Transcript: Work with Marty Nemko: Oversupply of STEM and Law School Graduates. Under-the-Radar Careers
By Marty Nemko
We Have an OVERSupply of STEM and Law School Grads. Under-the-Radar Careers.
was driving along the freeway, and I saw the umpteenth sign and
other marketing effort to try to get more young people to major in
STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math. And I
remember having read an article quite recently that said that, in
fact, we already had an oversupply of STEM majors, which are hard
majors. And so, I did a little more research, and I found out that,
indeed, we have a tremendous oversupply of such
If you Google “oversupply and STEM
majors”, you will see study after study and report after
report—everything—from the Daily Kos, which just
recently a couple days ago did a report on it, to Slashdot, which
has a very long technical report on the oversupply. On the
conservative side, the Center for Immigration Studies did a long
report on it. And then, if you look also at the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, there is a gross oversupply of STEM
Then why are politicians, especially,
and educators continuing to push this old, no longer accurate news?
Because it’s part of a message that says, “We need to
compete with China. We need to compete with India. From the bottom
of our economic and socioeconomic status people to the top, we can
But, you know, we’re talking about
human lives here. Every single human being who
would not have otherwise majored in those hard
subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—who
chose in the absence of the marketing campaign to get more STEM
majors, realized they are not that great in Calculus, not that
great in Physics in high school, let alone, what happens when they
get to college and they’ve got to do topography and
stochastic processes. We force them, manipulating them, using
techniques Madison Avenue uses to get us to buy cigarettes, to get
kids to major in them who would otherwise not major in those fields
because they realized they’re not their strength. It’s
If there aren’t even jobs in
vaunted STEM, where are the jobs?” That’s the focus of
We’re going to talk about
under-the-radar jobs that even in an era in which good jobs are
ever declining, as ever more jobs are part-time, temp, automotive,
roboticized, and offshored, there are still at least in our
lifetimes—certainly for the next 10 to 25 years—pockets
of opportunity. And so, we will focus most of this show on where
those opportunities are.
But, before I do that, I want to get the
negative out of the way—this is important. Many people who
are bright, the people who tend to listen to public radio, the
college educated, graduate degrees, or whatever, they’re
going to say, “Well, it’s either science, or it’s
law.” And yet, I have to tell you that there is a gross
oversupply of lawyers as any of you who know, who have tried to get
a law job now. So many lawyers are working as paralegals or project
part-time temp workers. The days of the white-shoe, fat-cat lawyer
are now relegated to the realm of Hollywood movies.
Yes, if you graduate from Harvard Law
School, and you are very money-driven and willing to
work—have billed 2200 hours a year and sleep on your futon in
your office--es, there are jobs for you. But, remember, that is the
most rarified tier. Most people who went to law school went to
places like Golden Gate University, or McGeorge School of Law, in
Sacramento, or Cal Western, in Southern California. They
didn’t go to Stanford Law School or even Hastings Law School,
let alone Harvard Law School.
I have a massive list of careers that
are growing. I want to read you a small section of an article that
came from one of the most authoritative sources you’re going
to find for lawyers: It’s the American Bar Association
Journal. It’s called “The Law School Bubble: How
Long Will it Last if Law Grads Can’t Pay Bills?”
That’s the title, and I’m only going to read a section
of it for your planning purposes—roughly two
“For Andrea, a past decision to
ensure her future in law has left her in a stressed and distressful
present. Concerned over how it might affect her job prospects, she
would not allow the use of her real name. And there’s reason
for concern: She’s been laid off twice since her 2009 law
school graduation, including from a position where she earned just
$20 an hour at a small firm, practicing as a licensed attorney. For
the 29-year-old . . .”
And, by the way, think about how many
lawyers are 40, 50, 60, trying to find a job, and you know how it
is there—there’s a preference to younger
“For the 29-year-old, who has
supported herself since college, the financial repercussions of law
school may amount . . .”
We’re not even
talking about a third-tier law school like a Cal Western or a
Golden Gate. Second tier law schools would be like UC Davis or
SUNY, the State University of New York; these are not bottom-tier
“And despite a degree from a
second-tier law school and a resume that boasts a position on law
review”—law review is the elite at that law
school—“and coveted a summer associate position.”
