Author Topic: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?  (Read 1590 times)

englishteacheralex

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Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« on: February 06, 2019, 02:36:52 PM »
Personally, I have a GREAT job: I'm a high school English teacher at a nice private school. Pay is adequate for the work I do, good benefits, lots of vacation time, work/life is mostly balanced!

However, readers of my journal know that my protege/mentee who is 25 and whom I've known since she was 11 is having a quarterlife crisis at the moment.

Here are her details:

1. Bachelor's degree in English, graduated about three years ago

2. Work experience is as a journalist working for a non-profit local newspaper for 2.5 years after college

3. Interested enough in the field of education to have applied for a master's in teaching at the local university, but not completely sold on being a teacher

4. Journalism burnt her out--she was capable of it but was suffering acute anxiety attacks

5. Highly mustachian; she'd like to make ~$45k/year (that's what she made as a journalist) so she can save money; totally capable of living on $20-$25k/year

6. Single, no kids

7. Pays her own bills, no parent subsidies

8. No college debt (parents paid)

9. Currently working as a TA at a high school; this is not a long term solution but a stopgap, low stress job because she couldn't stand the journalism thing anymore.

10. Pretty open to lots of possibilities, doesn't want to take on much debt for more education, very liberal-arts not STEM but thinking about paralegal, financial advisor...some kind of career that isn't soul-sucking.

She's kind of "dating" jobs right now and figures she'll try out a couple of things and see what she likes and then commit to that field. She's full of regret for not doing this process in college, but no time like the present!

Any ideas?

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2019, 04:14:50 PM »
There are no jobs that don't suck. Even working for yourself sucks quite regularly. Pick one that pays a decent wage so you can do something less sucky when you're not at work.

Budgie

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2019, 06:52:09 PM »
There are no jobs that don't suck. Even working for yourself sucks quite regularly. Pick one that pays a decent wage so you can do something less sucky when you're not at work.

Sometimes I agree, and give people similar advice especially when they are talking to me about wanting to "follow their passion"--nothing will kill a passion like doing it for money, IME.

But honestly, my job doesn't suck. I wouldn't do quite so much of it if I was FI, but I wouldn't not do it, either. I feel like the pay is fine for what's involved, I have a high degree of autonomy and scheduling freedom, I can decide when to take time off without "asking" for it, etc., and it is rewarding to provide a service people need.

I came here to say to the OP, my sister's neighbor is a book editor, non-fiction of some kind. She works for herself, from home on a project by project basis. She works about 4 hours per day, can travel as much as she likes, and has lots of time for her hobbies/passions/interests.

Years ago I knew a woman who wrote the narration for PBS shows like "Nature". She also worked from home almost all the time. No idea what her salary was but we lived in a HCOL and she did not appear to be hurting.

I'm sure these gigs took some experience working at a lower level to build up the chops to be sought-after for the projects that allow them to earn enough while staying home, but I think they're also often overlooked kinds of jobs. People think of going into publishing at NYC publishing houses, but overlook that every text book, manual, professional/academic journal etc. has editing done by someone.


YummyRaisins

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2019, 07:13:09 PM »
Maybe a different field of journalism than what she'd find at a local newspaper?

We can definitely use better science journalists. This is particularly relevant since your mentee is considering an advanced degree already and the salary range fits.


BOP Mustache

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2019, 07:15:36 PM »
Seems she wants low stress and low responsibility but then wants to get a lot of satisfaction and meaning from her work. Iíve found those two things donít go so well together.

I feel best about myself after a hard days work, not cruising with long lunches and a strict 40 hours.

No job Iíve ever done Iíd consider that doesnít suck in some way or form. The book so good the canít ingnore you by cal Newport is worth a read for this lady.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2019, 07:33:23 PM »
Ahem. I LOVE my job. I have loved my job for 16 years. It sucks occasionally but in the aggregate I pretty much love it all the time. The stress is sort of high sometimes but mostly manageable. The hours are sort of high once in a while but mostly manageable.

I don't think she cares too much about lots of satisfaction and meaning...she just wants to do something that doesn't take over her life and pays a living wage.

I know of lots of people who have jobs that seem to fit this description. Book-keepers. @Zikoris with her secretarial jobs. CPAs at times when it's not tax-season...at least I've read this one CPA guy's blog and he seems pretty chill.

Thanks for the specific jobs advice and the book recommendation. I will compile a document for her of suggestions. I WILL be reading/compiling any posts, so I appreciate them very much!

Pizzabrewer

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2019, 07:42:18 PM »
I make beer.

