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*facepalm* Making decisions is hard and I feel like a moron. - Work in Progress [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Ge Lishan

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*facepalm* Making decisions is hard and I feel like a moron. [Oct. 5th, 2011|02:39 pm]
Ge Lishan
[Current Mood |determineddetermined and also confused]

So three not-getting-me-a-new-job interviews later, I've decided I need to take a different and additional path to getting a new job besides "ask everyone you know if they know of opportunities and network madly" and "apply for every job you come across on Craigslist" and "put your resume all of the places."

Today I sketched out a list of all of the possibilities I could think of for getting on a good career path. And I began to see part of the problem.

Those of you who've been reading my LJ for a very long time (I'm looking at you, celli) might remember how ridiculously much I falter when choosing between equally good or bad options. When I had to choose between my 2 top-choice colleges, I freaked out so much that I actually sent acceptance letters and deposits to both of them. I laugh at myself in retrospect, but all decisions like that feel so IMPORTANT to me.

Right now, my friends, I have eight possibilities of what my next step should be. EIGHT. And all of them involve some level of me not knowing what to do, which is equally terrifying to me (look I have a lot of anxieties). So I... thought I might ask you for opinions and/or help. I want to take a positive next step and not sit here being indecisive some more, but there are eight options here, and I have NO IDEA what to do. Opine? Fill in the gaps to make any of these options less unknown and scary? Laugh at me? (OK, please don't laugh at me, I'm already stressing about what to do here.)

Option 1: Figure out good places to go in China and teach English.
Pros: I can find a job doing that, and I may be able to find better work while there, and it would improve my Chinese language skills which would ALSO improve my chances of getting a job I want. Also, I know how to DO that.
Cons: I would have to leave everything behind that I've built up here, and I don't really want to teach, even if I want to work with China. Also some concerns about vegetarianism.

Option 2: Volunteer at places that can give me good China-related and/or business-analyst-related experience.
Pros: would eat up my free time and make me less bored. Could potentially get me something more valuable, including into a good business school.
Cons: No cash flow. No idea how to convince them to give me work that's interesting, or how to find volunteer work that's related to things I want to do for a living. Also, I'm not moving across the country for an internship, which limits my options further.

Another version of this: could buy an IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) membership and volunteer for the local chapter. But I would have to buy a membership *and* be pretty sure that was what I wanted to do *and* it might not do me any good.

Option 3: Figure out good business schools where I could get an MBA with a specialization in China-related things and/or IT.
Pros: I would likely not have problems finding a more responsible job if I had a good MBA.
Cons: A high level of long-term personal and financial commitment (the process is hard and complicated) with a high possibility of failure. I am afraid, with some information to back me up, that I couldn't get into a good business school with current credentials: would need to volunteer or get a better job first, it seems like. Also, don't know that getting a good MBA would make me more likely to get the kind of job I really WANT to do, which is fixing things, and I'm afraid of committing that much time and money to something IDK if I even want to do.

Option 4: Figure out alternative grad schools/certifications that would definitively allow me to pursue goals of fixing things that I'm really good at: maybe becoming an editor?
Pros: I would be good at being an editor, and maybe other things, and I really want to do something I CARE about.
Cons: AAAAAAGH I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS AT ALL. I don't know how to figure out what grad school would be best for me. If I did, I wouldn't be in this boat, I think.

Option 5: Go to temp agencies, temp, and make a positive impression on the people temping with.
Pros: Cash flow, possibility to make a positive impression.
Cons: Eats up a lot of free time doing the kind of work I vowed I'd get away from. Won't necessarily get me anywhere.

Option 6: Go to lots of local orgs where you want to work and ask for informational interviews.
Pros: Once I figure out what orgs to do this for, would get in-person interactions with people I want to work for.
Cons: Might not get me anywhere. Also, need to figure out what orgs to do this for.

Option 7: Figure out where job fairs are all over the country and go to those with my resume.
Pros: Face-to-face interaction with potential employers, which I generally excel at, and also, travel to see awesome people who are awesome!
Cons: Don't know how to do it, costs a lot of money, and not guaranteed to get me anywhere.

Option 8: Find a career counselor and figure out how to do the things I don't know how to do in 1-7.
Pros: Would get me an idea of how to do the missing things in 1-7.
Cons: I don't know how to find someone to help me with this, and it's expensive!

[User Picture]From: piscaria
2011-10-05 08:23 pm (UTC)
It's always scary having so many possibilities open, but no clear idea how to proceed!

When you say that you want to fix things, are you talking on an IT scale or on a larger, fix-the-world type scale?

