Wishing to be a cog in a wheel
August 16, 2006 12:35 PM   Subscribe

In what jobs could I work with other people amid (at least somewhat) bustling activity?

I'd like to find a job -- or start toward a career -- in which I would work very much with others, not alone. I choose solitude often in my free time, but in work situations I do much better if my tasks directly involve other people. Alone, I tend to question assumptions to an extent that is counter-productive, and I lose contact with motivations. So: I'd rather react than initiate. I'd rather be part of a system than autonomous.
Ideally, I'd also get to interact with various people. And, I'd much rather be around distress than pep. So, nursing appeals while waitressing and retail repel.
I haven't thought of much else though. Any ideas?

(I am soon to turn 30. I have a BA in liberal arts, a history of employment in bookstores, and a wariness of office culture. Menial tasks are okay with me. I'm open to going to school for a job that looked thoroughly viable.)
posted by hathaway_green to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Become a nurse. They're in demand and needed (not always the same thing), they make good money, can have flexible schedules, and have a lot of different specialties to choose from. Working in an ER would seem perfectly as you describe. And you can go on to become a Nurse Practicioner later if you want more primpary care responsiblity.
posted by OmieWise at 12:38 PM on August 16, 2006

Where are you located?

How about becoming a bartender? Great money, interesting hours, great job to have while in school.
posted by hermitosis at 12:40 PM on August 16, 2006

Teach school?
posted by crazycanuck at 12:41 PM on August 16, 2006

Seriously, nursing sounds like the best bet. It's the first thing I thought of.

You could also get a government job (clerk in the circuit court, civilian job with a police department) where, depending on a quite a bit, the environment you seek can be had. As the spouse of a government worker, however, I must point out that "office politics" takes on a new meaning at such a place. YMMV.

Airport security?

U.S.M.C.? I understand there's a lot of demand there.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:47 PM on August 16, 2006

Seconding the nursing suggestion, that's a really good one. Another possibility is becoming part of an EMT team.

Not sure if they have the distress factor you're looking for, but journalists have lots of interaction with various kinds of people and from my experience newsrooms are the textbook definition of "bustling."
posted by hazelshade at 12:49 PM on August 16, 2006

I think nursing is a great idea but it does involve making decisions on your own, sometimes, but usually approved by a doctor.

Teaching does involve working with others but the questioner specifically said that they do not want to initiate. As a teacher you have so many responsibilities and they all involve leadership. Also, despite appearances bartending positions require more pep than distress.

I really think public health in general is the best option. There are a lot of options and you could work around the world in difficult situations, if travel interests you.
posted by scazza at 12:52 PM on August 16, 2006

If there is an active film or television industry near where you live, consider becoming a P.A.

You'd be one of the busiest cogs in a very busy wheel, surrounded by (and interacting with) a wide variety of distressed people, and not permitted to think for yourself, all of which are things you say you want.

Granted there is a downside: if you prove any good, there's room for pretty fast upward mobility, which may be a problem given what you've expressed a preference for.

That's balanced out by the positive aspects of the job: long hours and low pay!
posted by dersins at 1:06 PM on August 16, 2006

Anything construction related, including on site or in coordination/adminstration/assistant to estimators & PMs - either at a GC or on the owner side. Lots of work available, and the office culture can be somewhat different (in a good or bad way depending) from other office jobs. Opportunity to develop up to other jobs too, if you wanted.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:08 PM on August 16, 2006

Working in journalism could be good for you—they always need people ready to do menial tasks, and there's lots of bustle and people around. Magazines can be especially good environments for this sort of thing. Downside: you'll be working in an office.

