Author Topic: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX  (Read 2035 times)

ColorfulS

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« on: February 22, 2017, 06:11:26 PM »
After re-reading the MMM blog for the third time, I guess I've finally scraped up the courage to ask for some help.

Let me give you the run-down: I'm 23, debt-free, with an AA of Fine Arts, living in a rural Texas town, with an annual income of 18k.
INTJ describes me to a T. I love big-picture out of the box thinking, have very little regard for anything but competency, dislike positions where schmoozing gets you to the top, and have a polyglot's polymath mind. Learning is great, emotional stress not so much.
 
I managed to land a really impressive job a few months back and I'm hoping for it to be the springboard to a better future for myself. I'm now the 'Technical Director' of a small chemical compounding company. The number of hats I wear is intense because this is a small business: Accounts Payable/Receivable, Customer Service, Logistics, Ordering, Compounding, Safety/Compliance, Sales, Secretary, Property Management, Training, Payroll, and Management (general). I am essentially the face, voice, and vision for the company. Each day unearths new projects for me to do, new tasks, and work is never consistent as one week orders come thick and fast and the next week it's quiet as the grave.

No one in my family has ever had a traditional career, a successful career, or really knows anything about education or finances. I'm hoping to be the person who breaks that trend. So I've started stocking money away in order to get an emergency fund going, but there's a looming disaster on the horizon. In a few short weeks, I won't have a place to live, in a small town where I know no one. I'm building my credit, but without co-signers and such a low income, most banks won't loan the money I need to get a place I need.

So what I'm looking for is:
1) Role models in any of the departments or jobs listed above. I'm on my own 100% of the time so I have nothing to measure up against. I need some idea of what's good and what's not beyond making sure the day to day business operates. Any ideas on how to make sales-for-the-awkward-soul easier would be divine.

2) A financially sound way to have a place to live. I've been homeless before so I know most of the in's and out's but indoor plumbing can't be beat for morale. I've put out feelers in the area, called every place that rents, tried looking for roommates, and no luck on all fronts. I've toyed with the idea of getting a RV or travel trailer-because yes, even though it's borrowing I can afford lot rent (which includes utilities) and a small payment. Plus, I'd own something once it's paid off and have a home no one could take from me.

3) Should I go for a Bachelor's? I got my associates thinking I would get an undergrad but quickly realized I couldn't make up my mind on what I wanted to- since I have a pretty high aptitude for a lot of things if my current job is any indicator. As much as I love linguistics and language, I'm not so sure it'd get me a job where I could live a FIRE life. Not to mention, I'm hesitant to take out 40k+ in student loans.

No one can do the leg-work for me. But as a repsonsible fuddy-duddy, flirting with life-long poverty at every turn I'm getting worn out. I've come from nothing and it's gotten me here, but there's got to be a chance for me to have a life where every week I don't have to worry about the bottom falling out. Please help me get there.

Sincerely,
-S

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3028
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2017, 06:42:02 PM »
Do you like running a company? If so you could get a bachelor's degree in business then an mba. Then you can move to a bigger city. With experience running a company and an mba you'll be in demand.
Does your company pay for classes?
I approve of the rv idea.
Come back here and ask questions for every step you take.

Rimu05

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 227
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2017, 09:02:00 AM »
After re-reading the MMM blog for the third time, I guess I've finally scraped up the courage to ask for some help.

Let me give you the run-down: I'm 23, debt-free, with an AA of Fine Arts, living in a rural Texas town, with an annual income of 18k.
INTJ describes me to a T. I love big-picture out of the box thinking, have very little regard for anything but competency, dislike positions where schmoozing gets you to the top, and have a polyglot's polymath mind. Learning is great, emotional stress not so much.
 
I managed to land a really impressive job a few months back and I'm hoping for it to be the springboard to a better future for myself. I'm now the 'Technical Director' of a small chemical compounding company. The number of hats I wear is intense because this is a small business: Accounts Payable/Receivable, Customer Service, Logistics, Ordering, Compounding, Safety/Compliance, Sales, Secretary, Property Management, Training, Payroll, and Management (general). I am essentially the face, voice, and vision for the company. Each day unearths new projects for me to do, new tasks, and work is never consistent as one week orders come thick and fast and the next week it's quiet as the grave.

No one in my family has ever had a traditional career, a successful career, or really knows anything about education or finances. I'm hoping to be the person who breaks that trend. So I've started stocking money away in order to get an emergency fund going, but there's a looming disaster on the horizon. In a few short weeks, I won't have a place to live, in a small town where I know no one. I'm building my credit, but without co-signers and such a low income, most banks won't loan the money I need to get a place I need.

