Where to now? – Crowdsourced career advice

Unlike my AS peer Mr Trask, I'm unlikely to publish a book on my crippled escapades to make a living

Possum’s recent job plea has inspired me to do an experiment. Unlike him, I’m not explicitly seeking a job (although my ears and email are always open [FN1]). I’m merely looking for advice on what kind of job I should look for.

The short story is that I started studying economics because I liked the subject a great deal. I had no career ambitions in mind at all. This continued all the way to through honours year where I pursued a topic fascinating to me, but that was also very unlucractive.

During my honours year, my body revolted. My spine would spasm, fix into awkward shapes and provide a constant ache. A recurrent limp I had experienced for a long time now sometimes required a walking stick. At first I thought this was due to my long commutes (since I had moved for my wife’s work) but eventually I discovered it was genetic. It could be dealt with, but it wouldn’t go away. This wasn’t a barrier to an active lifestyle (in fact, it called for it), but it did preclude much sedentary activity.

Like sitting in a chair for long periods. Like every economics job in the world. 

In many ways this was fortunate.  It meant that I didn’t fall into the usual career paths of banks and bureaucracy where I would have become frustrated, or into post graduate education where my intellectual curiosity would have necessarily been muted in order to survive. Instead I lucked into part time work which, although unstimulating, is a stress free and pleasant environment, and they give me a great deal of flexibility. It meant I could still continue my interest in economics; Reading widely, doing ad hoc research assistance for one Nick Gruen and later posting here. I quite like living the way I do.

But I’m 25 now. A typical aimless (at least professionally) twenty something. I do need to get a move on and do something more sooner or later. I’m not pressed for cash either, but I do anticipate a desire for expensive goods such as children in the future.

So kind of jobs are good for me? I am an economist by inclination, with the skills one desires in an economist from econometric training to research and the vital ability to understand just what bullshit the rent seekers are pulling on a given day. Moreover, I simply care about actually having a proper understanding of the economic world, and not about pressing an agenda or selling a product.

I can write tolerably, at least this blog has given me reason to think so. I quite like being able to discuss things with economists outside the strangling bonds of academic papers, but I also relish the fact that some people without economic training may get a better understanding than they would reading the largely economically illiterate press corps. I like sharing economic concepts for their own sakes, but I’m also driven by the knowledge that if there is a vacuum, it will be (and is) filled with spivs.

I am unable to sit still both for physiological reasons and by temperament.

I have very wide interests, some that interrelate to economics, such as history, urban planning linguistics (self taught via my honours) – but also thngs like the writing of formalist comics. I studied Mandarin for three years ?????????? and I try to work on my Japanese so I can one day speak to my father-in-law.

None of this really fits well with anything I’ve ever seen in the jobs pages. Anyone have any ideas? May the crowds give me a compass.

[FN1] novo.mestroSHOES@gmailSHOES.com –  my inbox is a clean place, so remove shoes first

About Richard Tsukamasa Green

Richard Tsukamasa Green is an economist. Public employment means he can't post on policy much anymore. Also found at @RHTGreen on twitter.
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11 years ago

This is by way of comparison, not advice per se. A friend of mine had economics as her first degree cum laude. However for the PhD she did dendrology which involved some statistics and now she roams the world to core conifers for samples to count and compare. Occasionally with kids.

(So, maybe, get a real job, get a science degree.)

11 years ago

Maybe you could become an itinerant economist, wandering hither and yon, from hamlet to hamlet with economical advice, possibly in the form of poetry and song. I feel that many local and state budgets could be improved by being reshaped in the form of rhyming couplets, for instance.

11 years ago

You can tell you’re out of practice in your Mandarin.

You can always try your hand at becoming an auditor. If you work for a mid-tier firm there’s usually a lot of client contact which involves a lot of travelling (where you sit in other people’s offices for long periods)

11 years ago

Watch out for further recruiting to the federal Dept of Climate Change Richard.
From a look at the 30 odd graduates taken on in 09-10 they take a variety of grads invariably with honours. An itinerant economics grad (hons?) could have steered Garrett clear of the pink bats debacle. But there must be plenty more of interest in the field. Ahh if only I was 40 years younger. Tried to interest my electrical engineering grad son but he wants the money so is off to the mining boom. Happy hunting.

11 years ago

At the age of 46 as one of the people toiling away in the bureaucracy you will avoid (and yes it is a shocker for a surprisingly large number of our backs), I would simply like to say that from the tone of your post, you appear to have a very mature grasp of your situation for a person of your age. I wish I had had that level of insight at 25. While some people have very clear career goals, the main thing I have learnt in this regard is that hard work, integrity, happenstance and mixing with the right people do work wonders over time.

The only thing that strikes me is that the intersection of economics, politics and the environment would appear to be the place where some of most important decisions for the human race’s future will be taken in the next decades.

Good luck.

11 years ago

Since you have to keep moving due to your condition, I suggest you step into the role of the primary caregiver while the children are young. (But please don’t refer to children as “goods”, whether expensive or not.)

Tom N.
Tom N.
11 years ago

How about electorate officer for Andrew Leigh? The money is slack and you’d have to do some boring admin and token community consulation, but the psychic income would be enormous!

Nicholas Gruen
11 years ago

All the advice adds up to one thing Richard. One career.

Busk – as an economist. A world first.

James Rice
11 years ago

If you’re unable to sit in a chair for long periods, have you tried using a standing or stand-up desk and working standing up? I’ve never tried this myself, but in my university department we did have one overseas visitor who did his academic work standing up. He had his office in the department configured in a way that made this possible. There are several accounts on the internet of people’s experiences using a standing or stand-up desk, although, as I said, I haven’t tried this myself.


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