So, lately I have been struggling a little bit in the career area of my life and I would love to hear about your careers and how you got to be where you are and if you are happy.
For me, I started as a cashier at a local grocery store and I worked my way up to manager over four years. After graduating college with a Bachelor's in marketing I took the first job I was offered in a field I had no experience with - search engine optimization. I was in that for about 8 months, then the company started to go south, so I got out. Then I worked at a bank for a while until I found something more fitting: Marketing Coordinator for a local real estate agent. That didn't go so well (boss made me very uncomfortable and said some really inappropriate things to me) but I stayed for about 20 months and then started at another search engine optimization company started by a friend of mine.
I'm not in love with the field at all, and over time I don't like how the company is evolving. I want to find a job that I truly enjoy, but up until now, that has evaded me for various reasons. To be honest, m best job (and where I was happiest) was at the grocery store when I was manager.
I'm not really sure where to take my career. I'm young- 26... but I feel so lost. My plan when I was in college was to work in the non-profit sector. I'd really love to market a charity and do fundraising. But I have no idea if I would actually like it, as I have no experience in that, and I am having a hard time breaking into the field because I lack experience specific to non-profits.
I have a lot of varied interests in general. My dream career changed 20 times over when I was growing up, and I still don't have "one thing" that I just really want to do. Sometimes I feel wishy-washy, like I am job hopping or wandering without purpose. Other times I feel like I put too much pressure on myself to find the perfect job, because a lot of people never do. I wonder if I should consider my career just a means to an end and just focus more energy on things I truly enjoy outside of my career, like cooking and traveling.
So where are you in your career, and how did you get there? Are you happy? Do you want more? Want less? Something different?
Personally, I think my perfect solution would actually be to become a house wife. I know that probably sounds strange for me to say, but I love to cook and clean and take care of the house, and to garden and work on projects and exercise every day, and I would be thrilled with the idea of doing that every day. But that will never happen because my husband has known what he has wanted to do with his career since he was 4 years old and he's doing it, and he's happy, but money is NOT something that comes easily in the field he is in.
|I had this same conversation with a young coworker just the other day! My advice to her was to think outside the box, not at a specific career, but at what it is that she loves, where she feels best, and that will dictate what choices she could make. |
At your age, I was a mail carrier. What I loved about that job was the independence of being out on the street. I loved having a deadline to meet-I had to get the mail delivered by the end of my work day-so it included a challenge. But it gave me a bit of freedom, too...I could set my own pace.
I had also worked in banking and I absolutely HATED it. I realized later that it was the rigid structure I hated, there was no flexibility and I had no control over my day.
Eventually I ended up taking a job as a file clerk (I was a single mom and needed a job) and quickly worked my way up the chain to working as a secretary for a natural resource agency. I also hated being a secretary, so fortunately for me, my boss gave me a lot of freedom to learn other aspects of the job. My favorite was researching. I have always loved to untangle knots or complete crossword puzzles, solving problems that didn't include emotions, just facts.
Eventually I was promoted to doing regulatory permitting. I loved it, I was making decisions, had some autonomy, but had a set of rules I had to work within. Also had a lot of contact with landowners and other customers, I enjoyed talking with them, and basically educating them on the laws and our process.
Finally, I ended up with the job I have now...and I have never been happier. I get to do work in the field, outside on rivers, streams and wetlands, and I work in the office. I have A LOT of freedom, but again, I must fit within the aspect of the rules & laws. A lot of my job consists of educating people, too. I have a position of some authority, so I like that.
When I was younger I'd taken those career path tests that showed I'd do best as a lawyer, counsellor or teacher. Well, in an out of the box way, I do that type of work, but I also get to do it in relation to nature, which is another passion of mine. If you'd asked me 20 years ago if I'd be a Natural Resource Regulator, I'd never have believed it. I did not study biology or other sciences as most of my colleagues have (my major was criminal justice), and I fell into this field about 18 years ago. I love my job!
I also did work with a local non-profit...started out volunteering and ended up as Chair and company president before I 'retired' from that. It taught me a lot of leadership skills and other skills I use in my job.
