I want to be a contender.
June 22, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm languishing in my job. I have no career path. I'm closing in on 35 and I like beer. Apprenticeships for the underachieving?

I've been in the same job, doing the same thing for ten years and, to be honest, it hasn't done me any good. I haven't gained any skills. Windows haven't opened. I really haven't even developed much as a person. (In fact, I think I've regressed and lost a few IQ points too.) I'm tired, down, low on self esteem, and generally grey. All in all, my current job is bad for me.

I want out. But it's not simple. I need my job. I need the money.

Evening classes and correspondent courses are out of the question; prevented by lack of time and funds. I have no savings nor any chance of savings.

Deep down, I know I need a major re-education. I need to get good at something. I left school with so much promise but that promise was never built upon. Now I'm in need of a fairy-godmentor.

In an ideal world, I would quit my job and go back to full time education -- take some time to 'develop' -- but I have debts to pay and mouths to feed. Besides, I'm not sure what I want to do any more. I've lost my passion for things and I find myself complaining about everything.

And so, my question:

Are there any opportunities in the UK where an employer (or other money giving entity) will say: "Well, you show promise in X. I know you're only a novice, but let me train you. Your starting salary will be £25k."?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (13 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Deep down, I know I need a major re-education.

You have access to the internet which is a great start. Focus on your passions or likes first and see where that takes you. For example....if you like beer, research the process involved with making it. Get familiar with the styles and variety of ingredients that go into them. Maybe even try a little bit of homebrewing. If you get that far and still love it as a hobby, consider working at a local brewery, pub, or bottle shop.
posted by samsara at 8:18 AM on June 22, 2011

I cannot answer your main question. However. I've been listening to language-learning tape (Pimsleur's Czech series) in my car for the past month+, and it's made me feel...smarter. Really. That may be a stopgap for you.
posted by notsnot at 8:19 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

During my 20s and 30s I dealt with similar situations and feelings. For what it's worth, experience has since then shown me that life is much more surprising and fluid than I assumed it was. If you could at all afford to, taking a vacation would refresh you and could be a big help in the short term.
posted by Paquda at 8:30 AM on June 22, 2011

This could be me! Although this isn't the answer you're looking for, completing Couch to 5K is changing the way I feel about my life. In 12 weeks I've pushed through lethargy and pain and learned to run 5 kilometers. Watching myself grow and develop on a weekly basis, acheiving things I never thought possible is fantastic! So my advice is to do something - anything, which will renew your faith in yourself. That's step one!
posted by sleepy boy at 9:10 AM on June 22, 2011

Would the military be an option?

I mean this seriously: I know here in Canada the military offers subsidized education if you're willing to commit to a certain contract term. They're also interested in officer-material (people with education, experience, age, etc.), and even pay fairly well.

It would be a very dramatic change, not without its own set of difficulties, but maybe that's exactly what you need?

Other than that, I would say you need to get out now. Obviously that is tough with mouths to feed, but if things are as bleak as you make them (no joy? no chance for savings? like ever?!), then find a way to transition to something (anything!) else.

Even if it's not the fairy godmentor you're after, you need to make a big change, just for the hell of it.

Good luck!
posted by hamandcheese at 9:18 AM on June 22, 2011

I was in exactly your position at the age of 33 - although I had a fairly decent job with good career prospects, it was with a bank and I felt totally unfulfilled.

On a whim I applied to do the JET program (Japanese Government scheme to teach english in Japanese schools). To my surprise (I had no teaching experience nor Japanese ability) I was accepted and was faced with the biggest decision of my life.

I went for it and my whole world is now almost completely different - I'm back in England with a new teaching career and really happy.

I'm not saying that you should go to Japan, but maybe taking a radical chance needn't be so scary.

Good luck
posted by mairuzu at 9:23 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

PS I like beer too.
posted by mairuzu at 9:24 AM on June 22, 2011

PS The Jet program pays remarkably well (in excess of £20K) for a job with very little real responsibility.
posted by mairuzu at 9:25 AM on June 22, 2011

Also: seek professional help!

Not necessarily the therapeutic kind (although if you are depressed it might not hurt), but rather the career development kind. Go talk to admissions counselors at some post-secondary institutions. Seek out some options. There are frequently programs to help mature students and people with income issues. Also, it would surprise me if you couldn't get your debts looked at through some sort of service or gov't agency to help them be more manageable or put them on hold while you go back to school.

