Job me. Career me. Fulfill me.
February 10, 2019 12:27 PM   Subscribe

For the past several years I have essentially been self-employed doing gig / contract work, but now I am looking for something(s) new to do. Perhaps I should look for something more stable...more career-y...while also being fulfilling...but really, any suggestions are welcome. I would ask a career counselor for help if there was one around here. I realize that some of the details within may be redundant and excessive, but maybe it'll help generate ideas. Plenty of snowflakes if you didn't get enough this winter.

(For a bit more background, this is an askme of mine from a while back. The only difference is the additional experience(s) I have gained since then. Also, I realize I may be a dabbler just like the OP of this askme, so maybe a full-time job is not the right fit for me.)

Here is what I've mostly been doing, why I liked doing them, and why it's no longer working out / what I don't like about them:

1) mystery shopping and auditing

*Why I like it:
Growing up I was a sheltered kid and never really outside of my parents' business, so it was a good way to introduce myself to different industries in a relatively short period of time. I also liked learning how business entities worked and differed. What made grocery store A different from grocery store B? Why is such-and-such important to Gas Station X but not Gas Station Y? Why did Bank A ask if this happened, but Bank B did not, and why is that important to them? What guidelines did a mystery shop for this location have and why? I also thought this would be a good way to go into consulting, if I so desired, since in the reports they often ask what you'd do differently and why. One thing I learned from my parents' business was that I disliked being stuck in one place for a long period of time, so this took care of that. It's a great way to interact with different people in different settings.

When I first started, it seemed that I was the only one doing it in the general area, so there was bonus pay galore. I would plan out routes, driving to a city as much as nearly 2 hours away and doing all sorts of different shops. I enjoyed the challenge of juggling the variety, being super-organized, observant and detailed. It was a great way to become more familiar with my region, having the choice to conduct projects that interested me while dismissing others, and making some money while keeping my time unscheduled, free and mine.

*Why it's no longer working out:
The things that once made it good now make it tiring and frustrating. It was fun getting to learn about different businesses and having excuses to visit them, but at the same time it's tiring to keep all the projects straight. Visiting the same locations and conducting the same projects is getting repetitive. Driving everywhere is also tiring and dangerous, what with all the clueless drivers out there, and I've gotten much more road rage-y than I was in the past. More people are aware of mystery shopping and auditing, so it has become very hard to make routes and bonus pay is a very rare find.

(I asked a question a while back about adding this work experience to LinkedIn. It seems like this experience wouldn't be taken seriously and valued.)

2) bookselling

*Why I liked it:
I got into this thanks to other mefites mentioning Bookscouter. Virtually the same reasons as 1; I could keep my time free and work from home, and I didn't have to stay at a single place for a long stretch of time. I used to visit thrift stores in between shops and leave sometimes with boxes of books. I really took pride in listing my inventory accurately, even bothering to count the number of pages that had markings. I've gotten so used to doing it that I've become familiar with books whose authors, titles, subjects and / or publishers might be worth flipping. This also has the added benefit of feeding my love of reading. While it doesn't a lot of money as a whole, from an investment and time perspective it has been really worth it.

*Why it's no longer working out:
Amazon suspended, then deactivated my account last year and while I have been getting some traction through other websites, it's not the same and certainly not enough to be significant. Reading their seller forums has me somewhat grateful not having to deal with the horrors other sellers have had anyway. The business seems so fickle -- a title that was worth money drops to worthlessness in weeks. Also, just as with 1, there's more competition / more people are combing the shelves than before. With postal rates and commissions rising, there's less and less money to be made. And again, the driving is tiring.

3) Chinese-English interpretation (mostly medical, sometimes technical / industrial and educational)

*What I like:
Same as 1 and 2, I don't have to stay in a place for a long time, but I do get to interact with different people, the vast majority of whom are very appreciate of me being there. You can choose which patients / clients you want to work with. It was another way to learn about industries and industry-specific stuff / terminology without throwing myself wholly into it. I actually enjoy many aspects of this work and find it fulfilling -- people appreciate your presence, you're helping people in a significant way and you can learn a lot.

*What I don't like:
The bulk of this work is in medicine, and unless people are sick there's no work to be found. It's also not guaranteed work since an appointment can be cancelled if the patient so chooses.

4) Chinese teaching and tutoring
*What I like:
I was able to work with both adults (via Craigslist) and with children (substituting for a friend of mine at a school). Working with adults, I enjoyed getting to share my knowledge and experience -- one student even had his own erhu and it was fun showing them how to play it.

*Why it's not working out:
Demand for this in my area is very low, particularly since every school has Chinese teachers now. Ads on Craigslist are rare, and the last ad I saw had already been answered by the time I saw it. It's gig work that is not plentiful to begin with and is now competitive.

Some common themes:
I DO like independence, having an open schedule, working with different people / clients, having knowledge / experience to share with people, learning, exploring, being dependable and responsible
I DON'T like routine, strict schedules, monotony, being stuck in the same location with the same people, wearing a uniform, not having the chance to grow

I think I can say confidently that I have good people, organizational, observational, communicative / conversational, writing, reasoning skills.

So...any ideas or suggestions?
posted by ditto75 to Work & Money (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should be able to find remote Chinese teaching jobs, like this or these, and you might also be able to get a little extra cash translating on a site like Gengo. But if you have time and any interest, I'd consider learning to code. There are a lot of free programs.
posted by pinochiette at 1:39 PM on February 10

If you were at my workplace (a solar company) I would peg you for Sales. You travel around, you meet people, you tell them about the product (solar panels, in our case) and you try to convince them to buy it. It's not monotonous, you mostly set your own schedule, you can work remotely a lot if you want to but sometimes you come into the office. People skills are important. It helps to be extroverted. You need to be self-organizing. You have a lot of independence, although there is also pressure. Sales gets a bad rap as being phony, but if you can find something to sell that is genuinely a good and useful product, something you can feel earnestly positive about selling, you can sell and be honest at the same time.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:10 PM on February 10

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