Sorry for this being so long, but I hope you find your path. Volunteer for non-profits you enjoy...small, grass roots places are best. Think of what the aspects of the job you loved consisted of and use that as a guide for your career path. I don't mean the specifics, I mean the general aspects. You're still young, you'll get there! I was almost 30 before I found my path.
|Hmmm, so funny you should mention fund raising (development) because that is what I did for 20 years and in the end I came to hate it. |
One way to get experience with non-profits is to work as a volunteer or intern. It's one of the few fields where you can do that.
Here's how I ended up in that field. When my kids were young I joined a volunteer organization that supported our local library and eventually became president of the group. I learned a little about what makes a library tick and how important those donated dollars are. Then I heard of a vacancy on the staff of the library, applied and got the job. I was a part time library assistant.
While working there, I went back to college and finished my bachelors in Communications. After graduation I took a job doing research in a corporate library. Jobs were hard to find so I took what I could get. I didn't like the corporate atmosphere. From there I went to work for a small PR firm, a job I hated mostly because of the couple who owned the firm. I also took a Fund Raising Certificate course at a university, because the field interested me.
BTW, check to see if there is a chapter of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals near you. They are always happy to help out a new person. Most people in non-profit work are very altruistic. Many chapters offer the Fund Raising Certificate courses and that is a great way to learn more and decide if this is what you want to do.
You are fortunate to have a background in computers because managing web sites and using social media and more important all the time.
My first fund raising job was for a large city library system. My background in office work plus my knowledge of libraries got me the job. I loved it. I did the direct mail fund raising which was, to me, incredibly interesting because it is a combination of "art" (the letter and the design of the package) and "science" (choosing lists and who to target).
I also helped with events and donor recognition.I was good at that. I did the fund raising for a number of programs such as summer reading and a program to bring books to day care centers in low-income areas.
Then I made a mistake by moving on to a big university to do major gift fund raising for their libraries. I hated major gift fund raising, although that's where you earn the most money. It is totally a sales job. Your feet are held to the fire to meet quotas -- both dollars raised and people solicited.
Stupidly, I continued with this for a number of other organizations. I was really good at creating relationships with prospective donors but I constantly had a knot in my stomach about asking for money and meeting my goals.
I loved working in the non-profit area, but I would have been happier to stay with libraries or museums than health care or social services. I should have stayed with direct mail or grant writing. I like to write. Anything but major gifts! I did love meeting people from a side of life I would never have seen otherwise (the extremely wealthy), and getting a glimpse of that type of life. I loved the "people" side of it. I discovered I enjoy public speaking and liked it when I had to travel around speaking about my organization.
So now I am retired and I really miss being part of something larger. I don't miss my last job at all, but I miss being part of the hustle and bustle of work. I miss dressing for work, riding the train and interacting with all the people. I miss have too much to do!
I wish so much that when I found myself unhappy with the work I was doing, that I made changes. Of course,there is the practical aspect of a good salary and benefits, and I could not afford to lose those.
You are so young! You have your whole life ahead of you and you can do pretty much anything you want. I know it sounds trite, but money really isn't everything, however you do need to create security for yourself. I hope you will find work that not only makes you happy but also pays what you need -- you won't be happy for long if you are broke and worrying about money.
Be open to working in areas that you may not have considered. Sometimes it isn't the field in which you are working but what you are doing. Often working with people that you enjoy makes all the difference.
|Here's the web site for the national AFP. Hope you can find a chapter near you.|
Here is a link that might be useful: AFP
|My career path has had a few turns, but as I look back, I realize my longest career has been as a stay-at-home-mom. Yes, it's a valuable job, but it was not what I had planned and it's a little weird to think about! |
I graduated college with an English degree and a minor in art. Thought I wanted to work in advertising but then I had an internship in publishing and loved it. After a year in an unrelated job that I hated, I got a job as an admin. assistant in a large publishing company, was quickly promoted to editor, and loved that job for about 5 years. During that time I got married, then pregnant, and when I went on maternity leave I made the decision to not go back to my job. I couldn't see myself working full time with an infant, and part time wasn't an option. When my DS was 1, I went back to work part time at a smaller publishing company and stayed there til DS#2 was born two years later. Loved that balance of working 20 hours a week and still having plenty of time at home. After DS#2 was born, I did freelance work for a few years, very part time, then DD arrived and that was it! I couldn't juggle 3 kids and a job. Plenty of moms do, but I couldn't. Plus we moved, and DS#1 had some special needs, so there was a lot going on.
