Academia felt like the only possible path for me for only a short time, after I graduated from college but didn’t know what else to do with myself. These days, I’m not sure yet what my post-academic field will be, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about other options. Last weekend, the manager of a department-store fragrance counter asked me if I’d “worked in fragrance” because of a particular turn-of-phrase I’d used, and I’d had to explain that no, I only spend too much time on the Internet. My other response, though was, “I wish,” and I was almost tempted to ask her how to get a job. At a department-store fragrance counter. Then I realized that those sales people probably work on commission, which is a situation I probably wouldn’t love.
Anyway, these are some of my career ideas:
If I had to choose one field I’d really like to work in, I think this would be it. I do have experience in this area, and I think I would enjoy editorial, publicity, or marketing work. I don’t know if my current experience would be enough to get me an entry-level position, or if I’d need an internship or even a certificate from a publishing program to be a better candidate. An issue: I don’t think I want to live in New York.
I wore the wrong bra size for years when I was younger, and it drives me nuts that although I do not have an exceptionally large or small bust, I can maybe find one style of bra in my size at Victoria’s Secret (seriously, they are the worst). There’s nothing in my size at, say, Target or other places that are generally within a grad student’s budget. Thank goodness for Nordstrom Rack. Maybe this is silly, but the idea of helping women find properly fitting bras seems like something that could give me a lot of satisfaction. An issue: No retail experience. Would I want to work retail, even in a little specialty shop?
I don’t want to go to medical school, and I don’t think I want to become a nurse, but I can imagine being some kind of healthcare para-professional. And when I say “women’s health” I mean “abortion providers.” Like bra fitting, the right to choose is really important to me, and is a cause I’d enjoy supporting. (Okay, yeah, the first half of that sentence is maybe kind of crazy.) One of my issues with academic work, though, is that it doesn’t feel meaningful anymore. In this field, I would certainly feel like my work mattered. An issue: No idea what actual position I’m imagining here, or what kind of additional education it would require.
Seriously, wouldn’t ripping hair out of a strange woman’s crotch be kind of a great stress reliever? Issues: Strange women’s crotches. Also, I have no experience with professional waxing.
I’m not surprised that many of the paths I’ve considered (more or less seriously) involve lady stuff, although it is with some humor that I acknowledge that they tend to involve, well, ladies’ stuff. Honestly, I don’t know what that’s about.
Practically speaking, I also don’t know how many jobs fit my interests and aptitudes and aren’t dying professions. When I floated the idea of publishing to my mother, her response was, “Does that even still exist? Isn’t it like journalism?” Similarly, I can see myself enjoying library work, but I don’t want to go to library school only to have to find yet another field with a better outlook.
Also, I think “publishing” has become a sort of stand-in for any sort of work involving writing, editing, research, or informal teaching skills. For some reason, I have a shakier sense of what kinds of professional work I might enjoy. In some ways, because I’ve been a student for so long, I still have a very limited, child-like notion of what kinds of careers people can have—If I don’t want to be a doctor or lawyer or firefighter or ballerina or astronaut, then what? I’m exaggerating, but to an extent I do have some of the same issues I had six years ago of imagining something else. I do think I would be happy as, say, a technical writer or editor, or a copywriter/editor. Actually, one of my dream jobs would be writing catalog copy. Anthropologie, call me.
In the meantime, I hope my appointment at my university’s career center next week will answer some of my questions and give me some new ideas.