What can I do with these skills?
July 6, 2010 10:35 AM   Subscribe

(Career Filter) Help me run away from the circus

Who I am
I'm an early thirties project manager at a large entertainment company. I’ve learned heaps at this job, I can’t say enough good things about this company, but at some point it is time to move on.

Why I want to leave
- The field is very niche, and I’d like to expand my project management skills to other areas and increase my employ-ability
- I don’t have a passion for the entertainment business anymore. I spend more time reading about other specialties than my own.
- I would like to leverage the brand name associated with this company to help me move to another field that has larger job market and greater earning potential
- My boyfriend lives in Chicago and it’s high priority next year that we get in the same city. Maybe Chicago, maybe Vancouver...

- Project Management skills with a heavy focus on scope and change management in a creative environment.
- Craftsperson for 6 years: welding, carpentry, sewing, sculpting, painting..
- An understanding of materials and design and how things are made
- Have worked in entertainment / theatre / production for 10 years
- Good one on one with people and good public speaker
- Like to communicate through writing
- Good people skills / compassionate / enjoy people
- Good at bringing out the best / supporting others / teaching
- Good mix between left brain / right brain thinking

The Quirks
- Don't manage stress very well
- Have a hard time with conflict
- Don’t love ambiguity, although well versed (I find creation environments exciting but very difficult)
- Late adopter. Not a gadget girl.

Design Thinking / Design Strategy / Research (IIT, IDEO, Adaptive Path...)
Stanford’s D School
Product Design (especially turned on by furniture design)
Interior Design
Fashion / Textiles / Jewellery
Nutrition / Sports
Human / organizational behaviour

The Question
I made a large leap upwards going from craftsperson to project manager, and I’m not looking for another major leap, as I think those are rare. I think I’m looking for a lateral career move, but I don’t know what that would look like, since there is no model for what I do. My experience is fairly unique. And on some level I dream about going back to school so I don’t get stuck in middle management, but I’m not sure about the time or money investment for that type of decision.

1) I think my unusual mix of craft and design management with strong people skills is worth a premium somewhere...but at what type of company?

2) What types of industries or areas of work could I be looking at with these unique skills where I would have the possibility of really good earning potential? Is the money only in IT / UX design these days?
posted by gillianr to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
memail me. I used to be the Director of Graduate Admissions at IIT. (And worked for the Second City before that)
posted by infini at 10:42 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife works in museums and it's common for an Exhibits team to consist of a prototyper/fabricator, a designer, a developer and a manager. It also seems relatively common for the managers to come from outside of the museums industry. I bet that, what with having a skill set that dabbles in all the relevant fields and management experience to boot, you'd be highly sought after.

I'd start looking at "Project Manager" positions at museums if I were you.
posted by 256 at 10:45 AM on July 6, 2010

There are three warehouses (at least) within walking distance of my apartment that do massive stage/set construction for concerts, shows, etc. This is New York, that stuff has to get made in Chicago too. Can't help with Vancouver.
posted by micawber at 10:54 AM on July 6, 2010

I'd look into event management companies as well. Parties, you say? Well, yes and no. You'd be surprised at the size and scope of these things. Someone with your skill set sounds like someone they'd need.
posted by Work to Live at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2010

Current craftsperson in touring theater here. There is a TON of work (albeit, maybe less in crappy economic climate) in event planning. Check out Frost Lighting - located in Chicago, NYC, DC, or some of the concert series in Chicago or Van. Also, there is a lot of film work in Chicago and Van that is easily transferable (though not particularly lucrative at first) and can be based in a geographical area w/o totally succumbing to an office environment. I've also met former company managers who've transitioned into jobs getting things made overseas for companies located in US, like office furniture, textiles, etc. Good luck! I've been trying to figure this out myself!
posted by ashtabula to opelika at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2010

Thanks for the answers so far! It's fun to think about the different possibilities.

256 that's a good suggestion, I wonder if the pay would be as good to where I am now. I'll do some research.

As for the other suggestions, I'm looking for a bit more of a leap away from live entertainment, which I think is fairly similar to event management.
posted by gillianr at 1:58 PM on July 6, 2010

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