When am I gonna get my monies, guy?
March 19, 2008 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm stagnating. I'm a 23 year old guy in the UK, I'm back living with my parents, having spent fours years away studying, then working in one of the most excellent (but underpaid) jobs I could have ever imagined. I've been back for quite a while now and want a job that differs from the reams of sales, and typical office jobs I have to trawl through on most general job sites. So, where can I find an 'atypical' job?

Having found it difficult to find a place to live in London whilst working in a drum shop, I eventually, begrudgingly, returned to the bosom of my family up north.

I came back in June of last year, and have worked for only two months since, in a bookshop. Which I hated. But it's money, right?

That being the overwhelming sentiment of pretty much everyone I know/meet up here. I seem to be the only person who isn't happy just simply working for money. Whilst I fully understand a job's a job, I need to do be doing something that isn't going to make me hate every second of it.

But I simply can't find a many positions on the typical job sites or through recruitment agencies (reed, monster, jobsmine etc.) that I'm qualified for. Probably about 80% of what I find is roles in recruitment, sales, telemarketing etc. None of which I could stomach.

Where might I be able to find something 'different', that doesn't necessarily require heaps of experience? Websites, specialist agencies (media, games industry?), specific companies/sectors that typically aren't looking for an unrealistic amount of experience, trainee/intern/apprenticeship opportunities etc.?

Some extra info that might be useful:

I have a 2.2 degree in BA Sonic Arts (whatever that might be).
I have reasonable GCSEs and A-Levels in Music Tech, Fine Art, Media.
I do like the idea of working in an airport/somewhere where things actually happen. However my nearest airport is too far for me to realistically commute, since I now live in the arse-end of nowhere.
I have next to no money, so to up and leave right now is out of the question. Though I might be able to get some financial support from the parents.
I really love the idea of leaving the country, maybe to teach english as a foreign language, but finances might be a problem, any similar suggestions?
I have various self taught and relatively undemonstratable skills such as HTML, image editing, video editing etc. that are unlikely to get me anywhere fast.

I know it's simultaneously very specific, but somehow also vague. But I'm pretty lost right now.
posted by iamcrispy to Work & Money (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Go teach English at Shin Shizen Juku all you need is your airfare. You won't make much(any) money but it will at least get you out of your rut and I had a great time there. I'm from Liverpool, taught English there, and through various happen stances came to be living in San Francisco (for over ten years now..) So write them a letter, give them a call, and go do something :)
posted by zeoslap at 1:05 PM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can teach English at places that will pay your airfare too. If you have a music interest and are looking for a place that will nurture a lot of eccentric tastes, I would suggest Korea. My friend has been there for almost half-a-year and says the world of it, though it's tough to get used to and she did leave her cat behind. Korea is very dead-set on progressive tech and has a strong, flourishing music scene that is always looking for innovation. If you're as good as you say, you may not be there to teach English very long. My friend's blog is omgwtfrok.blogspot.com.
posted by parmanparman at 1:19 PM on March 19, 2008

If you are interested in teaching English overseas, JET is one of the most popular Japanese exchange programs. There's a lot of information about the goods and bads of JET, but it certainly would be an interesting experience.
posted by Nelsormensch at 1:32 PM on March 19, 2008

Whilst others may have more practical suggestions for you, I will give you a more general bit of advice.

You're 23. You have no mortgage or dependents. You will never in your life be as free as you are now to do whatever you want, to travel the world, to see places, meet people and have experiences that will not be open to you in ten years' time. I am in my 40s and wish I could turn back the clock - if I could I'd make some different choices in how I lived my life in my early 20s and used the years before I became bogged down in career and other choices to broaden my horizons.

Seize the opportunity.
posted by essexjan at 1:44 PM on March 19, 2008

Post-university blues. It's not uncommon. You probably just had the best time of your life, ever, and now it's over and you're back where you started. It's not surprising you're depressed.

I would say don't be tempted to quit the job until you have something better lined up. Your current job provides you with three really useful things - immediate cash, a structured day (the last thing you want is to be lying in bed at noon trying to think of a reason to get out of bed), and the impetus to get the hell out of there.
posted by Leon at 1:50 PM on March 19, 2008

Don't rely on job boards to find a job. In fact, ignore them altogether. Instead, put together a list of a dozen or so companies that you think you might like to work for. Research them - find out all you can about what they do, how they're organized, who their competitors are, etc. Then find the name of someone who works there (ask friends, family, friends of friends, friends of family... or search the internet). Be brave, and call them at work. Ask them politely if they could spare 15 minutes to talk to you about what they do and give you some advice about beginning your career. Do this 20 times or so and you have a good chance of getting a heads-up about an opportunity that hasn't been advertised. This is called informational interviewing, and it works far better than sending out resumes.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 2:20 PM on March 19, 2008 [6 favorites]

if there were a way for an old man to talk to a young man, my son would listen to me, i would have listened to my dad, and he would have listened to his dad. but that rarely happens, and we all turn out ok anyway.

you'll be fine eventually. but that's not the question. the question is "where can i find an atypical job?"

my answer: you can't. it will find you. when i was your age, the atypical job i do now didn't even exist yet.

there's your answer. everything hereafter is a slight derail.

i sense an urgency in your post that "it will find you" doesn't answer. you want it now, don't you? soon, if not now. if so, i have this unsolicited advice: get a job, any job. then get an apartment, any apartment. don't be picky. frankly, you're in no position to be picky. you have to earn that.

being young, poor and self-sufficent somehow seems to kick the time continuum into a higher gear. opportunities arise much more quickly than they do at your parents' house. i have a feeling that Atypical, Inc does not even have your parents' home address.

keep an open mind and two open eyes. and be brave. you'll be doing something you never could have imagined before too long.

