I'll do anything for a dollar
July 21, 2008 12:56 PM   Subscribe

What do you do? What is your job?

I’m not happy and need a new career. Instead of asking for advice I’d like to know what you do so that I might do some research and look into your field.

Micro bio:
-30 with a general studies bachelor’s degree
-Salary: 53k (I need that much to live)
-Currently manage web content – NO POSSIBLE ADVANCEMENT
-Dreamweaver, Light HTML (enough to get around, reverse engineering always works)
-I personally like “technology” and try to stay current with what’s going on but do not have the skills to be a real developer or engineer or the sorts – but I really think it’s cool.
-Sounds silly but I want to be happy at work and feel like I’m making a difference (current leadership only uses me a as copy/paster despite marketing and web background that I have acquired over the last 4 years)
-Travel: no minimal, I’d prefer not to leave my family

Doing what I am doing now there is no advancement and seeing that I am not happy I want to make a change. I do not believe my job is in jeopardy so I really do not have a timeline to make the change but want to get the ball rolling now. The only career I prefer not to get into is sales – I’m just not that kind of “salesy” person and don’t want that kind of stress.

I think being a dad (2 year old) and my dissatisfaction with this job has really impacted my career goals – really do not have any, but this is a new feeling as previously I enjoyed what I did (very similar to now but more web management and marketing involved).

I’m the kind of person who would love to find 1 employer and be able to stay there long term, learn the business, and work my way up (I guess we all look for that). I definitely do want to provide more for my family. Even if I stayed here I do not see myself being able to get a bigger house (more room) or a new car (family addition). I’m stuck.

Understanding that we are all in different stages of our careers please keep in mind where I am coming from (so if you are a VP now I’d be more interested in how you came into that position in relation to me).

White collar/blue collar – I’m interested in learning about as many careers as possible keeping in mind my degree and previous experience (ie if I need 10 years experience to do job x then it probably isn’t the best match for me now). I don’t mind digging ditches but I also believe I have what it takes to be the president of a company (personality, work ethic, wiliness to learn…).

Thanks for your help – I really appreciate it!

Questions: ask.mefi7@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I don't understand. There may be no possible room for advancement in your current place of employment, but you can put together a great CV with the stated goal of "utilizing all of the experience and knowledge I have gained in internet marketing and web whatever in my current position" to move into a better position. Obviously somewhere else.

One thing I'm a little unsure of for you: 53K to copy and paste isn't bad bank. The economy is not great, a lot of tech related jobs are in start ups that are about to discover what it means to go dot com dot bust, and the job market is less than glorious.

This may not be the best time in the world to have, you know, career wanderlust but it never hurts to look around.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:15 PM on July 21, 2008

I'm a chemist. I work in quality control for a company that makes disinfectants. This is my first job since graduating in 2004 with a BA in chemistry. My job is pretty monotonous, and I don't make nearly what you do. That being said, I'm still in the bottom rung career-wise. My boss makes about what you do, and the Senior Scientist over in Product Development make more. However, I do get to play with all kinds of cool technology. (OH! actually, there's a guy in the lab right now from the company we bought our GC from, doing maintenance...that might be more your area of interest...)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:23 PM on July 21, 2008

If you like the content part of your job and want to be more involved than just cutting/pasting, I'd suggest looking for a similar job in another similar company. Perhaps you just reached your limit for growth there.

I'm a web editor who does a lot of writing, plus the usual content updates, light HTML work, light Photoshop. I don't kid myself that I'm changing the world or making a difference, but I have been lucky in that all of the companies I've worked for, I felt the information it was my job to disseminate was useful, at least.

Last tidbit of advice: I'm currently working for a university. I love it. It's private, stable, low-key, awesome amount of time off, no corporate nonsense and no ads to deal with, and has WONDERFUL educational benefits if you have kids or a spouse who needs a B.A. It's definitely on the marketing side of things--we're writing stuff to make the school look good. If you have local universities in the area (esp. your alma mater), keep an eye out for content jobs.
posted by faunafrailty at 1:42 PM on July 21, 2008

I'm a librarian. I think you might like being one. I can't really say much about salary of librarians in US though -I'm in Canada- but I'm sure some other mefibrarians can cover this for you.
The type of techno/web-centered librarian jobs in universities might make use of your previous experience. Libraries especially need marketing people, too. Taking care of the library Website, promoting services and resources, reaching out to students/faculty, etc.

