments; however, I wouldn't advise going through conventional channels for entry level IT. Openings are deluged by people who either 1) are idiots who managed to pass a test, or 2) are flat out lying about having passed a test.

Your qualifications are these:
- You have a college degree, indicating intelligence, desire to learn, discipline and long-term focus (yeah, yeah, bear with me)
- You know enough about computers and the Internet to design webpages, also maybe un-spyware Mom's computer, get your friend's wireless router working, etc.
- You're articulate and socially aware enough, proven in your previous sales experience, to interact with (pissy) customers without losing your head.
- You're willing to work and learn, and aren't just looking to get paid for playing flash games and pirating music.

No shit, assuming that's all at least half true you're already beating out the overwhelming majority of candidates for entry level IT jobs.

Your challenge - getting face time with an IT manager. Forget conventional hiring channels (see above). Ask friends of friends, friends' office's IT guys, cold contacts asking for an informational interview, whatever. Put that sales experience to work for yourself. If you make a connection and can present yourself as earnest and competent, doors will open.

(Philosophy major here. First jobs out of college: stocking auto parts at Walmart (night shift, no less) and photo lab. If I managed to become an IT professional...)
posted by a young man in spats at 12:34 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, then. Per the suggestions from a young man in spats, ad traffic might be a good in. You need to know Web tech, but not as much as a Web developer would. And you wouldn't be making the sales yourself, but your sales background would certainly make your resume stand out. Use the job to learn about the business and IT, and then move on from there.

When I was in the Internet industry, I started off in ad traffic and then moved on to Web production, which gives more room for creativity. But the ad traffic job certainly served as a good tech base.
posted by zerbinetta at 12:43 PM on January 18, 2010

Response by poster: zerbinetta How does one get into that line of work, and are there any companies like that in Philadelphia?
posted by SansPoint at 12:55 PM on January 18, 2010

Websites that are run out of Philadelphia and have ad banners, etc. tend to have a need for ad traffic coordinators. Think news websites and the like. If you do a search for "traffic coordinator" on job sites like, you'll find quite a few openings.

They often say that they want you to have traffic experience at an agency or similar site, but I promise you that I had absolutely none when I started. Emphasize your sales experience, specific Web skills (HTML, Java, etc.), and any time spent on project coordinating. They want to know that you're a) tech savvy, b) able to work in a fast-paced environment with people who are always in a hurry, c) organized, and d) generally smart and reliable.

In addition to going directly to the Web company, a lot of staffing agencies would be able to hook you up. Unfortunately, in my experience anyway, I find that HR people tend to lack creativity when filling these kinds of positions, and will only consider applicants who've already held the exact titles of the jobs the agency is trying to fill. (I'm in NYC though, and maybe things in Philadelphia are different.) I couldn't hurt to try though.

And, of course, as mentioned above, ask everyone you know who has a Web job in the city.
posted by zerbinetta at 1:12 PM on January 18, 2010

Along the note of zerbinetta's suggestion, look specifically for advertising headhunters/recruiters. These people deal exclusively with agencies and can not only get you in the door but teach you how to spin your resume to make you a winner even though you lack actual agency experience.

If you do go that route just know that while you won't be sitting at a phone bank with a manager breathing down your neck, you will probably be working late hours for low pay in a high stress environment with not just a manager breathing down your neck, but also multiple advertisers/clients.

I worked at agencies for several years in account management/strategy and I made the decision to leave when I figured out my hourly rate based on how many hours I was working and factored in the amount of stress it was causing me.

Of course your situation might be different and it might indeed be an improvement over your current job.
posted by Elminster24 at 5:01 PM on January 18, 2010

There are lots of non-profits that need experienced over the phone fundraisers. Because of the high turn over rate there tend to be positions open, even in this tough economy. Polling service are another telemarketing type job that I found encounters a lot less crabby people. I found in my time doing polls that people generally enjoyed getting to share their opinions on things... pay $14-$18 an hour...
posted by meta x zen at 12:41 PM on March 2, 2010

« Older How best to renegotiate rent on commercial...   |   Trudgery drudgery Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.