Yesterday, I had my second meeting with my career coach. I engaged a career coach to find opportunities that would leverage the skills I developed as a lawyer, but that didn’t have all the icky stuff that comes with being a lawyer. Could there really be a job out there that would allow me to do the things I had loved to do as a lawyer, such as writing, research, and working with people, but didn’t have meet and confers with opposing counsel, fights with co-counsel over who gets to write the brief and what goes in it, and insolent magistrates?
It turns out that such jobs indeed do exist, but that begs the question: why do I want a job at all? Are jobs really necessary? Or is having a job overrated?
How my Career Counselor Helped Me
Working with my career counselor has so far been a two-step process. First, I brainstormed, reflected and described to the counselor all the skills I believed that I had honed as an attorney and enjoyed using; much as I described them to you in yesterday’s post. Second, he came up with a list of job categories that he thought might interest me. This was very enlightening because I discovered the existence of several careers I had never even heard of before including:
- Internal Employee Communications-Did you know that companies have whole departments that exist solely for the purpose of conducting what amounts to public relations within their organizations? Well, it was news to me, but they do.
- Customer Success-Apparently in the tech world, there is actually a category of worker who gets the clients’ employees onboard with the product, makes sure that they have a good experience with it, irons out any wrinkles, and reports back on employee feedback. This really is a thing.
- Corporate Learning-Corporations employ people to develop training programs for their employees. I guess I should have realized this because I was a recipient of a huge amount of “corporate learning” back in the Air Force; though we didn’t call it that
Do I Really Need a Job?
Where I get hung up is with step 3–actually doing research and applying. For every one of these career categories, as well as several others, I have to review 20-30 want ads and carefully study the job descriptions to determine whether I have the skill set and whether the work sounds appealing. Next I have to cull the list of careers down to two or three, and choose two or three positions within each to target. I then have to revise my resume for each position in order to precisely market myself for the particular job. In all, I estimate this to be about two weeks of research, if I were to treat the research as a full time job (an impossibility).
Before I set out to do all of this work, I think it makes sense to consider the question, do I really want or need a job? This research would cost me time, energy, and possibly even money; resources that I could apply to developing this website and turning it into a profitable business. Does it really make sense to invest all of this work into finding a job when I could otherwise invest it into something that could generate income and give me financial independence? Can I afford to do both? What do I have to lose or gain from either course?
Just Over Broke?
See, what I’m having difficulty coming to terms with is exactly what it means to ”have a job” today. In my Dad’s generation, having a job seemed to mean something different than it does today. Sure, you worked hard, but you meant something to your employer. You were more than just a mere commodity. Usually, you had a pension, sick days, federal holidays, and most importantly, job security. Employers didn’t just lay people off back then. They didn’t cut your wages through the back door by pressuring you to work past five o’clock or on weekends, in order to avoid the chopping block.
Even when I started out in the Air Force, I meant something to them. Sure, I couldn’t quit, but on the other hand, they couldn’t fire me. I was more than just a commodity to the military, I was a precious resource that they had to steward. They invested in me, trained me, fed and housed me, kept me healthy, and even provided for a lot of my recreation.
What does one really get from a job in today’s job market? A steady paycheck? Sure, until they decide to lay you off or fire you (employment at will, baby). Medical insurance? Sure, they provide it—until they let you go. And in any case, is it really cost effective relative to being self-employed and paying for it yourself? In Tampa, where I will be living, I was able to purchase a medical plan for my family for under $600 a month, so that benefit is worth less to me than minimum wage. Respectability? Ah, there’s the rub. Unless you have a long track record of success, people you might want to borrow money from for the necessities of life may read “self-employed” as “unemployed”. But does that make sense? How am I any more secure working for an employer who can lay me off at will relative to doing remunerative work that I just get paid for.
And what of the value of the fruits of my labor? In a job, most of the value of my work goes up the chain. If I work for me, most of what I earn, save expenses, I keep. I can also expand to hire employees and have people work for me, or invest and have money work for me. But if I’m trying to hold down a job, does that keep me from pursuing those goals?
Darned if I Know
After meeting with my career counselor, It seems to me that my experiences certainly provide me with opportunities for interesting and remunerative work in some organization. I’m just not sure if I couldn’t do better taking all of that experience and investing it completely in myself by starting my own business.
What do you think?