Be my high school guidance counselor: what career should I choose?
December 29, 2011 12:26 PM   Subscribe

What are some jobs that are task-oriented but will still make use of my creativity and university education?

I am considering a career change (probably not for a few years, unless something awesome comes along, but I want to start planning my path now). I have an undergraduate degree in the humanities and am now working on an M.A. with a focus on community studies and/or work, organization, and leadership (it's kind of up in the air at the moment, but I may go for a double-focus).

Once I am finished (or near finished) the master's, I want to find a career that I can settle into for the long haul. So far, I have not found that career.

In all of my working years, my favourite job was working in retail. I had a lot of freedom (I was left mostly unsupervised after proving I was a good worker), I had some creative control over how I accomplished certain tasks, and the job was very task-oriented. Plus, I never had to take my work home with me. When the day was over, I could stop thinking about work until I arrived back at the store the next day. If I could work in retail and earn as much as I do at my office job, I might still be doing it.

Of course, I am going to be a bit over-educated for a basic retail job once I finish my master's. I want to actually make use of the skills and education that I am paying to receive.

What kind of jobs/careers will allow me to be very task-oriented, hopefully not take my work home with me, and be creative and not let my university degrees be a waste of time and money? The higher the wage, the better, obviously, but since this is largely a brain-storming exercise, feel free to assume that wages/salary are not important.

I am also open to the possibility of entrepreneurship.

Other things that may be relevant:
  • I am working full time while doing my master's, so I can gain some on the job experience effective immediately;
  • I live in Canada;
  • I am a pretty decent writer (even if my MeFi posts don't reflect that);
  • I tend to get bored and distracted easily if I don't have specific tasks to accomplish;
posted by asnider to Work & Money (3 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This might still be a waste of your education, but tutoring has been a good side-job for me, and there are a lot of different kinds of opportunities - from high end GMAT, LSAT for driven college students, SAT tutoring for wealthy teenagers or disadvantaged youth, or subject tutoring for elementary to college age kids. I'm also a very task driven person, and I do online tutoring in 1/2 hour sessions in physics and essay writing. My favorite part is probably at the beginning, when we break down the few things we need to get done and then DO them. The clearer the goals the better. The kid is usually really appreciative too. Maybe you could work in a slightly more managerial capacity for a youth-tutoring organization, but that doesn't really reach your goals of having a discrete work time...

I'm really interested to see what others say, because although I'm in the sciences I have a similar proclivity for task-oriented work and don't want to get too married to my job when I leave grad school - I still want to have a life. Working on experimental research has been pretty amenable to the task-oriented approach when I can plan effectively and my advisor doesn't demand too much at one time from me.
posted by permiechickie at 1:55 PM on December 29, 2011

Depending on how well you work and communicate with certain age groups or demographics, education might work well for you! Organising and delivering tutorials, classes or other activities involves executing lots of small tasks in a creative manner. As a bonus, it is impossible to become distracted when you are in charge of children/teenagers/students.

However, one thing I would say having tested the waters in professional, service and academic industries is that salaries tend to increase with responsibility. It is rare to find a wage that you can save for a mortgage with while maintaining a 9-5 mentality. An exception to this, as you suggest, may be becoming a freelancer/entrepreneur, though I don't know a single self-employed person who has entirely separated their personal and professional time.
posted by dumdidumdum at 2:22 PM on December 29, 2011

A government job in the Yukon would probably hit the spot. You get to influence change and as the population is small the portfolios are very broad and offer diversity. Plus there are incentives for travel and education in most employment packages. The community is artistic so outside of work you will be able to use your writing in a more eclectic way - buy you know that already don't you?
posted by YukonQuirm at 9:13 AM on February 12, 2012

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