I'm aware that networking and meeting people is the key to getting jobs, I just can't figure out which career field to network with.
October 5, 2012 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Careers/jobs that combine quantitative skills, creativity, problem-solving, and big-picture thinking?

I'd prefer something that matches the above but doesn't involve an 80-hour work week, programming, or public education. Income requirement would be about 30k per year, all I really need at the moment. I have very high GRE scores, so something requiring a master's is no problem so long as the cost will be worth the benefit.

About me: Graduated in '08 into recession, majored in theater in a non-US country (great life decision, horrible career decision) with no alumni base outside of NYC where I can't afford to relocate. Thanks to lack of marketable skills + recession I couldn't find any work when I got back to the US. Fell into a test-tutoring job with Kaplan, then had a program management position with a college access nonprofit via Americorps VISTA but no jobs followed (full-time nonprofit program manager jobs wanted 2-3 years of experience so I never made it past the interview, plus I've never gotten an interview outside of education-related fields which I have no desire to work in). I'm back to test-tutoring and I'm sick of it, so I'm looking for a change.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Spatial technologies? Try the geospatial revolution website for a great intro into the industry.
posted by micklaw at 7:24 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by lulu68 at 7:40 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe you could try the field of market research.
posted by Leontine at 7:41 PM on October 5, 2012

Most scientific careers are, in theory, that way (for varying values of big picture thinking). The problem is that a lot of would be scientific careers are not as sciency as one might hope. See every rant I've every posted in a corporate science thread.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:06 PM on October 5, 2012

Actuarial science?
posted by Wordwoman at 9:13 PM on October 5, 2012

"Big picture" and "quantitative skills" are kind of mutually exclusive, maybe you can add some nuance here? However, I don't see any real quant in your question, so I dunno. You sound like someone any nonprofit could use, but that might not pay well enough.
posted by rhizome at 9:32 PM on October 5, 2012

Project management
posted by raw sugar at 11:01 PM on October 5, 2012

Masters in Public Health. Although you can get a PhD (such as in Epidemiology as suggested above), the Masters is widely respected and can be applied in many job settings. You can be a quantoid and look at the big picture (interventions at the population level) or you can run programs, using your project management skills.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:58 AM on October 6, 2012

Logistics! I work for a freight forwarding company and I think big-picture thinking skills are essential for success. We also have to be creative and solve problems. It's not glamorous but I actually really enjoy it and find it interesting, and I'm usually not there past 5:30. There is money to be made if you're in sales or the boss, I'm still entry level but the next position up from mine pays about 50k. Memail me if you want info!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:37 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Strategy- check out companies like IDEO.com. IDEO's a tough place to find a job, but there are lots of similar companies out there. You'd work with businesses to creatively solve problems.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:22 AM on October 6, 2012

A lot depends on what exactly you mean by things like "quantitative skills", "big-picture thinking" etc. If you can clarify what you mean, people may be able to help you better. For example, I find it hard to imagine how you get anything that I'd personally call "quantitative skills" from a degree in Theater.

One possibility to consider is doing an MBA and looking to get into consulting. The big name consulting firms do tend to have very long hours, though not all of them, but in-house consulting groups can be a lot better there.

An MBA can also allow you to explore a lot of different sectors and possible career paths, helping you to figure out where you really want to go. And it's certainly good for networking, and for getting people to consider you for business jobs a little removed from your past experience.
posted by philipy at 10:47 AM on October 6, 2012

Business Analyst - they're used mostly in IT, but not always. Even if it's IT related, you don't have to be a programmer, just understand the concerns the programmers bring to the table. Usually this comes down to "We have competing projects, limited resources, and our guys don't want to work crazy hours to get this done."

You end up using big picture skills - taking in all of the requirements from all interested parties, and making sure they and the project match up with the overall goals of the company - plus analytic skills - which requirements should be dropped, and why? What resources can you use and how will the team get this done?

Feel free to MeMail me if you have questions or want more info.
posted by RogueTech at 12:46 PM on October 6, 2012

I work in what could broadly be called "policy research" – specifically research that's supposed to inform (usually government) policy development. It's something that goes on within government, but also gets done by people outside government such as think tanks and consultants.

It's different to a lot of more academic research work because the policy and political context is important – it's no good proposing and extensively researching a solution that no one is ever going to implement. That's where the big picture thinking is important – you need to be focused on the whole policy environment, not just your little niche. It also requires quite a lot more "consultation with stakeholders" than research which isn't as policy focused. You also need to be able to explain what it all means very simply and concisely.

A lot of this sort of research is also outsourced, which means you don't need to be an expert in the field yourself, but you have to know enough about it to know when someone is bullshitting you. Knowing your way around quant analysis is very handy. When I'm looking for people in this role ideally I'd want someone familiar with various types of regression analysis at least, but may settle for more basic stats skills if they have complimentary qual or writing skills to compensate.

As to where to network I can't really help you. I got my job the old fashioned way – responded to a job ad. But the sort of job ads you'd be looking for in this area are things like "research officer" for government departments, or "research analysts" for NGOs. And then in your application you need to demonstrate how your own experience is relevant to the particular domain.
posted by damonism at 6:36 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look into management consulting. Specifically Strategy consulting work.
posted by The1andonly at 10:50 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

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