For what it's worth, my husband loves his MBA program at Bainbridge Graduate Institute. He's taking the hybrid option, so he has online classes three days a week and he has to travel to Seattle once a month for an intensive. We're only a few hours away from Seattle, but I know there are people in his cohort from all over the country. He's only been in school for a few weeks, but he's already gotten a ton of career counseling and support. And they have to do a study-abroad segment later -- it will either be in Spain, China, India or Cuba.
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[User Picture]From: gelishan
2011-10-05 08:41 pm (UTC)
I gave three examples of this in an earlier conversation on the topic: I'll repeat them here, since I think they're about representative of the varying scales of problem-solving I do.

Example number one: you know I beta-read a lot. That's because I have a good big-picture understanding of how to make overall narratives work better and also a good understanding of the little details that will make a sentence less awkward. I love doing that.

Example number two: when I got to the call center I was previously at, I noted that we had resource guides for the Twin Cities clinics but not the other clinics in the state, and started lobbying for us to have those guides for out-state clinics so we could serve them better.

Example number three: when I got to college, I was like "I love vocal jazz, but there is nowhere on campus to sing it!" I started up a vocal jazz acapella group to fill in the gap.

I go back to this kind of thing over and over and over, and I'm really good at it. I don't want to do a job ever again where my job ISN'T to fix problems.
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[User Picture]From: piscaria
2011-10-06 03:38 am (UTC)

Given that skill set, I think you'd be a great MBA candidate. You would probably be great at resource management or community planning or investment. The cool thing about an MBA (as opposed to so many other degrees) is that it's so very versatile. It opens a lot of doors, but it doesn't lock you into any one field. And the interest in China would just be icing on the cake!
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[User Picture]From: carmarthen
2011-10-05 10:33 pm (UTC)
Also, don't know that getting a good MBA would make me more likely to get the kind of job I really WANT to do, which is fixing things, and I'm afraid of committing that much time and money to something IDK if I even want to do.

I would suggest informational interviews here; I think Option 6 also sounds like a good idea. If your interviews don't get you anywhere...well, they still do, because that's new information you didn't have before (e.g. "business analysis is not really for me").
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[User Picture]From: thegelf
2011-10-06 02:46 am (UTC)
Option 6 sounds like a good place to start. Avoid option 5 unless cash flow becomes a serious problem. I'm going to be bitter and jaded, but making a good impression doesn't matter unless it's going to get you somewhere better, which the temp jobs likely won't. For option 8, call the Grinnell career center and alumni center. You're an alumna. Go network through your alumni network for career advice and options. Option 7 only works if you find specific career fairs that serve your area of interest, and target them. It honestly seems like an excellent way to waste a lot of money to me.

If you want connections for teaching English in China, I actually have some friends who went and did that.
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[User Picture]From: sneakybea
2011-10-06 03:30 am (UTC)
I can't really speak to many of the options, but I can speak a little to option 8 (and hopefully I won't sound condescending or be telling you what you already know). I would explore your low or no cost options for counseling first. I second thegelf's suggestion for trying your alumni network, and I would also look into the Minnesota Workforce Center. I met with a counselor there when I was unemployed and it was free, though her advice was a little hit or miss (yes for the resources for finding academic positions, no for thinking "work at an independent bookstore" = "start my own business"). They also have plenty of literature there, and (I think) might offer aptitude tests, that sort of thing.
The public library has also offered workshops for job seekers in the past, so you might look into that (check the "events" page on line ). These resources will be very general, but even very general information might help you narrow down your options a bit more. At the very least, if you then decide to go to a paid counselor, you'll probably have a better idea what to ask them, and may even find out where to look for one.
Good luck! (I hate making decisions myself.)
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[User Picture]From: runthebear
2011-10-10 09:29 pm (UTC)
Definitely #6. Possibly combined with #2. Figure out somewhere you want to be, get your foot in the door and make sure everybody knows who you are. Start by volunteering if you have to-- what are you doing during the time you used to spend at work right now? As for paying rent, you could try commission-based article writing for the internet? It's often boring and you know you're working for the forces of evil, but I paid my rent on it for a winter of no work by writing 2-3 hours every day. If you're interested, I can try to hook you up with some people who do it as the company I used to work for is no more.
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[User Picture]From: frostflake
2011-10-13 01:02 am (UTC)
I think volunteering (anywhere, actually) is an excellent idea. Even if something isn't directly related to your career path (or to any of your possible career paths), you will expand your network with people who know you as a volunteer, which means they know you're capable of working hard without regard for the monetary compensation. And people like people like that.

Not sure what to do about cash flow in the meantime, however.
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