Suggestions for a new start?
April 14, 2008 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm a legal secretary in Manhattan. I'm not so crazy about my job or my boss. Is there any other job that pays as well but isn't so mind-numbingly, soul-sucking-ly dull?

I've been with the same firm for almost 8 years. I work in corporate law. The benefits and pay are great. I'm making 71K and I got a $7,000 performance bonus at the beginning of the year. The firm also gives a profit-related bonus to all employees mid-year. Last year it was about $4,000.

Thing is, I never intended to stay in this job. I took it after 2 years of temping, assuming that I would find something more interesting within a year or so, but that never happened. I would like to find a job in a more creative field, but I can't find anything that pays remotely as well. I don't mind taking another job as a secretary - I'd just like to work in a more interesting environment (no offense to the attorneys out there). I can probably take a pay cut of maybe $10,000 or so, but that's about all I can afford. I run a theatre company in my off hours, and my current salary helps fund our productions.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
God, I'm sorry! I think you should DEFINITELY start building up donations and donor support to get your theater company further off the ground. It's unfair that you are supporting it solely and with more backers (maybe an educational component as a grants engine too) you could easily make that your job. I bet your office would be interested in helping you out. I imagine the fact that a legal secretary's other job is RUNNING A FRICKIN' THEATER COMPANY is awesome!!!1! to your boss(es).

Start by inviting your office to an event at your show space, start prospecting for potential donors and don't hesitate to pass the hat around. You are likely to be a 501(c)3 for now, so it's a write-off deduction that your boss might want to make. I would seek to raise about half of your annual personal donation in the first year, and build a board to support work at the company from your own firm and firms you know about. You sound like you're in a golden position to build this thing, if you are willing to stick out your hand, hold off on quitting, and start flexing your connections.

Good luck!
posted by parmanparman at 1:05 PM on April 14, 2008

Well, what about a different area of law? Or even different attorneys in the same firm? Or another type of job in that firm? In our office, the type of work each secretary gets varies wildly by department and attorney.
posted by dpx.mfx at 3:05 PM on April 14, 2008

The route that many follow (as I'm sure you're aware) is studying to become a paralegal while doing secretarial work. You might even consider law school, but that's going to be real hard while holding down a full-time job.
posted by ChasFile at 3:22 PM on April 14, 2008

If you want to explore the angle of seeking out your co-workers to help make your theater dreams come true, like I suggested, you can get in touch via mefi mail and I'll keep it confidential.
posted by parmanparman at 3:41 PM on April 14, 2008

The only thing I can think of that you might be able to get a starting salary at that level would be some kind of programming job, but you'd kinda have to learn some programming languages first. My sister did that without even finishing a BA, though, and found it very engaging work at the same time. Eventually she went back to school but even working part time she makes more money than I do.

I mean, 70K is 35/hr working 40 hrs a week... most jobs that pay that well will require either a notable skill or training, certification and/or degrees. The shortest certifications that would result in those kinds of hourly wages - maybe a massage therapist? but that would be physically tiring to do 40 hrs/week, not to mention very tough to build up that kind of client base.

Really I think you just have to think about your priorities, maybe try to save up as much as you can over some period of time, and plan to quit. If you really want to do the theatre company, you could invest seriously in that for some period of time. Do you like the theatre company as a small time community thing or would you want to see it succeed financially? Would that be an enjoyable job for you, if you were doing it full-time, or is it enjoyable precisely because it is an escape from work?

Can you think of something you might actually enjoy doing for a living? Perhaps it's worth thinking about it from that end, just in case there actually is a career out there for you, one that may not start at $70, but perhaps does reach it. Just list all the outrageous possibilities with their pros and cons, and try to imagine your life in 20 years if you follow the various different paths.
posted by mdn at 4:23 PM on April 14, 2008

Attend dinners and meetings held by your local paralegal association that focus on the different specialties of law. Talk to other paralegals at these meetings, and find out why they chose their particular field, what they like most/least about it, etc. If they have a mentor program, sign up and find someone who also switched from one legal field to another.
posted by invisible ink at 8:23 PM on April 14, 2008

I know very few jobs for someone a few years out of school that pay $60k-$70k...maybe you can do a certificate program at NYU or something on the side...
posted by onepapertiger at 8:49 PM on April 14, 2008

I'm a full time secretary in a higher-ed/student life/health services arena, and I make a small fraction of your income (I'm talking a real small piece of that pie.) JESUS you make a lot of money for the type of work you're doing. Ofcourse, my job is dull as shit, too, but I might like it better if it was paying me seventy thou. I might even start attending those retarded staff outings for that kinda cash. (Next week, all the short-haired, middle-aged administrative assistants are going to Olive Garden, and then to see Made of Honor, the new "romantic romp" starring that guy from Grey's Anatomy.)
posted by thebellafonte at 12:10 PM on April 15, 2008

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