My book of job(s)

It’s absurd to compare a midlife career crossroads with the sufferings of the Bible’s most tormented man. So I won’t. 

But when have I ever been able to resist a bad pun? 

Though far from tormented, I’m feeling a decent amount of confusion around my next job – in particular, around what I would like it to be. 

My problem isn’t the recession, or being turned down for job after job. I’m not even at that point yet. My problem is that I don’t really know what I’m looking for. 

Not newspapers, but what?

I do know that I’m done with newspapers. And I don’t have the stomach for the constant marketing and insecurity that are part of being a freelance writer. But beyond that… I’m not sure. 

  • I’m not sure, at this point in my life, whether to approach job-hunting with a Long-Term Career Goal. Do I want to work my way up to the top of xxx to do yyy?  Or should I look for something that is simply fun and interesting for a while? And then find something that is also fun and interesting but totally different?  
  • I’m not sure whether to work for a business or a non-profit. I’ve always needed to feel that I’m helping make the world a little better – tikkun olam and all that. But after decades with newspapers and non-profits, I’m attracted to the idea of working for an organization that doesn’t make you buy your own pencils. And living on the edge of Silicon Valley all these years, I wonder if there is a bright, shiny cutting-edge world there that I should experience.  
  • I’m not sure what I want to do all day. I like writing. I like working with people. My ideal job would include some of each. But what does that translate into as a job title or category? There’s the broad function of “communications” within organizations. But what does that boil down to on a daily basis? And would I like it?  
  • I don’t have my heart set on any particular industry. The career-mentor folks I’ve spoken with have said, “Sure, I can give you some leads. But first decide what industry you want to focus on.” Okay, I do have an interest in renewable energy and green technologies. But beyond that – honestly, it’s more important for me to be around smart folks and do interesting, useful stuff than to be in any particular industry. 

Yikes! Too many open questions. And this is before I even approach the nattering voices of self-doubt (“English major with no skills!”) or the practical questions of how to retool my resume, present my strengths etc.

The Bible’s Job is given advice by three friends when he can’t understand why he is being hammered with so much misery. What I’m trying to do right now is talk with former reporters and other acquaintances in different kinds of jobs to see what their work life is like – informational interviews. 

Amazingly, this is the first time since graduating from college that I’ve faced such a wide-open, anything-goes career crossroads. 

For about 25 years, I was pretty well ensconced in journalism, and opportunities presented themselves. Now I’m not ensconced in anything… and I have to make my own opportunities. 

After figuring out where I want to make them.

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6 Responses to “My book of job(s)”

  1. Valerie Says:

    We should get together and brainstorm – I am similarly trying to reinvent myself somehow!

  2. Carolyn Said Says:

    I stand by my guns: You are soooooo much smarter than the average bear, and have accomplished so much in so many fields, that I totally reject the “English major with no skills” natterer! Be gone forthwith!

  3. Elliot Says:

    In your shoes, I would pursue my passion if affordable, plus get some water cooler time. Writing for strangers seems to be your main passion, and it’s a doozy. Just because you don’t have a publisher doesn’t mean you should give that up; your 2-year deadline came smack dab during the publishing industry’s identity crisis, and, really, who can say how books will be ‘published’ from here on out?

    You write that you want to write AND be with people. Fine. Keep writing – not on someone’s paycheck – and either (i) get anything with co-workers that pays enough for a few years, or (ii) if the $ is not the thing, then work with others doing something you think worthwhile. Maybe that’s a green theme, maybe community or social justice, maybe start a havurah within your temple, maybe education. Pick what will hold your interest.

    Overthinking this one won’t help. After all, “Whither wilt thou roam, Gilgamesh? The life thou seekest thou shalt not find.”

  4. Kaveh Says:

    I wish you patience and wisdom to sort through the paths, Ilana. Ah, the life of a writer… Beyond that, perhaps there’s a good headhunter out there that can connect you with some interesting options, at least along the lines that Elliot suggested, working “with others doing something you think worthwhile.”

  5. Dan Fost Says:

    Sounds like you want to work at …. Google! (Let me know – I know someone there)

    But it really sounds like you ought to read Nina Martin’s “The Reinvention Chronicles” from SF magazine: http://www.sanfranmag.com/story/the-reinvention-chronicles

    Good luck!

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