What should I do?


I need your help.

I’m 26 turning 27 at the end of the year.

While I have had jobs, I haven’t held a steady one for more than six months. I’ve had a lot of family complications which held me back from having a stable life (these complications are now no longer a factor). Among other things, I had to drop everything to care for an almost terminally ill mother and I never got any true familial support or guidance due to a combination of my mother’s illness and my father’s abuse and addiction to prescription drugs.

I’m in school finishing up an Associates (albeit in Liberal Arts). I have 90 credits; where I live 120 is enough for a Bachelors and I was looking to pursue a career in substance abuse counseling and also minor if I can in library science (record keeping and such is a big passion of mine).

The big question is what should I do now as far as work? I’d like to try getting something a little more prestigious and higher paying than McDonalds…My family has suggested applying for the city job tests…Is that realistic?

Basically, how fucked am I and what are my chances of having a steady, well-enough paying job (well enough to meet basic needs + girlfriend) by say December? I don’t want to work in the restaurant industry as I have tried it and don’t feel it is for me - nothing something I would be good at. Ideally I’d like to do something which is slower paced but well paying - such as working with senior citizens or even stuff like janitorial work if possible while going for my Bachelors and Masters.

I really don’t want to end up a loser, so any suggestions are appreciated.

I think it might help if you said where you are.

As someone who works in Civil Service, absolutely take the tests and whatnot for their jobs. However, be aware that the time scale for Civil Service jobs is much slower than regular jobs. It’s mostly like this…

February 15 - Take test.
July 3 - A job is posted for the position you tested for, in your area; there is a 2-week window to submit applications.
July 17 - window is closed; they begin looking at applications and eliminating those that aren’t qualified.
August 6 - They call/email qualifying candidates and set up initial interviews
August 20 - They finish the first round of interviews
August 25 - They call in the candidates from the first round who will be given a second interview
September 1 - They offer the job to the winning candidate

In other words - civil service jobs are a long-term strategy, not good for people who want/need a job quickly. Yes, absolutely do it - the benefits and job stability are awesome - but find something else to do along the way while you wait for the process to resolve.

Any factories in the area? Unless your area has significantly higher unemployment than average, there should always be places hiring. Find a temp agency and let them do the legwork for you. When placed, if there’s a chance to be hired on full-time, bust your ass until it happens. It’s not glamorous - it’s usually hot, dirty, sweaty, uncomfortable work, but it pays far better than fast food, and usually offers a benefits package. It will tide you over until you can find a job that more suits your long-term goals. Don’t sit around and let the perfect being the enemy of the good.

I don’t know your local labour market, but I find it very hard to think you’d be all washed up with no hope of getting a decent job. For one thing, sticking to your studies with all that you’ve been through shows “stickability”, which any sensible employer would value.

Taking the tests sounds like a good idea, as a confidence booster and market tester, if nothing else. But also, is there any scope for taking on temporary work or even some volunteer hours in the fields you mention, through specialist agencies for library work or care for older people? That would all add value to the CV (sorry, resumé).

What can’t be predicted is how long it would take to get where you want.

If there is a college in your area, apply there. Many people work admin jobs in colleges and they may have a reduced tuition policy.

Moderator Action

Since this is more advice than factual, let’s move it to IMHO (from GQ).

How good are you at talking to people? RV sales can be a real money-maker, especially if you live in warmer areas. I grossed $20K in three months at a percentage commission dealership in Alaska. A lot of dealerships will train you, if you’ve got potential.

NYC. Brooklyn.

I work for my state government and what Maggie said is pretty close to my experience. I applied and then pretty much forgot about it and eventually got a different job in the private sector. I’d been at my job for a couple of months when I was called asking for an interview for the government position.

One difference in my case was that after my interviews they wanted me immediately so I started work within a few weeks (including a 2 week notice to my then-employer).

It worked out well for me. It’s pretty secure employment with great benefits, pay isn’t that bad, and in a couple of decades I can retire with a pension. :slight_smile:

Have you checked to see if your school has student jobs available?