(disclaimer: i did not listen to this self-same advice when i was 23)
posted by stubby phillips at 3:32 PM on March 19, 2008

My current boss, when he was 24, moved to London and looked for a job in Loot. He called up a fairly innocuous looking ad, and two weeks later was Brian Eno's PA. He spent a few years living above a recording studio with his future wife, between jetting around the world to U2 gigs and studios.

Like stubby phillips just told you - an atypical job will find you - but - you've got to make yourself available for it, which (as you're realising) means more than squatting in Cheshire until the phone rings.

I felt exactly the way you do when I was 22. Then I just upped and moved to London with just enough dosh in my pocket to make my first month's rent. I got a job in the third week, my first as a web developer proper, and now, three years later, I've changed jobs, been self employed, busked, gigged, and somehow landed on my feet workwise. But those same feet are STILL itchy; so much so that I'm planning on taking a sabbatical from my otherwise great job to give the music a serious go this year.

So, to summarise, you can't force something interesting, unexpected and exciting to happen, but you can put yourself in a situation where it's a fuckload more likely to. Do something unusual and unusual things will happen to you. Money will sort itself out; and if it doesn't, you have nothing to lose. You'll only ever fall back to where you are now.
posted by armoured-ant at 4:06 PM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

The best way to get an atypical job is to hang out with atypical people, they don't tend to advertise these jobs.

Case in point, you being in the UK and all:
A mexican friend got a pretty sweet job with a UK company, teaching abroad uk (They will CHARGE you to go work somewhere else, I am not recommending you use them) because he was playing drums at the beach with some biologist from their turtle conservation project. The owner was there, they struck a conversation, and the rest is history. This friend did not need to work at the time, and could hang out all he wanted.

I got some interesting jobs in London by working as a bar-back on 2 very different bars, one 2 blocks from King's Cross station, one on Oxford Street close to the McLaren dealership. I would just talk to the people that looked like they had and interesting life. I did some design work for a young designer girl who had won some awards, worked as a photographer's assistant, worked in a HipHop album, and other weird stuff. Some of these jobs could have become permanent, but with my 6 month visa, I knew I had to leave soon.

BTW, in the Oxford St. bar I made enough money to share a flat on Earl's court, while I met cool people at the King's Cross one. The main bartender was a PhD in Geology, the manager was the greatest scam artist I've ever met, another bar back was a Mexican kid who won a radio station contest to go see U2 and just missed his plane back, the bouncers where French speaking African immigrants full of scars and crazy stories, and the very hot female bartender was finishing her PhD in Political Science.
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:51 PM on March 19, 2008

If you plan to come to Korea, search out some of the advice I've given elsewhere on this site over the years on the subject, and my Korea-related site (rarely updated, but there are some hopefully useful things there (check out the essay called 'The Skinny' in particular)) reachable from my Wonderchicken industries™ start page, linked in my profile.

Korea can be great, but it's important to have some idea of what you're getting into. You need only have enough money to get here and live for a month or so. Most schools will reimburse your airfare. It's not for everyone, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:20 AM on March 20, 2008

I was in your exact position about five years ago. A degree, a sucession of temping jobs, crushing student debt. It's miserable.

Most job boards are useless. Ignore them. Get a job, any job back home. Set a hard date for departure. Save a grand at least, which should just about cover you for your first month's rent. Get on a bus and come to London. Get a room in a big share house you find on Gumtree. Go find a bar job. You'll find one, seriously. Research the thousands of companies around, take a runner job for one of the dozens of independent production companies in Soho, or do an internship with your favourite music magazine.

Whatever you do, do it fast and embrace the weird scariness. TEFL/teaching abroad can be amazing, but it can also mean you miss opportunities to get in on the ground floor of something cool and interesting in the UK.

Seriously, I went from being £4k overdrawn and barely covering rent in a temp job in Edinburgh to the best job I've ever had and working in New York, Germany and all over the UK in four years. It can happen, but it won't if you sit waiting for it to happen.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:06 AM on March 20, 2008

Videogames tester. Seriously. Plenty of places in the UK for it. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/jobs.php is your friend for this kind of career. I work for a large games company in Madrid and got my start from pretty much exactly where you're standing right now. Mefimail me if you want to know more about applying for work. Summer months tend to be the peak hiring period for testers, regardless of company, so bear that in mind.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:57 AM on March 20, 2008

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