When I come home from work, I no longer want work to come home with me.
June 8, 2013 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm in my late 30's and I need a new career, one whose responsibilities focus on the things I am better at while avoiding the things I'm awful at that make me grit my teeth. I'm a bright person, with better than average people skills, innate tech savvy, and terrific problem solving abilities. I am plain-spoken and genuine and I have endless reserves of positivity that put people at ease. But I sink like a stone when asked to tackle long term projects that require planning, organization, and longer-term time management. I'm not amitious and I'm not competitive. I've fought so long to improve at my jobs by addressing these shortcomings, but now I'm wondering if I couldn't just find a job where these skills were less important to begin with. What kind of fields could I be looking into? Additional snowflakes inside.

I've got a job, a good job, even, with decent pay for an ethical company. But it's a blue collar/sales service job that requires a level of ambition, organization, and near 24/7 responsibility I just can't sustain, and so, I'm really not great it. Plus, it's lousy with manual labor and I'm on-call entirely too much. There are enough parts I'm good at in my job that I manage a vague acceptability to my work. But with all of the things I'm terrible at, I'm emphatically not great. I worry my bosses could lose patience with that at any time, quite reasonably. I can take this for a few more years, but the only path for advancement would be to double down on all of the aspects of it that I hate--the sales, the planning, the long hours.

So I need something new.

Guidelines for new career:
  • Requires no more than two years-ish of study to get the required certification/degree.
  • Can be studied for with evening (or possibly weekend) classes.
  • Studies can be paid for with student loans.
  • Solid, middle-class earning potential from the start.
  • Room for promotion is unimportant, though higher pay/better vacations as I piled up seniority would be nice.
  • No nights, no weekends, no holidays, and no one calling me after I leave for the day.
About Me:
  • Like everyone on MeFi, I'm pretty bright.
  • I am a terrific verbal communicator.
  • I am more task-oriented than project-oriented. That is, I am at my best when dealing with appointments and issues as they arise, finishing them, then moving the hell on. I can handle anything you can throw at me over the course of a long day and I can reset, come back, and do the same thing the next day and the next with an almost endless reserve of energy and positivity. But when I am asked to tackle something that requires say, twenty long days in a row, I will mismanage my time and choke horribly. And my followup is pretty bad.
  • I am a remarkably fast learner on anything tech-related. I'm that guy you call to help set up your new tv or troubleshoot your web site.
  • I have a well-above average memory for facts and details. My co-workers treat me as a resource. Calling me to ask if I remember how to do this, where to find that, etc.
  • I excel at dealing with people. I'm friendly, polite, and genuine, and I'm comfortable with a broad spectrum of people.
  • I am far, far happier in a workplace, with co-workers, than on my own.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
You sound like a good fit for desktop support / help desk work in IT at a university.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:22 PM on June 8, 2013

HR. It's never the same job twice an hour, much less twice a day. You'll be helping other people do something different every day. You had better be very, very good at names and tech these days. Your fingers will be in the computer every minute of the day, and you'll be talking to someone different every day.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:52 PM on June 8, 2013

You might make a good FOH restaurant manager.
posted by vrakatar at 5:58 PM on June 8, 2013

Customer support for a tech company would be a brilliant fit.
posted by third word on a random page at 6:44 PM on June 8, 2013

I wonder if there is something in the medical field, with an emphasis on technical aptitude, that might be a good fit for you? You have the people skills; you'd be dealing with daily, short-term tasks (vs those long-range projects that you hate); and you could probably do some sort of 2-year schooling to get whatever technical training/cert is required.

I know that's super vague, but something about the way you described yourself made me think, "Aha! Medical tech." Or maybe hospital IT?
posted by nacho fries at 6:53 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure you need a new career. Maybe you can change jobs into something like what you are doing now, but without sales and without being on call, and with a project manager who will take care of longer term planning. It's very unusual for a blue collar job to require long term planning and organization.
posted by yohko at 7:01 PM on June 8, 2013

Reading your question, I thought you might excel at working in patient relations. This is typically a hospital-based position where you help patients who are having problems. People skills are huge - you have to get people who have essentially lost trust in the organization to trust you. There is some follow-up, but it tends to be short-term. Longer-term issues get turned over to risk management.

I agree with nacho fries that something in the clinical side of health care would also be a good fit. Nursing, rad technologist, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy - any of the clinical disciplines are highly task-oriented at the non-manager level. Clock in, work hard taking care of your patients during your shift, clock out and you're done for the day.

Health care IT is pretty much ALL project work. It's just one project after another. The help desk/support idea is a good one, though.
posted by jeoc at 8:53 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might make a good FOH restaurant manager.
No nights, no weekends, no holidays

do not peacefully coexist.
posted by girlalex at 1:25 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have to agree with something in clinical healthcare. You sound somewhat similar to me (although I do consider myself somewhat ambitious and I have a bad memory, and am not tech-oriented) and I am going to get a nursing degree. It definitely seems short-term task oriented, which, like you, I am much better at. You'll have to deal with all kinds of people and you'd be working with a team. If you have a Bachelor's degree you can get a second-degree BSN in a year, with maybe a year of pre-reqs if you haven't taken anatomy and physiology, microbio, stats, etc. You could also get an associate's degree in two years of night classes, and it's pretty cheap and seems to have a lot of options for employer reimbursement, etc.

It seems the starting salary is somewhere between 40k-75k depending on where you're located, with the potential to make over 100k in some cities. The only issue is that you will have to work nights (maybe), weekends (which I dread) and holidays. There are some positions that don't require odd hours but I hear they are hard to get right off the bat.

Other healthcare jobs might be good too, but I don't know too much about them. Nursing seems to have lots of variety and ability for lateral and upward mobility if that's your thing.

Good luck!
posted by queens86 at 9:10 AM on June 9, 2013

Healthcare would be a good option, but the best pay is generally at hospitals. As you are aware they never close, and so you'd want to work first shift weekdays. Generally those are the most sought-after (for obvious reasons). Even with that you will end up working some holidays. You'd make less money at a doc office but would get holidays off.
posted by hockeyfan at 8:09 PM on June 9, 2013

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