That doesn't suck.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2019, 08:26:46 PM »
I have a great job, couldnít be better and at times, it sucks. Iím learning to not wrap my identity or happiness in my job. Do the job well, increase income and use the job as a vehicle to get me to the place where Iím in control of my life and destiny and work. There are other ways to get satisfaction from life.

Zikoris

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2019, 09:20:27 PM »
I don't think she cares too much about lots of satisfaction and meaning...she just wants to do something that doesn't take over her life and pays a living wage.

I know of lots of people who have jobs that seem to fit this description. Book-keepers. @Zikoris with her secretarial jobs. CPAs at times when it's not tax-season...at least I've read this one CPA guy's blog and he seems pretty chill.


Yeah, secretarial stuff sounds like a solid options if she likes that kind of stuff - receptionist and office clerk jobs have kept me happily employed for about seven years now. I would think that with an English degree she could be a highly qualified and capable administrative or executive assistant. EAs seem to make the big bucks in the secretarial field, so if she wanted to make more money that might be an option.

Side note: It's pretty cool that forumites actually remember stuff like what kind of work I do. It must be either because I've been here forever, or because it's just such a weird career choice. That or I just won't shut up about it, lol.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2019, 09:24:38 PM »
I make beer.

That doesn't suck.

Beer does not suck. I'll bet making beer sometimes sucks.

katscratch

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2019, 09:31:44 PM »
What are the things that she feels she excels at in regards to her English degree?

For me it was ability to communicate succinctly in written word but I also discovered I'm equally capable in an interpersonal or even customer capacity when it comes to saying "just the right thing." Maybe she has skills that are adjacent to her training that would help her think of different directions.

I have a few friends who are copywriters and, at least in my area, find it easy to move into different positions or organizations to find a good match for their interests and skills as their lives have changed.

BicycleB

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2019, 09:33:23 PM »
Jobs suck for a lot of reasons, and individuals vary widely in their sensitivity to those reasons. Verrry tough to generalize IMHO. I might be full of ideas if I knew more about her taste/character, though.

Journalism sounds like a really good job to me in most respects. What burned her out? Why did it suck? Deadlines? Need to focus on "it bleeds, it leads" instead of deeper issues? Sexist bosses? Too much people contact because she's an introvert? Not enough people contact because she had to write too much instead of primarily interviewing? Too much office politics (spoiler, they're everywhere)?

I am expert at not being enthusiastic about jobs. When I was younger, I thought it was mostly about specific jobs. Now I know a higher % than I thought was just the work world, not specific jobs, or was particular employers rather than particular jobs. Anyway, what are her specific complaints and desires?

If she has none, I recommend a glum but empowering practice of Stoicism until FIREd...

PS. A trip through What Color Is Your Parachute might help too. Is she ever a checklist follower? Even if not, as a journalist, she might take to Parachute's interviewing method like a duck to water. Getting through the personal exercises that come before that point might help her clarify her thoughts too.

Also, it's worth exploring America's jobs database, thoughtfully prepared by the Dept of Labor:
https://www.bls.gov/audience/jobseekers.htm
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/

One of my favorite jobs was working at an airport. Life is full of surprises.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2019, 09:45:42 PM by BicycleB »

yakamashii

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2019, 09:48:15 PM »
How about translation? She can already write well in English. If she knows another language or has a head start on one, she could be a translator. Completely independent work, flexible deadlines, great pay if the language pair is right (I'm Japanese to English, a very well compensated language pair due to the imbalance of supply and demand).

frugaldrummer

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2019, 10:11:07 PM »
I think the pertinent question is, WHY did she hate her journalism job? Why did it make her anxious?

Was it the pressure of writing to a deadline? Was it dealing with the public? Did she just have a bad boss?

It's important to figure out. If it was the hectic pace of newspaper writing, maybe she'd be better suited to investigative journalism? If she's an introvert who just wants to write without dealing with people much, teaching will not be for her. If she just had a bad boss, maybe she should try another journalism job elsewhere?

The key is to figure out what it was that was a problem in the last job.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2019, 10:34:51 PM »
I don't think she cares too much about lots of satisfaction and meaning...she just wants to do something that doesn't take over her life and pays a living wage.

I know of lots of people who have jobs that seem to fit this description. Book-keepers. @Zikoris with her secretarial jobs. CPAs at times when it's not tax-season...at least I've read this one CPA guy's blog and he seems pretty chill.


