Dream Job

Well this topic is getting a lot of attention!  How about this – how many of you have re-invented yourself mid-life?  Why?  What worked, what didn’t?  Are you happier in your new job?

Some one asked what I would like to do. I don’t have a good answer.  I can’t just say I’d like to be a ______________ (fill in the blank).  It’s easier to define what I don’t want to do (mindless rote work for example).  Ideally I’d like to use my skills – which self reflection, a variety of aptitude tests and several friends tell me are intelligence, writing, editing, researching, common sense, a sense of humor, problem solving abilities, an interest in continuing to learn and empathy – to make a difference in other people’s lives.  I’d like my work to contribute in some way – beyond putting food on my family’s table. 

I guess it’s possible that ANY job could provide the opportunity to do that – a great mechanic, bartender, hair dresser, house cleaner, shoe salesperson, absolutely could make a difference in people’s lives.  And I have no doubt that whatever job I get I will try to make a difference in the lives of the people I interact with be they clients or co-workers because that’s the way I live my life.  But it would be nice to have a job that was actually intended to help people in some way.

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30 Responses to Dream Job

  1. Belinda Gomez says:

    I think the biggest problem is location. Undocumented workers will work cheaper than Boxcar Mom at any job–house cleaning, picking strawberries, whatever. In SoCal, unless you speak both English and Spanish, you have trouble getting any gov’t job.

  2. docdave says:

    I did not know what my dream job was when I go the one I now have, but I knew what I didn’t want to deal with if I ever found work in my field again. I am not sure that I found my current job;it sort of found me, when I was temping (part-time archivist and CRM editor-for hire) and looking hard but in all the wrong professional neighborhoods.

    What made it possible for me to find my job? Geographical change and a sense of humor about how to fit my professional skills to a not-standard-issue job. The first put me into a locale where there were jobs to be had; the second let me come gracefully down from the saddle of a high academic horse and helped me deal with the challenges of the job I was offered.

    I think that you may have no problem with the second, but the first is probably related to your present employment prospects. I can’t claim any first-hand knowledge of current hiring trends out in your part of the Left Coast, but what my friends from there tell me does not inspire much hope.

    Where are things better? I’d point to central Arkansas or, if the prospect of Arkansas is too rurally daunting, maybe the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Why these areas? Mild climate, community amenities (AKA free or cheap), adequate schools, cultural diversity and (at least in the case of Arkansas), a local economy that is slow both to boom or to plunge.

    My wife and I had used up too many options by the time we arrived here, just on a decade ago. We did not expect to stay (northern plains folks don’t summer gracefully this far south) but those jobs found us, and so we stuck. Had we stayed where we’d been, physically and occupationally, we would still be scraping along, but not liking it. Our friends wonder at our being able to get along in a southern city (assumptions about racial and religious bigotry, political nastiness, corruption, bad schools, lack of culture and surfeits of cockroaches all factor into this…the bit about the bugs is true enough!) but we have found much more good than bad in our new, far-from-the-plains home and are glad that we took the gamble. Here’s hoping that one of yours finally pays off in a way that you need it to!

  3. Amy says:

    I would not, under any circumstance, consider teaching at the college level. There are simply no jobs. Competition even just to be an adjunct with no benefits, being paid a couple thousand dollars per course, is fierce. At my University of California campus, adjuncts or lecturers are paid worse than graduate student teaching assistants. You might consider a Ph.D. if it offers you funding — many will pay you $15-20k per year to live off of. But don’t do a Ph.D. for increased job opportunities, because those likely won’t materialize, especially if you are not in a quantitative field. Even in my quantitative field, you are lucky to get one job offer, and it could be anywhere in the country or abroad (one woman is moving to China). It would pay the bills in the end, but it’s not worth the 6-7 year time commitment, especially when you will end up with no control over where you teach.

  4. Jeannette says:

    Just adding my two cents, as Becky’s mom, I am so blessed, I hired her to clean my house once a month and it is pure heaven.. I was a single parent for years and I’ve always wanted to have this one small luxury…I am willing to give up one meal a week just so I can have this,, and peanut butter goes a long way, ha ha.. Okay I know I hijacked the post

    I was watching something on either cbs or nbc last night about this very situation, that jobs are not available at pay scales that will substain a family. You cannot support a family on $8 per hour but it is a start.
    I do hope whatever job you take it is only a stepping stone for the next journey of your life. And I do believe you will have a next journey, your smart, have intelect (sp?) and can format sentences.
    And as I’ve said before I will continue reading your posts as I enjoy following along, But you might have to take something that isn’t as enjoyable until the right position comes along

  5. Suzie says:

    You might find opportunities with the water agencies in California. One place to look would be Brown and Caldwell’s Waternews Page. There is always a jobs link-with a wide variety of skills the agencies are looking for. But they need all kinds of evironmental officers, public education officers, researchers-etc. Might be worth looking into.

