Save my gf from career hell!
December 9, 2014 3:29 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend hates her job and feels trapped by it - it's really depressing her at the minute! Help her come up with some ideas for a new job / career to pursue. She's good at languages, good with people and has experience of managing...

My girlfriend has worked in a management role in government for the last 5 years. She's been quite successful at getting promoted into a middle management position - but hates her current job, finding it bureaucratic and pointless. It's really starting to get to her at the minute - and any ideas for changes, both small steps and giant leaps, would be a massive help. She's got a good degree from a respected university, speaks English fluently, along with three other European languages, one fluently, the others usefully. She's a good people person, and good in a crisis, but isn't so good with routine. We're based in the UK at present. She's thought about both moves to related jobs, or completely retraining. What ideas can you guys come up with?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Would she consider interpreting/translation? I work for an organisation that ran a high-level interpreting service. Normally people would undertake training, such as an MA in interpreting, or specific in-house interpreter training. It's very specialised work and can be challenging but rewarding. Being good with people is essential, she would sometimes have to deal with people who are in distress, and the job is varied as you are in different locations constantly rather than based in one office or company. People are usually self-employed which is less secure financially but is more flexible in terms of lifestyle. If she speaks European languages in the UK this could be useful, particularly Eastern European ones, as they are in demand for the court services, healthcare, Jobs and Benefits offices etc.
posted by billiebee at 3:42 AM on December 9, 2014

I don't understand. She doesn't like her job, fine; that doesn't mean she needs a whole new career. There are literally thousands of management roles hiring in the UK. Is she browsing through them to see what might be relevant to her experience?
posted by DarlingBri at 3:50 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

No one loves their job 24/7. Additionally most of us do work that at times seems pointless. There's a myth out there that everyone's job has to satisfy them in some way. The sad fact is that once you master your job, you coast. Most of us find our satisfaction in knowing that we do a great job for our employer and in the relationships we have with our co-workers.

Sure medical practitioners, police officers and fire fighters save lives, but for the most part 99% of us go to work, have a nice lunch with our co-workers and then we go home to our loved ones.

So. That said, sometimes the jobs we have annoy us, but we usually know WHY we're unsatisfied. We know what we'd rather be doing.

I was in the Telecom industry and right after 9/11 I wanted to have more meaning to my life. I worked as a teacher in a troubled school for two years. I studied English in college and had always intended to teach English, I got sidetracked by my job at the phone company. I taught for two years before running, screaming, back to the phone company. My point is, I left my corporate job for something very specific and something I had always intended to do.

If your GF doesn't have a passion for a particular thing, then there's no point in leaving. If she's unhappy with the particular company, her skills can be transferred to the same job in a different company.

If she doesn't know herself what she wants, then no matter what we suggest, she's going to be unhappy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:41 AM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

The book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was might help your girlfriend figure out what she wants to do.
posted by elmay at 5:47 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since you say she's better in a crisis, good with people - how about consulting, or a more consulting-like government role? These do exist in most countries. Also, could she move into the international/government relations arm of her agency?
posted by chocotaco at 5:58 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I work for the government in Canada and I find the culture and feeling of work can really vary depending on where you work. It's a very large employer! If it's possible to look for a transfer somewhere else, it might help. I would take this as a short term step while looking for a change in career.
posted by Gor-ella at 5:58 AM on December 9, 2014

Create a job. Start a business that helps immigrants settle into your town, find jobs, get kids registered into school, get benefits, etc. She navigates the national, county, and town bureaucracies (that shit never goes away) but she gets the satisfaction of helping people in need (maybe her compatriots?) and makes some cash while being her own boss. Just filling in forms is horrible and frightening when you don't know the language well. If she needs to cover other languages, she calls people she knows (she will make lots of contacts as things go along). If she does well, she hires people. You quit your job and work for her. You buy some flats to rent to them, too. She'll just have to figure out how to reliably squeeze money out of her customers. Cash up front?
posted by pracowity at 6:03 AM on December 9, 2014

speaks English fluently, along with three other European languages, one fluently, the others usefully. She's a good people person, and good in a crisis, but isn't so good with routine.

She might consider event management.

There are agencies, associations, hotels, festivals, or large companies, universities, small institutes, government institutions, etc who hire event managers, but also small academic places like the one I work for.

I sort of stumbled into the work at some point of my very chequered career and find it very rewarding now for the past 10 years or so. This was following a period of great frustration at a PA job where I felt like Bill Murray in ground hog day: every new day so much predictable routine I could have screamed.

The aspect I like best that despite a lot of routine tasks there is lots of variety and people contact to balance it out. Now I actually enjoy routine tasks as a relief from adrenalin rushes. And I find that I can use all the skills I accumulate in previous positions, including language skills.
You have to be a quick thinker and solution oriented, love working with people from all walks of life (caterers, venues, international speakers, chairs, cleaners, drivers, etc).
It helps to have work and life experience I find - the challenges just before during and after a large event are multi-facetted and often unpredictable. Also, you need some some sort of basic knowledge of accounting or wilingness to pick it up, because keeping to a budget, collecting offers and documenting expenses is an essential skill.

The job descriptions of an individual event manager can vary much of course, depending on who she works for. I am lucky to have found a small place focussing on academic expert meetings, which gives me the possibilty to be involved in all aspects, which I enjoy.

I look after an event from its inception right through the wrap up. So I do everything from budgeting, collecting bids and offers, to corresponding with speakers on behalf of the organisers, providing hospitality, booking flights, hotels, collecting papers, sometimes editing reports, reporting back to the sponsors and final accounting. For a three day this is a process of 9 to 12 months and then it is finished - this is what I like about it most! You get a feeling of accomplishment, and lots of direct positive feedback for your work from the organisers, speakers and attendees.

As for what sort of prefssional training this would require in the UK, I don't know. I personally did not do any formal training for it to be honest, but through circumstances was thrown in, learned on the job and then found a permanent positon in the field and have enjoyed it ever since.
posted by 15L06 at 6:11 AM on December 9, 2014

I found this and it sums it up nicely I think, and from a UK perspective
posted by 15L06 at 6:19 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was in a similar position a while ago. I hated my job—and the one before it—so much that I was considering throwing away almost a decade of experience and pursuing a totally different career. Then I found a new job in my field, and it was like night and day. It's amazing how quickly my passion for my career returned. In my case, it was related to a couple of things. One was that I went from large corporations to a small, startup-like environment, which suits my personality and preferred way of working. Another was that I had been working in industries I didn't find particularly engaging, and I moved to an industry that I find inherently interesting. So I suggest that before she tries to change careers, she should look for a role outside the government, maybe at a small company. She may find that it's not her career that's the problem, it's her circumstances.
posted by neushoorn at 6:44 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

If she speaks all those languages why not teach abroad? or work as a manager for companies that have offices/staff in multiple countries? or apply for a job with the UN, depending on what the languages are? "She's a good people person, and good in a crisis, but isn't so good with routine" makes me think she might like humanitarian or investigative work, or a government job where "putting out PR fires" or similar is part of the job description.

i love pracowity's idea too.

i'm sure she's considered this but management isn't for everyone. we all like getting a raise and being promoted in terms of $ and status, but being a manager of people who do X activity you liked doing is usually nothing like just doing X activity yourself. for some personalities, the promotion actually doesn't make their day to day life better! this is especially relevant if management duties cut her off from interacting with people everyday and she thrives on that type of interaction. i would not want to manage other people in my own job title (government internal investigator) - i would rather just do this job.
posted by zdravo at 6:49 AM on December 9, 2014

« Older How does a graphic designer get hired in a...   |   US GAAP Tax Accounting Textbook Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.