Possible careers for an extrovert who is good with introverts?
July 26, 2013 10:14 AM   Subscribe

I have a friend who's working out what she wants to pursue for a career. Her degree is in Communications, she's worked in marketing, and non-profit communications and outreach and been very good at those jobs - but gets frustrated with office politics and structural disorganization. Her most stand-out quality is that she's extremely sociable and friendly, and especially good at getting people out of their shells. Are there any possible career paths that would let her use those skills without trapping her in a large corporation or cubicle?

She's very much an idealist-turned-cynic (but still an idealist). She believes in helping people, volunteers a lot of her time and talent for local non-profits (one dealing with food donations and one in the arts). At the same time, she's burned out from dealing with the petty problems of non-profit work: foot-dragging, disorganization, poor financial management, lack of communication, etc.

So she's trying to look at other avenues for work. A traditional corporate job in marketing doesn't have much appeal.

Among other things, she has a gift for working with and befriending introverted/science-y people. She doesn't have a lot of nerdy interests herself, but has a natural enthusiasm and curiosity that encourages more quiet, intellectual types to open up, talk and interact. Are there any off-the-wall jobs or careers where such a talent might be useful?
posted by missix to Work & Money (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't off-the-wall, but what about corporate sales OR non-profit development?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:20 AM on July 26, 2013

How is she at teaching? She could do training for software developers or other technical types. Employment recruiting for tech types, as well as project management, also come to mind.
posted by matildaben at 10:21 AM on July 26, 2013

Community outreach for a startup? Communications in general at a startup might be fun, especially if she gets to work with devs for writing blog posts, hack nights or public challenges (team Habitat builds, ping pong night, etc.).
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:24 AM on July 26, 2013

Sales Training or Any kind of corporate training can be a great job. Sometimes you can freelance it, fly in, do a week of training, fly home.

There are certification programs which will give her the methodology. Here's an example.

Corporate America has tons of training classes that they want all employees to participate in, so being able to draw out the participants who are "too cool for school" is a good skill to have.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The pay is not stellar but the benefits are usually solid - academic advisor for a science department at a college or university.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:36 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Working in foundations would give her a chance to help non-profits but work in a highly funded (but not generally super-corporate) organization. (And, actually, if she's in San Francisco, memail me.)
posted by jaguar at 10:58 AM on July 26, 2013

Facilitator. I've worked with a couple really interesting, talented facilitators who do training out of leadership development/teambuilding/whathaveyou places like this: The Browne Center
posted by that's candlepin at 10:59 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm in marketing/communications at an established CDFI - everything that's good about nonprofits without the flakiness.
posted by headnsouth at 11:06 AM on July 26, 2013

Well, does she like science? Science communication for a nonprofit, government agency or university might be a good fit. She could also consider internal communications work for a big organization. Large organizations need people who can reach out to all of the employees to communicate changes and boost morale.

At the same time, the problems she's experiencing will improve or get worse based on who she is working with. I had a wonderful boss who said to his employees, you guys get the credit, I take the blame, my job is to remove obstacles from your paths so you can do great work. My current boss is not of the same mindset. So I would focus more on connecting with a future manager.
posted by kat518 at 12:13 PM on July 26, 2013

I hate to say this, but if she's only worked with smaller, community-based nonprofits, that might be giving her a skewed idea of nonprofit dysfunction. Not that larger nonprofits can't be dysfunctional, but they tend to operate a bit more like the for-profit world in that there's enough structure and support to keep things moving and effective.

Having spent most of my career in larger nonprofits, I can see a lot of roles that would be really good for her in that world: community or advocacy organizer (where 90% of the job is bringing people out of their shells and helping them develop their talents/confidence; advocacy-oriented nonprofits in particular tend to attract lots of wonky/nerdy types); the aforementioned development (she'd probably be great at working with major donors); communications/public relations.
posted by lunasol at 12:28 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by pracowity at 10:04 AM on July 27, 2013

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