Next phase of your career: design

The future of the Internet is design: from fine art galleries to the size of the box you type in name. So start figuring out how to rejigger things to make your career relevant.

Here’s how I know what’s coming:

First, a flurry of emails arrive in my in-box each day touting “free infographics.” After sniffing around, I discovered that infographics garner so many clicks that SEO mavens publish quick, cheesy infographics to hand out for free in exchange for links back to publisher sites. The infographics suck so much that I’m not even going to show you one, but there’s a lesson here: people love pictures. Read more

Melissa rides her horse every morning before she goes to work, at noon, which is when her boss gets to work. I am sad that Melissa is happy because now she will not come back to the farm and be my permanent photographer.

I used to feel sorry for Brad and Angelina because they had photographers trailing them all the time. Now I think they are lucky because if they had a blog, they'd have so many good photos to use.

I feel like the parent of a twenty-something who wants their kid to stop feeling lost, but wants that feeling of being unlost to happen a little closer to home. I know that's selfish. And anyway, I'm not even Melissa’s mom. But I think I want to be because I wonder where my place is in her life. Read more

I realize that the last time you heard from me, the Farmer was running me over with his tractor. But it was just a fight. Today I feel like I fit on the farm. When I am getting along with the Farmer, the whole farm feels enchanting – even a goat standing on top of my car and probably putting a dent in it.

It’s reframing: When you feel like you’re in the right place, you can reframe the bad stuff to feel like good stuff. I learned this from all the counseling I went through after being at the World Trade Center when it fell. Now that it’s almost the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I field a phone call each week from a reporter writing a story about how 9/11 affected the survivors, and I always talk about reframing.

I’m starting to think where I fit, in terms of my career, is saying what none of us wants to hear, and then reframing it so it feels good.
Read more

Melissa left yesterday. She moved back to Austin. She moved for a job that I think is totally stupid, but her future employer reads this blog, so I have to watch what I say. On the other hand, she ended up giving references the same day I posted about me worrying about her having an affair with the Farmer, so the woman interviewing her decided not to use me as a reference.

I can see why she wouldn’t want to have to deal with me. But, if I am not a reliable reference then I’m probably also, in her eyes, not a reliable person for assessing whether the job that Melissa took is totally stupid for her to take. So maybe she is just ignoring my blog anyway. Or maybe she is printing out each post and putting it on she office wall and throwing darts at it.

The second-to-last day Melissa was here, we went berry picking.

The farm is full of little pockets of wild blackberries. And we set out to pick enough for me to make a pie.
Read more

If you ask the Farmer, he would tell you that I was really really nice to him last week while he was in bed, immobile, strung out on six Percocet a day. I made him pies, and French toast, and meat at every meal because there is no amount of Percocet that would make him not want to eat meat.

I watched gunslinger movies with him when he was groggy and I made sure to talk only about innocuous topics like the state of world politics, something that we’d never fight about.

I can’t tell you everything went smoothly. I forgot to let the chickens out a few days. I lost the new bag of Cat Chow and served ground beef for two days of heaven on earth for the cats. And, there were a few times the goats got into the house. But we figured out how to handle everything.

Until the Farmer felt better: His back didn’t hurt so he wanted to work. So, he just stopped taking the Percocet. Cold turkey. And because we live in the country, the doctor gave the Farmer sixty Percocet pills with no instructions for how to go off narcotics. Read more

Are you a trend spotter?

Ten years ago, when I was pitching my book to publishers, one publisher leaned back in his chair and said, “I don’t get it, she’s never worked in Human Resources, she’s not part of Generation Y, and we can’t even figure out what her career is. So how is she qualified to give career advice to young people?”

I got sweaty. I had pretty much run out of money, and I had spent my last dollar on getting clothes that would hide that I was pregnant. Every time I thought about this book deal falling through, I felt sick.

My agent said, “She is great at seeing trends. She sees trends before everyone else. Generation Y is going to be huge in the workplace. Alternative careers are going to be huge. She is the only person talking about it. She is a franchise. She will be writing books about trendspotting for the rest of her life.”

I could have hugged my agent. I had never thought of myself the way she described me. I mostly just thought of myself as someone who couldn’t even handle playing on the professional beach volleyball tour for more than a year.

So, with my agent’s endorsement (sort of—I think she has fired me because of my insolence when it comes to not following publishing industry conventions) I present my three favorite trends of this year:

Read more

I am not a big believer in the dream job. For one thing, I don’t think people know their dream job. Because it’s a job description that has to cover eight hours a day of work. It’s hard to imagine something you’d love to do eight hours a day, much less fit into in a nice, neat job description.