    Oh, and yes, it is possible to re-invent yourself. I was a stay at home Mother for 18 years-and now find myself with a career….which I would have never imagined.

    Good luck!

  6. I enjoy your blog because you are real. You give us your thoughts even if we may not all agree. And while some of us may have done things different, I can appreciate your honesty and openness.

    I know others have said it before, but my advice is to move from California. I know you have reasons for not wanting to but I truly believe you will never get financially ahead staying where you are, even with a career change. Someone once mentioned the midwest (you have family there, right?) as rent there for a nice apartment is less than you are paying now for your trailer’s parking spot. I recall you saying that your trailer couldn’t handle the winters… but could you not do a short term lease somewhere for the winters and then live the summers in the trailer? Just a thought. If you moved near family they could help with childcare and give you a support system. And while friends are important, you seem like the type who could make friends anywhere you go!

    As for career options – I see you teaching or writing or working in the health care field somehow. You seem smart and helpful and could do well in any of those professions. A friend was off work (in the IT field) for several years… finally gave up and enrolled in a course for medical billing. It is a year of intense study, but in the end it should give her steady 9-5 employment. Also, step up the monitization of the blog and ‘market’ it more… you can make a nice bit of extra money blogging.

    Good luck! I think the next few months will bring some exciting things your way.

  7. Sara says:

    You might want to look at Human Services classes at the community college. Here in NY there are a lot of agencies that have positions called service coordinators and program coordinators. These are jobs where you would be coordinating services for a people who are disabled and on Medicaid. Since you already have a college education you might just need some coursework to get you qualifications. It’s a job where you need to be good at paperwork, detail oriented and wanting to help people which all sound true for you. I don’t know how things work in your state, but I expect they have something equivalent. Perhaps you can check with the HR department of a non profit agency that provides services to the developmentally disabled. They could give you information on these types of jobs.

    Also, if you’re good at computers you might want to look at some of the community college programs for that. Networking can be a good field. Many community colleges have a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program. It does take 2 years but is a well respected certification. You would probably be able to work for other certifications too, like A+.

    Good luck!!! I really hope something turns up for you soon, I know how hard you’re trying to rebuild things.

  8. When I could not find substantial employment from 2003-2010, I substituted. Many people with no idea of what a professional job search entailed excoriated me for not “going out there everyday, driving to businesses, and knocking on doors.” They said to go to principals and demand to talk with them. Well, people who know nothing of the job search by a professional think we are doing nothing. We are/were.

    The first thing to do is contact friends in the same professions or types of jobs you might be qualified to do. I think she has done that. Networking only works for so long. People leave jobs and people forget about you and dismiss you and your long job search.

    At first, the unemployed professional believes that a job she applies for will pan out, at least one of the hundreds of resumes will pay off. Low-paying work or low-status work is not even considered because, after all, she has these credentials and work history that is beyond reproach. Plus, the education will surely net something.

    She has to consider child-care on days a child is home. Can she afford to miss work to stay home with the child? Should she go in the hole and get someone, if she can, to sit with an ill child. Gas to a low-paying job may be more or almost the same as the job pays. Would you work all day long for $1/hr? I won’t. Oh, if you figure in car maintenance, there goes your $1.

    It is harder for a professional to find a job than someone who has worked for hourly wages in a low-status position. Education can be a liability. A very few people understood my position and how hard I worked to find a job. Sometimes low-paying jobs also need a certain skill set that many professionals don’t have. People assume a professional willing to work for minimum wage or a bit higher will be off to the next professional job offered.

    I never feel sorry for the children and angry at the mother. She is doing the best she can. Yes, I had good friends tell me to my face that I was not trying hard enough or, smart as I was, I would be employed. It hurts.

    Yes, she replaced the flooring in the bathroom, but can she sustain the level of stamina needed to work at some of these low-paying jobs? She is not 22 yrs old. I cannot. I could not when I first lost my job.

    Education on some level seems to be the best position without more or minimal schooling. People suggested more schooling for me. I did learn new skills and took free courses at Career Center. But, I will not start in a different educational direction not knowing the jobs will be there when I finish. Like I said, the PhD is all I have the mental grit to achieve.

    It seems this family has burdens enough without people jumping on her, people who may not even see anything except for the fact that she has no job and cannot seem to find one.

