Tell me about re-inventing yourself professionally.

Today is my first day of unemployment after leaving a very toxic work environment (manager had been reported to HR multiple times for sexual harassment, hostile work environment, misuse of money and clearly wasn’t going anywhere). After an extremely abusive “conversation” in which I was informed I was worthless, valueless, stupid and didn’t know what I was talking about despite being given glowing reviews for three years and considered by a lot of associations and reporters to be an expert in my field, I handed in my resignation. And now that the reality of not having anywhere to go is slowly sinking in, I’m mildly petrified.

My husband has told me that my entire job next week should be to think and figure out what it is I want and to put together a plan to go after it. I can get behind that. But I feel like my brain has been crammed into a box for three and a half years and now that I get a chance to stretch out, I haven’t a clue where to start.

So, Dopers, is there anyone out there who can offer me some inspiration? Tell me your stories of leaving a shit job and finding or creating for yourself something much more worthwhile? Advice?

I’m completely out of practice with this whole reinventing myself thing. Or even just not having a job or a plan. I don’t see myself ever not working, but I’m seriously considering independent consulting because this last job burned me so badly I’m unsure whether I even want to go back to a standard office job. Any dopers who’ve chosen to do that and had good experiences? I’ve done freelance writing before, but given the experience I have, I don’t see myself being satisfied with project writing anymore.

How about doing something stupid and getting retrained to be a machinist or plumber or electrician? Nothing demeaning about working in trades and the money can be decent and jobs available depending on where you live.

How about going to a temp agency and taking some miscellaneous jobs as bottom level labor? I know that around here people can get temp jobs over at a plant that makes the blue insulating foam sheets, or at the SPCA publicity office stuffing envelopes or in a machine shop peeling masking off turbine blades, or working in shipping and receiving schlepping packages around. [all jobs I have done as a temp]

Get a job delivering newspapers? Be better if you had a right hand drive car, but the lady who does it on our street uses one of those handicapped grabber tools that is about 3 feet long to put the paper into the tube.

Security guard. Low pay, but I had amazing legs after the year that I spent walking rounds in a parking garage and bank operations center. Only drawback that as the beginner you will end up working weekends and overnights. If you last longer your shifts get better.

Security guard? Really? I don’t know what field the OP was in, but if it’s one where you can be an “expert” in, she surely shouldn’t abandon it for one of the most dead end jobs on the planet.
overlyverbose, maybe it would help if you took the drama down a notch. Leaving a job of 3 years, on your own terms more or less, doesn’t really require a “reinvention”, ISTM. By all means, spend a week decided what direction you want to go and how you are going to put together your resume.

Remember that when you go into consulting, you are going to have to hustle to get work. It ads to your stress. A buddy and my GF went that route for a while, but the draw of knowing where their next paycheck was coming from lured them back to wage slavery.

Thanks for the advice, Carnal. I guess I am being dramatic, and I am sorry. I’ve never been in the situation I was in at work (the guy actually threw a (admittedly soft-backed) book at me during our last discussion and has been known to do the same to other employees, as well as making extremely suggestive, disgusting comments) and I never, ever want to be there again. Truthfully, I’m a little scared about my current situation, but it’s better than if I’d stayed.

There are um, interesting, suggestions for someone who was probably in a decently paying white collar job. I don’t think she is looking to reinvent herself as a minimum wage worker.

Oh, I don’t blame you for leaving or for being a little scared. Just remember that not every workplace is so shitty and that you have bankable skills/knowledge. Good luck.

Congratulations to you and standing by your principles and leaving when management wouldn’t do the right thing. But don’t let this experience jade you against all corporate environments. There are a lot of great companies out there that truly value their employees and their contributions. I’ve been fortunate to work the 25 years of my career at only two different companies (9 at the first one, and 16 at the current one). Both of which are great. I wish you the best on your search whereever it takes you.

I spent seven years in a job that was physically and mentally exhausting, where I had no support from TPTB, where my supervisor’s attitude toward me changed at the drop of a hat depending on what TPTB were annoyed with me about that day, and where I was underpaid and unappreciated. I got a raise my first year, and then nothing after that. I worked 10 hour days, sometimes longer, took on all sorts of additional projects and tasks, and was never given any sort of recognition for it. There were bright moments here and there, but too few and far between.

I quit, moved 11 hours away, and spent four months looking for a job. I found one that’s completely different from what I had been doing, is twice the pay, ten times more stimulating, and regular hours. I was promoted seven months later, and literally the first ten minutes of my weekly check-ins with my supervisor are “You are doing an amazing job and we appreciate it so much.” I just celebrated the one year anniversary of moving, and I’m blown away at the changes that have happened in that time. I can’t believe I put up with that crap for so long!! Even though it’s in an office, and I have to get up ridiculously early in the morning- I am just STUPID HAPPY.

