Resume Help/Grown up jobs.

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QUESTION: What specifically makes a job a "grown up" job versus maybe something more commonly occupied by high school or college aged people? I am 35 and below the poverty level and would like to get above it before age 40. Actually 30% of my city is below that level. I just want some sense of security in my life. If I told someone what I did for a living what jobs would at minimum be seen as grown up jobs?

ANSWER: Hi James,

There are a lot of possible answers to your question and I'm sure that if you asked this question of ten other people you'd get ten other answers.  But I will give you my own take on it as someone who has more life experience.

Your age, first of all, is irrelevant.  There are people in their 20s doing very serious "grown-up" work and people in their 60s doing virtually nothing that advances their situation in life.  To me, there are two things that govern the question you are asking.  

The first is education and the second is a career trajectory, or goals.  As a general rule (though this is not always true) the more education you have, and the better the quality of that education, the better chance you have of developing a career that gives you the "security" in life that you mention.  Once you have that education, or training for a career with an upward trajectory, the better your chances are at developing a career path that provides you the things in life that give you satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in your life - the "grown up" job.

You don't mention what your level of education is or what you are currently doing for work.  If you would like to send me a follow-up question, I could probably be more help to you in guiding you toward a plan that will assist you in getting on the path you want to be on by age 40.

I know my response is a little vague and sketchy, but with more information from you about your particular situation, I think I can be a lot more specific.  

Look forward to hearing from you again,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am 35 or will be soon and work at two pizza places. I have my BA in psychology and a AAS in business with some computer credits in there as well. I likely only make about $200/wk between the two jobs but than again I have a friend that has 5 jobs and might still need food stamps. I don't know what I'd rather do. I just know many types of jobs I don't want and I need to pretty much double my income. I do not want to go back to school unless I'm getting paid to do it. I've already tried going to school for degrees that I thought would get me particular jobs that didn't and I think of all the income I didn't make when I was in school.

ANSWER: Hi James,

Your education encompasses a BA and an AAS so you have some solid training.  You didn't say specifically why you are working pizza jobs when you have a college degree, but from the other information you provide, I am guessing from your "I don't know what I'd rather do" comment that you either haven't been able to find work in psych or business, or you haven't decided what field you want to pursue.  You also didn't say what your experience has been looking for more productive work.  

Did you look for jobs in the psych field or business?  Did you do a national search or are you limiting yourself to the local area only?  Have you considered intern work which would get you both experience and contacts in the field that you settle on?  How much networking have you done?  What does your resume look like?  All these questions are relevant to the decisions you make in trying to make headway toward goals.  But you have to decide - first - what those goals are.  Without knowing where you want to go, you will have no idea how to achieve what you want.

So, I am going to be brutally honest with you.  As a former university professor I have encountered many students over the years with the same issues you have.  You say you need to double your income, but you don't say what you are willing to do to accomplish that.  Obviously working in the pizza business won't get you what you want, so it seems to me that you need to make a decision to actively pursue a career that uses the training you have so you can make the income you need.

You cannot regret your college work simply because that didn't get you the job you wanted, and you shouldn't discount pursuit of a graduate degree because you're thinking of money you didn't make when you were in school.  Getting an education is an investment in future earnings, but it carries with it no implied or expressed guarantees of getting you a job.  If you truly want to double your income you are going to have to do whatever is necessary to do that.  Look at jobs that you feel would give you satisfaction and then determine what level of training you need to have to get those jobs.  That will tell you what you need to do to move forward.

If the level of education for the jobs you want is an M.A. or M.S., then that's what you have to do.  Go get the degree.  If you are willing to settle for any other work that only requires the B.A., then you have to be willing to accept that you are taking a job that isn't your dream gig, but, on the other hand, you don't have to pursue the graduate degree.  It's a trade-off and only you can decide which path you want to take.

I hope this helps; best wishes in your search.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I did not become a psych major because I wanted to work in that field. I wanted to choose a major that interested me that required fewer credit hours because money was running out. I wanted to go to university to get my BA in business but couldn't pass their accounting class which even though was not the area of business that interested me was their prerequisite. An associate's in business isn't useful I'm told and any social science requires graduate education which I'm not interested in. I'm interested in business or technology primarily. The last time I tried to go back to school to get a degree (lab technology) they wouldn't lend me money so I couldn't go back to school. This was at community college. I have great credit, zero debt, at least one job at the time, and I paid off my last student loan off a year in advanced at least. So I don't know what is wrong with the student loan system. I work with pizza because they were hiring. No other reason. How do you determine "productive work?" All jobs produce something. Paper products, pizza, plastics are all the same to me. What distinction were you making? I don't plan on leaving the area because my family needs me and everyone I know is still here. However in the city anyway 30% of the population is below the poverty line so jobs are kind of scarce.

Answer
Hi James,

In this context, my use of the word "productive" was simply meant to apply to what you want - a doubled income.  It is very true that all work is productive and all jobs have worth.  That was not my point.  What you are looking for is a job that doubles your income.  In that context, the job you need to have to provide that income has to be more "productive" in terms of the compensation that it pays.  I hope that clarifies my use of the term.

If you intend to look only locally for work, and jobs are scarce, I cannot see a clear path for you to increase your income without further education.  As I mentioned in my last message to you, there is a trade-off involved in education (delayed income) vs. immediate work (immediate income but not enough for you in the long-term).  It is a decision for you to make on which path to take.  If jobs are scarce, you have to understand that the jobs that do exist will likely go to the most prepared and best educated candidates.

Good luck!

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