Author Topic: Need to make a career switch  (Read 2909 times)

livewire516

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Need to make a career switch
« on: May 15, 2015, 08:43:26 PM »
I am aware that I'm being very vague with regards to my career - I apologize but my niche is rather small and I don't think specifics would add all that much to the conversation.

I'm about to turn 25.  I've been working at a non-profit since graduating with my BS in Nutrition. I am the most rapidly promoted and youngest PM in my employer's history.  I am now responsible for administering and implementing an entire initiative on my own.  Unfortunately, I'm required to be held to my organization's model that is not very efficacious, and frankly the issue that we address is more of a symptom of broader, more complicated issues that we don't directly address.  Even if I had greater autonomy, I don't know how much I'd actually be helping people.  Meanwhile, I am beginning to make myself a controversy in my office - even though I'm being as diplomatic as possible when drawing attention to limitations or flaws of our program, certain people simply do not like change and are making any change difficult.  Although some higher-ups quietly applaud my efforts, I'm concerned I may be cutting the floor out from under me and hurting my career.

I'm conflicted about leaving because I'm getting recognition and a unique amount of responsibility; however I only make $48,000 as a Project Manager and feel there isn't likely any more headroom without a graduate degree (which they wouldn't reimburse at all).  I'm looking for a career switch.

Truthfully, my skills from this job are confined to soft-skills, problem-solving, and management (they're certainly valuable, but I'm beginning to think inadequate w/o technical skill).  My degree is in nutrition, which generally doesn't lead to well compensated jobs unless I go back to PA/MD/DDS school - I have no interest in becoming an RD.  I do have connections with several successful authors/bloggers/speakers in the popular nutrition scene, and I've been told by many people that I would be a good speaker and/or professor with regards to nutrition.

I'd appreciate any guidance as to how I would look towards my next career steps.  I'd like to maximize my earnings for early retirement (savings rate is 40% and climbing!) and then consider "earning to give" if I still enjoy whatever job I'm in.  I've always wanted to have a positive impact and advance causes that are important to me, but I've finally accepted that not only is my 9-5 a limited way to contribute, but working for a good earnings doesn't necessarily mean I'm selling out.

Fields I'm examining are:

Food Supply Chain (ie. buyer for packers/distributors such as Alberts Organics)
Food Retail Management (esp. Whole Foods or Wegmans)
Niche Public Health Consulting (being able to direct city/state govts. and non-profits on how to actually do this work right -- and leverage my reputation)
Software Engineering (no current experience but I'm disciplined and good at self-directed education....like the earnings potential).
"Boutique" Nutrition Counseling - Working with HNW clients (leverage my HNW contacts, and ability to persuade & conduct self-directed research - I'll admit the self promotion/marketing necessary in that world is alien to me).


I appreciate any thoughts you may have

mozar

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Re: Need to make a career switch
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2015, 09:30:50 PM »
Is FIRE a goal? I think if you want and you can give it a few years you can build up the public speaking, become an expert etc. if that's important to you and you like it. I doubt there are ample opportunities for nutrition professors though.
It sounds like you are really interested in nutrition. 4 out 5 of the options you gave were nutrition oriented. How about studying software design and leveraging that to come up with software, apps for nutrition? I think if you keep pushing there could be unexpected opportunities for you. Promoting yourself and marketing is easy to learn. It's the not giving up part that is hard.

Edit: 48k is doing well for a 25 y/o

lhamo

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Re: Need to make a career switch
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2015, 11:26:09 PM »
The last one on the list is something you could definitely start developing as a sideline business while still working at your day job.  That is the angle I would be most inclined to explore, as if it takes off you could really take it big, and have a lot more freedom than any of the other jobs.  Build on that network you have with people currently in the field -- they might be able to provide you with opportunities to get your foot in the door (helping with their projects, subcontracting things they don't have time to do personally, giving you exposure on the workshop/lecture circuit, etc.

You are not going to get a position as a professor without a Ph.D. or equivalent in today's market.  I would avoid that route unless you are really passionate about research/teaching. 

And I would not be afraid to keep pushing the boundaries at your current organization.  Pissing complacent lower level people off is not a bad thing.  Getting recognition from higher ups  is a good thing.  Both are likely to get you good references/networking assistance from people who matter. 

Case

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Re: Need to make a career switch
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2015, 09:50:45 AM »
I am aware that I'm being very vague with regards to my career - I apologize but my niche is rather small and I don't think specifics would add all that much to the conversation.