This is probably the best thing you could have done for yourself… definitely take your time and find some place that deserves to have you as its employee!!

That’s so cool, bobkitty - I’m glad it worked out for you.

Your whole job next week, or for several weeks should be not thinking about jobs, careers, or reinventing. You should be enjoying the time at home, spending time with the kids, catching up on the todo list, and a modicum of watching soap operas and eating bon-bons. After you’ve had a break and let the recent events fade then you can begin the process of reinvention. If you’re lucky, boredom will intercede and provide the inspiration you need. But even if you need to spend time trying things and researching, it’s best to do it when your mind is cleared of the mundane concerns you’ve been used to for a while. I kind of get from an earlier thread of yours that your husband will be a ‘no time like the present’ type of guy. But reinventing isn’t something you can do by following a set of steps. You really have to let go of preconceived notions and clear the habitual patterns from your thoughts.

In the end you may go back to what you were doing before in a different environment. But if you have the opportunity to look for something else, take advantage of it, even if you end up going in a full circle back to where you were, the journey is worthwhile.

Contact those people who spoke glowingly of your work and get them for references! You will find that essential, and maybe you can even find out if they have any leads on new jobs.

And i quote from the OP :

Well, if you are reinventing oneself, and need to avoid ‘standard office jobs’ what would you consider? Nonstandard office job - receptionist in a bordello?

The pink collar ghetto is something I have experience with, and to be honest, I loved working as a machinist, I liked walking rounds as a security guard. I wasn’t thrilled with working in a boiler room setting appointments for time shares. If you are burnt out by office jobs, why not try something entirely different like manual labor or security work for a while to break the burnout.

Sheesh, you act like I advised her to go work for the Chicken Ranch or something. As I said, there is NOTHING wrong with manual labor. Why should anybody be sentenced to office work as if it was the only decent job to have?

You are, of course, going to sue them for Constructive Dismissal or your local variant thereof, aren’t you?

Or while we’re at it, how about walking across a bed of nails and/or burning hot coal? Or alternatively, how about swimming across a freezing lake?

I just don’t see why the OP needs to be punished for quitting their job…

I hadn’t thought about that.

Plumbers? Minimum wage worker? Are you serious?

I’m pretty good friends with my plumber. He has a small two-man shop (with a receptionist). In the past year he has:

  1. Taken me for a ride on his 30 foot yacht
  2. Bought a new house on several acres to upgrade from his waterfront home
  3. Asked for my advice on the purchase of a private airplane
  4. Invited me to his multi-thousand acre hunting lease
  5. Proudly shown his new his-and-hers Harleys (for he and the wife)
  6. Commiserated about the expense of sending his kid to private college

I’d say plumber, hvac, electrician, etc. is the single best career advice you can give to someone.

Why are you being so snotty towards me? And what is your problem with starting off slowly in a NONSTRESS JOB like a starting position in a totally different field. As I said before, and I repeat it - THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH WORKING IN TRADES.

And yet as an apprentice you do not yet make that kind of money, but thanks for pointing out that when they are fully trained and have worked enough to get experience they can rake in serious amounts of money.

Look people, back when I was a tender lass of 22 [1983] , I was running some machine shops for the company I worked for and was making a salary of $50K per year plus per diem and bonus money when traveling [about another $25-50K depending on what I was doing]. If I had worked for myself, back when minimum was under $5 per hour, I would have been making $8 - $14 per hour, depending on how much experience I had [I know, that was the wage range in my shops.] Back in the late 80s when I was working as an ASE certified valve mechanic on a couple of jobs for Henze-Movats in nuke plants, I was making $17 per hour and $65 a day per diem. mrAru is currently applying for a position as a NDT quality control tech for $19 per hour starting with a raise after 6 months … TRADES CAN PAY QUITE WELL. To be perfectly honest, I do not know many office positions under management level that pay that kind of money. The most I have ever made in the pink collar ghetto was $17 per hour, and I was lower management and working as a forensic accountant.

Trades can pay very well when you reach the master level. But starting out the pay can be low, and the availability of work can be very limited. If a particular trade isn’t right for you, the experience you’ve gained along the way may not be useful in any other occupation. The big money in the trades comes from owning the business and making your money from the apprentices and journeymen working for you. But these same factors apply to many other professions also. There’s nothing wrong with working in the trades, it’s like any other career that can have it’s ups and downs.