Where are the interesting jobs?
November 23, 2006 5:18 PM   Subscribe

What alternatives exist for someone with little experience looking for a more interesting job?

I realize this is a common subject, but I couldn't find quite what I was looking for using the search. Anyway, right now I have your typical mundane, repetitive office job doing data entry. But I'm wondering if there's anything more interesting out there that I might be able to try. I have a fairly general liberal arts bachelor degree from a pretty respectable university and very litte experience. I know everyone always says to "do what you love," but that kind of vague advice is incredibly non-helpful. Unfortunately for me, the only jobs I can think of that I might be able to get into at this point aren't much different from what I'm doing already.

So what I'm mostly looking for here is ideas. Does anyone have any specific suggestions of things that someone with my limited experience could try that would be fun, interesting, and/or in some other way personally rewarding? Preferrably without spending several more years in school.
posted by magodesky to Work & Money (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Join the Peace Corps (or reasonable facsimile). No, really, I'm serious. When you get back you will not ask this question any more.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:23 PM on November 23, 2006

Can you secure short-term contracts doing whatever it is you're currently doing? Variety might help with the boredom while broadening your experience base faster than staying at one place for years.
posted by scheptech at 5:31 PM on November 23, 2006

Response by poster:
The problem with your question is that none of us have the slightest idea what you would think would be fun or interesting or personally rewarding. Those are subjective, not objective, criteria.
I realize that. But as I said, thinking about what I like to do hasn't really gotten me very far. So I'm really sort of asking for your opinion on what constitutes an "interesting" job. What are just some examples of jobs that you think would be interesting or worthwhile that someone at an entry level could get involved in?

Or to put the question another way, what kinds of jobs do people here love to do? Or if you don't have a job that you love, what would you love to do? And would a person with a very generalized background be able to get started in those fields?
posted by magodesky at 5:56 PM on November 23, 2006

Barbara Sher has developed a systematic way of answering this question All jobs are work at some point, and the best way to ruin a hobby is to go pro.
posted by mecran01 at 6:53 PM on November 23, 2006

I am in basically your same position. Can you do receptionist stuff, like answer phones and talk to people? If so you might try looking for a receptionist job at a place where interesting things take place, like a college or a dance school or a gallery or a vet clinic or a design firm or a lady who sews dresses, rather than holing yourself up in a cubicle at a place that doles out mortgages or something.
Personally for me "interesting things" means basically anywhere people are doing something creative or artsy, which excluded anything financial or related to insurance.

this was my technique, at least. i wound up getting receptionist job at a place that, while not really artsy, was non-profit and so that counts for something. anyway, at least as a receptionist you get to talk people.
posted by amethysts at 8:20 PM on November 23, 2006

Personal assistant. Hours are crazy, but you are constantly doing different things every week and you are out and about for a good part of your day. You have to be frightfully organised, able to problem solve like nobody's business and get along with just about everyone.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 8:39 PM on November 23, 2006

I second Barbara Sher. Try reading Wishcraft . It has some great exercises meant to tap into your deeper wants and desires and offers guidance and direction on how to move toward your goals. Another book by Barbara Sher that you may find useful is I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was. I haven't read it but I imagine it's close to what you're looking for.

I would recommend against leaping into another job before taking a moment to really think about what you want to be doing with your life. Also, no matter how great a job might seem, it will always be work. Which is why this might really be a better time to explore what you're doing with your life outide of your job.

Before you leap into a new profession, you might want to look into taking up a volunteer position. This way you can get a taste for different kinds of jobs without throwing out your old job.

Oh, and if you did well in your liberal arts degree and think you might enjoy teaching, New York public schools offer a pretty comprehensive program where you teach in the schools, get a decent salary, and get your master's in education paid for, all at nce.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:54 PM on November 23, 2006

1. Start a blog, where you can write about anything you want. No agenda, except linking to articles you like,
2. Post to the blog, a minimum of four times a week.
3. After 6 weeks, look back at the blog and see what you wrote about. What leitmotifs or commonalities can you see? What do you talk about the most? Sum it up in one to three words (for argument's sake, let's say it was "cooking" and "travel").
4. Find the most creative, open, brainstormy person you know, and ask him (her) the following: "Help me out with a brainstorming project: What ways can you think of that someone could get paid to either cook or to travel." Don't stop until you have 20 different possibilities. Seriously, 20. That's crucial. Go from there.

In other news ...

I think being a bike courier would be pretty interesting.
posted by Alt F4 at 9:02 PM on November 23, 2006

I'm in a pretty similar position in that I have a liberal arts background and not much else of use to recommend me for a job. I found that sitting in a cubicle for even a mere three days was my idea of hell and have done my best to avoid it. I've done some teaching and other odd jobs and I'm currently working as a barista - which seems to be the occupation of choice for any artists who need a day job. It may not be the most challenging job, or the best paying, but I'm meeting all sorts of awesome people (coworkers and customers alike) and I enjoy the health insurance (notably absent from teaching for some Dog-forsaken reason) and Corporate Discount (my café is in a Borders).

My advice would be to figure out your budge first and find what you need to be earning to live comfortably and then find the most interesting job in that bracket. You're not going to be happy if you're doing something awesome and forced to eat ramen every single day. I personally like being in a café, but maybe you'll find that you get more joy out of being a florist than you did from data entry.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:24 PM on November 23, 2006

I was in your situation a year ago. I applied to Teach For America. Wasn't accepted, but the application process caused me to bump into the lead to my current job, teaching English in Taiwan, so it wasn't a waste either. I wish I'd known about the New York Public Schools program then; I'd have applied to it, to.

Also apply for work at your two favorite bookstores. (If you're the kind of person who gets a liberal arts education in our day and age, I'm pretty confident you do have favorite bookstores. And check out library jobs, too.
posted by eritain at 2:28 AM on November 24, 2006

Teaching English in East Asia might still be a good gig, though apparently the center of gravity, jobs-wise is shifting from Tokyo to mainland China.

Teaching at a private (commercial) school in Tokyo was a good 2 years of my life. The last 6 months. . . the grind of doing the same thing every day made it a bit soul-killing, but even then meeting new people every day made it rewarding.

It's probably too late to apply for this year's JET Program[me], but that's also a way to escape the rat race for a year or 3.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:53 AM on November 25, 2006

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