Perfect career forever
August 3, 2014 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Please help me pick a career. Any career.

I've recently realized two things: 1) My great passions - writing fiction, making music, and arguing about philosophy - aren't going to yield me the big or even medium bux anytime soon, 2) I don't have to love what I do for a job all the time, I just have to like it most of the time.

I'm not especially good or bad at anything. I realize this is the recent university grad mantra, so I'm trying to fix this. I'm looking for a job that's 1) based more on hard skills than people ones, 2) provides a firmly middle-class salary (of course, the more money the better), 3) has mostly regular hours, and 4) is in high or at least moderate demand. In a decade, I'd like to be able to freelance.

I currently work as a project manager, which is turning out to be more about how well I can placate people when my team blows past deadlines. I have been doing this type of job for four years, and would like to avoid coordination-heavy jobs going forward.

Skillset analysis: I majored in poli sci, so research and writing are no problem for me. My French is business passable. I've taken introductory classes to web design (HMTL, CSS, js), marketing, and copy editing.

Resources: I want a new career within a year. I have $10k to dedicate to this, and three hours a day.
posted by rebooter to Work & Money (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You didn't say anything about math, but what about working as an actuary? It meets your 4 main qualifications (though I'm not sure about freelancing opportunities). I'm not positive how feasible doing it within 1 year is, but it's worth looking into if it's of interest. I believe you can work as an actuary only having passed the exams, regardless of what your degree is.
posted by obfuscation at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Web design seems like a smart choice to me, and you could easily learn and build up a small portfolio in your spare time.
posted by three_red_balloons at 10:30 AM on August 3, 2014

A good web development bootcamp should help you get all of this on your timeline.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:48 AM on August 3, 2014

What do you specifically dislike about project management? The people aspect?

Because "go be a programmer" is not great advice. You don't say whether you enjoyed the web design stuff.

You also don't say where you are or where you'd be willing to move.
posted by rr at 10:54 AM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Perfect career forever

Just to briefly speak to your title: please don't approach this as finding your perfect career forever. This suggests that there may only be one perfect career for you, which puts even further stress on you to make the 'right' decision and choose the 'perfect' career. In this, as in relationships there is no one perfect career for most people - most people could be very satisfied in the respects that you list in a number of different careers.

Also, this suggests that one career might be the perfect career for the rest of your life. Though that may happen, it is far more likely for you to end up doing a variety of different 'careers' (all of which could be encompassed in your freelancing, but are likely to be rather diverse) at different times in your life as your interests and skill-set continue to evolve.

Why not consider doing some combination of the things that you're excited about? Mr. Arnicae is fantastic with computers and music. He makes the majority of his income through music, though he finds ways to incorporate his computer expertise in some of his musical work. I'd also strongly recommend that you re-think the people/coordination focus. Right now some of the best opportunities for career development are in areas where people skills and coordination focus are important. Perhaps you might not mind the people/coordination in another role where you were consistently explaining/apologizing for missing deadlines?
posted by arnicae at 11:03 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feel obligated to point out that "web designer" is an antiquated term that doesn't really describe a career or job role in 2014.

If you're doing HTML, CSS, and JS, that is a front-end developer- in other words a programmer.

A "designer" is typically a graphic designer- an artist who has art training and maybe went to art school. There may occasionally be some overlap, with designers who do a bit of HTML, or developers who can cut up a PSD, but essentially they are two very discrete and different careers and skill sets.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:17 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Carpentry. Plumbing. Electrician.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:41 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

How far do you want to advance in your new career? Do you want to develop a specialized skillset for which you are known, and be the go-to person for that? Or do you eventually want to increase your responsibilities?

If you think that you may want to have higher-level responsibilities, it might be worth developing hard skills on the side and stay in a job requiring personal contact and coordination for a while longer (not necessarily your current one).

As far as which fields are going to be relevant in the future, anything dealing with data is a good bet: statistician, data scientist, infographist. Likewise for education (student recruitment for international universities and business schools) and health care.

Concerning particular roles: I've met a lot of people with diverse profiles like yours who have found fulfilling work as sales engineers and buyers/supply-and-logistics people. These are roles that require analysis, reasoning, global thinking, and a certain amount of creativity. They also pay pretty well. Your language skills would be an asset here.
posted by Occam's Aftershave at 2:09 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

The one thing missing from your description for me is what industry you're currently working in. I've often found it's easier to jump either industry sector or role, but not both at the same time, so if you're open to staying in the same general area but moving on from project management, that would be worthwhile for us to know more about to provide you better advice within your 12 month timeline.
Perfect career forever
Just to briefly speak to your title: please don't approach this as finding your perfect career forever.
No no, I'm betting - hoping? - betting - that this title is a reference to Perfect Hair Forever, a deservedly-obscure Cartoon Network serial featuring a friend of mine as an annoying hot dog.

posted by deludingmyself at 3:56 PM on August 3, 2014

955 favorite suggest grumblebee might have some insight.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:36 PM on August 3, 2014

Thank you for your suggestions, everyone. Hopefully these answers to your questions will help with further suggestions:

>You didn't say anything about math
I don't have any particular talent in math, but I don't dislike it (I prefer applied math to pure math, though).

>enjoyed the front end development stuff
It was fine. I liked troubleshooting bugs.

>whether I dislike the people side in general
I'd get lonely working in complete isolation, but being on the same team as people with poor work ethic grates.

>willing to move
Only to a city of at least moderate size, and I'd like to stay in Canada, but it might be interesting to see other countries if I could get a work visa.

>current industry
I don't want to state it specifically. It's marketing support on the language side, but not marketing itself. Maybe that's not helpful...

>Perfect Hair Forever
Indeed! I suppose a better title would have been "Pretty good job for the next few years"

>grumblebee's comment
I read this while researching previouslies and I think the passions I mentioned in the original question are pure in the way his love of theatre is pure, which is why I'm looking for something unrelated to support those activities. Is there another way I should be parsing this comment?
posted by rebooter at 9:36 PM on August 3, 2014

Software Quality Assurance?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 12:32 AM on August 4, 2014

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