Alternately, have you worked in a college bookstore? I work in one right now, and find that there are usually enough people around, and the work is varied enough, that I don't find myself with downtime or any question about what I should be doing. While I view this job as temporary, I do like it quite a bit. Now, I think it slows down a bit here during mid-semester times, but still...the work in a college bookstore is usually more varied than in your average other bookstore, it seems to me, since they usually stock a variety of merchandise besides books.
posted by limeonaire at 1:14 PM on August 16, 2006

Are there financial or commodity exchanges that still have staffed trading floors? Man, you can't get much most bustling than that.
posted by GuyZero at 1:31 PM on August 16, 2006

Wow, such attentive replies. Thank you.

I feel very distinctly encouraged in my tentative consideration of nursing. Terminal Verbosity, your saying that it is seriously the "best bet" gave me a happy, hopeful upswing. And a gov't job is also a good possibility, I'm curious to look into what's involved in becoming and being a clerk in a circuit court. I was thinking about courtrooms and only got as far as thinking of the roles as court reporter and bailiff as not very interactive.

scaaza, you hit exactly on my reservations about bartending -- that it requires pep or some related quality, maybe a kind of gusto? -- and also about teaching. Now, I might be pretty happy teaching in a situation where two or more teachers led a group together: are there settings where that is the norm?

Production Assistant -- I would not have thought of it for myself, but being surrounded by people in distress (really? because they are rushed and anxious?) who need things donw on their behalf - that would indeed work for me.
Journalism has struck me as requiring a good deal of solo motive, but maybe not if I was based in a bustling newsroom...
Construction might be a great idea. I know nothing about the industry but nonetheless imagine I might find an amenable work culture.
Ah, commodity trading - that is the one suggestion I have gotten (and gotten twice) in conversation with friends. Funny.
posted by hathaway_green at 1:44 PM on August 16, 2006

really? because they are rushed and anxious?

Rushed, anxious, stressed, overworked. And, often, assholes, to be blunt. It's not a job for the thin-skinned...
posted by dersins at 1:54 PM on August 16, 2006

If you choose nursing, consider becoming an OR nurse. It's definitely centered around teamwork, can be fast-paced if you choose a large trauma hospital, and requires a little less interaction with your patients. It's a challenge starting out, but a lot of people find it very rewarding.
posted by moira at 2:41 PM on August 16, 2006

posted by rob511 at 2:42 PM on August 16, 2006

Rushed, anxious, stressed, overworked. And, often, assholes, to be blunt. It's not a job for the thin-skinned...

As a fair warning: that's also an aspect of working in an OR.
posted by moira at 2:43 PM on August 16, 2006

Nursing sounds perfect for you. Consider, however, the possibility of working for a doctor, not in a hospital. Office politics (might? I don't know much about hospitals) come more into play, but you would be able to develop relationships with patients, especially if you work for someone like an internal medicine specialist. This depends on the office, of course.
posted by MadamM at 7:20 PM on August 16, 2006

Rushed, anxious, stressed, overworked. And, often, assholes, to be blunt. It's not a job for the thin-skinned...

Same goes for journalism. You should note that the hours and pay in the field really, really suck. But it is rewarding work, and you end up spending much of your time outside of the office. (This is as a reporter; you'd probably need to start out as a menial editorial assistant, thus making even less money.)
posted by brina at 8:41 PM on August 16, 2006

What about working in retail in what is alternately called "loss prevention" and "asset protection"?

At the store where I worked, the loss prevention staff has all kinds of tasks. Some tend towards the menial: putting sensors on items, say, or doing daily counts of the high-end merchandise. Others involve directly working with people: training associates to spot both internal and external theft, for example, or trailing and/or apprehending shoplifters. There's paperwork, too - reports of injuries in the store are your responsibility, as is the paperwork that has to be done as far as prosecuting a shoplifter. You might end up testifying in court as a result of the work you do; you also serve as general security and as a bit of a check against general management (LPs can tell you plenty of stories about blowing the whistle on management, too).

If you like people and stress and hustle and bustle, and you have retail experience, you might like this job. There's plenty of room for promotion, too.
posted by anjamu at 9:55 PM on August 16, 2006

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