Making a career change at 35. Advice?

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by Slim, Dec 7, 2003.

  1. Slim

    Slim Formula 3

    Oct 11, 2001
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Full Name:
    I currently have my own graphic design and marketing company and still do websites and other internet stuff. But business isn't what it used to be and I'm also becomming quite burned out on it. I'm good at what I do but there just aren't enough clients who really want to spend the money and time for good work, so most jobs aren't all that interesting.

    So I'm thinking about dropping everything and doing something completely different. I have a BA in philosophy from UC Santa Barbara and then spent 6 years in Japan teaching, designing, writing for magazines, and trying my hand at publishing my own magazine: I'm reasonably fluent in Japanese (and still use it daily). I've worked in market research, start ups, a real design firm, and then for the last few years on my own (outsourcing or partnering as needed).

    The problem is that I'm 35 and have a wife and two young kids. So I can't completely drop eveything to reinvent myself. If I could, the race mechanic school at Sears Point sounds fun, ha!

    I know this forum has people from all sorts of professions and so I'm wondering what you all might recommend that a guy like me look into. My goal is not to make millions: just to make a good living at something reasonably interesting that provides for my family, and has a reasonably good long term outlook for job security here in the US.

    Keep in mind that I have a family and enjoy spending at least some time with them and also need to have some income at all times: this may rule out something like law school for example. I also have very little capital available for investment and thanks to some mistakes in the dot com boom days don't have good credit either. Boy, I'm a mess, aren't I? ha!

    Thanks in advance for any ideas,

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  3. tvrfreak

    tvrfreak F1 Rookie

    Mar 31, 2003
    Full Name:
    F K
    can't help you too much, but my suggestion is to capitalize on your Japanese language skills when you look for another career, and even during the transition.

    Could you perhaps do translation work, mediation, etc., for Japan-based companies who need to conduct business here? Or help US concerns wanting to break into the Japanese market. Or maybe you could teach Japanese and provide cultural orientation at a community college, perhaps in a program aimed at executives? Maybe become a corporate trainer?

    With the overseas outsourcing going on, I don't think a career in a computing field would be well-advised.Also, if you are going to provide financially, and try to break into a new career, I think you should be prepared to sacrifice a lot of your family time.

    I know electricians do relatively well, if you want to get licensed and work in the home-building/home-improvement industry.

    Very best,
  4. Mojo

    Mojo Formula 3

    Sep 24, 2002
    Washington St.
    Full Name:
    Good money in realestate if you like sales. And not to hard to get into.
    Thats my backup if I ever lose my job, I think I would enjoy it.
  5. Mark(study)

    Mark(study) F1 Veteran

    Oct 13, 2001
    Clearwater, FL
    Full Name:
    Its still a tough job market. Here's some brain storming…… for what its worth.

    Step #1
    If your wife works... try to get her a better job/family health benefits. Then you have more flexibility to retool for what you want to do.

    Do you get news letter or hang out on Japanese web sites that advertise for Americans? I haven't looked at them for a few years but there use to be a good demand for Americans who would work overseas?

    I work as a Headhunter and companies are still being picky. If they have a job that needs 7 years experience in a specific skill... they still have a pick of 5 or 6 candidates with that or more exact experience, so most are not willing to give under-skilled workers a chance to work his way up.

    The only segment I see real growth in is Home Land Security, Military, Web Security... seem to be hot growth markets. Look into niches that have terrorist fighting ties.

    If you have a skill for learning Languages, you might look into Arabic. Seems to be a demand in the Government and Military for code and translation type departments. My stepbrother is 35 and very busy working as consultant for military in computer data industry, he has done well because he learned Chinese.
  6. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Jul 20, 2003
    Full Name:
    Dirty Harry
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  8. davem

    davem F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Jan 21, 2002
    Stepford, Connecticut
    Full Name:
    dave m
    Slim. Sounds familiar im 41 and at about the same age as you was thinking of changing into another biz. I was kinda burnt out and not making as much money as i wanted. I looked at many diffrent biz plans.
    Bottom line the more i delved into them, the more i saw i would have similiar challenges to those now. I did a 180 an grew my business.
    Don't underestimate all the contacts you have established an "people in the know".
    Slim can't say if your in the same situation from your post. Good luck!
  9. adamr

    adamr Formula Junior

    Aug 16, 2002
    As another has said... Slim, you may want to take advantage of your Japanese skills; maybe recruiting Japanese business executive for American companies.
  10. Schatten

    Schatten F1 World Champ
    Owner Rossa Subscribed

    Apr 3, 2001
    Austin, TX
    Full Name:
    one other thought, which I'm unsure if you do - translate japanese auto part websites for them. I'm tired of buying "blakes" from them. =)
  11. Slim

    Slim Formula 3

    Oct 11, 2001
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Full Name:
    Thanks for the ideas and advice everyone.

    Good suggestion Faisal! That's actually what I had thought to do when I returned to the states. One of the things I did in Tokyo was teach English to Japanese business people (and research doctors, lawyers, etc.) and I realized that I wasn't teaching them language as much as I was helping them understand how to interact with Americans in the business/academic world.

    So I pictured myself doing the same thing for American business people wishing to do business in Japan: teach them basic greetings in Japanese, about the importance of business cards and how/when to present them, what to do when invited out to drink after meetings (still a very important part of business there) and how to avoid various cultural faux pas. I also could take advantage of connections I have there to help clients find partners, set up an office or secretary service, find out about customs regulations, shipping, etc.

    This would be very interesting work for me but upon returning to California from Tokyo, I realized that since I had gone to Japan right out of university, I had basically no contacts in the business world here and I just wasn't able to make enough contacts and put my plan it into action before being offered a design job and going down that path into the dot com world.

    My Japanese skills are not to the point that I would be a great translator of lengthy business or technical documents or contracts (though I have people I hire to do this when needed). My spoken Japanese is much stronger and I think I would do well as an interpreter for those traveling to Japan or meeting Japanese clients here though. I also thought of offering my services as a bit of a "spy": meetings with the Japanese are often conducted in English but I could go along and then tip off my clients about what the Japanese are saying amongst themselves in Japanese or what their body language is telling me. Just sitting there and saying nothing would be perfectly natural to the Japanese since they'd have members of their team who probably won't speak up either. I feel this "spy" work would be valuable and save time because the Japanese often do not want to come out and say something directly and Americans can sometimes be pretty lousy at reading this stuff. So they go round and round, with the Americans not realizing what the real sticking point may be. They also might misinterpret body language (simple example: when a Japanese person smiles, it is just as likely that they embarrassed or nervous and not pleased), or what the Japanese person really meant by something they said in English.

    I also wouldn't mind being hired to "take care of" Japanese business people when visiting the states for meetings here (drive them around and whatnot: the better they are taken care of, the better chance you have of getting their business because they'll believe they'll get equal service from you on business issues), and likewise would be happy to go along with Americans to Japan to just take care of travel, lodging, any interpreting that needs to be done while moving about, etc. I have no problems with traveling for work (as long as I touch home now and then). I've let my visa lapse in Japan since we've been living here but can get one immediately (since my wife is Japanese) if it's required for a lengthy posting in Japan and we also have my wife's parent's old house in Yokohama (20 min from Tokyo proper) for quick housing needs.

    So I guess my questions any of you work for corporations that do business with Japan or do business yourself and if so, would you find any of these services something you could use? What would you expect to pay for this sort of training? Would you find having a Japanese speaker on your team helpful for meetings? Are there any other needs in this arena you might have? If you don't have a need, how would recommend I go about finding those that do and selling them on my service?

    Thanks again,

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