What Do I Want To Do?
February 22, 2005 1:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering a career change, but to what?

Currently, I'm doing tech support and doing well at it. I have plenty of responsibility and autonomy, am well compensated and work in a pretty good environment, but I just can't see doing this for the rest of my life. Does anyone have any experience with one of those career counseling companies? Did they help you to find something that you loved to do for a living? I'm concerned that they're going to tell me that I have an aptitude for systems administration (already doing that, thanks). One thing I have thought of idly was getting back into archaeology (I came this close to getting a degree in it, but finished with a history degree instead). I'm trying to volunteer for some field work, but I'm concerned that I'm too old to get into the profession and I want to see if I can find something that's perfect for me that I haven't considered anyway.
posted by ursus_comiter to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have any experience with career counseling, but I will put in a plug for what I do, business academia. I am currently getting a Ph.D. in business and I will pursue a job as an academic. I love to tell people it is a loophole in society. It has a lot of the benefits that other professor jobs have, autonomy, flexibility of schedule, etc. but it also pays well and it is not difficult to get a job. If you are interested in hearing more email me (email is in profile) and I can send you other stuff.
posted by bove at 2:09 PM on February 22, 2005

I have gone back and forth from IT to machine shop (machinist & cnc programmer) jobs several times, and every time I enjoy the switch. The novelty takes a few years to wear off, and then I go elsewhere. It's made for a slightly scattered CV, but these days I put my skills ahead of work history.

Go for it; do something new, you have valuable skills that you can bank on later if you need money and can't find employment. It wouldn't be a bad idea to save a bit before changing, since you may have to take a significantly lower-paying job in your new field.
posted by wzcx at 2:16 PM on February 22, 2005

With all due respect to bove, going into a PhD program is the worst possible thing you can do if you aren't sure what you want to do.

Philosophically speaking, you're never too old to do something you love, although it may be harder than if you'd done it earlier. But if you're willing to do your homework and go into it with open eyes (not just because you're tired of what you're doing now and have daydreams about how much better it would be -- and I'm not saying that you are), then I say I go for it.
posted by casu marzu at 2:56 PM on February 22, 2005

I haven't read it in a while, but What Color is Your Parachute struck me as helpful when I looked at it a few years ago. Your local library will have a copy.
posted by Alt F4 at 6:07 PM on February 22, 2005

I wasn't encouraging you to start a Ph.D. sight unseen, just that I thought my career was enjoyable and you might want to check it out to gather more information. I definitely agree that you should look at a lot of things to determine what you might enjoy. However, I have found that not a lot of people know about what it means to work as an academic in business and so I like to tell people about it as a potential option.
posted by bove at 7:04 PM on February 22, 2005

I don't have any experience with a career counseling company, but I'll relate an approach that has worked for several people I've known.

Talk to people. Lots of people. Ask them what they do, what their day's like, what are the good parts and the bad parts. This is often called an "informational interview" but I usually think of it as a directed conversation over a cup of coffee. Of course you are probably already talking to your friends, so the trick is to find friends of friends who are doing something in a field of interest.

In every field I've been in there have always been interesting sorts of jobs and job opportunities that you wouldn't really know about with being in the field or talking to people in the field for a while. You may have already have done this with archaeology, but if not I'd say it would be a good place to start.

And echoing wzcx: Think about your resume and your highly employable self as a set of skills, experiences, and capabilities rather than a work chronology or set of job titles.
posted by donovan at 7:20 PM on February 22, 2005

The absolute best advice I got from a guidance counsellor at uni was to think about the sorts of people I'd like to work with... that gave me an idea of a much better course to study.
posted by bruceyeah at 12:35 AM on February 23, 2005

"think about the sorts of people I'd like to work with"

I can't speak for u_c, but that's the best career advice I've ever heard, and that's no hyperbull either. I can't believe I haven't heard it before, or thought of it myself. thx, b
posted by mischief at 8:12 AM on February 23, 2005

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