This was not a bottom of the barrel law graduate.
Now, the article quotes her:
“‘I deferred my loans because of economic hardship the
first time’, said Andrea, who borrowed nearly $110,000 to
finance her education. ‘After that’, she falters,
‘They might be in forbearance . . . accruing interest . . . I
just don’t know.’
“Andrea’s situation is far
from unique. In 2010, 85% of law graduates from ABA accredited
schools boasted an average debt load of $98,500, according to data
collected from law schools by U.S. News. At 29 schools,
that amount exceeded $120,000. In contrast, only 68% of those
graduates reported employment in positions that require a
JD.”—that’s a Juris Doctor at law
degree—“Nine months after commencement, less than 51%
found employment in private law firm.
“The influx of so many law
graduates—44,258 in 2010 alone, according to the American Bar
Association—into a declining job market creates serious
repercussions that will reverberate for decades to
To those of you who are just joining us,
I’m reading an article from the American Bar Association
Journal called “The Law School Bubble: How Long Will It
Last if Law Grads Can’t Pay Bills?” I’ve
been talking about where the jobs aren’t like the STEM
jobs—science, technology, engineering, and math—where
despite the incredible marketing hype, are in fact in gross
oversupply already, and the gross oversupply will likely continue.
I also wanted to talk about this law school oversupply, and then
we’re going to talk about where the jobs are. I’m just
going to finish this segment of the article.
“Heavy loans now threaten to
consume the future earnings and livelihood of the nation’s
young lawyers. Yet, even as the legal market contracts, more than
87,900 potential candidates vied for 60,000 seats at the 200
ABA-approved law schools.
“Youthful over-optimism, bleak job
prospects for college grads, and the entry of several more
universities and for-profit businesses into the legal education
business are some of the root causes for the supply-and-demand
imbalance in entry-level lawyers.
“Very few critics, however, have
studied the part played by the federal government through its
student loan policies in creating a law school bubble that may be
on the verge of bursting—one strikingly similar to the
mortgage crisis that cratered the economy in 2008.
“Direct federal loans have become
the lifeblood of graduate education, and they shelter law schools
financially from the structural changes affecting the profession.
The bills are now coming due for many young lawyers, and their
inability to pay will likely bring the scrutiny of lawmakers
already moaning about government spending.
“As student groups continue to
lobby the federal government for increased transparency, the
lawmakers are bound to ask a very simple
question:”—they’re not, but they should;
that’s my editorial: “Why should the U.S. government,
through the Department of Education direct-lending program,
continue to make billions”—with a B—“of
dollars of loans to law students when structural changes in the
legal market”—that means decline in the number of jobs
that are available.
“Why should they continue to make
billions of dollars of loans to law students when structural
changes in the legal market suggest that a large portion will lack
the earning power to repay those loans?”
That’s just a segment of that
wonderful article. But I wanted to make the case for why those of
you—yourselves or your family members or your
children—who are blindly acting as though it was still 1970
and say, “Oh, science and technology, I want to major in
that. I’ll be sure I get a job; oh, I’m not a science
person; I’m going to major in law school,” then major
and go to law school—are probably wrong, unless you’re
a superstar. Superstars can do whatever they want in any year--the
top few percent who can chose whatever they want. But the rest of
us mortals need to be more, well, realistic.
And that takes me to the positive side
of the topic of today’s show: Where the actual jobs are for
mortals, especially those that are little known. I mean,
we’ve heard again and again, that there are jobs in nursing,
or there are jobs in accounting—but you’ve heard all
that before. So, I want to start by talking about, excerpting, some
ideas from an article from AOL called “18 High-Paying
Careers that You’ve Probably Never Heard
By the way, I’m well aware dear
listeners that you are there, and just after I offer a few of
these, I will go to the phones and invite you to call in. So,
instead of giving generic advice about where the jobs are, I can
help you come up with what makes sense for you to pursue and, more
importantly, the specifics of how to do it, because an idea is
nothing without a plan.
