What do I want to be when I "grow up"?
February 13, 2006 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Help me decide my future.

I'm at a cross-road career-wise. I've been contracting/temping for about the last ten years, after about ten years in retail. I did not graduate from high school (no problem with the work, had severe social/emotional problems), but I have my GED, and I went to community college for a year or so, but only studied theatre, with good grades.

I'm great at your standard administrative work, and the associated software. I'm not a terribly fast typist (around 40 wpm), but I'm accurate. I rock at research, data entry/mining, logistics, organization, and problem solving.

I'm really good at figuring out shortcuts/tricks/more efficient methods of completing difficult tasks. I'm also good at tasks involving any level of artistic ability or creativity.

It's time for me to realize that I'm not going to make a living from acting any time soon. Maybe someday. For now I need to dedicate myself to building a solid career, so that I have a stable platform from which to explore artistic possibilities.

I'm interested in IT careers, working with film/video, and forensic accounting.

An IT career isn't far from what I'm doing now, maintaining (adding, modifying, and deleting contact entries) an SQL relational database management system. I'm detail oriented and not afraid of computers. I'm also good at trouble-shooting and tinkering.`

Film and video would require a bit of formal training. I have worked on my own with video editing software; helping a friend who is a film student on some projects. She says I have a good eye, and am a natural editor.

Forensic accounting would require six years of school, so it's probably out. I'll be 35 this April, so while I want a steady career that pays my bills, I don't want to wait until I'm 40 to start. As for my personal situation; I'm unmarried, but in a long-term co-habitation/relationship with a wonderful, supportive woman.

What are my options? I think the IT track is my best bet. I just don’t know quite how to proceed, and what courses to take. I'm heard mixed reviews of the MSCE track. Maybe I should learn PhotoShop, Java, Shockwave, Flash, HTML and C+, and get into web design? Or SQL, and try to get into archive/database design? I have no clue. Help!
posted by weirdoactor to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why only forensic accounting? Some basic accounting could probably land you a job from which you can build experience and learn forensic accounting as you go. Or maybe try to get administrative work at a law firm and/or consulting firm that does forensic accounting and take night classes?
posted by mullacc at 3:18 PM on February 13, 2006

Film editing doesn't require too much training, because even assistants are paid, so you'd just need enough training to get to the assistant level. However, I'd caution against this route if you want to have any time off at all ever during the rest of your life with which to pursue your other creative ambitions. Editing is a deadline-driven profession and you'll simply have to stay at work until it's done. And it's never done.
posted by xo at 3:30 PM on February 13, 2006

Don't take the MCSE track unless it's being paid for by an educational assistance program with an employer. Paying for it out of your own pocket is a total waste. I had several of the exams paid for by my employer and they are totally useless.

IT is a broad spectrum. You mention three distinct sub-paths within the IT umbrella: systems administration, software development and database administration. Which is it? I was lucky enough to intern with a company straight out of high school (I'm 20) to manage the IT side of a building relocation project. In my limited time in the industry, experience has been everything. The only reason I got the internship was because I had worked part time in high school doing odd jobs and happened to be in the right place and right time to impress the network manager.

If you're going to break into a relatively competitive field you're going to need a foothold. Maybe apply for some non-tech related job at a tech company, work there for a bit and attempt an internal transfer? Perhaps you could volunteer technical service for a non-profit in your spare time while you work your current job? Anything that will build your resume and tell a potential employer "hey, I'm better than those expensive pieces of paper the other guys are wielding, hire me".

Anyways that's my suggestion for the systems admin path. I realize I'm not a very great source of advice with only 3/4 years in the industry but I hope it helps anyway. Good luck
posted by saraswati at 4:24 PM on February 13, 2006

I received my undergraduate degree in (for lack of a shorter term for it) 'philosophy" [I love me some Wisdom]. I took a total of 9 credit hours of college level accounting courses after the degree and i also took H&R Block's tax preparation course in a few month's worth of weekends. Not your typical 6 year accounting schooling, but I work as an accountant and get paid an entry level accountant's salary. I got into my current job temping and then they hired me full-time and transferred me. So i never continued persuing the Masters in Accounting I had started...I didn't need to since I had a job in the field. So what i am trying to say is that a full degree is not necessary (especially since you have relevant experience) to dive into the wonderfully exciting world of accounting. And trust me when I say that all those hours in the classroom don't mean theoretical squat until you apply it in the business world day-in day-out. And its not so far off to combine accounting and computer science. Evey accounting program i've worked on has been woefully lacking in some major areas. Most schools have an 'Accounting Information Systems' degree specialization

my email is in my profile...
posted by iurodivii at 6:59 PM on February 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Have you considered being a researcher for a television company? I know here in England, the BBC is constantly looking for people to work as researchers for their documentary dept. in both film and television. Just struck me as something that would appeal to your specific skillsets and interests. It's a bit of an entry-level job to begin with but can lead up to more responsibility/creativity inside the industry...

I also second xo's comment on editing.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:51 AM on February 14, 2006

maintaining (adding, modifying, and deleting contact entries) an SQL relational database management system.

If the missing word (after the right parenthesis) is "in", then what you're doing isn't particularly close to an IT career. (Particularly because it sounds like you don't know SQL.)

As for accounting, if you haven't done (and it sounds like you haven't), you might find you're good at it, or you may find you (as I think most people do) that it's boring and/or difficult in an uninteresting way. You might take an introductory class at a community college to see what you think, but you're probably right that it's too late to start this as a career.

Doing film/video work is a tough job market, simply because so many folks major in this in college or spend a lot of time learning it on their own.

To be more positive - what you sound like to me is a crackerjack executive assistant or administrative assistant for an executive in a smaller company, particularly one that does creative work (advertising, design, video, publishing). Small companies typically can't afford a fulltime IT person, so whatever you can do in that area is a real bonus.

Good luck!
posted by WestCoaster at 11:22 AM on February 14, 2006

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