If you worked for an academic library there would be possibilities of advancement, a feeling of working for the greater good: after all, you're not there so stockholders make money, but so that students/researchers/the public find the information they need!
posted by domi_p at 1:44 PM on July 21, 2008

Content Strategist? Based on what you listed above (and knowing what I do on a day to day basis), it sounds like you have the tools. Trust me, it's a lot more than cutting and pasting content, and it's a lot more than copywriting too.
posted by trox at 1:48 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

A bit more information: I work in the creative studio for a consulting company with very good opportunities for advancement in this very field. I really like what I do, and get to work in a very fun and challenging environment.
posted by trox at 1:54 PM on July 21, 2008

I am a business process analyst. When a new version of the software I support is being developed, it's my job to understand what the users need it to do. I need to understand stuff like where the data is coming from, how the process hands off from person to person, what the ultimate output needs to look like, and who the users are. My counterpart in IT is a systems analyst who would come up with the actual changes needed to make the software do what I need.

You can do this job without an IT background (my degree's in chemical engineering). In fact, there doesn't even have to be software involved, since business processes are used by everyone on the workplace. You will need to be able to visualize processes and make pretty Visio diagrams to represent things. It helps to be analytical and to be both "big picture" and "detail" oriented. You can also go a step further into process improvement, where you'll start talking about things like Six Sigma.
posted by cabingirl at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2008

"I'll do anything for a dollar"
"-Travel: no minimal, I’d prefer not to leave my family"
"The only career I prefer not to get into is sales – I’m just not that kind of “salesy” person and don’t want that kind of stress."
"I don’t mind digging ditches but I also believe I have what it takes to be the president of a company (personality, work ethic, wiliness to learn…)."
posted by anonymous to work & money

I do several different things, some of them episodically pretty "salesy." You wouldn't be interested. :-)

If you're interested in the executive suite, the usual routes, generally in order of likelihood of advancement are: Accounting/Finance, Operations, or Sales/Technical. No company I know ever made its senior HR executive CEO. Few boards appoint anybody from the legal or IT departments directly to the CEO chair. So, with your background, and aversion to sales, technical and travel oriented career paths, you might want to look into Accounting/Finance, and get to work on that MBA.

The dynamics of getting to the top in corporate America haven't favored long tenure employees in decades. Most companies prefer outside people with a varied resume, showing strong ambition and consistent advancement, over internal candidates, when shopping for a new CEO. There are a lot of reasons for this, and if you look into CEO selection processes for various industries, you'll come to understand that few CEO selection processes are entirely rational. The average tenure of a CEO in the Fortune 100 is 5.24 years, meaning that roughly half of all these top CEOs lasted less than that in those jobs. And these folks are the creme de la creme of American business, the "smart money," aka "the sharks." In smaller public companies, the rate of executive churn is comparable, but the average tenure is a bit longer, at about 7.8 years.

Being an executive, particularly a CEO, has changed a lot in the last 20 years. These days, it's more a career cap position, generally offering a disproportionate compensation package for seeing an organization through a particular strategic phase or growth opportunity (merger, divesture, etc.), than it is a permanent managing job.

All of which to say your dream of a long rise to the top through a single organization isn't likely, unless it is a privately owned company willing to operate outside of market forces when it comes to executive selection or compensation. Thus my advice to pursue your degree, and in an area of specific interest to equity interests, and board level people.
posted by paulsc at 2:45 PM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

I am a marketing consultant. I started out in marketing communications, including content management. I kept looking for ways to earn more and to climb the ladder. Now I have a marketing consulting business and I also own an information products business.

I think you need to do a personal inventory and to do some information interviews to figure out other opportunities, perhaps within marketing. You might want to look at joining the AMA or IABC, since there are people there who will think more strategically about the work you do and who can help you reframe the way you see yourself. You need to spin your experience. You're not a cut and paste artist. You will make more than $53k if you see yourself in a new light.

