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Quarter-Life Crisis....Advice Needed!

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    #41
    There are other opportunities in the horse business other than barn manager.

    Every product you see in a feed or tack store is connected to a customer service position to a sales job, to marketing, to product development.

    I have an acquaintance who works for Smartpak in customer service, talks to horse people all day, works from home, loves her job and the company. I have no idea what kind of income she has with Smartpak. But for me, I'd rather have quality of life and less money, than a job I don't enjoy.

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      Original Poster

      #42
      My degree is in Accounting. I worked for a farmer as his bookkeeper/payroll/etc for a couple years and that morphed into my current job of working for the USDA. It's not exactly Accounting-related specifically but it is in some other ways.

      You all are 100% correct that I really just need to find a job that isn't totally being stuck in an office. I really just don't think it fits my personality. I wouldn't be opposed to getting more schooling or training under my belt, but I honestly don't know what I'd go back for?

      I enjoy finance, payroll, book keeping, and budgeting and if I could find a job where I could do that remotely and take more breaks throughout the day that would be amazing. I enjoy jobs where I can use my organization skills. I enjoy jobs where I can mark things off my to-do list and actually feel like I'm accomplishing something. I think that's part of the reason I struggle so much is that if I get one thing done, there are a hundred other things that are waiting.

      If I take a small pay cut we can afford that while still putting money in savings and still putting money toward retirement. I do have that Accounting degree, so not only do we have our retirement accounts through our jobs, but we also have personal ones through a financial advisor and even have a 529 account for our theoretical future child. I'm all about being as prepared as possible--which is why I've sat in offices over the last five years. But now that we're more settled with the house, property, and horses, I'm starting to think about money versus quality of life and trying to find a better balance.

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        #43
        Life is short - do what you would enjoy You're young enough to throw a little caution to the wind!

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          #44
          Isn't everyone grumpy on Sunday night? The reason I started riding (when I was 27) was because lessons were on Sunday, and it helped with the Sunday night blues.

          I agree with Libby2563. Find a job you like, and make horses your passion. Work can remain secondary, but it lets you afford horses.
          Proud member of Appendix QH clique

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            #45
            I’m inadvertently going to offend someone with my generalizations, so I apologize in advance.

            But there is a reason most barn managers are either youthful people at the start of their careers or disgruntled, crazy, bitter, old women. The job burns you out physically and mentally. Now, every now and then you have that unicorn person who was just born for the role and excels at it while feeling truly fulfilled. But most of the time, people quit in early adulthood or stick with it and lose their minds.

            There is no harm in taking a break from your office job and giving it a go. I encourage it! But... I would go in thinking of it like a sabbatical, internship, or gap year- not a permanent career change. Keep your resume, skills, and references up-to-date, because there is a good chance you will need them again after a few years.

            Adding a personal anecdote: I was the typical 20-something budding horse professional who burned out early on. Quite a few times I’ve gotten the bug to return to working in the horse world. Every time I go back to a “horse” job, I never last very long. I’m so much happier when horses are strictly my hobby.
            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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              #46
              I would take advantage of management courses.
              You may not be interested now, but having those courses will open doors for you down the road.

              Have you considered getting a CPA?
              I've heard the test is very intense and requires a lot of preparation and study to pass.

              Maybe that will give you a goal and a sense of purpose which seems to be lacking in your current job.

              Certified Guacophobe

              Comment


                #47
                Originally posted by B-burg Dressage View Post
                My degree is in Accounting. I worked for a farmer as his bookkeeper/payroll/etc for a couple years and that morphed into my current job of working for the USDA. It's not exactly Accounting-related specifically but it is in some other ways.

                You all are 100% correct that I really just need to find a job that isn't totally being stuck in an office. I really just don't think it fits my personality. I wouldn't be opposed to getting more schooling or training under my belt, but I honestly don't know what I'd go back for?

                I enjoy finance, payroll, book keeping, and budgeting and if I could find a job where I could do that remotely and take more breaks throughout the day that would be amazing. I enjoy jobs where I can use my organization skills. I enjoy jobs where I can mark things off my to-do list and actually feel like I'm accomplishing something. I think that's part of the reason I struggle so much is that if I get one thing done, there are a hundred other things that are waiting.
                There certainly are remote jobs in that field, both the option of doing payroll as a service to small businesses but also a lot of organizations are learning that remote work is okay now.

                That said, I don't think from what you said that what you need is a remote position - you need it for a company that you believe in and are excited about what it does. Those exist too.

                The ability to cross things off and feel like they are done is probably best found in a larger organization where there's more than one of you in that role and you can back each other up, as opposed to being the sole go-to who is constantly inundated.

                Since pretty much every business needs people in that role, you should have a pretty wide set of possibilities to choose from.
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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                  #48
                  Ok so I didn't read the responses and I apologize if I am repeating what you have heard already.

