A job I can stand
October 2, 2005 8:52 AM   Subscribe

What should I be when I grow up?

I'm twenty-four. I've been getting by with various bland office temp jobs, but I figure it's time to decide on an actual career and stick with it. Problem is, I don't really know what's out there that I might find compelling. Help me brainstorm.

I need something stimulating, where my habit of thinking constantly will be a help rather than a hindrance. For various reasons I can't afford another attempt at college, so it has to be something I can teach myself or learn on the job. Not having to work 40 hours would be a nice bonus, so long as I can still pull in a minimum of, say, $300 a week after taxes.

I'd prefer working with ideas or computers to sweating a lot or dealing with the general public. I'm good at finding my way around programs, I can do some light programming and scripting, my 10-key skills are just short of legendary. I accumulate and absorb random information as a matter of course. I'm good at finding flaws and suggesting alternatives, in pretty much any context (business procedures, written text, video game design)... I'm rambling. Do these skills suggest any particular career path?
posted by squidlarkin to Work & Money (9 answers total)
find one area of computing technology that you are good at, develop it further- become the guru of it- read everything- take courses- web seminars etc

then shop yourself around as a specialist in that area, you'll command top dollar for it.

that's what I did when I was 24. I'm now 37 and have 12 employees helping me grow my computer consulting company.
posted by stevejensen at 8:56 AM on October 2, 2005

Steve: What field did you become a guru of 13 years ago? Just interested! I've done just what you've said myself ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 9:27 AM on October 2, 2005

I gave up on programming for a living when the stress got too bad and the industry's reliance on planned obsolescence made me sick. Now I'm doing freelance technical support, and part time network administration and tech support in a couple of schools, and really enjoying it.

I'd always thought of network admin as one of those not-really-technical jobs beneath the dignity of a Real Programmer, and it's been a pleasant (if somewhat humbling) surprise to find out that it actually involves having to solve genuinely difficult and unpredictable technical and political problems on a daily basis.

Freelance tech support is very satisfying. People are glad to see you turn up, and grateful for what you can do. If you don't charge an arm and a leg, and you do good work, you'll never have to go looking for customers either - just leave a few business cards behind at your first few dozen jobs, and you'll soon be turning them away.
posted by flabdablet at 9:40 AM on October 2, 2005

These answers to a previous question of mine might be interesting reading if you're considering working with computers and programming.
posted by cheerleaders_to_your_funeral at 11:23 AM on October 2, 2005

You might enjoy working in a library, although that does often involve working with people. There are also a lot of library jobs that are much more on the technical side.
posted by librarina at 11:52 AM on October 2, 2005

The head of my college's career development office wrote this for people trying to find the right career path:

1. What skills do you have that you love to use and do well? There are many skills we have that we do well. we just don't care about them. When do you get lost and look up with hours having past? What do people tell you that you do well and you dismiss them saying 'everyone can do that!' Keep what you love and dump the rest.

2. What topics or issues do are you passionate about right now? What do you talk about, think about, read about? If I asked your friends what would they say you are focused on now?

3. Who do you want to spend your time with at work? your colleagues? You'll spend more time with them than any other relationship. What do they think about? Talk about? How do they engage the world?

And who do you serve? Who benefits from the good work you will do in the world?

4. What kinds of environmental needs do you have to be happy and maintain energy? From big things like being in a city by the ocean to what you wear to interactions with people, everything matters.

Remember, if you don't say it out loud then no one can help you get what you want. this is the first step to saying it out loud.

posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:40 PM on October 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Saying it out loud is what I'm trying to do here. I'm just not sure what people would pay me to do that involves the things I do well. I'm sure there are lots of jobs I haven't even considered...
posted by squidlarkin at 3:47 PM on October 2, 2005

If you want to get some ideas of what's out there, try this link. It's a government job site in Alberta in Canada, but it gives just about every conceivable job title, so it should be relevant no matter where you are. Pick out every one that appeals to you and add it to your personal list, no matter how unqualified you are for the job. Click on each link to learn more. I think you'll find that the jobs you choose will fall into certain categories, they definately did for me. Go from there. Good luck.
posted by Idiot Mittens at 5:12 PM on October 2, 2005

Response by poster: flabdablet, if you check this thread again, would you mind emailing me through my profile? I'd like to hear more about how you got where you are.
posted by squidlarkin at 7:17 AM on October 3, 2005

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