Author Topic: Should I Change Careers ??  (Read 1849 times)

mattmando

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Should I Change Careers ??
« on: May 23, 2017, 05:47:07 AM »
I'd like to ask for your advice on whether or not I should change career paths.

I am currently a Production Manager making commercials in Los Angeles.  The dream was always to make films and now five years into the business I have had a chance to work on a wide range of projects, but haven't found myself fulfilled.  Also during this time i've realized the work/life balance in film is lacking (long hours, lots of travel) and the budgets are continually shrinking.  I have concerns about the stability of the job.

I'm considering going back to grad school and pursuing urban planning, focusing on transportation planning.  There will be some exciting things happening in the coming years (potential Olympics in LA, hyperloop, autonomous vehicles) and it would be a way for me to live my values and help to fight climate change.

I've applied and gotten into USC and the program would start this fall.

I've broken down some Pros and Cons by category below:

PAY / JOB OPPORTUNITY
I'm currently a freelancer making around $85k/year (no benefits). My current role tops out at about $100k/year. I could move up to Producing which takes on more responsibility/risk and make even more. 

The new job will pay less. I would end up back at my current salary level in about 4-5 years (plus benefits.) I see there being more stability in the urban planning field, but I don't feel like there is major growth potential.  It's a short ladder in this field.

DEBT
I'm going to get married this year.  GF makes $120k/ year and is willing to support me through grad school.  Between family support, internship income and scholarships I can attend school debt free.

LIFESTYLE
I average 50 hours a week right now with some weeks exceeding 60 hours of work. 

I would expect my new job to be a standard 40 hours a week.  It would also be nice to make some new friends.  I've found myself only hanging out with people who work in the same industry.

VALUES
I ended up in my current job chasing a career in a creative field (and the ability to work with some of my friends.)  I'm stronger on the math/logistics side and quickly gravitated towards managing production.  I no longer feel like i'm following my dreams and feel somewhat stagnant in my current role.  I don't have any mentors and don't feel like i'm learning much anymore.

Like a cliché millenial I feel like I should be pursuing a job with meaning.  Transportation planning has big implications for climate change and the equality of cities and could scratch this itch.



So in conclusion, is it worth going back to school to change careers paths given these details?  Do you think I will be a happier person in the long term if I choose to make the change?  Or am I just bored and I should continue on a path to make more money?

Any and all insights are appreciated!








mozar

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Re: Should I Change Careers ??
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2017, 10:06:08 AM »
From what I've heard transportation planners aren't doing the big thinking/ public transit advovacy. They just draw up plans and check boxes.  Have you talked to any transportation planners or shadowed any? Have you researched what kind of jobs you can get?
Also, you can do things on your own. It seems like you could use your connections to make films in your spare time.

mattmando

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Re: Should I Change Careers ??
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 04:08:56 PM »
Definitely done some research on jobs, but haven't yet shadowed.  The jobs I would be considering are mostly analysis based work.  There are many jobs available in GIS (graphic information systems) and traffic modeling which I find interesting.  There are also jobs with developers as they are focused on transit oriented development. These jobs would be tweaking a development plan in order to take care address the needs of all stakeholders in a neighborhood.

You're right that there's nothing stopping me from jumping back into film when the inspiration strikes in the future to produce a documentary or perhaps as advocacy for an urban planning project.

I'm mostly concerned that I will be leaving my "fun" job for one that offers more stability, but with an added layer of bureaucracy.

ysette9

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Re: Should I Change Careers ??
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2017, 04:17:57 PM »
Is there an option C? Meaning, instead of the current job that doesn't quite give you what you want and the opportunity costs of going back to school for a job that may not give you what you want and doesn't pay any better, can you spend some hike and $ exploring other options? Perhaps hire a career coach to help you identify what would nteredt you and sign with your skills, expand your mentor network and do informational interviews, job shadow, explore other grad programs, etc. Ideally you want domethhhg that both ticked your itch for better job satisfaction and work/life balance and pays better. I don't think that is asking for too much. If it is, at least you will have crossed off all of the potential alternatives before diving into a new program at an expensive school.

Lanthiriel

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Re: Should I Change Careers ??
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2017, 05:33:38 PM »
Definitely done some research on jobs, but haven't yet shadowed.  The jobs I would be considering are mostly analysis based work.  There are many jobs available in GIS (graphic information systems) and traffic modeling which I find interesting.  There are also jobs with developers as they are focused on transit oriented development. These jobs would be tweaking a development plan in order to take care address the needs of all stakeholders in a neighborhood.

If you work for a consulting firm, where the majority of planning jobs are, you're not going to be working 40 hours/week. You're also probably going to be making about $50k/year to start, and it'll take you a good 10 years to get over six figures. Are you doing the USC program where you can get a combo degree with a Masters in Civil Engineering? That might not be possible without a STEM background, but it's a much more competitive degree.

apricity22

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Re: Should I Change Careers ??
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2017, 10:08:01 PM »
I would second the idea of considering a degree in Civil Engineering. I think it will give you more options in the employment market including those same jobs in urban planning. You might check to see how flexible they are with electives to see if you can take the urban planning classes you are interested in.

Government work can be very rewarding and usually offers a good work-life balance but it is possible to get burned out in these fields as well. You will likely run into small minded politicians who have their own ideas and don’t listen to good counsel. The pace of government can be slow and I was sometimes frustrated with how long it took to get things done.

Many developers care more about the bottom line and the bare minimum that a city will approve than a good design.