    This post is not edited, so beware what you find in the way of mistakes.

    • Becky R says:

      I don’t think at all that Boxcar is not looking, I just want her to realize being on unemployment has given her more options than many people ever had and eventually she will not have that option.

      I, too am a single mom with 2 kids (both special needs.) I am 31 and work very hard to pay all my bills. It is only because of God. I even bought a house in 2009.

  9. Lisa M. says:

    I’m wondering how much of your identity is tied to what you are doing for employment? I would try and dissociate your identity and your employment, if possible, because the association is not particularly helpful (not at this point, anyway).

    I really like the cleaning idea. It would allow a LOT of flexibility, in terms of child care, allowing time for freelance writing assignments, and you could increase or decrease your hours as needed (provided there is enough demand to support increased hours).

    Why not post an ad on craigslist and see if you get any bites?

    • boxcarkids says:

      I guess I should say that I have considered the cleaning option and some time ago talked it over with a couple of friends. They dissuaded me. They made these points: 1. I would need to be bonded and insured as no one (here anyway) hires a housecleaner who isn’t and that costs money. I don’t know if that is true as there are a lot of ads on craigslist but they both use an established service with bonded and insured employees. 2. There’s a safety issue – not too long ago a man was arrested for assaulting women whom he had hired to clean his house. He found them on craigslist by the way. 3. Gas is expensive (now around $4 a gallon) and my transportation is unreliable. 4. And this is the one that got me – they said they’d seen my house and wouldn’t hire me to clean theirs! It’s true that I have a high tolerance for dirt and disorder which, while useful when raising 4 children, is not a quality one looks for in a house cleaner. So, no I didn’t consider it beneath me.
      In addition I want to say that many of you seem to think I’m sitting around waiting for a job to come to me. I don’t detail all the many and varied jobs I apply for – its boring reading and discouraging as well. But I’m applying for jobs almost daily. In fact I applied for another one yesterday! Wish me luck 🙂

      • Tiffany says:

        If housecleaners require bonding and insurance, how about branding yourself as something unique and different? What about being car clutter clean up expert instead? You could charge people a flat fee to come and clean all the junk out of their cars, you know stuff like fast food bags, empty drink bottles, old newspapers, etc.

        Also, the skills to clean a house are easy to learn. As long as a person has common sense, it will be easy to learn house cleaning skills. My friend with the gutter business had never cleaned a gutter before he was hired for his first job. The book he borrowed for free from the local library gave him all the info he needed. Insurance is needed for his business, but it’s pretty inexpensive if paid in monthly installments. You can Google it for more info, lots of websites will give you a free quote.

        I agree that posting ads on craigslist can be a bad idea. You could consider making contacts for cleaning jobs through your children’s school. I bet most parents would be happy to hire an out of work mom and they might feel safer doing so too.

      • Becky R says:

        I got all my clients from friends or they are people I know. So so far I have no safety concerns.

        I also do not have the cleanest house (as we live and home school here) but every house I clean looks awesome when I leave. All my clients are very pleased, and some of them have been to my house.

        Basic insurance is relatively inexspensive.

        I also have an unreliable car (a 1998.) I take jobs that are within 30 min. of my house.

        I am sure you want to work and are searching. I know when you blog you are putting yourself out there and we don’t see everything.

        I don’t understand having a career and needing to stay in that, so in that regards we are different.

        I hope that you could get a great job and get back to where you were before or even in a better place.

        It seems like you feel a cleaning business is not for you. That is of course ok. My main point with previous comment was I think being on unemployment is giving you more options. But soon that will be gone.

      • Lisa M. says:

        Hi again, I just wanted to say that I don’t think you’re sitting around doing nothing. I was hoping that the conversation on here would help give you some strength and hopefully some new ideas. 🙂

        I hadn’t thought of the bonding issue. It looks like the cost of getting bonded in CA is 1-3% of the bond amount ($10,000 bond requires $100-$300 purchase), but they will charge more if one’s credit history has negative marks. (info from suretybonds.com)

        Offer to list people’s extra stuff on ebay? With a flat fee for listing and a commission if the item sells? You would also have to handle the actual processing of the item though (and not count on the owner to do it expeditiously).