So what I'm looking for is:
1) Role models in any of the departments or jobs listed above. I'm on my own 100% of the time so I have nothing to measure up against. I need some idea of what's good and what's not beyond making sure the day to day business operates. Any ideas on how to make sales-for-the-awkward-soul easier would be divine.

2) A financially sound way to have a place to live. I've been homeless before so I know most of the in's and out's but indoor plumbing can't be beat for morale. I've put out feelers in the area, called every place that rents, tried looking for roommates, and no luck on all fronts. I've toyed with the idea of getting a RV or travel trailer-because yes, even though it's borrowing I can afford lot rent (which includes utilities) and a small payment. Plus, I'd own something once it's paid off and have a home no one could take from me.

3) Should I go for a Bachelor's? I got my associates thinking I would get an undergrad but quickly realized I couldn't make up my mind on what I wanted to- since I have a pretty high aptitude for a lot of things if my current job is any indicator. As much as I love linguistics and language, I'm not so sure it'd get me a job where I could live a FIRE life. Not to mention, I'm hesitant to take out 40k+ in student loans.

No one can do the leg-work for me. But as a repsonsible fuddy-duddy, flirting with life-long poverty at every turn I'm getting worn out. I've come from nothing and it's gotten me here, but there's got to be a chance for me to have a life where every week I don't have to worry about the bottom falling out. Please help me get there.

Sincerely,
-S

Hey,

We have a similar personality type though I'm a skeptic as to whether being an INTJ even means anything but I am a staunch realist in that I had too many conflicting interest so I settled for practicality, but I too about a year and a half ago was 23, out of college and working for 18K while living with my aunt. I got a degree in Journalism and minored in Econ but in the back of my mind, I had the "if my useless degree doesn't get me anywhere, I will go for a Masters in something more practical."

I think at this point you are going to have to be less picky about roommates and a place you want. I find it hard to believe there are no options. There should be tons of ads on craigslist for roommates.

Also, if you are debt free, how bad can your credit be? Perhaps Texas is different, but here in FL while they do check your credit, there are places that don't place a high importance on it. Nonetheless, my credit score has almost always been over 700 so I am not reliable here. However, I know people with even no credit scores who have gotten apartments here.

If I were in your position, I would get a bachelors. The only exception for me here is if you are in a job with future prospects where you can easily move for a better salary.

I genuinely have no role models as I tend to often admire the positions that people not necessarily the people themselves. I build my goals on what I want to see in my future self.


Personally, I'm not a fan of the RV idea on the basis that you are stuck with it. I'm a person who likes the ability to be able to easily pack up and go which is why I like being a roommate in someone else's house.

Spiffy

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 166
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2017, 09:21:45 AM »
Can you live in the office until you scope out the town and meet people and find a place? I live not all that far from Corsicana. You should be able to find a really cheap place.

Vindicated

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1109
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Indianapolis
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2017, 11:04:37 AM »
Welcome to the forums, S!

I too am the first of my family to really do much.  Neither parent, nor my older Brother, graduated High School even.  They're great parents, but didn't offer much more than an example of how I didn't want to live when I grew up.  They're doing better now, and have been fantastic grandparents for my Son.

I've worked in sales, and it's all about relationships.  Great news for the introverted, all you have to do is listen to people!  Find their pain, and solve the pain point.  They'll keep coming back.  Check out LinkedIn groups for Business Development.  There are a lot of good articles to read.  I struggled a lot with reaching out to strangers.  You'll get ignored over and over.  Just keep following up politely.  If they aren't answering their phone, call the main number, and ask to be directed to the person.  If you don't know who the right person is to talk to, look up the company on LinkedIn, and find the right contacts.

Without knowing more about your job than what you've shared, you seem terribly underpaid for the work you're doing, regardless of what degree you hold.  How long have you been there?  Make sure your LinkedIn is updated and polished, and opportunities may find you.  You may have to leave that rural city, but I guess that's not a problem if you know no one.

I haven't had experience looking for roommates in a city where I knew no one, so I can't help you much there.  Any AirBnB listings there?  Maybe contact that person and ask about full-time renting.

I definitely recommend getting a business degree.  The MBA probably isn't necessary at this point for you.  I have several friends with business degrees that have gotten to leadership positions without MBAs.  Not to say they're not valuable, but not something to worry about until you're more established IMO.