I'm about to turn 25.  I've been working at a non-profit since graduating with my BS in Nutrition. I am the most rapidly promoted and youngest PM in my employer's history.  I am now responsible for administering and implementing an entire initiative on my own.  Unfortunately, I'm required to be held to my organization's model that is not very efficacious, and frankly the issue that we address is more of a symptom of broader, more complicated issues that we don't directly address.  Even if I had greater autonomy, I don't know how much I'd actually be helping people.  Meanwhile, I am beginning to make myself a controversy in my office - even though I'm being as diplomatic as possible when drawing attention to limitations or flaws of our program, certain people simply do not like change and are making any change difficult.  Although some higher-ups quietly applaud my efforts, I'm concerned I may be cutting the floor out from under me and hurting my career.

I'm conflicted about leaving because I'm getting recognition and a unique amount of responsibility; however I only make $48,000 as a Project Manager and feel there isn't likely any more headroom without a graduate degree (which they wouldn't reimburse at all).  I'm looking for a career switch.

Truthfully, my skills from this job are confined to soft-skills, problem-solving, and management (they're certainly valuable, but I'm beginning to think inadequate w/o technical skill).  My degree is in nutrition, which generally doesn't lead to well compensated jobs unless I go back to PA/MD/DDS school - I have no interest in becoming an RD.  I do have connections with several successful authors/bloggers/speakers in the popular nutrition scene, and I've been told by many people that I would be a good speaker and/or professor with regards to nutrition.

I'd appreciate any guidance as to how I would look towards my next career steps.  I'd like to maximize my earnings for early retirement (savings rate is 40% and climbing!) and then consider "earning to give" if I still enjoy whatever job I'm in.  I've always wanted to have a positive impact and advance causes that are important to me, but I've finally accepted that not only is my 9-5 a limited way to contribute, but working for a good earnings doesn't necessarily mean I'm selling out.

Fields I'm examining are:

Food Supply Chain (ie. buyer for packers/distributors such as Alberts Organics)
Food Retail Management (esp. Whole Foods or Wegmans)
Niche Public Health Consulting (being able to direct city/state govts. and non-profits on how to actually do this work right -- and leverage my reputation)
Software Engineering (no current experience but I'm disciplined and good at self-directed education....like the earnings potential).
"Boutique" Nutrition Counseling - Working with HNW clients (leverage my HNW contacts, and ability to persuade & conduct self-directed research - I'll admit the self promotion/marketing necessary in that world is alien to me).


I appreciate any thoughts you may have
[/quote

Are you managing people (people that are your direct reports)?  Generally managing means this, and it is unclear from your post if you do this or are only leading an initiative.  I don't mean to belittle the latter, but managing people is probably more strongly correlated with pay increases.

You will need a PhD to become a professor, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it unless you are passionate about it, and the pay wont increase much for a long time.

If you are as high a performer as you say you are, then try switching to a for-profit company, and use your performance to demand increase salary.

People here are more knowledgeable, but I know of people that have moved out to the Bay Area, taken a crash course (literally) in software programming, started out making much more than you.  This might be a quick option for you.

Perhaps you could combine a new skill with your skills in nutrition; become a programmer at a nutrition related company?

livewire516

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Re: Need to make a career switch
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2015, 07:49:43 PM »
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Some really great questions have helped me realize that I should clarify things:

- No, I do not have direct reports.  The organization has a more matrix structure, I have staff people from different departments (communications, development, research and evaluations, finance etc.) who have portions of their time assigned to my project and take my direction.  However, I may get an FTE directly reporting to me if a grant my org. recently submitted gets accepted - I'd like to hold on here until that time, but I am really starting to hate it here.

- I am not actually interested in becoming a professor.  I shared that because it thought from a 360* perspective, hearing that from enough people, it may be a good indicator of my strengths.  I'd actually really like to pursue academia, but FIRE is a higher priority to me.

-My next step is almost certainly in the for profit sector. To explain a little more about myself, I chose this job because I was looking for a low-key job.  I never wanted to prioritize my career, but I grew up in a pretty high achieving environment.  Must of been my way of rebelling but now, knowing myself better, I know can't help but be competitive, relentlessly pursue improvement and get obsessed with the job.  If that's the case, I may as well a) commit to something that can actually help people or b)get a position that rewards me for these tendencies.

On a related note, may I recommend 80000hours.org for anyone else trying to weigh careers from a positive impact perspective. 


Glyph

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Re: Need to make a career switch
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2015, 03:21:25 AM »
Unless you are a superstar researcher who can pull in grant money, academia is an absolute joke. I've watched my PhD-educated friends struggle to find full-time work. Most end up as adjuncts and working under the poverty line.

If you are a superstar, and hell you're well on your way if you're successful right now, it may be worth it. Look first, degree next.