Yeah, secretarial stuff sounds like a solid options if she likes that kind of stuff - receptionist and office clerk jobs have kept me happily employed for about seven years now. I would think that with an English degree she could be a highly qualified and capable administrative or executive assistant. EAs seem to make the big bucks in the secretarial field, so if she wanted to make more money that might be an option.

Side note: It's pretty cool that forumites actually remember stuff like what kind of work I do. It must be either because I've been here forever, or because it's just such a weird career choice. That or I just won't shut up about it, lol.

Well of course I remember. You have a fascinating and distinct life, and a blog which I follow. The whole "Secretary who socks away money and doesn't worry about not making a ton because she's going to retire early due to her black belt frugal skills" is a completely awesome story; very compelling.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2019, 10:41:06 PM »
I think the pertinent question is, WHY did she hate her journalism job? Why did it make her anxious?

Was it the pressure of writing to a deadline? Was it dealing with the public? Did she just have a bad boss?

It's important to figure out. If it was the hectic pace of newspaper writing, maybe she'd be better suited to investigative journalism? If she's an introvert who just wants to write without dealing with people much, teaching will not be for her. If she just had a bad boss, maybe she should try another journalism job elsewhere?

The key is to figure out what it was that was a problem in the last job.

1. Pressure of writing to a deadline! Check! (not good with boundaries, accepted every assignment, wound up working constantly)
2. Dealing with the public! Check! (she had a difficult beat--she was frequently assigned to fairly political topics and isn't really the type to deal with that sort of Leslie Knope/Parks and Rec/insane locals making unreasonable demands confrontation well)
3. Bad boss! Check! (Again, she doesn't have great boundaries and the boss tended to exploit them. Also the boss sounded like your garden-variety Mean Boss. Probably not the biggest deal for someone who wasn't so green, but very difficult on a newbie like my mentee.)

Journalism jobs are not the easiest to come by. I think she's kind of turned off by the whole field.

She is struggling with some mental health issues and recently started anti-depressants. I'm thinking something fairly low-key would be best.

Very helpful to know that financial advising has a lot of networking involved. She's actually fairly social and her mom is extremely well-connected in the field of finance, which is why she was thinking of maybe trying that out. But I don't really see her doing that. She's kind of a hippy type.


englishteacheralex

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2019, 10:42:23 PM »
Jobs suck for a lot of reasons, and individuals vary widely in their sensitivity to those reasons. Verrry tough to generalize IMHO. I might be full of ideas if I knew more about her taste/character, though.

Journalism sounds like a really good job to me in most respects. What burned her out? Why did it suck? Deadlines? Need to focus on "it bleeds, it leads" instead of deeper issues? Sexist bosses? Too much people contact because she's an introvert? Not enough people contact because she had to write too much instead of primarily interviewing? Too much office politics (spoiler, they're everywhere)?

I am expert at not being enthusiastic about jobs. When I was younger, I thought it was mostly about specific jobs. Now I know a higher % than I thought was just the work world, not specific jobs, or was particular employers rather than particular jobs. Anyway, what are her specific complaints and desires?

If she has none, I recommend a glum but empowering practice of Stoicism until FIREd...

PS. A trip through What Color Is Your Parachute might help too. Is she ever a checklist follower? Even if not, as a journalist, she might take to Parachute's interviewing method like a duck to water. Getting through the personal exercises that come before that point might help her clarify her thoughts too.

Also, it's worth exploring America's jobs database, thoughtfully prepared by the Dept of Labor:
https://www.bls.gov/audience/jobseekers.htm
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/

One of my favorite jobs was working at an airport. Life is full of surprises.

Excellent tips. Thanks for all this. I will investigate.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2019, 10:45:10 PM »
What are the things that she feels she excels at in regards to her English degree?

For me it was ability to communicate succinctly in written word but I also discovered I'm equally capable in an interpersonal or even customer capacity when it comes to saying "just the right thing." Maybe she has skills that are adjacent to her training that would help her think of different directions.

I have a few friends who are copywriters and, at least in my area, find it easy to move into different positions or organizations to find a good match for their interests and skills as their lives have changed.

Oooooh copywriting. There's a thought. Awesome.

LaDeeDa

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2019, 11:39:00 PM »


Grant writer for a nonprofit? 

I second non-profit work. They tend to have a slower pace and you're focused on a mission, education being a key one.

Grant writing is more fun than it looks. There is some creativity and artistry that goes into making a great proposal.

Donor relations is also very writing heavy, but doesn't come with the same pressure of meeting a financial target.

Large non-profits will often have their own marketing or communications department as well.

Universities tend to pay more, plus she'd still be in the world of education.