I look forward to seeing your progress!

start_at_the_beginning

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 32
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2017, 11:42:24 AM »
Posting to follow  :)
(as someone who is a couple  of years behind you and could stand to listen in to advice!)

ColorfulS

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2017, 07:28:57 PM »
@Mozar

I really adore doing what I do. I love the detailed, technical aspects of making sure things run smoothly as well as the freedom to prioritize and work the hours I need at a pace I like to make everything come together. I am aware that I'm being horrendously under-paid but as I've only been with the company 4 months and have already been given two raises with the chance to earn bonuses each quarter- well, it's a safe bet I'll be making a little bit more in the future. I'm not entirely sure I've got the gumption to run my own business or even that business is really what I like. It's full of a lot of sharks, con-men, sociopaths, addicts, thrill-seekers, and just plain assholes. I actually like the blue collar parts of my job. They keep my head out of the clouds and my eyes on the prize. I've always been more of a right-hand man sort of person anyway. I don't like limelight or unnecessary attention as there's a lot of other things I'd rather be doing.

@Rimu05
There are no AirBnb's or Craigslist postings for my area that would be worth it with the commute from where they are located. Driving an hour and a half to get to work for a room I'm paying $650 for seems more than ridiculous. I recently acquired a credit card and was shocked to see how high my credit score was. But with my income being so low no one will agree to let me rent. In Texas your monthly income must be three times the rent which with my current finances isn't doable. Also, like I said, I've been homeless before. I hated it. I want plumbing and a fridge and clean sheets. Sure being stuck with an RV isn't optimal, but it can be spiffed up and sold again while paying it off further builds my credit. As for the positions, it's hard to model yourself after something you've never heard of. I didn't even know that Technical Director was a job title until I was promoted. Remember, not in higher echelons of education yet. And also, I can't separate people from what they do as it is a fairly good indicator of who you are as a person and what you like and even sometimes what your upbringing was. I'll never have a pedigree and people will and do hold it against me.

@Spiffy
Oh gosh! Someone close! Can you give me any tips on where to look for places? The time of year has lot to do with why I can't find someplace, but surely you might have heard of something I haven't? I've tried looking for Navarro College students who need a roommate, little old ladies who need a housekeeper, rooms for rent in trailer parks, etc. But I'm really not having any luck. Are there sites or boards in local towns I should be looking at?


Hargrove

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 718
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2017, 10:26:50 PM »
It's hard to pick through all these pieces to find the advice you really need. You mention scraping up courage and indecision about a degree, but linked a profile describing "decisive and imaginative" and "radiating self-confidence." Your description of the job as "impressive" is confusing. This job doesn't even pay for many Mustachian retirements (with no housing bill). The CEO of EverythingAwesomeCorp™ may do really cool things, but he does not have a cool job if he's paid $1 to do it. You mention not wanting emotional stress, but you work (I'm guessing) well over 40 hours with titles that seem to include interfacing with... well, everyone, and you would make more if you translated the time into any minimum-wage job. You included having a "polyglot polymath mind," which explains linguistics, which you're right, is a job hole, but what about polymath? You could do anything in STEM.

I know a bit about education, and I'm guessing part of the allure of the towers for you are their resemblance to a meritocracy. What you do has value, people recognize it, you do it well, your grades reflect a job well done, everyone wins. That's not enough to not also go broke.

If I'm on the right track, it's time for you to have an honest conversation with yourself about your income. Not just your current income - your willingness to get an income. Schmoozing is absolutely necessary, and you may hate to hear that, but it's absolutely necessary. You should come to peace with that, not by being disingenuous, but by acknowledging that business relationships and outreach may not be awful things. They show that you value a contact's contribution to your shared prosperity - they're not subversive and manipulative unless you don't really value that contribution. This is a conversation I had with myself around age 24 or 25. "There's a game here where the ante is propriety and face, and the rewards are shared prosperity, and I was invited to play, and I'm going to."

Determine whether you need to love your job to be happy, or if you can be happy with what your job allows you to do when you're not working. This isn't an ethical decision, so don't make it one. It's what will be healthiest for you and make the most use of your talents.

IF YOU DO NOT NEED TO LOVE YOUR JOB:
If you have demonstrable skills that you can take a job as a junior (whatever) for less pay than someone with the BA/MA for the job, you may be able to get one, but would probably start close to your pay ceiling. You could then get experience, pay rent, and go to school to be eligible for promotions there.