  10. zelda says:

    Okay, I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon, but I have to agree with Becky. When my children were very young, I worked nights at a local hospital. While they slept, my babysitter was there with them; when I cam home, I showered, dressed, and took them to school and I went to a local university where I worked on getting my BSN. My afternoon and evenings were sleeping a little, cleaning a lot, and spending time with my kids. And, if you read my other post, I had to do that all over again. I, too, think you dismiss employment opportunity on the grounds that it is beneath you. If my children, who, by the way are adults, need help, I would wait tables to give them that help. I don’t think you have that same sense of urgency to find any work as others have. Maybe your employment benefits are enough for you, but I have to wonder what messages you are sending your children: living off the system as long as we can; living in a travel trailer because we are living off the system as long as we can; it’s okay to live cramped and stressed because I am not going to do just anything. I have been reading your blog less and less because I find you not so motivating and I usually leave here feeling so sorry for your children and so angry at you. YOU NEED TO GET OVER YOUR PAST AND SUPPORT YOUR CHILDREN. That is all.

  11. zelda says:

    I was a nurse until a drunk driver ended that career. Left with a permanent disability, I had no option but to give up nursing and pursue another career. I went back to school, got a BA in English, an MA in Comparative lIterature Cultural Studies, and now I am finishing up my PhD in English with an emphasis in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy. I started back to school in 2004; I was 49. Was I any different than the other students? Yes. They went to Mexico and got a tan for spring break; I went to the hosptial and had a scheudled complete hysterectomy. When I was finishing my MA, my fellow classmates were drinking wine and using recreational drugs, and I was mainlining chemotherapy. I could go on forever at the differences in their lives and my life; however, the end result is that I am seeing the benefits of my hard work. True, I am now 56, but I am published over and over and when I finish my dissertation, I will have a good chance of getting hired. Right now, I teach as an adjunct at one university, teach two classes at the University in which I am working on my PhD, and I am a writing consultant for one of the top ranking Business schools. So, yep, it’s working for me. I had to work at it and still do, but yeah, totally worth it.

  12. Tiffany says:

    When trying to find employment or a source of income what worked best was concentrating not on myself (“dream job”), but on what others needed done. You’ve got to find a need and fill it. Very few people start in their dream job straight off. Usually a dream job develops over time as a person works hard filling the needs of others.

    Try to think about tasks that people in your community don’t have skills, time, or desire to do themselves. Figure out if any of these tasks are something you could do. The great thing about this method is that it requires very little education (and therefore no expensive student loans). One of my friends started a gutter cleaning business. Seeing a need in his community, he got a book from the library on gutter cleaning and started offering his services door to door. Today he hires 3 people to help him clean gutters and is well respected in our town for his honest and helpful work.

    Any job that pays you money is a job that is helpful to others. After all, they wouldn’t pay you unless you were being helpful, right? 🙂

  13. Linda P. says:

    If you’ve taught college-level courses, have you considered applying for educational writing jobs? Developers need writers who can prepare items for test prep programs, assessments, and that sort of thing. As a professional writer for several decades, I can tell you that few writers support themselves solely through their writing, but those who do are often educational writers. You would have to be savvy about asking for payment within a certain period of time, as developers are often slow to pay. You have to begin canvassing for your next jobs before you’ve finished a current one. It sometimes takes a while to build up clientele, but diligence can provide you with a career that can be accomplished from home. Drawbacks include stress-inducing tight deadlines, sometimes having to battle for your pay, the necessity to canvass the cyberworld for your next jobs, and occasionally dealing with difficult editors.

  14. At sixteen I determined I would have a PhD by 30. I went to school for two years, married, had a baby, then another, and then another. I went to school over his objections. But, he thwarted my efforts, eventually did not want me to work. We divorced because of his violence, his molesting my daughter, and because of his put downs of all of us. He swore he would get even. Even though I had never been fired from jobs I had through the years, he called and plotted until I was losing jobs right and left. I started doing craft shows.

    When my father died, I came face to face with my mortality and started back to school. I knew time was slipping away. I was 43. I went to school for 8 years with one year off…mental health year. I earned two BAs, completed all 30 hours for MA in English but did not take the comps, completed MA in Ed, and have a valid teaching certificate. I taught GED and had jobs that required me to have the education degree even though much of my work was curriculum writing.

    I don’t know if I reinvented my self or if I just got back on track. At any rate, I suffered several injuries that left me with disabilities and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

    Soon, I will be 65, but I have not given up on the notion of getting the PhD….in reading.

    I don’t think you think cleaning is too low class for you. But, there is such a thing as holding on to every bit of professionalism you can in order not to lose an edge. I understand.

    However, I have a very wealthy friend who started a cleaning company, teaching others how to clean for the wealthy, what they expect and had to comport oneself. You can always start a cleaning company, an idea that really brings in money and provides others with a quality service and the employees with jobs. The business does not have to be cleaning….anything.

