Career Hopping in Your 30s

I was talking to a friend recently about how many people in our age range (32-36) are pursuing new career paths. These folks say they’re heading to their “second career” – maybe it’s teaching yoga, opening up their own business, or going back to graduate school in an entirely new field. It’s very admirable to take a leap into the unknown and explore whatever it is you’re curious about. So bravo to those who do!

When my friend and I thought about ourselves, we both expressed the same worry – we feel like we haven’t even had our first career yet! So how can we even think about a second one. Are we somehow behind? I thought about it a lot after my friend and I left the coffee shop, and instead of beating myself up for not having a very solid “first career” with tangible success markers, I redefined it for myself.

For those of us who did a little job bouncing in our 20s, we can define our first career as more of a hodge podge of jobs – kind of like when you order an appetizer sampler plate at a restaurant. That’s what our first careers were – samplers, avenues of exploration.

So let’s say you’re ready for a career change: where do you begin when you’re unsure what to do? Well, I found this article to be really fascinating:

Why and how to change career in your early 30s and the women who made it work

This other article  linked below has links to some great online quizzes you can take to see where your natural aptitudes lie.

The 11 Best Career Quizzes to Help You Find Your Dream Job 

Ultimately, it’s about doing your research and making sure you have the financial stability and a plan to make the jump. While it may be very scary to make a change, I’m a big believer that…

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Are We The “Slash” Generation?

Have you seen the new Toshiba laptop/tablet commercial, where they show a young woman in her 20s who they describe as a “Director/DJ/Designer/Advocate/Entrepreneur” as they show her in her various roles/jobs? The commercial was made  to sell their tablet product, and in it, they say their product is perfect for the “slash” generation. It’s been playing constantly when I watch Hulu, and it drives me nuts.

I had never heard that we’re considered the “slash” generation. Generally, since I’m 33, I don’t feel like a millennial but  demographically, I am considered one (Born in 1982 – 1996). Being part of the “slash” generation means is that your career involves being a hyphenate, as in “writer – director – actor” – that sort of thing.

If you’re interested to read more about this phenomenon, here’s a great NY Times article from last year called “The Lives of Millennial Career Jugglers.” They profile six people who have multiple careers.

Personally, I don’t want to have a multi-hyphenate career. I want to be known as an expert at one thing and have hobbies on the side. Perhaps I can become very good at these hobbies, but I wouldn’t want to consider them a money-making path. Maybe that would somehow taint them.

But while my ideal is to not be a hyphenate, I’ve realized is that it’s become harder and harder to find one job that can completely financially sustain you if you don’t work in a traditional field (corporate company, doctor, lawyer, etc.) I think we have also become desirous to find creativity and personal passion in our work – even if it’s just one of our many “jobs” – such as DJ’ing on the weekends for instance.

Do you have a “slash” career? If you do, would you prefer not to?

You Are Not Your Job

I’ve been job-hunting this past week, and it’s been causing me a lot of anxiety. There are so many highs and lows to the process; so much to consider. I’ve been really trying to find jobs that feel like “me,” but it’s hard because the work I’m extremely passionate about (film and TV writing) doesn’t operate like most industries. There are no job postings for that type of work. And so I have to find jobs that are somewhat out of my exact field. Usually, I’m okay with that – I thought I had made peace with it.

But today, when I was job hunting, a deep sadness came over me as I was looking at the listings. I felt lonely and disconnected from myself. Have you ever felt that way when looking for a job? I imagine it’s different for a lot of folks – people who have a more specific professional direction in their 30s – like teachers, lawyers, marketing executives, etc. But for those of us who have more nebulous paths, it can be challenging. It’s like you have to have two careers and ‘selves’ at once. Your day-job-money-making self and your other, passionate self. Is there a way to authentically merge the two? Or do you simply have to compartmentalize your ‘day-job’ as one facet of your life?

This afternoon, someone reminded me that I am not my job. And I remembered this quote I once read:

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’” ~Maya Angelou

So, tomorrow, when I dive into more job-hunting, I will remember I am making a life, and that my job hunt is only one part of that.

If Your Job Sucks Right Now, Read This…

Stuck in a crappy work situation? Feel either completely stressed out or in a job that you have zero passion for? Well, here’s the good news. You’re not alone. Apparently, this may be typical for thirty-somethings. According to new research, people in their late 20s to early 40s report lower levels of job satisfaction and higher levels of emotional exhaustion than other age groups.

The reasons for this have been hypothesized here, and may be 1) Social support at work is less because people are competing for higher level jobs. Additionally, when you’re younger you want to have more of a social network at work, but you don’t seek it out as much when you’re older because you possibly have a family and children and other social networks to maintain. 2) Many people in their thirties also have caregiving support to give at home, and thus less downtime for themselves.

While you could wait it out until your 50s (the decade when people reported highest job satisfaction), maybe it’s best to find a way to make your job more accommodating to your shifting life demands.

A lot of my friends have asked for flexible working schedules – they work from home 1 or 2 days a week, or they have a part-time schedule with freelance work.

And if it’s just that you find yourself in a job you hate, it’s time to re-evaluate. Life is too short to spend your hours miserable. Here’s a list of signs that it might be time to quit your job.

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