Author Topic: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice  (Read 4061 times)

MacksSavings

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Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« on: June 23, 2016, 08:04:06 AM »
Hi all, I've been reading MMM blog and forum for a little while now. I've never posted before but wanted to pose a question to the mustache hive-mind; should I stay at my relatively low-paying, stable job at a not-for-profit, or should I take the plunge and go back to school/re-tool for a new career?


Some particulars -- the good: I'm in my early 30's, I have no debt, I rent a big apartment with my fiancee and a roommate, we're going to get married in about a year (just me and the fiancee, not the roommate), but haven't actively started planning the wedding (we're aiming for a modest affair in a family friend's barn, hopefully no more than $5k, with generous family people kicking some money in), I bike to work sometimes, own my car, save around 45% of my take home pay, have about $10k in savings, work underwrites almost all of the expense of a great health insurance plan that I never use. The bad; I have no retirement savings or much of a plan, and there's no 401K matching at my current work, while I was too stupid to take advantage of it at previous jobs, I didn't take full advantage of college, got a fairly useless degree, and was/am somewhat lazy (however, I did earn a scholarship to cover a fair amount of my college expenses, had some help from my parents, and paid off all any/all student loans, so I'm not that lazy).


I enjoy helping people, problem solving, creating things, and seeing/having tangible measures of progress. I'm good at schmoozing people and manipulating them into convincing them to donate to a good cause (essentially sales without selling a product), but only when I believe in the mission. I would like to make more money; ideally something in the $65k+ range. I'm maybe most interested in a trade, such as electrical or carpentry/GC, or learning to design/build websites & write code. I'm not completely ignorant in/of these fields, but close to it.


Feedback/advice would be appreciated, here's what I'm thinking:


A.) Stay at the current job: 40k a year, low-risk, low potential for growth, don't especially enjoy the majority of the work I do, feel like I'm wasting what little talent & time I have.


B.) Stay part-time at current job and begin an online learn-to-code course, if I have some aptitude for this and enjoy it, transition out of the part-time work and enroll in an intensive coding academy.


C.) Quit my job entirely and go back to school or to an apprenticeship program for; electrical; masters degree in accounting; computer science/coding.


Thanks in advance for your advice.

HappyHoya

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2016, 08:49:49 AM »
I'm not seeing anything in this post that would lead me to suggest you should quit your current job, other than that you don't enjoy most of it. As long as you do not actively dislike it, I'd personally want a much more fleshed-out plan before making a major life change.

How long have you been at your current job and in your current field? You don't say exactly what you do at a non-profit, but it sounds like there's some amount of fundraising involved, which you even mentioned is very transferable to sales. You talk a lot about what you enjoy but your only mention of your current skills is schmoozing people. What talents do you feel like you are wasting? I suspect there must be some overlap between your skill set and existing experience and the type of work your enjoy--even if its only a step along the way to your "dream job" (for example, maybe doing sales for a software company that had resources to help you learn to code). It's also typically more financially worthwhile to leverage skills you already have than to retrain for something drastically different, and a lot of the skills you expressed interest in learning can be acquired without quitting your current job.

Choices

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2016, 08:55:48 AM »
It sounds like you're not super-excited about a particular plan and just want a change of some sort.

Use your nights and weekends to take classes or volunteer with someone in one of your proposed fields while you save like crazy.
If you like the field, proceed with whatever further education is needed. Often this is experience rather than a degree.

Sock away a 6-12 month emergency fund (plus money for the wedding) and try to finish your classes and build a client base by working part-time before you quit.

MacksSavings

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2016, 10:01:29 AM »
Thanks for your ideas and advice so far, please keep them coming.

Hoya, you're right in that I don't hate my current job, but a big piece of why I really want to transition to something else is that it's contributing to a demoralizing cycle. I didn't want to be too specific about where and what I do, but basically, I mostly sit and look at a computer all day, there's not much oversight, there's not much expectation, and I don't feel like I'm developing or using skills, which makes me feel like I don't have any, which makes me feel disinterested in doing what I'm supposed to do, which makes me feel like I'm wasting my time and the organization's resources. Then I repeat the next day. I've tried, many times, to get more oversight/more interesting/challenging assignments, but it doesn't actually happen. When I take the initiative to just do something more interesting on my own, it's well received but either doesn't go anywhere or concern is expressed that I'm neglecting my other responsibilities. I quite like your proposed option D.) Find another job that is a step on the path towards web design/software development, such as leveraging "sales" experience to work in sales for a software company.

Julie, I'm both indecisive and, see above, a little lower on professional confidence than is typical for me. The idea of using nights and weekends to further/better myself is certainly appealing. Complainypants excuse for why I haven't more actively on this path; it's been hard for me to exercise the self-discipline needed to get through the work day I find demoralizing, then come home and want to work more. I want to exercise, cook, and relax, not work. I should probably stop thinking of gaining the experience I want, in fields that seem more interesting to me, as work and start thinking of it as a fun self-driven knowledge-palooza. That's why option B.) working part-time is appealing to me; I'd have a couple of days a week to really pursue the learning and experience I need, I wouldn't have the daily demoralizing cycle (just 3x a week), I could probably get just about as much done for them, which would make me feel less guilty about wasting their resources, and I would have enough money coming in from the job to cover my expenses. I do have a 6+ month emergency fund saved, but that's basically all my savings.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 10:03:25 AM by MacksSavings »

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2016, 10:46:13 AM »
You're into investing, right?  Become a stock broker.  Sell Real Estate.  Do something related to making your FIRE happen sooner, and helping others reach their 'stash' goals.   Most stock brokers have degrees in comparative sociological literature, with a minor underwater basket weaving - you'll fit right in. 

