I want to change jobs but feel underqualified. What can I do?
October 7, 2019 5:40 AM   Subscribe

I'm in a job that's comfortable, pays (just) enough but is deeply unfulfilling and is beginning to seriously depress me. I'm in my 30s now and starting to feel old and useless. Convince me I can still do something new? (I'm in the UK)

My job is boring and I'm feeling deeply unfulfilled. I don't have much savings and can't afford to study a college course (have to work full time anyway).

I'm in my 30s now and the last thing I studied for was my degree in science, of which I have only ever had one job relating to it. In the meantime I've worked in a factory, restaurants and bars, taught English (abroad, no formal qualification to do so) and worked in a pharma lab, so I know I have experience and transferable skills but I've never moved up anywhere. I'm creative and have done some painting/illustration work but I'm getting stuck in a cycle of being too tired to draw, feeling bad about it, getting depressed and lacking any confidence in going for jobs higher up or selling my work as a serious artist.

I wonder what jobs I could study for at home, what might be in demand at the moment and are there any resources to guide me to organise some kind of path for myself. I keep hearing that coding is useful and in demand and while I'm computer literate I've never coded and have no idea how the industry even works. I'm posting this in the hopes that someone else has found themselves in this sort of rut and found a way out, so all suggestions are much appreciated, even the outlandish.
posted by Chaffinch to Work & Money (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
What have you liked doing in your previous roles? I'm in broadly a similar situation (career wise, age & location) and I'm trying to learn from my past what I liked and to seek out more of that (e.g. creative problem solving) and less of what gets me down (e.g. massive management structure) - thinking I might retrain but I don't really have the energy so at the moment at least I'm after more of a slow-pivot towards more fulfilling roles. I'll be watching this thread for sure!
posted by london explorer girl at 6:34 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I enjoyed restaurant work to be honest, and certain aspects of teaching. I liked being on my feet and the social aspects of the jobs, but the pay just isn't there unless you're management, and I can't afford to take a job and work my way up somewhere. I'm absolutely not becoming a teacher either, but that's not about pay so much as it's a lifestyle I can't maintain. It's tough knowing what I'd like to do partly because I just don't know what's available to me.
posted by Chaffinch at 6:45 AM on October 7, 2019

I get it! I wish there was a list of all jobs I could just sort of scroll through to see what's there. I too enjoyed restaurant work as well as parts of teaching - so I decided it's the "helping" part of that that I really liked. So now I look for customer-focused roles. Usually a job search for me is as much finding out the right terms to use as anything else, seeing what people would employ me for that dovetails with what I like. I've also started The Artists Way for my artistic side.
posted by london explorer girl at 6:59 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'll take a look at that, thanks. And yeah, in searching for work I'll look for customer-focused stuff too! Currently sitting on my arse in an office where the only customers I talk to are the occasional disgruntled solicitors.
posted by Chaffinch at 7:02 AM on October 7, 2019

Based on your background teaching English and your computer literacy, you could probably break into a role in digital marketing without much expensive training if that sounds interesting to you. There are a LOT of free and low-cost resources online for learning the ropes. Not sure if Lynda is available in the UK, but if so, that's a great learning resource, and it's free to use through some library systems. There've been a couple of great AskMe's in the past about getting started in digital marketing, so I won't rehash everything here, but please feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions!
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:32 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm not even sure what digital marketing is, but I'll take a look, thanks!
posted by Chaffinch at 8:05 AM on October 7, 2019

It's US-specific, but O*NET "has detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers, workforce development and HR professionals, students, researchers, and more!" It might be helpful to browse or poke around a bit.
posted by lazuli at 9:17 AM on October 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

You should reach out to people you know in jobs you'd like to have, or at least in roles that have been a step or two above yours, and ask for informational interviews. Also, if you have a friend who knows someone, ask for an introduction. This could be as simple as reaching out to an old boss (or a current boss) and saying exactly what you've said here: I am bored and want to do something new. How did you get to your position? What steps would you recommend I do to get there?

By the way, bosses love this stuff and will likely be generous with their time. I mean, who doesn't want to be asked for advice?

They may be able to give you feedback about actions you could take, or ways that you could present yourself, that would help you move up the chain career wise. And they may also have ideas of positions that your skills would suit well.
posted by RajahKing at 9:29 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

With your science/pharma background, interest in teaching (but not being a teacher) and illustration skills, take a look at Science Communication. It’s a massively growing field and there loads of different ways to ‘do’ it. I’ll try drop some links later but a search for #SciComm on twitter should start you off. There are also loads of meet-ups around the UK to just start finding out more.
posted by atlantica at 10:07 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: BIG STEM Communicators Network - includes jobs board

PSCI-COMM Mailing list - jobs posted all the time on here

New to SciComm

One way to try it out risk-free would be to try volunteering at some events, perhaps as a STEM Ambassador

SciComm Socials
posted by atlantica at 11:10 AM on October 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, thank you! I actually did a project on scientific illustration in uni, I'll be taking a good look into this. Thanks again for your help!
posted by Chaffinch at 1:21 AM on October 8, 2019

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