Malkynn

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2019, 05:29:56 AM »
There are no jobs that don't suck. Even working for yourself sucks quite regularly. Pick one that pays a decent wage so you can do something less sucky when you're not at work.

I could not possibly disagree with you more.
There are amazing jobs out there that already exist or could be generated through effective networking.

I've seen great jobs made up and customized specifically for one person to join an organization. I've even seen entire departments invented for specific people.

That said, I remember you previously posting that all bosses think they know better than their staff, so I'm willing to bet that you've never worked for an amazing boss who has total faith in you and lets you work with autonomy and customize your job according to your own skills and strengths.

I agree that all jobs have days that suck, but that's because all lives have days that suck. Shitty days are unavoidable, but that doesn't mean that there isn't paid work out there that doesn't create a net addition of happiness and satisfaction in life.

So to the OP: my best advice would be for her to really focus on finding out what her deal breakers are in terms of work and where her passions lie and then research, research, research different work environments and whether or not they would be a good fit in terms of work culture.

My personal approach is to find the kind of environment you thrive in, and then finding opportunities within that environment to use your preferred skills.

People who like a certain task tend to seek out jobs in that task industry, which pits them in competition with everyone else who loves that task and makes the "best" jobs ultra competitive.

Meanwhile, coming at it sideways is often more effective. Instead of competing head on with the best in your field, put that energy into diversifying your skills into a field that chronically suffers from a shortage of people with the skills you enjoy most.

Having a unique combination of skills is by far the most powerful force you can have in negotiating the aspects of your job because of supply and demand. Everyone is replaceable, but some of us are a hell of a lot harder to replace than others, especially if it would be too costly to try.

Overall, the more creative and open-minded she is about creating and demonstrating her own value, and the better she is at networking, the more opportunities will open up to her, but it takes a certainty that those options are out there, otherwise she'll get stuck settling for work that "sucks" because that's what she's most likely to find.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2019, 06:46:11 AM »
Having a unique combination of skills is by far the most powerful force you can have in negotiating the aspects of your job because of supply and demand. Everyone is replaceable, but some of us are a hell of a lot harder to replace than others, especially if it would be too costly to try.

Indeed, spot on as always. "So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love" discusses this too. There are some key general elements to satisfying work (e.g. autonomy, mastery, purpose) as well as compatibility with one's personality/core strengths.

If she's never taken the Signature Strengths assessment, she might find that interesting (it's free, and was recommended to me previously in a Yale class). For workplace satisfaction, ideally do work that engages at least 4 of your top 7 core "signature strengths". Some ideas for those here too (http://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/52486/340_ways_to_use_character_strengths.pdf)
« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 06:50:25 AM by Roots&Wings »

JLee

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2019, 07:26:02 AM »
I work in tech.  I slogged through a couple years of shitty help-desk stuff to get here, but now I get to play with expensive toys that I don't have to pay for (my gear runs the core of a couple television networks).  I quite like my job. It was a product of "I can't seem to get the job I want, so I might as well give it a shot" and it stuck.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2019, 05:20:05 PM »
There are no jobs that don't suck. Even working for yourself sucks quite regularly. Pick one that pays a decent wage so you can do something less sucky when you're not at work.


That said, I remember you previously posting that all bosses think they know better than their staff, so I'm willing to bet that you've never worked for an amazing boss who has total faith in you and lets you work with autonomy and customize your job according to your own skills and strengths.



Absolutely true. My bosses have always ranged from slight idiot to unmitigated moron. Currently working for one that can't focus, doesn't listen and is ridiculously pc. I do have autonomy but mostly because no one knows what's going on and I've ceased asking before making executive decisions.

historienne

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2019, 06:17:41 PM »
Communications for a university, or another big institution with an in-house magazine.  Pay and benefits should be decent.  Basically journalism-lite.

Bonus: she may be able to take classes that would let her explore other fields for free.

DoNorth

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2019, 10:05:19 PM »
my wife was a journalism major and after a few public relations/corporate communications jobs out of college, started working for herself at about $45 hour and after 5-6 years, finally finished up at $55/hour.  She worked on employee relations, labor issues, employee publications and messaging.  Great autonomy and stressful at times, but liked it overall.

sixup

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2019, 05:50:50 AM »
Having a unique combination of skills is by far the most powerful force you can have in negotiating the aspects of your job because of supply and demand. Everyone is replaceable, but some of us are a hell of a lot harder to replace than others, especially if it would be too costly to try.

Indeed, spot on as always. "So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love" discusses this too. There are some key general elements to satisfying work (e.g. autonomy, mastery, purpose) as well as compatibility with one's personality/core strengths.