                  I would apply. An application is no guarantee of an interview, but an interview is your opportunity to find out if you think this job is a good one or not.

                  I know when you're young in your career, you are likely to consider interviewing for a job an opportunity for "them" to decide if "you" are "good enough". But in reality, it's a two-way street, and you'll never know if this is a good move or not until you go through the process and hear about it, ask questions, and then weigh the options against your current position/career.

                  I interview a lot of people. If you're not in love with your career - now is the time to make a change. Change is not bad on a resume, unless it's all the time. We interview people all the time who have made career changes, and some that have done it more than once or went back to an earlier career. That doesn't tend to hold them back. What holds people back is changing jobs every year or so....but even still, at your age - it's not too late to make a few moves.

                  I say submit an application and see what happens. If you don't even hear back, you won't have to worry about making a decision. But if you don't apply, you'll never have the chance to decide.

                  Comment


                    #49
                    I would also add that there are career frustrations specific to being in your 20s. Very rarely does someone in their 20s have much autonomy or decision making power in their job. Indeed if you are going for a high stakes career you might still be in professional school or grad school or articling or interning etc. If it's a job that's learn as you go with just a BA, this first decade is also somewhat probationary until you figure out how to move forward in the field. So it's really easy to feel that you are stuck in a cubicle with little chance to make things happen.

                    I don't know a lot about careers in accounting but I would say you personally need to find an employer that makes things happen (as opposed to just keep things ticking over) and then figure out how to be one of the people that have decision making power. That probably means eventually moving out of a government bureaucracy (great for stability, not so much for engagement) and adding some formal management qualifications. Perhaps your current job will pay for you to get some extra training, maybe one of the part time MBAs or similar?

                    It's worth having a research interview with one of your managers about career paths in your department, if you can phrase it as enthusiasm to move forward rather than discontent! Maybe there are sideways shifts you could make in the federal government bureaucracy that would be interesting.

                    Comment


                      #50
                      The older I get, the less I care about my job as a part of my identity.

                      Personally, I have stopped chasing a job that will "fulfill" me. The best job I can have is one that pays my bills, leaves room for some wants, and intrudes on my "real" life as little as possible. I work a job now that I neither love nor hate, but it's low stress and pays well. I'm sure there are other jobs our there that I would enjoy more, but my life is not centered around my job. My job is just a tool to facilitate my needs and wants.

                      YMMV. There's no harm in putting in an application and finding out all the information before making a decision.

                      Comment


                        #51
                        If your only in your current job for the money it gets old. I have always said you need to enjoy what you do. I would apply for the job and then see what it pays / benefits( if any) and if you are actually offered a job see if you can afford to do so and go from there.

                        Comment


                          #52
                          Originally posted by B-burg Dressage View Post

                          The vacation is a huge factor too. I may not want to take as much if I don't dislike my job, but I'd still want some and a lot of barn jobs don't offer much when it comes to that. I'm coming up on three years with the current job and that will bump me up to 4 weeks of vacation per year.

                          No matter how much you think you will love being a barn manager, I promise there will be days it will
                          suck and you will not enjoy your job. Weather, horses will get sick/hurt, boarders will be a headache etc etc.

                          if you’re young and have the opportunity to re enter your career path in 3-5 years with similar salary to what you are leaving and it’s what you really want then go for it.
                          if it doesn’t work out, you’ll at least know that you tried and it wasn’t for you.
                          I don’t think health insurance is very commonly
                          offered..so something to consider. My job includes
                          PTO after 1 year of work.

                          Comment


                            #53
                            It's hard to beat the federal government for vacation time, holidays, and flexible work schedules (at least where I worked). At different times I worked 8 hour days, 9 hour days with every other Friday off, or 10 hour days with four day weekends. Asking for a day off was never a problem. The matching TSP contribution and health insurance are also pretty nice. Have you looked for any opportunities for a lateral transfer to a different office or even agency and a job you might enjoy more?

                            Comment


                              #54
                              A few things come to mind, all generalizations and ultimately my own personal opinion. There are jobs and there are careers. The former, we don't normally want to do but it pays the bills and let's us enjoy the things we actually like. We get financial stability, health insurance, vacation time and relatively normal lifestyle. The latter, careers, are things we would enjoy or even love to do, but usually don't pay enough to support our lifestyle if we are on our own. Careers tend in involve a significant other who makes the real money. If you are in a position to not have the need for financial stability and know you can easily re-enter your current job field if it doesn't work out, by all means go for it. You are still young, and life goes by so quickly. You don't want to look back in 30 years and wonder "what if"
                              "Do what you can't do"

                              Comment


                                #55
                                Originally posted by Mango20 View Post
                                It's hard to beat the federal government for vacation time, holidays, and flexible work schedules (at least where I worked). At different times I worked 8 hour days, 9 hour days with every other Friday off, or 10 hour days with four day weekends. Asking for a day off was never a problem. The matching TSP contribution and health insurance are also pretty nice. Have you looked for any opportunities for a lateral transfer to a different office or even agency and a job you might enjoy more?
                                Yeah, since you are with USDA, it might be worth looking into getting education to qualify as an NRCS conservationist or similar. You get field time going out and helping farmers and ranchers with soil and water conservation practices. Something like that might be much more interesting, and you already have your service time to apply to jobs that are offered internally.