Student loans and bursaries and things often have provisions for living expenses, including for families of mature students. Go check these options out, and find someone in the know who can help you navigate them.

You're not the only thirty-something who has sought a change!
posted by hamandcheese at 9:26 AM on June 22, 2011

PPS - sorry I missed the bit about 'mouths to feed' which probably complicates matters
posted by mairuzu at 9:26 AM on June 22, 2011

Count me in as another "this could be me", who will be watching this thread with interest.

Unlike sleepy boy, getting involved in outside activities hasn't helped me much.

I have all sorts of stuff I'm involved in outside of work that I enjoy (hobbies, sports, volunteer work, pets, friends, etc.), but when you spend 3/4 of your waking hours doing something that gives you no joy or feeling of accomplishment, it doesn't help a whole lot that you enjoy what you do during that other 1/4.

Even worse, in my case it just makes me pine for any number of things I *could* be doing, except I'm wasting away in a cubicle because I have a mortgage (that's underwater) to pay, and need to eat.

Wish I had an answer for the career-change-in-a-shitty-economy-with-significant-pre-existing financial-commitments conundrum. If you find it, let me know.
posted by zen_spider at 9:53 AM on June 22, 2011

There are actually a limited number of funded places on apprenticeship schemes for over-25s. However, they are in hot demand and I doubt the pay comes even close to hitting the 25 grand figure you're after.

You can do employment-based teacher training where you get a job in a school as an unqualified teaching assistant and study for a PGCE at the same time. The higher end of the London salaries quoted on the website I linked just about makes it over your threshold, particularly for inner London. However, you would need to be a graduate or else have some experience doing some kind of teaching. If you would be able to teach maths or science, you would be in a much stronger position.

Otherwise, there do exist jobs where you go in as someone not-particularly-qualified and then basically define the role yourself. I'm arguably in one of them (I was hired for my skills with Excel spreadsheet formulae and now design and administer multiple SQL Server databases) and a good friend of mine is in another (Her bosses said to her 'Hey, some stuff you've said has made it apparent that we need to have someone to manage the office and handle HR. We'll give you expenses for all the books you'll have to buy to learn how to do the job.') However, almost by definition it won't be apparent which jobs they are until you're in them and you realise that there is potential for role-expansion. Also, the pay will probably not be what you're hoping - 25k is pretty high for any entry-level or training position, even in London. People paying you 25k are generally doing so because you don't need much supervision and are not likely to mess up.

Can you get a mod to post what your existing skills/experience/qualifications actually are? It may be that some of them are enough to provide a toehold into something else (like the way Mathsy skills are a good basis for a teaching career).
posted by Acheman at 9:58 AM on June 22, 2011

I don't want to say it but I'm in the same boat, and I'm a few years older - I'm 43! I've probably felt the same way since I was 35 also!

Unfortunately, I don't have a solution for you but I do have some questions - you say you have 10 years in this job. How many do you have to have to retire? I'm sure it's different in the UK (where I assume you are) than the USA. I sort of gave up trying to find a different career path when I had more than 1/2 of the years towards what I needed to retire (25) - I have 18 now, so with luck I'll be able to retire at 50 from this job with full bennies.

Can you expand your skills online while at work? Will your employer pay for any training opportunities? These are some things I've been successful at sort of easing the pain with. Can you take on more responsibilities at work in other areas? If you're motivated enough to ask here about how to change I would think you could do the same at your workplace? Make yourself as useful as possible even if you think the tasks are not important.

Get into homebrewing (I like beer and have been homebrewing for 15 years). You'll meet new people and will at least get an idea of what it is like to do something else besides deskwork (hint - making beer involves a lot of washing things, cleaning things, and sanitising things...but it's still more fun than being at a desk!).

Finally, one thing I haven't seen mentioned here is: don't think about this too much. I am not 100% sure that it's possible to "have it all", happy home life, good health, fulfilling recreation time, and a job that is perfect. I think some people do and they are really lucky. But a lot of have some or most of things, but not all. Keep it all in perspective, man - it's just a job!

Drink a pint of real ale for me while you're at it.
posted by dukes909 at 12:28 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

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