Need inspiration?  Read the new book "Get Back Up" from long-time-friend George A. Santino. 
[A guy who went from section 8-housing in Philadelphia (selling tomatoes for 25 a bag, keeping 5 for himself) to the Director-suites at Microsoft.  I was in his interview loop, and a vocal 'hire' voice.]

MacksSavings

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2016, 12:24:53 PM »
Hey Mother Fussbudget,


Thanks for replying! Your comments have been helpful in clarifying my questions.


Your general advice/cheerleading of, "get off your ass and do something," is definitely appreciated. I'm not interested in becoming a stock broker or in selling real estate. And I'm glad your friend busted his ass and made out of Philly, to Florida, to Seattle and into Microsoft; I've already got plenty of inspiration.


I'm ready to take a risk on myself, I'm engaging this community more for best practices and/or strategies for the smartest, most measured ways to take that risk.


Have you ever started over with a new career direction? How did you build yourself back up to a high level of success?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2016, 01:39:37 PM »
Have you tried getting a better job in whatever it is you're doing now?

Fuzz

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2016, 06:10:22 PM »

I'm ready to take a risk on myself, I'm engaging this community more for best practices and/or strategies for the smartest, most measured ways to take that risk.

Have you ever started over with a new career direction? How did you build yourself back up to a high level of success?

Get yourself over to growthlab and check out Ramit's dream job course. It sounds like you have a script where you need to research "best practices" before actually doing anything, and that researching best practices is your excuse for not actually doing anything. And when someone says think about sales as a job, you're like no, don't want to do a huge slick of the possible jobs that pay well.

Dude, if you don't know whether you want to code or be in one of the trades, and you're not someone who is (a) really awesome at coding and (b) also really awesome at the trades...well, shit. We're all just waving our hands in the air here. Try reading books about discovering your career suits you (what color is your parachute?) Idk...

Plenty of people in fundraising start at over $65K. If you're interested in that and good at it, you're underpaid for a metro area.

My two thoughts:

Apply for a job that you don't want and go to an interview. See how the interview feels.
Sell something on craigslist. See how that feels.

Little wins are where it's at when you're building up motivation and energy.

Lagom

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2016, 08:59:43 PM »
I couldn't say how similar our situations are (or rather were in my case), but there is a lot I can related to. I was stuck in a similar position at a similar age for similar pay and felt pretty much as you do about it. My story is a long one but the short version is that divorce + hating the town I lived in with my ex led me to just quit my job and move across the country to seek my fortune, so to speak. After aggressive networking with superlative follow-up in each instance, I landed a great job that I frankly wasn't qualified for but has quickly turned into a far more rewarding and better paying career path (still in a nonprofit type environment). I think the fear of ruining my life really made me rise to the occasion, but I'm not sure if I would recommend that strategy to just anyone. The timing made it easier for me (combined with a #yolo attitude following the divorce).

Regardless, if you have the skills you say, just start networking like crazy, with a priority on helping the people you meet before you even think about asking them to help you (e.g. making appropriate and valuable introductions). Sooner or later, an opportunity will arise in your field or another. You'll also make some friends and get tons of good advice in the process. Good luck!

MacksSavings

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2016, 10:31:36 AM »
Hi everyone, particularly the people kind enough to take time out of their lives to comment on mine,


I've decided to quit my job. I've never really gambled on myself and taken a real risk to pursue something like this that I wanted and doing that seems like a pretty important part of being alive.


I'll be pursuing a path that I think has the potential to be satisfying, challenging, and hopefully, successful - studying and shadowing/apprenticing carpentry to start, then plumbing - with the goal of building myself up to be first an independent handyman and eventually a small scale contractor.


I'll probably be asking many questions on these forums. If people are interested, I've been considering starting a little blog to function as a journal to document progress, procedures, and projects.


Thanks again everyone!

Bicycle_B

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2016, 10:37:51 AM »
Stay thrifty, work hard, learn a lot.  Good luck!!

webguy

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2016, 10:59:10 AM »
Awesome! Sounds like a great decision and the start of a really interesting new adventure :)  All the best with it!

Lagom

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2016, 03:56:00 PM »
That's great! I think you'll find you made the right choice long term, from a happiness standpoint. Heck, I'm jealous. While I like my current job much much better than my last one, I secretly wanted to do almost exactly what you're doing, but couldn't quite force myself that far out of my comfort zone. Please do link the blog if you start one. I for one would be interested in following your journey.

JLR

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2016, 08:38:21 PM »
Just wanted to wish you all the best with your career change.

Make sure you keep on top of expenses. You mentioned above that you made $40k, save 45% and only have $10k in savings. Something doesn't add up there, unless you had only been working for 6 months.

MacksSavings

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Re: Early 30's, making $40k, seeking career advice
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2016, 09:21:47 PM »
Hey JLR,


Thank you! Especially as I start "working for myself" I'll really need to be even more careful about documenting everything, anticipating and planning for worst-financial-case-outcomes.


My savings numbers don't quite add up because the $40k is pre-taxes, I bought a possibly face-punch-worthy engagement ring, did some work on my car and some other small building and improvement projects, and my fiance and I took some weekend trips this summer.


Some of these spending choices helped me to understand what I really value and to have the space to understand that I needed out of my current job. I had originally been planning to play it safe and find something more closely related to my current career path (either a different fundraising or a sales job), so I thought the temporary hit to the savings rate would be a blip. But I've decided, maybe a little naively/bravely/foolishly, that this is the moment in my life that is the best one to really take a chance on myself and alter my path.