Need a Boston-area job and feeling a bit stuck!
January 12, 2014 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Hi! After many happy years as a nanny, I am now looking for a position in another field. I'm highly motivated and I have great references, but I'm at a bit of a loss. I really thrive when I feel like I can make someone's day or help them solve a problem or feel better. I'm very much a people person who enjoys making other people happy. What jobs are right for me, and where can I find them?

My work-study job in college was as an administrative assistant and receptionist. I I was the point of contact for visitors to my college, and dealt with a lot of people (some happy, some not). I also did basic office work and writing. I loved the part of my job where I got to make people feel welcome and was fine with the writing and office work.

As a nanny, I loved babies and children of course! I also really enjoyed doing little things to help the parents out and make them happy. Being physically active was definitely a plus for me. Obviously, I wasn't running marathons, but moving around vs. sitting at a desk was really nice.

My most recent nannying job started as basic childcare and ended up with me doing reporting (I was working for freelance journalists) and a lot of personal assistant-type work, which I liked.

For a year and a half, I organized a weekly meetup in Brooklyn and had a blast doing that.

I've also recently been on the board of a local non-profit helping with event planning and fundraising. I'm a good fundraiser and think that I would probably be decent at sales, too. I did door-to-door political canvassing for a while when my son was younger and I was okay at it, but didn't like feeling intrusive/cold-calling.

I have a BA in English, and I did quite well (Dean's list, college-wide nominee for a prize, things like that) but English literature is not really my passion and writing, while something I'm good at, is not necessarily something I see myself doing full-time.

Given that, what jobs seem like a good fit for me?

And more importantly, how do I find them, having spent the last 5+ years in a different field, in a new city? Everyone I've worked for loves me, and I know I could do a really great job for someone once I get in the door.

Thank you!
posted by the young rope-rider to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would go for a sales job, if you say you feel comfortable and might want to try it. Companies are always looking for sales people (the job has a lot of turnover), but if you like interacting with people and you're enthusiastic, you can do very well for yourself with commission.

How to get those jobs? I would go the traditional routes, like Monster and Craigslist and Linkedin. Sales is a job that is pretty straightforward in its hiring process, really.
posted by xingcat at 3:45 PM on January 12, 2014

I teach at a college, and I think you would be a good fit in a student services position. As I'm typing this, I think you'd be a particularly good fit working in International Education. Check if any of your post secondary institutions need program coordinators, home stay coordinators, or student life coordinators for their International Ed office--your skill set would be very valuable to them, and I think you'd enjoy the work.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:51 PM on January 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

How about hospitality? You could be in the events department (weddings, other parties) and/or concierge. Or, you could work with an established event/wedding planner and maybe go solo one day.
posted by driedmango at 3:53 PM on January 12, 2014

while you're on this hunt for the perfect career, have you considered temping? hear me out -

if you make a good impression at the temping agency (obviously, you will), you can ask them to send you on short-term gigs. that way you can go into a lot of different places and see a lot of different kinds of companies, fields, etc. You'll already be IN the company, and you'll totally make a good impression there, because people won't expect the temp to be organized, quick-learning, totally skilled, friendly, and proactive. when you're there, you can network without the pressure of needing to land a job, and at the same time you can say "oh, architecture firm. never thought of that. i'm not really interested in THIS person's job, but that person over there, the one who sells the projects? that is totally for me." (or whatever.) then you can talk to that person about their job, learn a bit about it, and even let them know that you're looking for work in that field or whatever. it sounds like you're good with people and organizing - you'll find the right tone to set that doesn't come across as pushy, just as motivated and talented. people want good people in their workplaces!

try a bunch of places. you might find one that fits perfectly. or you might not. in the meantime, you'll have lots of personal time at these places to update your resumes, network, and figure this out, while making a bit of money so that you don't go crazy or feel stressed financially, or think you're wasting your day.

i temped for a bit and it was so awesome. after awhile of temping everywhere, i temped at this amazing magazine office with a young and super vibrant staff. they hired me full-time as their receptionist (which i was way overqualified for) and then within a few months a position opened as the office manager, which it also sounds like you'd be great at - running around the office, making sure people were happy, fixing things that didn't work, planning events - it was the perfect job for me for awhile.

if you temp - make sure the people at the agency know you are enthusiastic. get yourself a contact. call them often to ask if there are jobs (you can do this in both an annoying/harrassing way or just a "hey, i'm totally pumped to work" kind of way - i recommend the latter.) take the jobs they offer you, if they fit into your short-term only plan. my rule was that i did anything that lasted less than 2 weeks. they will quickly learn that they can count on you and give you the good jobs. you don't have to worry if none of the jobs you are getting are ones you would be interested in keeping long-term - that's the point - to do research for other stuff, before launching yourself into a new space.
posted by andreapandrea at 3:54 PM on January 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think you'd make an excellent office manager or personal assistant! I know you used to be involved with Mefi meet ups and organized them and you already have experience as an administrative assistant.