When DD was around a year old, I went back to school in a certificate program in Decorate Arts. I took classes, mostly at night, for about 3 years, and during that time various friends started asking me for decorating help, then friends of friends... and ever since then I've been working part time as a decorator. This is my best job yet, in terms of really enjoying what I do, but it's so erratic it makes me a little crazy at times. Some weeks I don't work at all, other weeks I might work 20 hours. Occasionally I wish I worked at a "normal" job where I report to the office on specific days and times, but on the other hand, I love the flexibility I have, especially since I usually take most of the summer off. Where else could I get away with that?
I wish you luck. I don't really have any advice to add besides what pesky and dedtired have already said.
|No career here, still looking for the path.|
|I'm like Terriks. LOL. Although I'm not really looking for my path. I have a "job", not a "career". When I first got married, even before that, I thought I'd be a mom and be home with kids - eventually. When that didn't happen right off, hubby and I realized we liked our life and didn't try any harder for kids. I have worked in a college over the years, taking lots of different classes, but no degree. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. My work has always been very flexible and through the years, it seems I have become the one to be able to "help out" during illness or whatever crisis comes about. I now work less hours and sometimes even consider retirement. I've always enjoyed my "job" and the people I work with, so I don't regret that I don't have a real "career". |
|If you are cut out for the work, drug counselors are in need. It pays well and few younger people are trained in the field. I heard the pay in this field is going to continue increasing. |
Another job with good pay and benefits to consider is an RN. My BFF makes $60. Per hour and works 3 twelve hour shifts. Great vacation benefits as well.
|i'm 52 and am supportng myself for the first time ever. |
my dear one is older, an old fashioned man who allowed me to be a non working woman.
|When I was in graduate school, I asked a friend in my program what kind of job she thought she could get with a degree in English. She looked at me with surprise, and said, "Go into publishing, of course!" A lightbulb went off in my head. It had never occurred to me! I decided to give it a try. |
I got my degree, found a job as an editorial assistant, and worked my way up. Eventually I went freelance, still in the same field; it afforded me great flexibility during our daughter's illnesses. It has been a good career; I've made many friends, met my husband (I hired him to work for me during his summer break from Yale where he was in a PhD program), met very interesting people (among them, Dr. Watson, who discovered the structure of DNA). I still work with some of the terrific people I met lo, those many long years ago when I started in this field. Publishing is like that--a small world.
I hope I can continue in publishing until I decide to retire, and before books go extinct! I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled into this career, and hate to think what I'd be doing if I had never asked my friend that question!
|Interesting stories from everyone. Fallingwaters, your work is desperately needed, good for you for taking it on. |
I worked with homeless children before my own kids were born. Then I worked for a dozen or so years in various overlapping part-time jobs: retail bookstore, retail garden center, ESL instructor, writing instructor and editor. I was also a homeschooling SAHM during those years, and was heavily involved in volunteer work at my local animal shelter, some pet rescue organizations, and a child-abuse prevention agency.
Three years ago we moved to a new job for DH. I did not work for the first year in order to dedicate myself to getting the kids adjusted and organized and transitioned to attending school. Then I spent two years in grad school full time, and now I am on the job market looking for full-time "career" kind of work for the first time in 14 or so years.
I've never had a clear vision of what I want to do, but I like having meaningful work. I've recently signed up to volunteer as a CASA worker (court appointed special advocate) for abused/neglected children, so I think I'll get my "meaningful" in doing that and if I have to take a less do-goody job for my 9 to 5, that will be okay.
I'm 45 and if I was giving advice to my 29 year old self, I would say "Figure out how you can make the most money possible, and do that". I never prioritized earnings and now I feel that I wish I had.
|"I never prioritized earnings and now I feel that I wish I had." Good point. |
If I had to do things over, I would probably choose a different path career wise.
All my work experience from high school through college was with the disabled community. After working in a group home for three years after college, I realized I needed a masters if I wanted to get ahead.
