I am 36 years old and I want a career change.
June 17, 2008 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I am 36 years old and I want a career change.

I need to make some important decisions and really could use some input. btw, i live in the Netherlands.
I studied Biology, but didn't finish. It's a complicated story, but besides writing a thesis i was almost a neuroscience researcher. In my final year i started working part time in a record store, with friends. Part time turned into 4 days a week, i bought a house, and got a kid. Sometimes i missed science, but i enjoyed my life, because i love music and i was working with friends. Almost 8 years later now though, i feel like i am standing still. I want a new job, but i don't know what kind of job. A research job is out of the question, because i don't have a degree and it's been too long now.
The only thing i know is that i need a challenge.
Just out of curiosity i applied for a spot at a big ict quality management company since they were looking for 100 new people, no experience needed. I passed the analytical tests (that day 2 out of 10 got through) but i turned the offer down, because it just didn't feel like me, wearing a suit and working for banks.
So i know i (still) have a good brain, and i like to start using it again. I feel (and look) young enough, but in reality i am not that young anymore, with a near empty resume. I thought about learning a programming language, but i don't know which one and i feel i'm better at analysing and researching stuff than building from scratch. Actually i miss science. The feeling of being cutting edge. Experimenting and finding stuff no one has ever thought about before. I would love to do stuff like that again, only in a corporate environment. Should i start learning a computer language? Should i be a software tester? What job would i be able to do? I'm not looking for my dream job yet, right now i want to get out of this rut.
Any help and suggestions greatly appreciated !
posted by SoulNoise to Work & Money (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You could look into bioinformatics. You could also find a way to get involved in research grant making.
posted by mistsandrain at 4:13 PM on June 17, 2008

adobe and the flash community are taking flash in all kinds of interesting directions right now. flash (meanining actionscript) is powerful but accessible, so you can get into in quickly and if you're a quick study, you can get a job lickety-split. the demand is huge.
i want to get out of the marketing part of the flash biz (obviously, the largest sector, by far) but i think the platform has a lot of potential for other more... ahem... useful applications.
if you're interested in the arts and/or music, you'll find a lot of crossover between the flash and artistic communities as compared to other programming fields.
posted by klanawa at 5:23 PM on June 17, 2008

ugh, opera weirded up my line breaks. sorry.
posted by klanawa at 5:24 PM on June 17, 2008

Apply for jobs as a lab technician? You'll be back in the research environment without needing a degree. Entry-level technician jobs are relatively easy to get, both in academia and industry, and nobody expects technicians to put in the insane hours required of grad students and postdocs, so they're good for people with families. Good luck!
posted by Quietgal at 7:15 PM on June 17, 2008

There are parts of your background that sound similar to me (eg, neuroscience, missing science, wanting a challenge), so for that reason I am going to suggest medical writing or working for a communication company that creates medical writing projects.

If you work as a writer, you will learn about cutting edge medical trials (and read up on the medical literature) and keep up to date with some of the science. In the states, there are some companies that will hire people with a 4 year college degree (you must be close you mention a thesis?). If not that particular job, these companies need people who interact and work with the whole team - doctors, the writers, art department -- and some company let these people learn other parts of the job (editing, etc.). Anyway, if it sounds interesting, a medical communications company.

Other ideas - can you volunteer and get some experience to hopefully transition into a job in a science museum? University (everything from labs to grant writers, and some offer the benefit of free tuition for a few courses). Just some ideas. Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 7:39 PM on June 17, 2008

I actually like all suggestions so far and will further investigate!

posted by SoulNoise at 2:19 PM on June 18, 2008

Is it not possible for you to return to school and finish your final year? I am not familiar with the education system in Netherlands, but you might want to check with the unis whether you can enroll back into the final year of the degree programme with the partial transcript that you'd had ... (provided it's not 'expired').

It seems to me that completion of the degree will actually open many doors for you, and you still can continue doing science again ...

Another suggestion is what you'd already mentioned yourself -- go pick up a programming language and grab a few of the basic certs in the field so that you can clear the HR filter. This would allow you to get a job in an entry-level job, which would possibly be low-paying. Accept that and move to another company in the second year or so with that experience under your belt. It would be possible to ask for an industry-standard pay even with the lack of formal qualification (because experience is more valuable in IT).

In my personal experience, provided you're bright enough and know your stuffs well, you would be able to move up fast from a junior position to a role that would give you more responsibility within 4 to 5 years. At this level, you would have lesser coding and begin thinking on the higher level (analysis and stuffs), which would appeal more to your interests.

As a final note: for this to work, you would need to ensure that you have a good (at least, decent) communication skill.
posted by joewandy at 11:01 PM on June 22, 2008

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