Saturday, January 29, 2011

Whistler has an occupational crisis again

Okay readers! What kind of job would I be good at and actually like?

I have been thinking about this lately since I have discovered that I don't want to be a professor. I hate going to conferences, I don't particularly like teaching composition, and I'm terrible at writing long papers. Why the heck was I even in my grad program? I don't know. I think it was because I usually like reading and I think it's entertaining to discuss ideas. Writing itself is not loathsome to me, but at this point in time I find that I am so not proficient at academic writing that it is very discouraging. Every other week I want to drop out of the program, knowing that my thesis is not going to affect anyone deeply and that it is causing me so much stupid mental anguish.

I also know that I don't like working closely with mentally ill individuals, especially where their children are involved. I don't even like working with mentally healthy individuals that much. I also hate meetings that do not have a specific purpose or are for the sake of having meetings (several church callings and past jobs come to mind). I get impatient with people who don't read written material I have presented to them.

Okay, so we know what I don't like. What do I like doing? I like working with data. I don't mind a little data entry as long as I get to do something with it too, even if it is just reading it. I like organizing data. I like researching things online; "things" here means "what are the best PS2 games for learning Japanese," not "what is the definition of postmodernism." I like my current research job of reading/skimming articles and deciding which ones are relevant to the project. I don't think I could handle doing it all day though. I also like the idea of things being efficient. When I worked at the Counseling Center, I liked the idea that we were trying to figure out if therapy was actually working for our clients, even if the questionnaire we were using was biased towards depressed individuals. I also really like what and okaycupid do with the data from their websites; that is, they use it to help other users understand how the world works and find better matches for their customers.

I'm also really interested in educational games, specifically, language learning games. I think that it is possible for a game to teach a language through natural methods along with drills (drills are easy to make; nicely scaffolded learning is not. I think we can make a game that is like what Lingua Latina is to book language learning: completely immersive but comprehensible at the same time). I don't know a lick of programming, but the part that interests me is actually how this would be done conceptually. I think it would be interesting to study the best ways to learn a language (cognition, psychology, pedagogy, neuroscience, whatever) and then transform that into a fun game. Does such a job exist? I'm interested/disillusioned by pedagogy in general, but for language learning especially.

What do Myers-Briggs have to say about it? Every time I've taken that test (as fallible as tests are) I have been an INTJ. I think I've softened over time, but I really am an introvert and I really like things to be planned and organized. My spice shelves are alphabetized and I wish I could alphabetize my kitchen utensils, for instance. When I read an editorial from an international student complaining about how expensive food was on campus, I thought "bring a lunch from home!" (Empathy isn't my strong point.) INTJs are supposedly good computer programmers, engineers, librarians, or natural scientists. I agree that my personality is suited to working with data and computers, and maybe talking to people about said data. I'm also interested in how we can make things like teaching and working be more efficient (how much Facebook time helps with productiveness and how much it doesn't and how one would solve that problem).

Knowing all this, what kind of job do you think I would enjoy?


Andrea said...

Here are some ideas:

1) Linguistics?
2) Teaching high school (no papers/conferences, just discussion and grading?)
3) Programming? You could learn it fairly easily, I think. Working with data and organizing things on a computer sounds kind of like database administration to me.
4) Library science?
5) Google has an interesting job called "User Experience Researcher" that sounds perfect for you. I don't know if other companies have similar openings, but check it out.
6) Some other kind of practical psychology research that doesn't have to do with mentally ill people? "Research Psychologist"?

Whistler said...

oOoo, I'm not sure if I have the qualifications to be a user exp researcher, but I can participate in research. Maybe I should give programming a try...

Amber said...

I was also going to say, "Programmer." If it makes you feel better, take some programming classes and see what you think.

Christina said...

Hey, I'm an INTJ, too! And my spices are also alphabetized. Go us. I think you would make a great reference librarian. But of course that would mean going back to school again.

lisalou said...

Have you taken any statistics courses? Adding them to the mix of what you already have/are would qualify you for some options I think you would enjoy.

If the thought of more school is depressing right now, try library work.

Whistler said...

yes, I've taken both the undergraduate and graduate statistics courses for psychology. Now, if only I could remember any of it...