My two choices were a master in Social Work, or a masters in Orientation and Mobility. O and M was a very small program that teaches you how to orient a blind person to their envirnment using a cane. When I got accepted into both schools, everyone encouraged me to go for the MSW. That is because no one ever heard of the other.
So, I graduated with an MSW and worked in a Senior Citizen Center for five years. I often wonder how things would have turned out if I chose the other.
Looking back to college, I have a degree in Health Science, there were many students doing a combo degree with a nusing program. I should have done that as there are many different options with that degree.
Fast forward. I became a SAHM after my first daughter was born. But I became very active in Girls Scout so my SW skills came to good use.
When my DD's were in middle school, I was called to be on jury duty. The case lasted a week, but I realized I liked the idea of going off to work each day.
I now have two part time jobs. One is for a market research company where I work as a descritive panelist, the other is office work in a group home. I work with mostly women and both jobs are fun. My sister likes to say that I have jobs that aren't real jobs, and in a way she is correct.
So, there you have my story. I agree with one of the posters that say to look at what is lucrative. Yes you have to enjoy what you do, but there has to be money in it.
My sister went back to become a Physical Therapist Assisant. They make almost as much as a PT. She looked at career that had a good job market at the time.
Now is the time for you to explore, because in this job market, the younger workers are the ones getting the jobs.
Both my daughters graduated college and are working. Yet I hear there are many kids who are not. I also hear that they give the recent graduates first crack at the jobs and if you are not in on that wave, you miss out.
|Graduated w/ a degree in English and no job in '01. Then I went to law school (the obvious path for an English major w/ no job). I did my summer associate 2nd year job that is supposed to lead to your full time job and I HATED everything about being a lawyer. |
I was offered a full time job w/ the firm but I turned it down. Then I graduated and I worked part time as an LSAT tutor for half-a-year while my then-BF pretty much paid the bills (my parents had paid for our apartment the whole prior year while he was still in school and my dad found him a job, so it wasn't like he was just supporting me w/ me contributing nothing).
While I was doing the part time LSAT thing, I was trying to break into writing which was what I always wanted to do when I was younger and which would allow me to do the one thing I always wanted to do- work from home on my own schedule. I never, ever wanted to have to leave the house for work or be at work at a certain time.
Fast forward to 3 years later and I am now making better money as a writer than I would have as a lawyer :) I write textbooks and SEO articles for various lawyers and doctors and I LOVE my job. I work outside on the back porch every day, I get to spend the winters in Florida and summers and fall in PA b/c I can work anywhere, and I have complete flexibility to work whenever I want. My fiance also is self employed and has a flexible job and he only works about 3 days a week so we get to do all kinds of fun stuff the other 4 days.
But, three years ago, when I was 26 and I had just broken up w/ my boyfriend and had no real prospects for supporting myself, I was VERY unhappy and upset that I had no plan. Now, I absolutely love my life!
So--- long story short, things can work themselves out very quickly if you pursue what you are good at and passionate about and figure out a way to make it pay :)
|I just graduated from law school after a number of very different jobs/careers. |
My first real career out of college (many years ago) was in the intelligence community. I was offered a number of different career tracks and unfortunately, took the one that was probably, in the end, the worst fit for me. I did well, but eventually left, and worked as a graphic designer years - sometimes freelance and sometimes doing short-term gigs at various organizations. It satisfied the "arty" part of me, but over time I became bored and realized that I needed something a bit more intellectually stimulating.
We ended up moving to another state, where I began working as a newspaper reporter - the job I always wanted but for some reason never got to. I loved it but knew I'd need to move on given the changes in the industry, with layoffs right and left. At the same time, I became interested in various legal issues that I was writing about and decided to go to law school part time. I loved the experience.
I'm going to be clerking for a year after I take the Bar exam, but am not sure what I'll do after that - probably either work for a small firm or for a public interest organization, as I have a special interest in Elder Law. But I'm keeping the option open to return to pure writing, which I love, if I come across something with a legal bent.
Whatever the case, don't fret about not having a clear path or knowing for sure what you want to do. I used to feel exactly the same way, but now I'm kind of glad that I've gotten to try so many different things.
