There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction
August 16, 2006 1:38 PM   Subscribe

What on earth should I do for a living? Can anyone recommend some good NYC recruiters?

I am 27.

I have an English degree with honors, academic awards, etc, from a well-respected east coast university.

I have worked for the same, small company for the last 4-5 years and I can't take it any longer.

Short, skippable rant of why I need to leave:
my ideas are stolen by the president/owner of the company and passed off as her own. Not just passed off as her own to other people, which I could handle, but to me as well.

For example, she worked for nearly 2 years on a book. I didn't work on it because I had too many other responsibilities. About two weeks before it's due at the publisher, she wants me to look it over. I said that it was rambling and incoherent. Over the course of an afternoon, I convinced her that her basic thesis (there was not much of one to begin with) was COMPLETELY OPPOSITE of what it should be and outlined an entirely new way to frame her ideas so they could at least make sense, adding key concepts along the way that never appeared in her draft. She realized I was right and spent the next two weeks with her assistant furiously rewriting her book to match my ideas. Now, she has the gall to explain to me what I don't understand about her thesis. She never thanked me for the help and basically has acted as if I never gave her the idea, that it was all her work!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I am also not paid enough, do too many jobs, get few benefits, and as I have pointed out, my work is never acknowledged.

My problem is as follows:

I have been working in a rather obscure specialty that no other company seems to be doing so I don't have a clear career path. It's not like I can jump to another company that does the same thing.

I am also a jack of all trades, but master of none type of guy. I have a lot of experience and am pretty effing good at writing, copy editing, marketing, product development, project management, graphic design, web design, designing programs, etc. But, I have no real marketable degrees, or focused speciality. Again, no clear career path. Every job seems to require years in a particular field, and on top of that degrees up the yingyang.

I also have a limited network having worked at a small company for so long.

What the hell I do? Are there recruiters that can help me? Where do I go to find some sort of direction? I also need to make at least 45,000 a year.

I am great at doing whatever is needed, and learning what I need to get by. Great under pressure, well-natured, etc. I just don't know what I should do and how to get it.

What the hell should I do?!?!
posted by milarepa to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What do you WANT to do?
posted by lovejones at 1:46 PM on August 16, 2006

I feel your pain. Try setting up an appointment with Lynne Palmer Executive Recruitment and talk to them about what you want and how you can spin your experience. Also, keep an eye on the job boards at Media Bistro and Publishers Lunch and just ferociously apply for jobs. Good luck on that 45K, though.
posted by mattbucher at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2006

The book thing is very frustrating, but if you don't want people to take your advice about their writing, then you shouldn't offer advice about their writing.

So far as the career-direction thing goes, 4-5 years of experience goes a long way in most industries. If you're happy doing the kind of work you're doing now, then you should apply for similar jobs at similar firms and play up your experience on your resume.

How do you find other firms with similar job openings? You network. A lot. Go to industry events and mixers (that's what they're for). Read websites and forums about your subject area. Become involved in your industry. Jobs will fall in your lap. Guaranteed.

Although, this may not happen immediately. Don't be discouraged.

The other thing is, you may want to really consider what you want to do with your life. Is there something else you'd like to do? This is a perfect opportunity for you to go back to school and get a fancy degree in whatever you fancy.
posted by bshort at 1:49 PM on August 16, 2006


I guess I don't know. I would like to do design work, but don't have the resources to get the degree/experience to get noticed.
posted by milarepa at 1:51 PM on August 16, 2006

I am also a jack of all trades, but master of none type of guy. I have a lot of experience and am pretty effing good at writing, copy editing, marketing, product development, project management, graphic design, web design, designing programs, etc. But, I have no real marketable degrees, or focused speciality. Again, no clear career path.

You look like the perfect candidate to be a car salesperson. I'm serious. It's a great career for those who can make the cut. A decent car salesperson usually earns 75k or better in major markets, over 100k is he/she is actually good at it and works more than the standard 32 hour work week most dealerships use. Mid-level management pays 250-500k and the sky is the limit once you get into general management.

Despite the industry's bad rep, most dealerships are run by honest people that run an honest store. I blundered into the business when I was 22, enjoyed nearly every minute of my time at work and retired comfortably before my 50th birthday. I was amazed at the number of people holding advanced degrees in the business and any degree at all will put you on the fast track for management and the big bucks.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:02 PM on August 16, 2006

Have you considered working as a freelance writer, freelance technical writer, markerting consultance, freelance marcom specialist or the like? Your English degree would still tie in and your lack of focus would actually lend itself to work on a variety of projects with a variety of companies.

You note that you have a small network. Small is a challenge, but what's the quality of this network? Could you expand the network?

If you are concerned about financial means, perhaps you could take on a "survival job" while you ramp up your consulting business.

Disclaimer: I have an English degree, once had a small network, shared your skills, and took the plunge to become a freelance writer and marcom specialist. Flash forwrd several years...I happily run a marketing consulting business.
posted by acoutu at 2:41 PM on August 16, 2006

Forward. Did I mention I no longer work as an editor?
posted by acoutu at 2:42 PM on August 16, 2006

I'll try to be a bit more helpful. You don't need a design degree, if that's what you want to do. All you just need is someone who will give you a chance!

But you need to prepare yourself. Take a few evening design classes in an area that interests you at SVA/Parsons and get a decent portfolio together. AIGA, SPD, Art Director's Club all hold interesting events/lectures in NYC all year.

Don't worry so much about the credentials. If someone sees potential in you, and an interest and willingness to learn, you're in good shape. E-mail me if you have any questions...
posted by lovejones at 4:32 PM on August 16, 2006

You are young enough that you have plenty of time to switch from being jack of all trades / master of none to being really really good at something you care about. And ultimately it is a lot easier to branch out into multiple things if you are working out from a core strength.

I would spend less time looking for a job in the near term, and more time really looking inside yourself, to figure out what you would be most happy doing 5-10 years from now, or what you would be willing to commit to doing with all your energies in the next few years.

If it's a designer, do it. Commit to it. Stop being distracted with your other talents for now, and just focus. Get a job that is at least peripherally related (design firms need jack of all trades with your talents), and immerse yourself in the business. Definately do everything that lovejones says.

It sounds like you are super talented, could do a lot, but you are afraid to commit to one thing. If that's the case, that's the thing to get over, and also, start to think long term. If you do commit to a goal, and really work towards it, in 2-3 years someone of your talents can get anywhere, and the only problem would be is if you are your own worst enemy, and are unable to focus the energies and talent you sound like you have in abundance.

At the end of Candide, Voltaire concludes that what is most important in life is that we must "tend to our garden". Gardens are not creations that bloom overnight. It takes time, planning, hard work, and care. These same ingredients are what you will need to grow into the person and career you want, but you already have everything you need to get started tomorrow.

Good luck!
posted by extrabox at 8:42 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

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