Thursday, March 03, 2011

Weekend Assignment #358: Careering Along

For Weekend Assignment #359: Career Day 2, I asked,

Weekend Assignment #359: Career Day 2
It's often said that most people will change careers several times over the course of their working lives. If money, age and educational resources were all conducive to your trying another line of work, would you do so? If so, what new career would you choose?

Extra Credit: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Nine years ago, I went back to school to study for a degree in a field that my younger self would never, ever have considered: accounting. When my mom, back in the 1970s, used to extoll the joys of bookkeeping, English (and Film) Major Karen thought she was, if not actually crazy, at least charmingly eccentric. Accounting? Me?

No, I was going to be a Writer, with (possibly) a capital R! I was going to write my novel about Rani and his friends, and original screenplays, and maybe television. And just in case that wasn't a practical career choice, I was going to own a used bookstore, and type my scripts in between customers. That was the plan.

Jenny at Rockarama
Outside Rockarama with Jenny Dog, circa 1983
Of course it didn't quite work out that way, but I did in fact co-own and manage a store as a young adult, selling a few used books but mostly used records and related merchandise (posters, buttons, patches and so on). It never made us any money, so we used to subsidize it by selling our wares at record shows nearly every weekend in nearby Midwestern cities. Eventually I had to get a real job, working for someone else's record store. Over the years I've worked at Friendly Ice Cream, McDonald's, two record store chains, two video store chains, five travel agencies, a mortgage company, an RV dealership, a used clothing chain, a manufacturer of aviation equipment, a maker of medical equipment, a church, and several other organizations of one sort or another, I've read textbooks to a blind grad student, and gone door to door as an enumerator for R.L. Polk.

And most of those jobs earned me little more than minimum wage, in a few cases even less than minimum. The whole point of going back to school was to become more employable in a field that pays well. That worked at first, but then the economy tanked, and I'm only now getting back to working more or less full time for a decent wage.

Would I change careers again? I have to tell you, when I took ten weeks of Business Law in the fall of 2003, I got all excited about it. I really loved learning about legal decisions and the reasoning behind them. Were it not for my age, money issues and the fact that I hate confrontations, I'd have switched to law school then and there. I'd still love to split the difference, and do forensic accounting and fraud examination. But first I'd need to get through the CPA exam, and more exams besides.

Well, it could happen, but don't count on it. I've a better chance of selling the novels than of becoming a CFE. Actually, I'd rather sell the novels!

What was my childhood ambition, even before the dreams of writing? At first, under the influence of Albert Payson Terhune, Walter Farley and Jim Kjelgaard, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then I realized I couldn't handle the blood and guts and dead puppies, so I switched to the idea of being a dog breeder. The plan was to breed Pomeranians back up to sled dog size. In reality, I have never owned a purebred dog, unless it was the stray Labrador puppy I had for a few weeks once; and as responsible dog owners we've always had our dogs spayed if they weren't that way already.

One more potential career change is probably worth a mention. My dad really enjoyed my tour guide schtick during his recent visit to Tucson, and I did briefly aspire to be a nature guide back in the 1980s. I can see me taking charter tour groups around Arizona twenty years from now, if there were a market for that sort of thing.

Then again: maybe I should be a lion tamer!


1 comment:

barrettmanor said...

But do you have the hat, Karen? That's the most important part!