                                I've worked my way up in federal service and it's pretty excellent in terms of the flexibility, pay and benefits that I have now, which allow me to pursue horsey endeavors.

                                I really don't know how my BM does it, feeding every morning, managing horses, giving lessons, training, picking up slack if stall cleaners don't show up, and trying to keep the property up to snuff while making very little money, much of which would dry up if she is too sick or injured to train and give lessons.

                                Comment


                                  #56
                                  Originally posted by Mango20 View Post
                                  It's hard to beat the federal government for vacation time, holidays, and flexible work schedules (at least where I worked). At different times I worked 8 hour days, 9 hour days with every other Friday off, or 10 hour days with four day weekends. Asking for a day off was never a problem. The matching TSP contribution and health insurance are also pretty nice. Have you looked for any opportunities for a lateral transfer to a different office or even agency and a job you might enjoy more?
                                  THIS ^^^^

                                  I kept telling young colleagues that when you are "old," there is no greater peace of mind than a fat bank account. I assume you are ~25. in 30 years you will be 55. If you save/invest $5,000/year invested at 6% for 30 years, you will have ~$400,000.....along with a Federal Pension.

                                  Same as others on this thread, at one time I also asked the question, why am I doing what I'm doing when I have no free time? I am glad I stuck with my job, saved my money, and now can afford multiple horses, lessons, tack....etc.

                                  I know someone who took over managing a large equestrian facility. She is approaching 65. Same as has been described above, she is burned out, has little time for her own riding, and has to pitch in when the help doesn't show.....and never has time off for herself.

                                  If you don't want a "desk job," my suggestion is to look at the USDA positions that require use of your accounting experience like in "operations" or dealing with farmers where you actually have to visit farms or agricultural facilities....eg., jobs where you are not sitting in an office.

                                  The USDA is a huge entity. Look around and see if there are jobs you would enjoy, then either apply or prepare yourself to go for the postion.

                                  Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
                                  Alfred A. Montapert

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                                    #57
                                    Originally posted by B-burg Dressage View Post
                                    I'm considering a major career/life change and I need to hear who this worked and didn't work for.

                                    Pros:
                                    Working with horses and horse people
                                    Being active all day
                                    Being satisfied with my work
                                    7-3:30 versus 8-4:30 (amazing for fitting in winter riding)

                                    Cons:
                                    Less money/benefits (not certain, but it's a good guess)
                                    Longer commute (10 minutes to 45 sucks majorly)
                                    Less stability/longevity (if I were to get injured or whatever)

                                    So folks--what do you think?
                                    As another person who was once a pro and am now and amateur with a day job, I would say that your Pros and Cons are the ones typically seen through rosey colored glasses.

                                    The Pros SOUND like they are fantastic - until you are actually on your feet all day everyday working around horses, some of which may bite or kick or bolt at turnout or run over you during turn-in or get aggressive in their stalls during feeding time - now that it's your JOB to work with them, you can't ask someone else to help you. Being "active" sounds fun until it's 12:30 and you haven't had time to eat anything other than 1/2 a granola bar and your coffee is now cold in the office. You have hours, but at the same time, horses are horses and you're really done when the work is done. Also, be prepared to have your cell phone number given to all boarders and clients and answer their texts and special requests at all hours.

                                    The Cons don't sound THAT terrible - until you factor in that you probably won't get any vacation or sick days, and a 45 minute commute will be BRUTAL at the end of the day when you just want to be home already and when you have to get up in the dark day after day. Getting injured is a very real possibility, and shouldn't be brushed off with a "or whatever" sort of attitude (see above about bolting, kicking, biting horses). The other cons are the physical fatigue, the burn out, and the lack of career advancement.

                                    Please don't get me wrong. I know that this lifestyle DOES and CAN work for some people. But for most of those people, the love of the horse is really what drives them to go and stay in that career path, not their sense of ennui at their day jobs. I would try to either find another desk job that is more in line with what you want to do on a daily basis, and/or focus on the things that the job can provide for you.

                                    The horse industry is brutal. It is not a walk in the park. That said, this has only been my personal experience, and I do treasure the time I spent as a pro and all of the things I learned there. I tried it out right after college with no other day-job / job experience at all. If you can still come back to your current path after a few years off, I would say give it a go knowing all of the things folks have told you here on the forum.