I became interested in law while working as a newspaper reporter - the job that I always wanted to have when I was younger but for some reason never did. Loved reporting, as I've always been a writer, but decided I needed to move on given all the struggle in the industry.
Prior to that, I was a graphic designer, working freelance part of the time and for various organizations at other times. It satisfied the "arty" part of me, but after awhile, I realized that I needed something a bit more intellectually stimulating.
|I got my BA in business administration and went into banking in Texas in the eighties. Oh boy, I learned so much from all of the mistakes that were made and all of the bank failures. I did that for a couple of years, and then went to grad school full time and got an MBA in finance. I went back into banking, but at a much higher level and salary. I did that until my kids were born, and then had the privilege to be a SAHM for thirteen years. During those years I was very involved in PTA in many different roles including president and treasurer at three schools. I honestly think that volunteer experience was invaluable when I decided to reenter the workforce. I highlighted it on my resume, too! |
Anyway, I reentered the work force at half time (20 hours per week)once all my kids were older. I was a financial analyst for our county for five years. After that, I worked for a non-profit for about a year as an accountant (also half time). Three and a half years ago, I went to work for the non-profit where I currently am as the financial manager. Last summer, I was asked to go full-time which was great because all three of my kids are now in college. I was promoted to Operations Director and handle all finances, accounting, human resources, and some development. I love my job and the mission of my organization. My boss is the Executive Director and she is amazing.
I never could have predicted my career path, but I never planned on having three kids in four years either! Life happens when we are making other plans. My best advice is to do what you love, and find a mentor. Volunteering and interning are also great ideas. We always have several interns from the local universities and many, many volunteers. I am pleased to say that we have also been able to hire several employees who started as interns or volunteers.
Good luck in your journey.
|So wish we could edit posts after-the-fact! Somehow my cut and pasting didn't work.|
|I can't believe how timely this topic is to me! A friend of mine today told me that I should consider pursuing my MA in Public Administration, but that is sooo not what I want to do. I DO want to make a change in the way Natural Resources are handled on a regulatory basis, but I do not see myself as an administrator-I'm SO not a suit. |
My retirement plan is to do my impacts for the good of the environment on a micro-scale. Fortunately, because I chose to work as a public servant, I will be able to have a retirment. I went into public sector primarily for the benefits-had 3 kids to cover with health insurance...and while the pay is notoriously low for what we do, I couldn't have made it without those benefits.
However, I have good friends who went to work for their ideals rather than the money or security and as they're in the 50's now, are starting to panic that they don't have that future security that I got. So follow the money, if it provides you with what makes your heart sing...don't just take a good paying job if you hate it.
|Interesting stories and good advice! My career path has been going on for about 30 years now so this is LONG. I originally went to college to be a dental hygienist because I liked biology and science and I could get through this program in less than four years and make pretty good money. I didn't really know what I wanted to do and I figured do this to start and at least I can get a decent job and maybe go back to school later for something else. |
I really hated dental hygiene after about a year because it was entirely without intellectual challenge. I ended up finishing my four year degree a couple years later in Public Health - something that I could get the degree in relatively quickly since all my dental hygiene credits transferred. I had no idea what I'd do with that degree but I thought a four year degree was important. I did an internship and knew I didn't want to work in this field.
I ended up moving out of state due to DH's job and since I couldn't get licensed as a dental hygienist right away I decided it was time to try something else. I applied for a job with a company that sold computers to dental and medical practices. This was in the 80s when computers and people who knew how to use them weren't that common. They hired me for my dental background - not because I knew anything about computers.
I worked with dental offices to implement the new systems, train the users, solve technical problems, etc. I knew immediately that I loved this kind of work. That first company went out of business but eventually I got a job with another company. Along the way I did a little part time volunteer coordinator job in a hospital and got some hospital experience on my resume. That helped me get a job with a company developing software for hospitals.
I eventually moved into a management role, got to benefit substantially from stock options and an IPO and eventually moved on to another start up healthcare software company that also turned out to be successful. I've continued to advance and now hold an executive level position. I have loved this industry and my work ever since that first job many years ago. I'm so fortunate but as you can see I just kind of fell into it. I had no idea what I wanted to do and there was no path.