But first, some high-paying careers
you’ve never heard, or at least thought of. These actually
came out of Reddit, which was then republished by
Most people don’t think of being
air traffic controllers, but it pays a good living. An air traffic
controller makes $200,000 a year—so something under-the-radar
you don’t normally think of. We think doctor, lawyer, nurse,
teacher, social worker, non-profit activist; we don’t think
of air traffic controller.
A variation on that—a tower
technician, who works in those towers, both at airports; and also,
apparently, in very tall buildings, there are technicians who work
Skipping through to a few others that
are specifically non-science-oriented . . .
Court stenographers—I used to
think that automated technology was going to replace the
stenographer; apparently, not. It’s a three-year program, but
if you’re proficient in grammar, if you have strong language
skills, if you have solid finger dexterity from, maybe, playing an
instrument or video games and you’re willing to work in a law
firm, it’s a fine career. You work from home a lot of the
time. You’re rarely starting before 10 AM. You make your own
schedule. And, you make a very good salary; $80,000, $100,000 is
not uncommon. Under-the-radar, people don’t think about
Let’s see what
I know it’s gross for many people,
but, unfortunately, one of the few things that are inevitable are
death and taxes, and most people cringe at the thought of work in
the funeral industry—and I do. I’ve read Jessica
Mitford’s old book about the death industry and how unsavory
and dishonest they often are. But there are a few moments when
human beings are more vulnerable when a family member dies. And
somebody who makes primary the ethics of being comforting and
helping people make wise not overly expensive decisions, at that
point, is a worthy occupation.
If you can deal with it, it may even
help you to deal with death. I know some person who was very afraid
of death, and she ended up deciding to work in a hospice as a
volunteer, as a way of coping to it, of adapting to it or making
sense with it in some ways. So, maybe, even if you are afraid of
death, the funeral industry—done right—is extremely
Those are careers that are
under-the-radar, that are nonetheless viable, nonetheless ethical,
pay a good living, not offshore-able.
And so now, I want to turn to you. I
have many, many more, and I will pepper the show with careers that
are likely not overcrowded, that pay well, that are ethical, that
are not oversupplied like the STEMs—science, technology,
engineering, management, or law. But I do now invite you to
You are listening to Work with Marty
Nemko. My mission in life is to help you and also to discuss
the micro societal issues about work. But today, it’s about
you, all about you. So, if you or someone you love is career stuck,
whether it be because you’re not sure what you want to be
when you grow up even if you’re already 60, or you are
already in your career and unhappy and wondering whether you should
change jobs, change careers, or you simply have any kind of
work-related problem; even in your business—I really like
helping people—or either thinking about starting a business
and have an idea they want to run by me—kind of like the
Shark Tank TV show but kinder. If you have any kind of
question related to your work life, I call them “three-minute
workovers”; sometimes they take ten; I don’t care. All
I care about is helping you.
The phone number here at Work with
Marty Nemko is 415-841-4134; that’s 415-841-4134. And
while I’m waiting for the calls to come in, I have, as I
said, some more careers that are not STEM and are not law, and
they’re not likely to go away. And this was slated to be, I
think, the 40th fastest growing career that
doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. I’ll be
talking about a few of those—one is called “purchasing
These are people who purchase machinery
and equipment, and tools, and part and supplies; basically online;
it could be from all over the world. Again,
under-the-radar—and many of them don’t even need a
college degree at all. Wages tend to be very good. Projected job
openings are good. Nobody thinks about being a purchasing
Okay, I’ve got a lot more, but
I’ll give the phone number one more time. If you or someone
you love is stuck and wants a new career idea, or you’ve got
the career idea and don’t know how to execute on it, or
you’re in a career and you’re unhappy, or you’re
in a business or thinking about a business and want to know what I
think about it, the phone number here for a three-minute work-over
on Work with Marty Nemko is 415-841-4134; that’s
And now, to the phones—welcome to
the show. It’s your turn on the air. How can I
Marty: I’m going to stop you right there. Forget it. It doesn’t exist; that’s a scam. There are countless people who spend the $10,000 for the voice training program to create their demo and whatever, and they never even come close to making enough money to even pay back the cost of their course. It’s a hobby because, right now, the field has changed dramatically. Millions of people are like, “Oh, it’s easy. I’ve got a nice voice. I’m going to go do that.”
