Help me find my career path
November 16, 2011 1:47 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a new career (apologies for the long ramble) - I know there are lots of posts asking about switching to a more creative career, but I want to go the other way.

I have always viewed myself as a 'creative' person. While my previous jobs have not really been in that field (administration, management and then editing and research) I always thought that finding a 'creative' job would sustain me. I now have a small letterpress studio that is still in the beginning stages, and while it is fun, it doesn't quite feel 'right'.

The other day I did an online personality test, based on the Myers-Briggs test. The result really surprised me. So I found another, with different questions, and got the same result. And then another. And another. I know they are not 'the real thing' if they are online, but I got exactly the same result, almost down to exactly the same percentages, with different questions (INTJ if you are in to that kind of thing). Thinking about it, if I think about what I am good at and what really absorbs me, rather than what I am interested in and what I would 'probably like' this result actually makes a lot of sense. I like cataloguing and classifying, planning and organising; I like editing more than writing (I have been doing a little bit of freelance editing work, but the market here in the UK is very hard to get in to). Even with creative pursuits, often the planning and 'technical minutiae' are fun for me.

So I am looking to change career - can you help me find something that I can do well, get absorbed in, and fits the special snowflake criteria below. I was thinking of training as an indexer but not sure there is much call for the job.

Special factors - I am happy to retrain (I have an undergrad degree with a double major in History and a Masters in International Relations, both from good Australian universities) but it would have to be by distance/online. And I need to find something that is 'Location Independent' - over the next decade we are going to be moving a lot, as in every 18 months to two years. So something like an archivist is not going to fit the bill.

BTW - I am 35, so probably need to get a move on!
posted by Megami to Work & Money (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
INTJ who loves classifying and planning, here. You might like computer programming or database design. It is very possible, technologically speaking, to work from home or wherever, as long as you find an employer that's ok with that setup.
posted by vytae at 4:21 AM on November 16, 2011

Technical documentation writing?
posted by carter at 4:37 AM on November 16, 2011

Hi there. I have two thoughts for you, to be executed in parallel.

The first is that starting a new business is an often daunting task, and these kinds of thoughts and concerns are common. There was a great article in the NYT some time ago (cannot find it at the moment) about making creative passions/hobbies into jobs. The gist was that with the economic reshuffling continuing and making it difficult for many to find work, enterprising individuals took to making their passions into jobs.

Their findings were that running a business is running a business. The most exciting photography studio or cupcake bakery still has books to be balanced, payments to be made, contracts to negotiate and settle, etc. I have worked with startups for most of my life, and the rewards for start-up businesses are often very different than one imagines. In fact, the entire experience is often very different from what one first imagined. Hence, why there are professional managers that don't really take in interest in the products of a business, for the business itself is their product.

I mention this first point because the fact that your current business doesn't feel quite right is very important. It would be good to determine why it doesn't feel quite right, whether it's the wrong thing for you to be doing, or if you are at a point in the experience that will change and fade in time.

It's important to distinguish "what" and "where". You may be doing the correct role for you (the what is right) but are at an uncomfortable part of the process (the where is not quite right). Or you may be doing the wrong thing (the what is wrong) and something else may satisfy you to a greater degree. What usually will not change; where certainly will.

That is the first point and it's important because you already have a lot of energy in that direction and do not want to change direction, squander your momentum, only to find out that the new direction is not satisfying either. Thus, have a thought about identifying what about the current role isn't quite right and perhaps that will help illuminate your path ahead.

Secondly, in parallel, you can start exploring other options and finding out about other things whilst maintaining your current direction. In terms of the INTJ, it's a hallmark of the scientist if I recall correctly. Introverted attention, intuitive processes, thinking objectively, and acting definitely, with resolved judgement.

Based on your unique snowflake bits and enjoyment of the editing process, there are many career roles which will open to you, either directly or with additional training. I would encourage you to really think about what the process of editing involved. It involves taking a large group of entities, qualifying their relevance, and producing a refined group of entities in an accessible format.

Corporate recruiting (a very uncreative field for the most part) involves substantial editing and arranging of candidate details. The recruiter "edits" potential candidates for contracting employers.

Market research (a semi-creative field) involves reviewing primary and secondary research, deriving themes, and assembling supporting content to create a brief for corporate and advertising customers.

Running a small shop involved editing in the form of selecting products to put on the shelf and managing all of the details that come with customer transactions.

Thus, the skill of 'editing' is a very rich vein to be mined for potential opportunities. I would encourage you to think really broadly about it. Laterally. What do you enjoy about the editing process? Is it taking something good, cutting out the slop, and making it great? Is it helping individuals better express themselves to their target audiences? Is it the inherent reward of cleaner results?

The other area that may interest you is general project management. That is, ensuring all the moving parts operate in harmony. Many large and small firms need great project managers, for it does not matter how good each musician is if they cannot play together. This is also a very rich career vein with it's own certification body and community of practitioners.

There's a great book by Sri Kumar Rao called "Are you ready to succeed" in which he defines a process for making your current job into the job you really want. As mentioned previously, present momentum is often undervalued, and it may be preferable to shift toward a new direction, rather than stop completely and start over.

As far as being 35, Jung always talked about the seminal dream, whereby all of one's previous experiences both in and outside of work come together to serve one role -- and that is the nirvana of work when work ceases to feel like work. Watch for your bliss when examining your current work and new opportunities. When you find some bliss, let it marinade for a little while to ensure its sticky, and then proceed on the advice of the intuition that has served you thus far.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by nickrussell at 6:03 AM on November 16, 2011 [13 favorites]

My dad is INTJ and ran a publishing company for 20 years by having someone else do the mucking around. I think the fact you've started your own printing shop is amazingly admirable. You [might] have real talent (I don't know really). However, you need a salesperson to sell your ability to produce good work. That's a tough but do-able thing that you should look to get sorted before jumping into the next line of work. Frankly, as an employer I would wonder why someone is leaving running a generally awesome line of work to be a market researcher.
posted by parmanparman at 7:05 AM on November 16, 2011

Records management. All organizations from health care systems to corporations in the private sector need a system to organize, catalog, store and destroy (ultimately) all their records, more so with all the privacy legislation in place these days.
posted by lulu68 at 7:24 AM on November 16, 2011

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I have been doing some internet surfing and think maybe Enterprise Content Management, or just Content Management in general, might be a good fit. I have previously worked in a role that was mainly document creation and control, and enjoyed that. And I have worked on using and testing bespoke database systems and found that interesting, so I guess there is that to it. Now I just have to figure out how to train and get a job in the field ... if that is what I want to do.

parmanparman, I totally get your point. The letterpress print shop is really just at the tipping point of serious hobby to potential 'career', so I guess this is also about deciding if that is really something I want to devote my life to, especially considering if I am going to make a serious go of it my partner has to consider what he does, as it currently means moving around a lot, and if the printing thing is going to be serious that really needs to stop. So as well as the 'what are my true strengths' there is the 'am I choosing something that is a good fit in terms of interests and something I can devote the rest of my working life to' if that makes sense.
posted by Megami at 9:16 AM on November 16, 2011

good luck!
posted by parmanparman at 4:49 PM on November 16, 2011

maybe you need to dump your partner? If you want to settle and he doesn't that's saying something considering you have started your own business.
posted by parmanparman at 4:50 PM on November 16, 2011

parmanparman, he has been incredibly supportive, has bankrolled much of it, and the reason we move around is his career is in the Army. No I will not be dumping the man I love and father of my child so I can run a print shop I am kind of not sure is the right thing for me!

But thanks for the other comments.
posted by Megami at 12:05 AM on November 17, 2011

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