I now work with a lot of young people who want to know what their career path is. I tell them - there is no path. You need to thoughtfully consider what you love to do - what you are passionate about - and see where you can put yourself to work doing that which you love. You are so young - you need to just go out and try some things that you think you might like and find something that you are passionately interested in doing.
|Tina, we're not as "polar opposites" as you may think. :) I too worked at a university (OU) for 5 years while DH was in school. I took classes here and there too. I was a secretary and since I worked for accounting professors I became a statistical typist. Now computers do the work. lol. |
It was the best job I ever had in my life!
|I became a Property Manager in Oakland, Ca when I was 18. I ran ads, showed apartments, collected rent for 150 units. When tenets moved out, we would rehab the units to get them ready to rent again. It was an amazing first job and I learned a lot. I was in charge of evicting non payers and I used to hire fake police to serve eviction notices to scary tenants. Lol |
I lived in a bad area of Oakland but I loved it.
When it was time for Aimee to attend school, I moved back home to a safe community and good schools. I landed a job as a school bus driver. I drove for Devlopmentally Disabled students and part of my job was driving the older students to get pre vocational training at a Community Workshop. I got to know the people in charge of that program and by June, they offered me the job of driving bus for them. I jumped on it as it offered more responsibility and a year round job. I worked with the CHP and me hanics to ensure the buses passed inspections and designed the routes that went all over our county. Taking that job was very wise. I stayed 15 years and ended up a case manager and Program Director who had managed every single dept in the organization. I loved that job and that place loved me. I worked with high functioning mentally ill adults and the profoundly disabled.
We took clients traveling and camping in the summer, week long ski trips in the winter. I hired a wonderful art teacher who developed a large art program.
I loved that job. Raised Aimee with the proceeds. Met my DH there ( he was board president). Left that job kicking and screaming but I wanted to adopt kids and the agency required a stay at home parent. So both DH and I quit our jobs and started a business in our laundry room so we could raise our new family. We are still running that business. It outgrew our laundry room and two houses.
Life is a journey and I have been blessed.
|I was a hairdresser and make up artist when I was young. Yes, I liked it and was good at it. |
But, I always wanted to be an interior decorator. When I was 26 (like you) I saved almost enough money to buy into Decorating Den. Then I got scared and chickened out and have regretted it all of my life.
After that I got married to a man that wanted me to stay home. And, that was fine with me. I wanted to be a mother but that never happened. He was nineteen years older than me and he passed away at a young age leaving me financially in a nice place.
At sixty two, I have been offered a job (and I don't know how it will work out) with a new company that will sell antique bricks and antique heart pine flooring to large companies and contractors and decorators. This is right up my alley for I live and breath antiques and restoration.
I meet with the young man on Tuesday and I am so excited. Better late than never, as they say. Whoever they are.
I have been dating the man that financed the entire project for the past four and a half months. He lent the money to the young man to start the company. So, he has insisted that he talk with me and seriously give me a chance to become a Brick Broker and hopefully be selling the heart pine wood flooring.
Ya never know where life will take you. Thank you Match.com for my new love interest and my new career path.
If anyone does this kind of work or knows someone who does, could you give me a heads up on what to expect?
Wish me luck!
|Oh Jane - what an interesting path your life has taken. I'm so sorry for what you have lost but excited for what is yet to come. You will definitely have to keep us posted on how things go with your new career!!|
Thanks gibby, I will keep you posted.
I haven't seen your name before, have you been on here for a while? I haven't been on here for quite some time and there are so many people I don't reconize. (misspelled)
|Jane you are just full of surprises and exciting news! I wish you all the best and much luck, although I have a feeling you won't need it. Please keep us posted and let us know how it's going!! |
|Wow, Jane. What an awesome update. Best of luck with everything. New career, new love. Life is good.|
|Jane i'm so very happy for you~~now you need to keep us posted on where this *might* lead to! Oh, and with the career also. ;o)|
|Jane - I'm new here this year. I was in Kitchens when I remodeled my kitchen and finally found a new "home" here - even though I don't spend much time actually decorating.|
|I never even knew there was such a thing as a brick broker, but now I want to be one! Great story.|
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