Alternatively, you could go back to school first, but ONLY IF YOU HAVE A CLEAR OBJECTIVE. Your questions are "how many openings in this field are there, is it expected to grow or shrink, can I enjoy doing this once it's also a job, is the pay enough to justify the debt, can I minimize the debt with internships/scholarships/low-income aid?" Get a job at Starbucks and you could get a free, quick degree in a field you already use your skills in and overcome the "I don't have a pedigree" doubts/obstacles.

IF YOU NEED TO LOVE YOUR JOB:
You need to determine how your talents are lucrative and apply yourself to understanding what fields, where, in what specific ways. A degree could help, but not in all cases. A linguistic degree is completely useless without an objective - in fact, any degree is completely useless without an objective. It's like a prestigious ID card that unlocks doors - it's completely nuts to spend 40k plus for one of these shiny things if you have no door in mind to swipe it on. Gone are the days when a university education was good for its own sake - I won't pay 40k-100k for vitamins just because they're good for their own sake.

As for language and writing, writers can write whenever they want. I'm writing right now. Most value society gets out of the written word anymore has no barrier to entry - all a degree does is force you to practice. Your questions are "how many openings in this field are there, is it expected to grow or shrink, can I enjoy doing this once it's also a job, is the pay enough to justify the debt, can I minimize the debt with internships/scholarships/low-income aid, and do I love this job?"

Architectural drafting, blueprinting, or engineering for a company like yours for $$$$$
Chemical engineering especially
Computer Science (from programming to systems administration or server administration) for 35-75k+
Quality control (in manufacturing, many of these jobs are boring and technical to most people and don't require a degree, paying something like 30-40k)
Teaching in China for 30k with just a BA in English (or translating Mandarin for businesses - really, if you want language, leaving the US offers plenty of jobs in English and translation)

If you need to love your job without a degree, consider tech certificates, manufacturing, or lighter degrees or certs in recession-proof fields like for medical techs/phlebotomy.

Your specific questions:

1) Role models....

Get a job that actually pays the bills, then satisfy your itch with an internship. You don't need to be in school to ask for one. Or interview. It can be stressful but it's not that hard to ask relative strangers if they could spare a minute for a quick interview about their jobs. Tell them you're going back to school and you want to make sure you go into (whatever) with an open mind and a clear sense of what it entails. Maybe not quick and easy for an introvert, but helpful.

2) Have home...

Forgive yourself. Stop boxing yourself into the area you're in in Texas. Your job is not remotely worth staying in your location for. It's surely not worth going homeless for. You really have to look at your objectives (like "don't become homeless"), look at your job, and ask if it fits that criteria. If it doesn't, it's not working for you. Move on. You're not "underpaid." You're not "fabulously underpaid." You're on a debt train to homeless town and you're not jumping off - it's time. Right now right now.

3) Should I go for a Bachelor's? I have a pretty high aptitude for a lot of things...

Don't do this at all ever under any circumstances if you're just kicking the can down the road. Aptitude is great, but you have to pick a specific thing, as in field, but even better, specific job(s), like 3 or 4, in that field. Then pursue them. Relentlessly. You're paying too much to have vague aims and a general sense you may get some job somewhere. Focus and drive help reveal even things you would not have thought of while you're searching. The only exception is ONE year of general at a university with the feverish aim of discovering ASAP what your specific field will be.

TL;DR:

1) Stop dedicating your future homeless self to a terrible-paying job unless you have a clear sense of how to use the experience there on a resume to get to the next job
2) Fix your immediate situation by getting a part-time job and immediately listing your income as your annual combined from both jobs.
3) Leave the area if there is literally no one who needs a roommate and you can't afford the housing (your job isn't tying you down!)
4) Forgive yourself for not having the job you need, get the job you need, then look for the job you want
5) Only go to school if you have a clear plan of what you're going to do there, how it will work out for you ultimately, and then get a job anyway, because you can't dorm 100% of the year

ColorfulS

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2017, 05:10:04 PM »
@Hargrove

Decisive and imaginative? I don't see it, but it's possible. I'm confused as to how you got 'confidence' out of this mess. I'm well-spoken, but that's about it on the confidence front. I'm painfully aware that meritocracy is a made-up word for something that doesn't exist. 

I work at a job where I make 3x the annual income of any part time jobs in this area. I got the interview for this job on the recommendation of someone I volunteered with who did not tell me they recommended me. The job I have has got to be a bigger springboard because there's not much for other opportunities. Don't have family I can shack up with should things go pear-shaped. Have no safety nets other than my resources.

