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niki's avatar

How to tackle the "can’t get experience without a job; can’t get a job without experience" problem?

Asked by niki (699 points ) June 27th, 2012

I am turning 30 yrs old soon, and unfortunately I feel that I’ve made many wrong decisions and taken the wrong path, starting especially from taking the wrong major in university (4 years in Finance, which is mostly due to pressure from my parents & uncle; I’m from Chinese family), and thus now stuck in a job/business that I really have no motivation (helping my father’s business in manufacturing).

I have always been deeply interested in other ‘deeper’ things in life such as: human’s psychology, philosophy, spirituality, and lately even deeper into Dreams study!

With such fields as above, I think what would make some money (although I don’t always like the concept of “live for making money only”, but that’s I’ve discussed in my other Fluther questions) is to teach, or write a book.
The problem is: sometimes I’m afraid if to teach or write a book indeed requires a related Uni degree / title / credentials , or related work experiences in those same field, and all those prerequisites, whereas largely I was unfortunately/sadly from a ‘business’ background (which I really regret honestly).

Hence, the “can’t get experience without a job, can’t get a job without experience.”
My question therefore is: how can I bypass and solve this ‘classic’ problem?

To be more specific and detailed:

1) Can I also just go straight-forward directly into writing a book and/or teach those subjects/fields I’m interested (ie: learning by myself, self-learning through books, internet, etc) without being judged by publishers of lacking credentials in related field?

2) Or if I can’t, and really have no other choice than to take university again, is there a 1-year only school, or sort of an ‘extension’ school for those subjects above? Can I combine all those fields into one writings?

3) Last question, but not the least importance: what if I don’t have enough money , and also consideration of Time, and also parents’ pressures,..do you think I can still go back to the university to take those majors and obtain the Degree ? or, is there any other alternative or even much better and simpler ways?

thank you~

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6 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

You really do have to go back to school. To teach at a university – which is what I’m assuming you’re talking about – you have to have a graduate degree, though I’m unsure of exactly which degree you would need in your region. Because you already have a degree, you might be able to get into a grad program that’s not business; you might have to agree to take a few classes in the area first for not majoring in it, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to get a second undergrad.

You certainly can write a book, the question is, will anyone publish it? And if you’re hoping to have it be taken seriously as work, then you need the degree. If you’re just hoping to sell lots of books, then you might not need as many credentials so long as it was populist enough, but even still, it’d be an uphill battle to get publishers to publish it.

funkdaddy's avatar

You have a lot of directions and ideas in your question, but you don’t seem especially focused on any of them in particular. If you want to do something different, there are two suggestions that might help.

1) Decide specifically what it is you want to do. You can do anything but you have to know what it is first.

2) If you can’t or don’t want to decide at this point, surround yourself with people who share your interests. Opportunities will naturally come out of that and you can explore different areas without setting out on a specific path. If you stick with it you’ll find a fit for your ambitions.

We’re lucky to live in a time when anyone can self publish or reach an audience with their ideas. The down side is those ideas have to stand out as unique or useful. You don’t need anyone’s permission to start teaching or writing so just start practicing and see if it’s really what you want to do with your time.

mattbrowne's avatar

Internships with little pay.

DaphneT's avatar

You have a treasure trove of inspiration for launching a writing career and you don’t see it? Then yes you do need to report to University and acquire a grounding in human psychology, philosophy, sociology and spirituality(theology, religious studies).
At the same time really look at your family business and tell the story of your life and those around you who are psychology, philosophy and spirituality in action.

You can write about many things, and you should always write about what you know, but many people do lots of research to write about what they don’t know because they want to know.

dabbler's avatar

@DaphneT “look at your family business and tell the story of your life and those around you who are psychology, philosophy and spirituality in action.” brilliant !

wundayatta's avatar

You can really only write knowledgeably about what you know very well. You need to be knowledgeable because good writing has details that show people things they didn’t know before; things only an expert might know. There are two ways to gain knowledge: through personal experience and through study and research.

If you have a lot of personal experience in what you want to write about, then you can start now. You may have to do some research, but you already have a huge knowledge base that will allow you to write interestingly about your subject material.

If you don’t know much about your subjects of interest, you will need to learn about them. You can do this by gaining personal experience; by studying on your own; or by studying in an academic institution.

@DaphneT points out one place where you already are an expert: your own life and family. That is typically what a lot of writers write about. You can start writing about your family and if you are a good writer, it will be interesting and perhaps a publisher will be interested in it if it is different enough, but also similar enough to whatever else they do.

If you decide to go back to grad school, don’t go to a program unless they pay you to go. I.e., being a student is your way of earning a living. If you can’t get a full scholarship and stipend and teaching assistantship, that means the school doesn’t think highly enough of you to really want you. Hold out for a school that wants you badly enough to pay you.

They won’t pay you enough to live on, but they will also help you get loans, and between your assistantship and your loans and any stipends, you will be able to survive while in school. You will need a job when you get out—presumably a writing job. There aren’t a lot of novelists for hire out there, so a lot of writers do freelance work, or write for a magazine or newspaper, and some become professors.

The other thing that a lot of writers do is to keep their day job, and write when they are not at work. This takes a lot of discipline. But its advantage is that money isn’t such a worry. You can fulfill your familial obligations while doing what you want to to do, and if you are good enough, you can get published, and then you might have reason to quit your job. If you are truly serious about writing, you should be able to find the discipline necessary to do this.

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