                                    Comment


                                      #58
                                      I've been where you are, I remember sitting in a cube post undergrad and grad school thinking, this is my life for the next 40 years! In my experience its gotten better, I'm nearly 30 and almost 5 years into my current role and I've really worked to make it my own and I'm much more content than I was in my first role post grad.

                                      1. I got OUT of the public sector. Yes, the benefits (retirement/pension) are hard to beat but my experience in several public sector rolls was that the bureaucracy takes a toll. Im going to generalize but my experience is that its not that flexible, not a lot of opportunities to work remote, much more structure and emphasis on 'putting in your time' vs. proving yourself through your work, etc. I'm work for a private consulting firm now and while it can be demanding but its insanely flexible and the projects you get to work on, what role you play is so much more about your performance than how long you've been around.

                                      2. Set up my days to work for me. Again flexibility has been everything. Go the barn before work when the weather is warm, having the barn to yourself and getting a ride in before dragging yourself into the office is so great (though I am a morning person so this may not be great for everyone). Work from a coffee shop on days you aren't feeling the office. Leave at lunch to go ride and work from home the rest of the afternoon. I can't do this stuff everyday depending on meetings, etc. but setting up several days a week that im looking forward to helps me so much! I also rarely work past noon on a Friday if I can avoid it.

                                      3. Set personal career goals outside of your office/work. Speak at a conference, go after your CPA or other certification, teach at a community college as an adjunct if you enjoy working with younger students. Get your masters and get your employer to pay for it!

                                      OTHER IDEAS:
                                      1. My limited experience is that your degree gets you your first job, after that its really experience, so if you want to do something different you may not need to go back to school. Ask around, network internally and externally, message someone on Linkedin that you admire, grab coffee! I've had a lot of cool project opportunities by just networking and letting people know what excites me.

                                      2. I havent dont this but FREELANCE - start taking on side book keeping gigs and see if you can make it a full time thing, that way your flexibility is endless!

                                      There are days when I look at my fitbit and have moved less than 4k steps because I've been strapped to my computer all day and long to have been working outside. BUT I know myself and I'm not one to easily turn off work. If I was responsible for a barn full of horses that is where my mind would be all the time. I love that in my current role I can more easily shut off those worries when I close my laptop because there are no lives on the line and whatever it is, it can most definitely wait!

                                      Comment


                                        #59
                                        Theres no set definition for “Barn manager” and the best barns don't have to run ads looking for one. And keep in mind many barns are not run like regular businesses with clear expectations and defined responsibilities. Often BM is a glorified groom and mucker. Be clear on that before seeing this or any other BM position as a clear cut opportunity, wont even go into benefits and working conditions.


                                        Somebody upthread mentioned free lancing? Thats a very good idea to chew on. You could come in for a few hours on a part time basis couple of times a month or weekly just for bookkeeping. Have a friend who started doing that, slowly picked up a few more barns via word of mouth over the next few years. Her “day job” downsized her out but she just increased her free lance business. Ended up full time running the office of a very nice AA barn as “Office Manager’, regular benefits too. Had a Barn Manager for the hands on barn management. She worked in the barn with a chair and climate control, was around the horses, had a window to the arena, chatted with the clients even was paid ti go to Florida several times during that circuit. Never touched a muck tub.

                                        Not a bad idea to consider specifically office work in barns, might work up a little business of your own combining your education and skills with wanting a barn environment. Doesnt have to be either/or, figure out how to do both. It will take some time but its a good way to go.
                                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                        Comment


                                          #60
                                          Originally posted by tbchick84 View Post
                                          A few things come to mind, all generalizations and ultimately my own personal opinion. There are jobs and there are careers. The former, we don't normally want to do but it pays the bills and let's us enjoy the things we actually like. We get financial stability, health insurance, vacation time and relatively normal lifestyle. The latter, careers, are things we would enjoy or even love to do, but usually don't pay enough to support our lifestyle if we are on our own. Careers tend in involve a significant other who makes the real money. If you are in a position to not have the need for financial stability and know you can easily re-enter your current job field if it doesn't work out, by all means go for it. You are still young, and life goes by so quickly. You don't want to look back in 30 years and wonder "what if"
                                          An observation I would make is that it is completely possible to have a career that is enjoyable and fulfilling AND pays well/comes with good benefits...

                                          But you don't typically walk into those roles as an early career professional.

                                          The reality is that you have to BUILD those careers. You put the time in, you get the experience, you build a network and over time, you get the better assignments and the more interesting roles. It takes time, which is hard to appreciate in the early days of a career when you are slogging it out. But that is the nature of work.
                                          **********
                                          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                                          -PaulaEdwina

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