I'm lost!
May 19, 2012 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Help me plan my next career move

Or, really, my first career move. I have managed to reach the age of 25 with no real career direction or goals, or any idea what I want to do with myself. I graduated with a B.A. in environmental studies in '09, and since, I have worked in a bar, interned in development at an environmental nonprofit, interned as a reporter at a neighborhood newspaper, taught ESL to adults in NYC and teenagers abroad, and currently work in a call center for a luxury retail product.

I am a temp right now and live in Seattle, and while I liked my job when I first started, I have been temping for about 7 months and now just feel very undervalued and bored. I am moving back to NYC in two weeks, where my boyfriend is, and have a summer job lined up teaching teenagers at an ESL language summer camp-type set up. I really don't like teaching teens though, and this is basically a job so that I can more or less land on my feet in New York.

I really want to start building a career and going in some sort of direction, but I can't pin myself down on any one idea for more than a day or two. I am a good writer/editor, catch grammatical mistakes easily, love interacting with lots of new people, like high-energy environments, get bored fairly quickly, and like working in team environments (not that I can't work on my own). I am fairly creative and not at all techy or math-oriented.

The ideas I have come up with and keep coming back to are copy editor/writer (though I wonder if this would be too solitary), an HR specialty (like HR development), real estate agent, something somehow related to environmental consulting, or working with a study abroad company somehow (I love traveling, speak fluent Spanish, and have spent a lot of time living abroad). I don't know very much about any of these fields.

My boyfriend is pretty successful for his age and works as a designer at digital agency in New York. He has been talking to people and trying to find me connections--like assistant editor at a magazine and a few HR openings. I have a feeling that any "career type" job I get will come through him, since my friends are in a similar position to me and last time I tried to find a job through blind resume-sending I wound up in my temp position after searching for three months.

So, my questions are-- what advice would you give to me? I feel like all my jobs have been rather dead-end except for teaching, but I don't want to be a teacher or have an interest in getting a master's in education. I want to start a real career, with some upward mobility. I don't mind working longer than 9-5, but I'd like to have a normal schedule with weekends off (my schedule now is all over the place). I'd like to be able to travel for work eventually and have some flexibility. I would like to start out making around 30k if possible, but I'd like to eventually be able to make around 80-90k once I work my way up. Should I just send out resumes/follow up with my boyfriend's leads until the first thing comes up, then take that? Do any of these fields sound like a good fit for my personality and background? How do I narrow this down and just choose ONE?

Thanks in advance :)
posted by queens86 to Work & Money (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm an online campaigner for an advocacy nonprofit and, based on what you've written here, I think you might enjoy that work. Lots of editing and writing, but also pretty collaborative and social. There's obviously some techy aspects but less than you'd think, since developers do most of the serious coding.

If you're interested in this, check out the New Organizing Institute's job board (not restricted to these kinds of jobs, but specializes in them), and feel free to memail me if you have specific questions.
posted by lunasol at 1:26 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

You studied environmental studies, and interned at an environmental nonprofit, why not further explore that field?
posted by salvia at 3:18 PM on May 19, 2012

I think communications would be a good fit. You could work with teams to put together materials. You'd use your writing skills. You could do this at any of the types of organization's you've listed, including NGOs and international service or study abroad organizations. Maybe you could get into some training later on, to get some teaching in.

Marketing or online work--like social media--might be a good fit, too. You can start practicing these things now by getting your blog and social media accounts up to speed.

It sounds like you are well-placed and on your way! I can tell you that once you're in a good company or organization, you'll learn more about what you want to do and can maybe do some moving around within that place.
posted by ramenopres at 8:40 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

The problem with the nonprofit route is that making 80-90k is going to be tough unless you're the one in charge.

How one of the big forest products companies? They employ folks with backgrounds like yours for PR/community relations/marketing. IIRC Weyerhauser has a building on the way up Mt. St. Helens that tells the story of how they reforested the area in a managed way. There's a guy there who walks you through it. Pretty neat, actually, because it's built above the dividing line between their portion and the Park Service portion that was left to recover naturally.

Alternatively, you could try the Forest Service/NPS/Dept of Agriculture.
posted by pandanom at 10:56 AM on May 20, 2012

The problem with the nonprofit route is that making 80-90k is going to be tough unless you're the one in charge.

This is a pretty typical salary for senior management (ie, head of a department, Deputy Director, etc) at larger nonprofits in most markets. Which, if you stick around long enough in the sector, you will eventually be.
posted by lunasol at 4:24 PM on May 27, 2012

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