So yes, I am trying to figure out how to get me in the door to something better. That's what I need help with more than anything else. I have been repeatedly turned down for junior positions due to my work history which is mainly retail and spotty due to homelessness. That's a bombshell I try to avoid at all costs because of the stigma or assumption of a mental instability or addiction. So I have to stay here to get experience that will make that go away. I don't however even have a working knowledge of junior positions nor fields and what the day to day would detail. Thus, the need for role models or even asking people what they do and what it entails.

I can't do upper level math. I got to about Algebra 2 before everything stopped making sense- so going into STEM might not be possible for me. My spatial awareness is pretty sharp, not enough to truly excel as an architect- but it does make me a damn fine mechanic. I have an excellent memory, but not one I'd comfortably market. I'm teaching myself coding on Code Academy in my spare time but it's not as much fun as the time I spend on Duolingo imo.

I know that making sense of math guarantees large salaries and also that if you can't do that getting people to like you makes you large salaries. I suck at both of those things. Propriety and face mean working knowledge of social norms which I really don't have. I won't wear my pajamas to the grocery store but have no idea how to make small talk. My interests that I can share with people are pretty limited as my appreciation for 19th century silverware has yet to win me any friends. I can't imagine you regaling your associates with descriptions of an inlay on an ice cream hatchet from France, so I tend to not share my passions. Shared prosperity means I have to be able to contribute something to someone which other than my time, I can't do much on that front. It's hard to like someone if you can't relate to them on any level and I'm just too marginal to be super relatable. I am working on it, but it's a slow arduous process with very little reward thus far.  I'd rather listen to someone be excited about something and ask them to talk about it and hope I can find something I like about it too.

All that being said, I appreciate you engaging with me so thoughtfully. What do you do? How did you get there? What are you interested in? How did you end up here on the Mustachian forums? 

Hargrove

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 718
Re: 20 Something in Need of Career/Life Advice - Corsicana, TX
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2017, 06:17:26 PM »
Quote
Decisive and imaginative? I don't see it, but it's possible. I'm confused as to how you got 'confidence' out of this mess.

Well, a lot of what you said came across as social anxiety, but you said INTJ described you "to a T," so I went in that direction. https://www.16personalities.com/intj-personality. Other than that, I went towards math because you said you had a polymath mind.

It sounds like you are in everything from sales and marketing to customer service and so forth at your company. "Schmoozing" is as simple in some contexts as being nice to a mean customer - it sounds like you're already doing this, in at least some capacity. Shared prosperity in business relationships really just means approaching social situations with a "this is going to be great for both of us" attitude. Your current job can, at least, parlay into a TON of job skills for various other jobs in customer service, entry level sales (but that sounds like a bad fit), other retail, warehouse work, or manufacturing, perhaps even office management?

Focus on the job you need right now. Again, a simple stint at a Starbucks would pay better than minimum wage, get you college options with funding, and offer you a better situation than it sounds like this job is offering you, and a retail background could get you the job. I'm willing to take you at your word when you say this is all you can get where you are. My guess is then that it would be better for you to be somewhere else. If you don't have many things to move, moving is as easy as finding a job in the next town over and saving for a couple months for a down (so you can survive waiting for your current down payment to be returned to you). If you're going to use your current job as a springboard, you need to either sell as much of your stuff as you can to make it to a raise or a side hustle, or else find a better job. There's no real way around it if you can't find a place to live at your pay.

Get used to hounding better jobs. Hiring managers (I've been one more than once) get more applications than most read these days, from people who were forced by Mom to apply and submit woefully incomplete resumes with no relevant history at all, spelling mistakes, etc. Then they don't follow up. Hiriing managers would strongly prefer candidates who actually want to work. You can give that impression by doing the following:
1) Apply. Make sure that resume is cleaned up. Leave out jobs you were at for under 6 months if you can.
2) Call and ask to talk to a hiring manager. Get a name. Introduce yourself, say you applied, ask if there might be openings now or soon.
3) Go in person after a week, and ask for the name you got. Say hi, just following up on my application about opportunities with your company, and hoped to put a face to the name. It's nice meeting you, hope to hear from you soon. Dress business casual for this if possible.
4) Call again a week later. Same drill.

I work in sales. It's hard to work in sales when you dislike sales attitudes and environments. I hate what salespeople are expected to do. I actually do very well because I do NOT do the unsavory stuff (I typically shield my customers from it), I have a very high technical knowledge, and my customers appreciate what I do for them. It's terrible hours, tons of driving, and pay good enough to imagine getting out. I got it from another accidental job that I springboarded from, because I got a degree that's not worth any money. I'm interested in language, philosophy, history, writing, gaming, and I got here because of my interest in unhinging myself from the threat of work-or-ruin.