All these jobs and I can't tell which one fits!
April 22, 2012 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I have the degrees. Now where do I go to feel worthwhile?

I have graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and an MBA after that. I'm currently somewhat underemployed, but I'm confident that I can find something that is a step up. The problem is that the only ones I seem properly educated for appear to also be the kind that will destroy me from the inside.

I'm best suited to the analytical/research areas of business, but I have to admit that I've hit a bit of a frustrating wall in finding what works and it's the only time my Google-fu fails me. "Career idea" sites and books like What Color Is Your Parachute are usually too vague or desperately miss the mark. The most likely suggestions that I have heard have been title research/landman, market analyst, and tech QA. I'm just afraid that the former two would feel both very stifling and ethically dodgy, while the latter feels like a dead end field unless I decide to learn programming beyond simple scripting.

What I'd really like to find would take advantage of my research/analytical skills. I don't need to save the world, but I'd prefer to sleep well at night knowing what I did would be considered beneficial. I know I'd be at entry level or close to it, which I'm okay with. I'm far more flexible on wages than most of my fellow MBA holders, but I'd really like to find something that starts out over $35k/year, depending on cost of living. I'm not tied down, so I can move nearly anywhere and travel as much as the job requires. I am willing to sacrifice money for good benefits such as flexible hours and time off whether paid or unpaid. I would really like to avoid direct public customer service if at all possible, otherwise I'd just stick with hotel management. I hear about consulting or archivist work, but I can't find any relevant details that appear to be legitimate.

Other notes of qualification-

I am in my late 20s. I am not a CPA nor remotely close to obtaining that title. I do have a few years of experience in the hotel industry, but I have yet to figure out how to parlay that into anything that is not general management of a franchise hotel. I am in the central-southern USA, but I have no trouble moving if there are good opportunities to be had. I am open to work that is not particularly related to my degree. I am open to further education, but I am not willing to spend three or four years before starting work.

So Metafilter, please help me. What sort of job titles should I -really- be looking for where I am qualified enough to get my foot in the door? Are there hotel-based jobs that don't involve angry customers on a regular basis? Would market analysis or title research be less stifling and more fulfilling than I think? Am I suited for one of these "consulting" jobs and I just don't know where to look?

Throwaway email-
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You don't know if a job will be soul-killing if you haven't tried it or spoken with someone who has. Does your MBA program have a career center? Have you been networking with contacts, or trying for informational interviews with people who you can connect with who are in the fields that interest you? Hotel management and customer service are always going to involve angry customers, but so does nearly every other job around in one way or another.

I think you might ditch your preconceived notions--why would doing title research be ethically dodgy? Landman jobs are usually in oil and gas--do you have an interest in those fields? I'm not sure how an MBA qualifies you as an archivist. I think your best bet is start doing rather more serious research into what jobs need people with your degrees and see how you can connect with companies or non-profits.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:11 AM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

BTW: consulting jobs aren't jobs in the traditional sense. To be a consultant you start your own small business and do contract work for other companies, whom you have to attract as customers.

As far as the qualities of "tech QA", I don't know if I'd call it "dead end" (you could potentially end up managing a whole QA department), but it is mind-numbingly boring (do the same thing over and over again on different versions of windows, or with different settings enabled, and see if anything goes wrong). It is, however, incredibly beneficial to the product and (at least around here) much, much better paying than $35k/year (think 2-3 times that much with a couple years experience). I'm not so much encouraging you to do this, but rather trying to give you more information about the field.

Also, I don't know why you think title research is ethically dodgy. I have a friend who does this and his job is to make sure the legal status of a property is known by all parties before it changes hands. If you're buying a property and it turns out someone else has an easement on part of it to be able to access their own land, this is a thing you'd want to know ahead of time, and this is the sort of thing he does. What's dodgy about that? It benefits all partie's involved and prevents costly mistakes.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:45 AM on April 22, 2012

ditch your preconceived notions

Agreed. You sound very confused and seem to be focused on what you don't want to do. That is like walking backward down the street, looking at where you've been, bumping into things and trying not to fall over.

Turn around and face the other way.

This may be a good place to start: Escape the City.

Get inspired.

Once you've gotten inspired, have a think about what you really want out of your work and life.
posted by nickrussell at 10:52 AM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

BTW: consulting jobs aren't jobs in the traditional sense. To be a consultant you start your own small business and do contract work for other companies, whom you have to attract as customers.

In context here, "consulting" doesn't mean being and independent consultant-- it means working for a management consulting company. The well known ones are McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Co., but these recruit almost exclusively from top tier universities and are very difficult to get a job with (good work if you can get it, though).

There are plenty of companies like this that take entry level people on the basis of their analytical skills and polish-- Monitor, Booz-Allen Hamilton, Accenture, and Price Waterhouse Cooper all come to mind.

The thing is when looking through job listings, you're looking for entry level jobs with the title "Analyst." People don't typically make these jobs their lifelong career-- rather, they use their contacts and experience to move into something else. But, like many entry level jobs, it's an opportunity to build skills that are valuable to employers.
posted by deanc at 11:31 AM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

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