Personal Development/Career Dilemma
I will try to keep it short, but to let you understand my situation, I have to start from the beginning f the story:
I started my career in 1997(before than that I did many minorjobs) after dropping out of college (Physics)for serious private reasons. My first position I filled was technical support in a call center in Holland(and I am Italian), after a year, since I did very good, I was outsourced from this company as a contractor to Hewlett Packard in Germany as part of a team that was responsible for a major business tracking application used by all country sales managers in the EMEA region.I had an excellent economic treatment (house and flights home paid, excellent salary). After 2 more years, wanting to move on, I got an offer from Agilent Technologies (Hewlett Packard spin off)semiconductor division in a pretty high level position that required a MBA (most my colleagues in that team had one), the hiring manager knew that I did ot have completed my degree , but he knew that I was a performer and hired me, I lasted 2.5 years @ Agilent, doing very good (I was awarded stock options and so forth), I left them as I got an offer from another company in the semiconductor field (Advantest) as key account manager, and here it comes the part that I think screwed up the rest of my career, it was 2005 and in the back of my head I had this idea to move to the US and I thought the best way would be studying in an US college to fill also the educational gap I had on my resume'. I decided to go to UCSD for a Certificate program of a year in Business management and marketing as it was $12,000 way cheaper than most MBA programs (that actually required a bachelor to be admitted whether this program was considering case to case and counted relevant work experience as credit to be accepted even without bachelor degree). I completed the "degree" with an excellent GPA and my work is still utilized nowadays in some classes of that course at UCSD as eto go back to Italy for a few months for xample. After that(2006) it started a very very bumpy road, I applied for several jobs, but nothing was coming my way, no interviews no nothing, through a friend I started working for a shipping company in Chicago as simple clerk, after a few months I found a slightly better job at a freight forwarder in LA, they hired me, sponsored my new visa and promised me a fast career development, it was not what I was looking for , but better than teh job in Chicago. Now, 2 years later in 2008 (and a promotion to Business development manager, basically sales) my visa expired and was not possible to renew or get a new one as, at the time, the immigration system was overwhelmed and the visa caps were met in a matter of days. With mixed feelings I went back to Italy just right before the Lehmann Bros thing that started the international recession. In Italy I could not find anything, sent thousands of resumes with no success (only a handful ofinterviews), Luck wanted I won the green card lottery and in Jan 2010 I came back to the US, after months of research, the only job I found was as export manager/sales for a used bus company in Riverside (a project that IMHO was led to failures as most countries have regulations against the import of old buses/cars. The job lasted 6 months, I went back to Italy where I spent most of 2011 with no success in finding a job. Then through a very old friend I got the job where I am now (not happy, but better than no job) as sales executive for a prominent chamber of commerce on the East Coast,(I got a promotion for my good results to Business DEvelopment manager, but it is a fake promotion as the job is the same, so the money).
Now my career fell apart long ago after graduating from UCSD and I don't know how to put it back together. I am an extremely intelligent and creative individuals according to who knows me, but I lost motivation and I see negative in anything I do, I do not dare to search for a new job as it is so full of younger very qualified (MBA PHD) people and I do not even have a bachelor.
I am almost 44 years old (looking and acting much younger) and I would really get back on track as this situation lead me to a financial condition that does not allow me to plan a life, I live from paycheck to paycheck, most of my (substantial) savings are gone, I do not have a pension plan. Living this situation really does not allow me to go forward(buy a house , form a family), I have been using all my energies during the past years in order to get back on a career that would give some satisfaction and also pay me as good as my first 7 years of work. At my age I have to act quickly, what do you think I can do?
It is not the first time that I've been asked by intelligent and accomplished people these very same questions. Sometimes the world throws us an obstacle that, in spite of our talents, seems to work against us.
There are a few things that I can recommend that you do. First and foremost the most important thing that you can do is to change perspective. How you see the world, Sam, is THE key to how it will unfold in the future. You need to stop right now this idea that your age is a problem. You are comparing yourself to others and their opportunities, and as a consequence, you see your age as a liability. It isn't.
No one can just say to you, Sam stop being negative, it doesn't work that way I know, but you need to realize that your attitude is the key.
You see, Sam, I don't see you as a person limited. Expand your thinking. You have worked in three countries in good positions. You have world experience that younger people don't have. How many companies in Italy would like to expand into the U.S.? How many American companies would like to expand into Italy? Instead of looking for a job, (which is always depressing) look for opportunities. Wouldn't you be an excellent representative, or foreign manager, or liaison officer for companies trying to expand? Wouldn't you be the best person to convince companies either in Italy or the U.S. to expand to the other country? What kind of person would it take to 'sell' the idea that you are perfect for helping them expand their opportunities for international trade?
You have made tough decisions in the past and always made the best of bad situations. That is an asset, not a liability. You are hard working, intelligent, industrious, worldly, and educated. These qualities easily trump an MBA for companies who have the insight and determination to stand out from other companies. Your job is to find them.
Sam, I suggest that you stop thinking of time as a liability. Relax; you are the perfect person for the perfect career. If I were you I would contact companies that specialize in import/export consulting. Find out from them what companies are trying to do business in Italy. Approach those companies after doing a bit of research on them and offer your services. Sell them your confidence, your worldliness, and desire to make their company a success. You have a lot to offer.
If you start thinking of yourself as the person of international value; if you look in the mirror and keep looking until you see that very valuable person, then other people will see that too. Younger guys with MBAs can't compete with that!!!
I hope that this was helpful, Sam, and I wish you the very best. Please rate this answer honestly.
Phil L. Méthot