And then there’s the be-careful-what-you-wish-for syndrome. Because it’s hard to know what you’d like to do for eight hours a day til you try it.

I used to think I wanted to be a sex writer. My master’s thesis from graduate school was about my sex life. But when I tried to support myself writing about sex, when I started pitching stories to Cosmo, I found that no one wanted to hire me; magazines hire people to write about officially important sex research. I wanted to write about me.

So I looked for that magic intersection of things I’m good at and things I like to do and things people will pay me for. And I ended up being a career writer. Fortunately, though, I was able to be a career writer writing about me.

Which is probably what I wanted to do all along. So this is a great argument for the advice I give all the time which is to shut up about not having your dream job and just take any job so you can learn about what people will pay you to do that you might like to do.

Still, I am very excited to tell you that finally, someone offered to pay me to write about my sex life. I had a great time, but surprise, I discovered that I couldn’t resist slipping in some career advice anyway. So I guess I have my dream job, right here. If there were such thing as a dream job.

Anyway, here’s the piece I wrote, for The Daily Beast.

I’ve spent three years writing about how graduate school is a waste of time and money (yes, business school and law school too). So now when radio and TV producers need someone to bitch about graduate school, they call me.

Here I am on NPR today. I don't usually post my interviews, but this one is notable because I completely lost patience for people still defending grad school. It's so clear, even to defenders of grad school, that grad school is a bad financial decision, that this guy has resorted to saying that you need to go to grad school to be a good person. Of course, I went nuts on him.

I think the thing that is pushing me over the edge with graduate school is that people who are thinking straight about schooling are not even considering graduate school. These people are debating if college is a rip off (here’s a great discussion in New York magazine with James Altucher, a venture capitalist in NYC) And people are even debating if high school is useless (here’s a great post by Lisa Nielsen who is with the NYC Department of Education). And anyway, I’m losing interest in the debate about grad school because I’m convinced that the future belongs to home schoolers because they are self-learners.

Also, for those of you who keep telling me that there are some fields you absolutely have to have a degree for, check out the song 99 Problems by Jay-Z. The song includes great legal advice about Miranda rights, racial profiling and search warrants, even though he doesn’t have a law degree or a creative writing certificate to prove his poetic talents. Read more

I didn't notice how much Yiddish I use until I moved to Wisconsin and people had not heard any Yiddish. I keep using it, though because it’s a great supplement to English; almost all Yiddish words we use with English are actually extremely nuanced ways to express negative feelings about something or someone.

Take, for example, tsotcke, chazzerai, and schmate. In this photo, the candlesticks are tsotchkes—they are stuff I don't need but I have in the house because I like them. In general, if it's your stuff, it's valuable or sentimental, but to other people, it's just tsotchkes.

The stuff in front of my candlesticks is chazzerai—junky toys. The kids still play with them, but only in so far as they are weapons to catapult into each others' heads under the guise of a missed toss. Chazzerai is more negative than tsotchke. If it's a tsotchke, everyone wants to throw it out except for the owner. If it's chazzerai, even the owner will not rescue it from the garbage.

Using Yiddish is a way to feel a sense of belonging through a common language. There are lots of ways to feel like you belong. When I work at a company I belong through a common goal.

Last week I flew to Washington DC for a Brazen Careerist meeting, with Ryan Paugh. When he saw what I was wearing and he said, “Nu? What’s with this schmate around your waist?”

He didn't actually say that. He might have if he were Jewish. Instead, he said, “That sweater is pretty dirty.” I put another schmate over my schmate because if you have one schmate it's just a rag—which is the literal translation of the word. But two schmates, I was hoping, is more Mary-Kate Olsen. Read more

Increasingly it makes sense to me that the workforce is segregated by gender.

There are, in fact, jobs where mostly women belong, and there are jobs where mostly men belong, and that's fine. It's outdated to think there are no differences between men and women. And once we accept there are differences, we need to study them instead of downplay them.

One of the most difficult parts of coming of age today is that there are no clear paths in the new topography of work. The terms quarterlife crisis and emerging adulthood have come to us as a result of the new scramble to figure out where to go in adult life. In order to create safe, compassionate, growth-oriented paths through adult life, we need to understand where women and men fit best.

I have taken a lot of shots at this topic before. Most notably, I've pointed out that women want to be with kids more than men do. That explains Pew’s findings that most women want part-time jobs rather than full-time jobs after they have kids, but men do not.

But what about gender differences before there are kids? Where do men belong? Where do women belong? Here are three places women do not generally fit: Read more