I’m brand new to the forum, but I’ve been reading AOM since around 2009. Please be gentle!
I’m 23, live and work in the UK and struggle day to day with knowing and being myself. I have to contend with difficult employers and a highly strung home environment every day, so the stress is pretty constant. The small mercies I am afforded, in addition to my privileged western comforts, are a car and time to myself in the gym 3 or 4 times a week.
I live at home with my parents, so I don’t have many overheads, I work in insurance and have done for the past 4 years (almost). In short, insurance bores the life out of me. I’ve always been creative and analytical and feel like a career in advertising would suit me best, but I don’t meet the entry requirements.
My salary is poor and although I’m not money motivated, there isn’t really any saving grace to my career in insurance.
Therefore, I beseech you all to offer some guidance and wisdom to motivate me to take the next step. I really want to take a risk and study for a degree in psychology. I can do it as a distance course, while still working and the British government will foot the bill until I am earning over £21,000 a year (approx. $35,149.00). The only problem with this is that by the time I finish I will be 26, almost 27. I know this is still young, but I’m becoming increasingly conscious of time as I get older. I haven’t had a significant female in my life for 3 years, my friendship group has shrunk (to preserve my sanity) and I’ve grown loathsome of social events. I’m not depressed, but I’m not happy. I’ve exchanged beer, bars and BS, in favour of fitness, good food and limited connections, and although I feel better health wise, I have this gaping void in my life.
My father (with whom I am quite close) suggests getting a higher paid insurance job in London and pursuing my own interests outside of work. I can understand where he’s coming from, but I don’t know if I can stand much more of this line of work. Do I suck it up and take his advice?
Ideally, I would like to raise a family in the States, but I don’t think I currently meet the criteria to be permitted to live and work there.
The psychology degree would help me to better understand myself and others and, according to literature I’ve read, would make for a more attractive entry level degree for advertising, marketing and health care careers.
So much for that abundance of time they promised us as kids! I don’t know whether to take the risk, or work towards a higher paid insurance job in London – doing something I have absolute apathy for just for the remuneration; or forget about money, women and a family until I’m almost 30!
“Typically, if you’re starting from scratch, an undergraduate degree will take six or seven years to complete.”
[Working full-time and studying part-time] If I dedicate 32-36 hours a week to this (plausible, I’ve done the maths) I could do it in 3 - 4 years.
Sorry to bombard you with so many personal pronouns.
Has anybody else done something similar to this? How did it turn out?
Thanks in advance,
You're not risk averse, you're paralyzed and indecisive. Truthfully, there's risk in whatever you decide, and risk in indecision ... i.e the risk of looking-up five years from now and being in exactly the same place.
So, choose your risk. But, make a decision and get moving.
To dispel a couple of problems with your analysis ... undergraduate degrees don't take 6 or 7 years unless you're drunk for the first three or four, or unless you're going half-time. And, you need not hold off on marriage and family until you're done with school. There's no reason not to get started on several options at once and see what pans out.
I don't know how it works in England, but here in America, outside of technical degree, no one works within their undergraduate degree field. A lot of people are pissed off about it, but here's how I see it: a Liberal Arts degree is useless, except that; it tells a potential employer you are able to assess information critically, formulate a logical argument, and present said argument properly. My thoughts are, unless you're going into something technical (engineering, doctoring, lawyering) get your degree in whatever you're interested in, and seek out employment where you can get it.
Good economies allow people to work in what they love. This is not a good economy. You have two options these days; suck it up and take what you can get, strike out on your own for something brilliant.
Going it alone... You're always going it alone. You could have your mother and father constantly bitching at you to 'get off your lazy bum and get a decent job, get married, etc. or you could have a wife bitching you for the same thing but it is ALWAYS (sorry 'bout the yelling) up to you to do the work.
Parents plan for their kids' future and make suggestions and offer advice because they've 'Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt'. The only problem with this is that the advice they're offering would work fine for them but not necessarily for their kids. Now, having said that (and I'm a parent) my advice would be to look at the career fields available in marketing and what the career outlook is. Here in the US it is difficult to get into marketing from an advertising aspect but not so much for sales. If you want to do sales then fine but if you want advertising you may be in for a major disappointment in your job prospects. But you may get lucky and find your dream job or you could start your own advertsing agency and be successful.
"I’ve always been creative and analytical and feel like a career in advertising would suit me best, but I don’t meet the entry requirements."
Start working on meeting the requirements TODAY. A good self-improvement book that might help is “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy. It might help you to get your bearings. Go to your local library and check it out today.
"I can do it as a distance course, while still working and the British government will foot the bill until I am earning over £21,000 a year (approx. $35,149.00). The only problem with this is that by the time I finish I will be 26, almost 27."
How old will you be if you just sit on your ass and do nothing?
"Ideally, I would like to raise a family in the States, but I don’t think I currently meet the criteria to be permitted to live and work there."
If you achieve the above perhaps you’ll meet the criteria. But, have you ever considered Canada? There are some great Canadian cities, especially in BC. Check out Vancouver and Victoria—absolutely beautiful.
Bonus fun for Canada, you can remind them they're still under the Crown, when they object, ask who that lady on their money is.
Some thoughts, without conclusions:
* Whatever you do for a living, you'll be doing it 8 hours a day. It better not be something you hate. Best of all is if you're passionate about it.
* Wherever you go, you take yourself along... so if you're blah in the UK, you'll probably be blah in the US.
* A college career center can advise you on what majors work for what jobs. As Shane said, if you're in the humanities, it's mix 'n match.
Agree with JB and Shane. You've thrown yourself something of a "Pity Party." To start, you absolutely must "Suck it up" enough to get the heck out of that mind set and start taking some action. Speaking from an American perspective, I see a couple of things implicit in your post.
First, you've apparently taken no action to get off square one. In the US, it is not uncommon for someone to go back to school and re-orient their career choice after a few years in a trade or profession. The government education funding scheme you described is wholly to your advantage.
While not familiar with the British educational system, in the US, you don't necessarily need a bachelor's degree for many fields. I note this because if you enjoy the more manual than cerebral work (a mechanical trade v. financial analysis for example), a trade school may be more advantageous.
Second, what do you do in insurance? What is it about the job that bores you...and that looks like part of your problem, that you're bored. Perhaps you could explore getting into another facet of the business?
Third, you're only in your early 20's. Quit writing like a 58 year old burnout.
From personal experience, I can say that you've more than enough time to explore multiple career paths. Speaking as someone whose education was as a generalist, you may work in several different fields before finding your niche.
Fourth, a last thing to remember. Every job ALWAYS includes a big chunk of boring, repetitious, often uninspiring work that must be done.