I think that, with a bit of help, you can stick with marketing and more into a role that pays $12k more than you make now. With a bit of experience at that level, you can move up to $85k and then eventually beyond that. All without having to go back to school or abandon the work experience you have now.
posted by acoutu at 2:54 PM on July 21, 2008

I open boxes at a used bookstore for people who want to sell them to us. ISome of them are homeless people who smell ripe from sleeping outdoors in the summer heat and not bathing. Some of them are people who are moving and need to prune their collections. Some are college kids unloading their textbooks (which we don't buy). Sometimes they're pleasant, sometimes they're annoying. The pay's OK but it could be better. I could be more ambitious, but doing that requires putting up with a lot of demands and intrigue and office politics and I've had more than enough of that for one lifetime, so I'll keep my position as long as I keep getting raises. Sometimes, talking to my peers, I feel like I'm...wrong somehow for not wanting more, but that's really all in my head. Of course, I don't have kids so that's a big difference. But I'm more than satisfied with my smal life and a job I can explain in one sentence.
posted by jonmc at 3:58 PM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Admittedly I've only been working a year or so, but I don't believe the 'stay in one corporation and work your way up to president' approach really works anymore. You need to keep moving around and looking for opportunities to move upwards, even in the same corporation.

You need to dig deep and find out what you really like to do and where your interests lie, because your job & career will involve a lot of energy and passion to get the kind of rewards you're looking for. Good luck!
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 4:36 PM on July 21, 2008

For $, I'm an investor. For interest and excitement, I'm a writer. I write occasional editorials about finance and technology. But as of a few years ago, i've been exploring fiction and screenwriting.

I started with a techie job writing software. Did that for quite some time. Got an MBA, went into management. Did that for an equal amount of time. I've always been interested in investing especially tech stocks, contrarian and special situation type stuff. Found I could do it and make enough to quit the standard 9-to-5. Which sounds great but now I find i'm often flummoxed by having too many choices.
posted by storybored at 5:49 PM on July 21, 2008

I'm an instructional designer that hasn't worked in instructional design for awhile but I'm getting back in this fall. It's a terrific gig if you like to learn new content constantly, can turn around and apply it quickly to print, video, audio and tech instructional products.


-I get to be an anthropologist of sorts (I have also worked as an ethnographer and those skills come in handy fairly often).
-I also work as a copywriter, a scriptwriter and sometimes director (if you work with video or audio products).
-I work with a variety of people including subject matter experts, graphic designers, potential students, videographers, programmers, etc.
-It is never boring.
-I rarely travel.
-Because I have established a book of business, I work from home.
-My background and experience has given me a different perspective on interacting and playing with my child (also two) as I often rely on my instructional design skills to set up activities for her.
-I've been able to work for corporations, not-for-profits, religious institutions and universities. I've worked with Second City (in Chicago), I've designed learning events and have been able to design some cool multimedia products.
-I get to constantly learn new software and content because I have to...it's my job.
-Pay is within your range for someone working in an urban area, for a larger company, or with a bit of experience.

-I had to get a Masters Degree because my undergraduate degree was not in educational theory or instructional design. However, I was able to do this part time while working and it was an interesting and fun field of study.
-I had to learn project management, something I don't always enjoy but have gotten comfortable with.
-A lot of basic instructional design work is getting outsourced to India, which can be frustrating for someone starting out when you are trying to get experience.
-If you don't like constantly updating your skills and knowledge, this won't be the career for you.
-If you don't like dealing with clients, deadlines, detail or compromise, this won't be the career for you.

Knowledge Management Strategy for corporations is also fascinating. This will probably require an advanced degree if you're not already working in the field. I don't have one specifically in KM or and I don't have an MLS degree, but if I was starting out today instead of in the late 90's, I would.
posted by jeanmari at 7:20 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll paste here what I said in another post, simply because I'm so glad I found a mention of these books on AskMeFi a while ago:

I recommend reading What Color Is Your Parachute? and The Pathfinder. The way to get the most out of those books is to read both of them and see what they have in common. I've extracted maybe 3-4 principles from them that have helped me enormously with career choices.
posted by philosophistry at 2:20 PM on July 23, 2008

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