Highly recommend this book. A lot of my current path and success in work are from this book. By following these concepts I was able to eventually land a job that I enjoy for a really great company in a field with room for lots of growth, almost triple my income, and negotiate a pretty ideal remote working situation. Granted it took about 4 years of pretty dedicated focus and definitely some luck, but I definitely think this is the way to get to do work you enjoy.

apricity

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2019, 06:00:26 AM »
Instructional designer.

LaineyAZ

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2019, 08:10:02 AM »
What about records management?  I used to interact with lots of records managers.  Every large business or government entity needs them. 
If you are at all detail oriented and have halfway decent computer skills it would be a good fit.  The satisfaction is knowing you are preserving company and government data for all kinds of purposes like research, legal needs, etc.  You also get to interact with all levels of the company because you can drive policy and compliance.

Check out arma.org

englishteacheralex

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2019, 08:46:28 AM »
So many great suggestions. Thanks everyone and keep them coming if you have a good idea or some insight. I'll be compiling all this into a document and sharing with my friend this weekend.

Noodle

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2019, 08:58:26 AM »
Your young friend may be feeling a bit discouraged at the moment, but really she is a wonderful position--no college debt and the ability to live on a modest income opens so many paths to her!

I agree that the non-profit world may be for her. Talented grant-writers are always in demand and the development people seem to be able to find good jobs whenever they want them. At the higher levels it does involve more schmoozing but you mention that she is a fairly social person so she might like that. Non-profits also need communications people to write their press releases, blog posts, etc. The bigger ones may even have publications departments producing their print materials.

Lanthiriel

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #30 on: February 08, 2019, 09:10:58 AM »
I am the Marketing Manager at a civil engineering firm and I LOVE hiring people with journalism backgrounds. Most of marketing in my field is actually responding to requests for qualifications, so I need people who can write. Other duties will include preparing brochures, going to trade shows, managing social media, etc. I would suggest she look for Marketing Coordinator jobs at engineering, architectural, and construction firms. The local chapter page of the Society for Marketing Professional Services is a great resource for finding these jobs. It will depend highly on the firm whether the job "sucks." I have found that engineering firms offer better work/life balance than architectural firms (just due to the innate level of organization most engineers enjoy), but the industry is highly deadline-driven, so YMMV.

FWIW, I have an Bachelors in English and a Masters in Writing/Book Publishing. I make about $90k/year after bonuses and am on the track to be a shareholder in my company. I have by far the most lucrative career of anyone I stayed in touch with from college because I wound up in a STEM field (that still allows me to be creative!).

haflander

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #31 on: February 08, 2019, 09:51:00 AM »
Lots of good suggestions here already. I'm throw in my .02 as an English major who's doing well for myself.

I'd suggest looking at a major/broad career type, then focusing smaller according to interests/hobbies. For example...Grant writing > education/women's rights/political nonprofit. Marketing (Lanthiriel) > any industry (leg up in online news sources with her journalism experience). Editing > medical/STEM/publications. Copywriting > pet/beauty sites. I've seen jobs for all of the above in my big city. If she's located in HI, the corporate options are obvi limited geographically. However, many of the above have work-from-home positions as well, which would help with her stress and mental health.

I'll give you my anecdotal experience. In college, I didn't know what I wanted to do for a career. Briefly considered journalism and PR before settling on an English degree (still not knowing what I'd do). Decided journalism was a dying industry and I don't like marketing or people enough for PR. Worked in college for academic research firm helping grad students/professors with dissertations, theses, journal article submissions, manuscripts. Also copywriting and SEO writing for same employer. Graduated, English (literature concentration vs teaching or tech writing). Considered the publishing industry and interned at a small agency. Found that I disliked it due to many of the same reasons as journalism: dying industry + too much supply (MANY English majors want to work in journalism or publishing) = low $; deadlines; stupid bosses; slaving and yes-manning to vane editors-in-chief and book authors. Considered tech writing, but I wasn't qualified without tech experience. I got some interviews, but didn't get lucky.

Explored medical editing, as my job in college usually dealt with psych and the social sciences. Got a job in 1/2015 at a low salary and job hopped about once a year until I doubled my salary three years later.

Mellabella

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Re: Jobs that don't suck: Got one?
« Reply #32 on: February 11, 2019, 07:21:02 AM »
I love my job as a social worker most days! It's pretty easy to get a youth work job if you have experience working with young people in Australia anyway. It helps that I feel like my work has meaning outside of the paycheck.