Also, those nanny jobs mean you'd have some awesome personal references to show potential employers. Nannying, while a different field from what you want to do now, has prepared you for working with people of all types. It takes a people person to handle a personal assistant's position. Young children, and their parents, have specific and demanding criteria for people they are willing to work with which are sometimes at odds, and as a nanny you've had to juggle those and earned experienced at how to keep them balanced.

I also agree with temping as the best path to network for your new occupation, whatever you choose.
posted by misha at 4:53 PM on January 12, 2014

It takes a few years of school, but you sound like you'd make a good nurse.
posted by latkes at 5:35 PM on January 12, 2014

Anecdotally, I've gone on various interviews for white-collar jobs lately, though admittedly not for long-term careers, and people have seemingly been very positive about my childcare experience. So you can put aside any worry you might have about stigma/switching/etc.

If you have a network of smart people at hand (um), then you might consider starting a tutoring agency. The task of finding/closing with clients is just the same as with babysitting. The actual tutoring, for those subjects you cannot do yourself, is, as far as I can tell, split 50/50 with the tutor. Perhaps a first-year tutor is 60% for you, 40% for her. During this particular life period, I would far rather have a 9-5 temp job, but I am doing well enough on tutoring that I cannot really justify leaving it. Even if you do not see yourself as a quant person, SAT math + algebra I will get you a long way if you can force yourself to review. If anything, I think your gestalt demeanor will get you a lot more business than the average tool who runs an agency. I should have started one long ago myself--I just don't care for the work. The market is saturated...with badness...but I think you'd be a breath of fresh air.

Memail me if you'd like to discuss further!
posted by skbw at 5:52 PM on January 12, 2014

Trying to distill what I understand to be your points of highest enthusiasm into a nutshell, so this is flaky, unlike what you wrote:

You are excited about
- moving around and making things happen
- for people in a pleasant or creative space that
- lets you use your natural charm and
- do helpful things for people in an immediately rewarding way, right?

I am vibing less on office environments / fundraising / personal assisting / working up from temping (although, temping especially is a good thing to do until you work out the bigger picture, and I don’t think your most recent work would prevent you from going that way if you wanted to) than I am on entrepreneurship or roles involving leadership or a specialized skill, even if it involves a bit of training.

I couldn’t guess around what, specifically, but the environments/skills that came to me were: sales, sure, but only where you can leverage your charm to connect people with products/services you believe in/they actually want to buy (boutique?); B&B; massage therapy or similar personal service.

Student advising sounds good too (and I agree with staying on the cheery side of that sort of thing and disagree with nursing).

You sound most most excited about organizing events. I think that would be a great thing to pick up again, especially if you can connect to it somehow (e.g. community events vs gala dinners).
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:50 AM on January 13, 2014

Executive assistant, personal assistant, event planner/manager, hospitality, possibly project coordination or management.
posted by spindrifter at 9:08 AM on January 13, 2014

I did IT tech support in grad school and as a temp in Boston. I didn't know a ton about computers, I trained on the job. I got to (mostly) fix people's problems all day long, and it got pretty fun. It gets addictive, having people be grateful at the end of each interaction. Other customer service type things might also be a good fit, but I don't think most of them pay as well.

Also: Event planning, wedding coordinator?
posted by ldthomps at 1:58 PM on January 13, 2014

I serve on a lot of non-profit boards and you would be a perfect candidate for entry level resource coordinator in organizations like United Way, Red Cross, Cancer Society, etc. This is the person that organizes the fundraising, makes contacts, plans and organizes events, creates brochures, and reports to the board/works with board on making that fundraising happen. Your writing, organizational skills but need to not be behind a desk all the time would be a great fit. And the pay is reasonable if you stay with more mainstream non profits.

I say this because your background is very similar to lots of folks that we find a very successful in our nonprofits on the fundraising side. Indeed in one organization the President has your very background! Good luck with all this
posted by OhSusannah at 8:54 PM on January 16, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! I'm also looking at a few career counseling-type books and together with your great ideas, I feel like I have many more options to pursue. I'll keep you updated as my job search progresses!
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:56 AM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out's remote but you might like it.
posted by OhSusannah at 2:25 PM on January 27, 2014

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