    Have you applied for adjunct professor jobs anywhere? All you need in most places is 18 graduate hours in anything, not even in the field in which you wish to teach.

    Schmooze with people at the local junior college. Somehow, get their attention.

  15. Kate says:

    How about Social Worker? Seems like it would hit a lot of your aptitudes and desires- problem-solving, helping people, common sense, continued learning…

  16. Lynda says:

    I too agree with Maria and Becky. I have read your blog for awhile. I was surprised that you have been unable to find a job…but after your last post I learned there are things you won’t do and that’s too bad. I would take any job just to get myself *out there*…anything is better than waiting for something to drop into my lap.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Another potentially useful question to ask yourself is: What do people need doing, and how can I can help them with that?

    Modern life involves an excessive amount of bureaucracy and a> not everyone is skilled at dealing with this and b> at stressful points in people’s lives (birth, death, hospitalization etc) they’re not capable of dealing with it. I’ve always thought a person could build a successful career out of negotiating with insurance companies on other people’s behalf! or, these days, with foreclosures.

    • Jennifer says:

      PS Just got the local community college catalog in the mail. There is a class called “Getting the most out of your iPad” and there are classes that teach a person to play bridge or mah johgg … I’m sure it doesn’t pay very much and it’s not a long-term strategy but if you think you’d like to teach, this would be one way to get experience and/or start networking. Alternatively … could you teach a class at a senior center?

      There is I think a larger discussion in here about how some jobs actually dig a person further into the debt hole — for example if one needed to pay daycare + car insurance etc. — and whether it’s better to hold out for a rare but higher paying job.

  18. Maria says:

    With some hesitation I have to say I agree with Becky R. I read your blog regularly and must confess to a fair amount of surprise at how long it has taken you to “get serious” about finding a job–any job. I also do not understand why you dismiss house cleaning. Lots of people make very nice money cleaning up after others and, as someone else pointed out, you can do this job during the day while your kids are in school. As I understand it, you have four small children to support, no husband and no extended family to rely on. Those facts, standing alone, scream “major emergency” and I am truly puzzled by what seems to be your odd, almost low key reaction. As Becky R. points out, she does not enjoy cleaning; however, she does it to keep food on the table and survive. As far as I know, it is not written anywhere that a job has to be exciting or fulfilling. Do something now and then make a move to the next, better thing as soon as a good opportunity presents itself. When does your unemployment run out in California? I hope you have embarked on a serious effort to find employment–any job–well before your benefits are cut off. You are a great mom in so many ways–finding a concrete way to bring in cash is part of what you need to do ASAP.

  19. >writing, editing, researching,

    Alternative newspaper or magazine? The Nation, Mother Jones, etc…

    Probably not hiring, worth looking into?

    Becky, you raise a good point. Even if BoxCarMom doesn’t look down on lower paying jobs, our culture does. I heard (on KPFA most likely) about a good book that talks about the complex thinking that goes into lots of working class jobs. Sorry I’m not remembering the title. I’d like to read it.

  20. Linda says:

    I changed careers when I was in my mid-40’s. I was unemployed and interviewing for a temporary job in my field. During the interview, somehow it came up that in another life, I’d like to be xyz which is an off-shoot of my old career, utilitizing the skills but in a different way. They hired me for the temp job, then found a way to keep me around for another six months because they knew they needed an xyz when a project got funded. I worked on the implementation project, then was hired to manage the group that now keeps things going. I love it. I’m not sure I’d still be loving the original line of work, but this is perfect for me.

  21. Ted says:

    Whatever it is, I am sure you will be amazing. I vote for nursing mainly because I had a few friends do the same. Went through school- couldn’t find a job. Got a nursing degree and now work regular hours with good pay.

    Ever thought about going back to school and getting a PhD? Many schools give around a grand a month. I see you as a professor.

  22. Becky R says:

    I am a single mom myself, but have never recieved unemployment as I have been self employed since I was 18 (when I had my 1st son.) I was a nanny, then had a childcare in my home, and now clean houses and offices.

    I feel like because you have unemployment you are not willing to just do anything. Many of us do not have that oppurtunity.

    My dream job is not cleaning toilets, that being said I am grateful God is allowing me work at all.

    I live in NJ where rents and cost of living are very high. So I struggle paying each and every bill.

    I enjoy reading your blog and empathize with your situation, just feel like you also may look down on those doing lower paying jobs.

    Yes, you are a very smart woman, but so am I. I made bad choices in having a child so young (as I am sure you have made bad choices as well.) Now, I do what I do for my kids.

    I wish you well.

  23. s says:

    Have you tried submitting column-type articles to local newspapers or websites?

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