Periodically I stress afresh about finding a job. I wish so hard that there was something I WANTED to do. Right now it is almost impossible to GET a job (I can’t work summers yet, for example, and dislike working with other people’s children), but if I had a job in mind for the relatively near future, then I could start taking classes or volunteering in that field, so that I’d be more ready when the time is right. Instead I go around in circles.
One problem is that it’s hard to know what jobs even EXIST, or what those jobs INVOLVE, or what is required to FIND and ACQUIRE those jobs. Lots of people are in very satisfying jobs they would never have drawn a picture of in first grade, because “accounts receivable” wasn’t a field that sprang to mind.
So here is what I would enjoy talking about, if you would enjoy talking about it too: I’d like to know what your job INVOLVES, and what it REQUIRES (education-/skill-wise), and maybe what you personally find satisfying and unsatisfying about it, and what you’d advise someone else to do in order to ACQUIRE it. This may mean very long comments, and you just go right ahead with that: I will be hanging on your every word. And you don’t HAVE to answer all the questions, either: sometimes I feel awkward if I only want to talk about one part of what a blogger is asking about, but sometimes I have 30 seconds and limited interest, so I get it if that’s your situation here.
I’ll go first, to give an example. I worked as a pharmacy technician for a couple of years. I found it because my mom was picking up a prescription and noticed a sign taped to the counter saying that they were looking for a pharmacy technician; if I wanted that job again, I’d go ask at various pharmacy counters. I’d continue to ask periodically, because at least at my pharmacy it wasn’t the kind of job where they kept applications on file; they’d start over every time they needed someone. It can have relatively high turnover, so I would definitely take a subbing or part-time position, feeling fairly confident that it would be full-time/permanent soon.
It’s an entry-level job with on-the-job training: no education is required. Customer service skills would be good to have: a lot of the job was interacting with customers. General computer comfortability would be nice to have; I had one co-worker who found computers inexplicable, and so I liked very much to work with her, because she would handle the register/customers, and I would handle the computers/medicines.
It’s hard to estimate, but I’d say about 50% of the job was filling prescriptions (counting pills or pouring liquids from fetched bottles, bagging them up and handling the paperwork, reshelving the bottles, filing the bags in the drawer), about 40% of the job was register/customer work (ringing up purchases, dealing with complaints, taking phone calls), and about 10% of the job was miscellaneous (putting away the weekly shipments of medicines, going through the drawers to get rid of prescriptions that hadn’t been picked up, filing original copies of prescriptions in storage boxes, restocking the supply of empty bags and bottles, going through the shelves of medications to find the ones expiring in less than a year).
What I found personally unsatisfying about the job was most of the register/customer work. One problem I have is that I am smiley and polite and friendly, and so my bosses think “SHE SHOULD BE ON THE REGISTER!!”—but I SUFFER. Every snippy or unfair thing a customer says stays with me FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I handle it politely and then go cry in the bathroom and/or lie awake thinking about it years later. Not a good fit for me, especially considering how many people feel free to vent to clerks. I also wasn’t fond of restocking, but I don’t think any of us were.
I also found the pay unsatisfying: $8/hour, with a raise to $8.50/hour after I’d been there a year. And there wasn’t much room for advancement: I could become a certified technician easily (by taking a pass/fail test), but that came with nothing but a small pay raise and a potentially improved pecking order among the other clerks, and after that the only remaining step was a pharmacist degree, which didn’t appeal. (That’s a job of careful, diligent, meticulous data-checking with potential fatal consequences for errors. The motto is “If it’s not 100% right, it’s 100% wrong.”)
What I found very satisfying was inputting (i.e., taking the paper prescription and putting it into the computer) and filling (i.e., counting/measuring the medicine and putting it in a labeled bottle) the prescriptions. I liked the process of taking a pile of work to be done (a list of one hundred refills when I arrived in the morning, for example), and turning that into a pile of finished work. I liked bustling around rapidly, taking an armload of bottles off the shelves and pairing them up with their refill paperwork. If we lived in a more populous area or near the right kind of business, I might be able to get a job that was all filling prescriptions, no helping customers, and I think I would genuinely enjoy that. Alas. Well, the pay would still be unsatisfying.
I liked taking the doctor’s scribbles and putting them neatly into the computer; I liked learning/knowing the codes doctors use to write prescriptions. I liked when insurance would reject a prescription, and I had learned enough to be able to figure out why, and then to either fix it or at least to be able to explain to the customer what had happened and what needed to be done (as long as the customer listened and understood, rather than giving me more things to lie awake thinking about). I liked knowing brand/generic name combinations, and I liked how eventually I got familiar enough with dosages to be able to notice when one was weird (1 mg instead of .1 mg) and mention it to the pharmacist. I liked that after awhile I knew which prescriptions were antibiotics and which were painkillers and so forth.
Okay, so that’s the sort of thing I mean, and I understand if you don’t want to write so much, but I wanted to give you an idea of all the SORTS of things I’m asking about. I am PARTICULARLY interested in jobs that require one year or less of education: I’ve got a nearly-useless (because of how old it is and how I haven’t had any job experience in the field since then) college degree in business already, and it’s hard to imagine justifying the expense/time of another when we’re about to try to help five children through college and when I don’t feel strongly about any particular career. That is, if I KNEW DEEP IN MY HEART that I wanted to be something that required a degree, I guess I’d go back and get another degree. But I DON’T know that. And I do HAVE the 4-year degree, in case a job requires “a college degree in whatever.”