Where do I go from here? I'm 50 & need a new direction.
March 31, 2007 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Hi, I'm new to all this, so forgive me if I breach any etiquette I'm not aware of. I'm male, 50, in the UK. Married, no kids, not debts, no ties, not much savings, don't need a huge income. I'm going thro' a classic mid-life crisis (a bit late, I guess), which has emotional & practical repercussions; I'll leave the emotions for another time.

I'm looking for a new career (I have read the previous posts on this subject). I have always done technical / engineering things (15 years in telecomms, for instance) & been good at them, but I feel the need for something that is less hands-on & involves more interaction with people. I have done a lot of dealing with customers & the public, & have also informally trained engineering apprentices (male & female).
I don't have a degree. HNC equiv in Telecomms, now irrellevant & shockingly out of date; all the stuff I trained on is in a museum somewhere! I have a heavy goods vehicle licence, & have just taken an Occupational Health & Safety qualification, awaiting results. Not sure how to get started or where this will lead.
I know a great deal about UK inland waterways & boats, & for a few months was a harbourmaster, but was rather too successful for my own good & got backstabbed for my efforts by the previous incumbents. Bugger!
In the past I've been a semi-pro dj, sound/pa engineer & built cars as hobbies. A little martial arts long ago, & dancing past (latin) & present (ceroc). Always been a big reader. Perhaps not relevant, included to round me out a little.
My strengths are problem solving & getting on with people from all walks of life. Weaknesses are I don't like too much admin / office work & I can get sometimes get bored quickly.
I am trying to view my "crisis" as an opportunity, but need some inspiration & suggestions.
I'm being deliberately vague so as not to prejudice your wild imaginations, but would suggest a career as a male stripper wouldn't have long to run. Human Cannonball, perhaps?
I await with trepidation...
posted by vulch to Work & Money (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You sound really interesting. With such a wide set of experiences, perhaps you'd make a good mentor or teacher? Or perhaps an ICT coordinator at a school, etc..? Not an office job, but you get to interact with a lot of great (and not so great!) people and feel like you're making people's lives better, etc. Lack of a degree is not always an impediment, especially if you have the experience, although naturally you probably won't become a university lecturer or something too quickly! :)
posted by wackybrit at 3:05 PM on March 31, 2007

Conduct water tours. There are popular inland waterways in the UK and France, and self-crewed boats for hire, but some people don't like their chances with learning to pilot under those conditions.
posted by jet_silver at 3:18 PM on March 31, 2007

Write a book - I'd buy it.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:46 PM on March 31, 2007

EMT. If I were hurt, I'd want you to come.
posted by MarshallPoe at 4:35 PM on March 31, 2007

You have a wonderful skillset. I suspect you could turn your hand to a lot of things. The biggest question is what you WANT to do?
posted by sweet mister at 5:13 PM on March 31, 2007

I think Marshallpoe's idea is good, not only EMT but there are many health care jobs that do not require a full on doctors education where a good analytical mind and personable manner will get you ahead and they won't offshore the health care jobs.
posted by Iron Rat at 5:15 PM on March 31, 2007

Have you considered combining your telecom and marine experiences? I have to think that a job setting up and managing WIFI, PBX's, and so forth for marinas would be pretty interesting and fun. You'd be doing technical work, but most of the time you'd be interacting with the marinas, the boat owners, and solving interesting problems.

Have fun!
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:02 PM on March 31, 2007

Don't worry, you're not going through a "classic mid-life crisis" unless you've recently bought a shiny new sportscar and dumped your wife... You say that you have no debts, so I'd say you're free to take a risk on whatever career change you'd like to pursue... Be whatever you want to be, and good luck!
posted by amyms at 7:33 PM on March 31, 2007

If you're contemplating teaching and you're worried about your skillset being out-of-date, there's a whole heap of jobs teaching English abroad everywhere from Indonesia to Poland to smack in the middle of London, especially given Britain's labor market being open to immigrants and workers from the new EU members. It takes a little time to get a reputable qualification, and the salary isn't so hot (though it's certainly enough to live on in most non-Western European places), but most jobs are on a contract basis - 9 or 12 months - so it's not like you'll be turning your back on everything forever should you decide to try it out for a while.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that teaching English abroad often has a reputation as a profession full of naive ex-/pre-university students (*raises hand*), but two of the best teachers at my former school in Indonesia were a 36-year-old RAF vet and his 62-year-old RAF vet dad. You could set yourself up in a cool, not-too-hectic city in eastern Europe (Krakow, Riga, Tallinn, Bratislava, Sofia, Bucharest, maybe even Istanbul...) or somewhere further afield, rent out the homestead in the UK for a little extra income, and see where it goes. Once you're certified (and teaching-job hunting is part of the lessons one learns in the certification I linked above) and hired, most schools worth their salt will help out with finding accommodation and getting settled, as well as getting you trained. Paperwork, at least where I worked, is painlessly minimal - your own lesson plans (which you'll learn to create in the best way for you), a few notes, the class register.

I have to say that it's easily the most stimulating thing I've ever done - between living in a foreign society every day and trying to figure out how to best communicate some arcane grammar rule to students (and don't worry if your knowledge of linguistic minutiae is limited, as you'll pick it up with time), I'd say it's a great way to find new avenues to follow. Feel free to e-mail me with questions - check my profile!

Good luck!
posted by mdonley at 8:30 PM on March 31, 2007

PS - the RAF vets didn't have degrees either - it's not really a barrier to entry into the field in many places.
posted by mdonley at 8:33 PM on March 31, 2007

Do some volunteering to give you a taste for some of the things you might like to do. You can try out many of the fields that have already been suggested - healthcare, waterways, teaching - and more.

Contact some charities and community organisations that you have interest in and ask if they want some help. Otherwise this web page is a good place to start.
posted by Helga-woo at 10:45 AM on April 1, 2007

Response by poster: Don't worry, you're not going through a "classic mid-life crisis" unless you've recently bought a shiny new sportscar and dumped your wife...
Err.. nearly. I did say I'd leave the emotional stuff for another time.
The biggest question is what you WANT to do? I really wish I knew, but the Hive Mind has already got me thinking in directions I hadn't discovered on my own.
posted by vulch at 12:39 PM on April 1, 2007

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