How to decide on a career?
September 23, 2014 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I graduated in English Lit. around 8 years ago, and I've tried working in a few different areas - banking, hospitality, teaching. I've just relocated back to London and I'm looking to make a career change, but I'm not sure which direction I should go in.

Some things I've discovered that I don't like: spending too much time with people (teaching exhausts me), training, customer service, repetitive daily tasks, being chained to the same desk from 9am - 5pm.

Some things I've discovered that I like: writing, organizing, researching, planning, problem solving. After living abroad for the last 4 years I've become the go-to person in my family for anything complicated such as visas, application processes, transporting pets etc., and I really get a lot of satisfaction when it all comes together. I also speak English and Portuguese and like to travel.

I feel it's time to pick a career and stick to it, and I've got a couple of ideas so far - event planning and executive assistant - but would really appreciate some more suggestions to consider. Also, how did you choose your career? Was it planned, or did you just happen to fall into it?
posted by sunbeam89 to Work & Money (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think you should go to work for the Secret Intelligence Service. You like researching, problem solving, travel and you speak a foreign language.

I chose my career because I liked the television show Star Trek.
posted by Rob Rockets at 11:36 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just a thought: Like you, I have a skill set that includes writing, problem solving, and (to a lesser extent) researching; I enjoy spending time by myself rather than always being with people; and I like flexibility and new challenges, as it sounds like you do. I wanted to be a translator. Unfortunately I failed to learn my second language fully enough do translation professionally, so I gave up and am now doing something different. But you're bilingual in English and Portuguese—could professional translation be a possible field for you?
posted by honey wheat at 11:42 AM on September 23, 2014

You could consider travel writing which seems to be right at the intersection of your skills, likes and dislikes.

I too am good at writing, researching, planning and problem solving (same as yours !). However, I joined an international bank as a clerk about 20 years ago and gradually progressed to become a specialist in a niche area. When I was looking for my first job it was the best paying option available for me and played to my skills. So my career choice was not planned. But I've run into a lot of highly stressful situations due to office politics and people problems. However, with experience I have learned how to roll with the punches and have become a good player myself.

Once I started working within the walls of a bank I realized how different things really are compared to my preconceived notions. This will apply to your situation as well, so see if you can try things out before making a final career decision. Also remember, if there are any perceived challenges in a career you like, you will know for sure whether or not they are manageable for you only when you have dipped your toes in the water. So, try to get real experience for a couple of months before deciding.
posted by constliv13 at 12:17 PM on September 23, 2014

Consider Voice User Interface Design. You will need training, but your employer can provide that. Or get an internship to a speech recognition solutions company to get your feet wet.

Your writing and problem solving skills are the main thing you need. Read up on it as much as possible so you can speak with some knowledge when you apply.
posted by Dragonness at 12:25 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Travel writing is not a "job", so no, don't do that unless you'd be more interested in it as a hobby. I really wanted to be a travel writer until I found out basically all travel writing gigs pay in the $20-50 per piece range unless you're already a famous author.

Also, I think it's important to be realistic about this. Your skill set and prior experience means that if you don't want to teach, you are likely going to be in an office job that will involve sitting at a desk all day.

What about the foreign service or similar British counterpart dealing with consular issues, diplomatic stuff, etc? Logistics also comes to mind, especially anything with an international angle.

Librarian could also be a good option, though I don't know if the job market for that in the UK is as tight as it is in the states.

What's the job market like for Portuguese translation?
posted by Sara C. at 12:55 PM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Some things I've discovered that I don't like: spending too much time with people (teaching exhausts me), training, customer service, repetitive daily tasks, being chained to the same desk from 9am - 5pm.

I've got a couple of ideas so far - event planning and executive assistant

As a former EA, I think you would really, really hate being an EA. Lots of repetition and lots of time spent chained to your desk. I'd rethink this one.

And as someone who does a lot of events for work, not sure you'd dig that either. To organize and run a successful event you have to deal with tons of people, all with their unique needs and wants and quirks. On event-day, you have pop a smile on your face and be super-friendly and perky for the entirety of the event. It is very people-oriented work and while a lot of fun, not necessarily right for you.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:28 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Content writer or Technical writer in corporate world. Great job, fantastic pay. See amazon listings.
posted by jellyjam at 2:11 PM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

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