And you know what happens? Millions of people have their demos, and now, it’s all online. There are websites that post jobs for voiceovers for perhaps 50 bucks. You’ve got to submit your demo for free, and then you’re competing with many applicants. The training has become a bit of a scam, unless if you’re a famous actor. If you are James Earl Jones, you can get all the voiceover work you want. But if you’re somebody who’s a wannabe, who starts, forget it, dude.
Caller 1: Thanks, buddy. I appreciate it.
Marty: All right. But do you want me to help you come up with an alternative?
Caller 1: [laughs] No, it’s okay. I mean, that was very informative. I appreciate it.
Marty: I need to be straightforward. But do it for fun if you like. If you like the idea of doing voiceover work, play, go; you can use the microphone on your computer or whatever. Make some mp3 for the fun of it. Frankly, that’s how I got in this radio show 25 years ago. I just had a little home cassette recorder. My daughter had a friend over, and I said, “Let’s play radio talk show host.”
And I said to my daughter Amy, “What do you want to talk about?”
She said, “Birth order.”
So, I just turned on a 5-dollar microphone, put it into an old fashion cassette deck, and said, “Okay, tell me, are you first born?”
I just asked some common-sense
questions and made the recording. I sent it to KQED and KALW. And I
heard from KALW. They said, “Well, you’re raw, but
you’re not too terrible,” and I got a show. So
you’ll never know—but start simple. Don’t spend
10 grand on a voiceover training program.
Thanks. You saved me a lot of time and money. I appreciate
Thank you. All right, all the lines are lighted up.
Let’s go back to the phones. Welcome to Work with Marty
Nemko. It’s your turn on the air. How can I
Caller 2 hung up.
Caller 3: Hi. I’m 53 years old. I’m looking for a new career. I’m in that category where I just can’t decide what to do. Currently, I’m looking at a program that’s in patient navigation.
Marty: You’re moving them from their beds, for the testing room, for their MRIs—that kind of thing?
Caller 3: No, like guiding them through the healthcare system—whatever.
Caller 3: It also overlaps with advocacy. You’re more likely to hear it called, “patient coordinator”. The field is supposed to grow. A lot of the jobs are for RNs that want to change, and I’m not an RN
Marty: Here, I can be optimistic, unlike with the previous caller. There is such demand for this, and the system is going to get ever more complicated with Obamacare. There are contradictory and overlapping rules—state regulations, federal regulations, local regulations, Obamacare rules, insurance company monsters that they often are. So the need for a navigator will never be greater as the boomers age.
Sure, they’ll prefer RNs because they know the ropes but it doesn’t mean there won’t be jobs for non-RNs. Just choose the best certification program and network your butt off while you’re in the program to make connections. You work your butt off in fear that you’re not going to be employable because you’re not an RN. And I would bet on you. You’re at a right age; being older is a plus here. A 27-year-old advocate is not going to be seen as credible by the patient. Here is where age can be a plus.
But you’re sounding flat. If you have the drive, if you’re willing to use the fear to motivate you to do it the way I outlined, I would bet on you. Does that make sense?
Caller 3: Yes, absolutely.
Marty: I can’t think of a more important job. When someone gets a cancer diagnosis or diabetes . . . And now, they’ve got to win their way through the system? Oh, my god! You are a guardian angel. Have you researched the different programs that exist and know which are good?
Caller 3: Well, the founder of the idea—or whatever—he’s in New Jersey; I’m in California. I don’t know. I’m skeptical. I looked at it online. The program—its ten modules. It takes months to do, and it’s $1,000.
Marty: That’s not a lot. The ones that worry me are the ones who charge $10,000—and they do. They are more likely to be just in it for the money.
Caller 3: I talked to one woman doing it. She went into her own business—which is most common,—and she loved the program at Sonoma State. It’s interactive. You’re in classes for six months, and they do placement of everyone in an internship clinical . . .
Marty: Awesome! And that’s local. Why wouldn’t you do that?
Caller 3: I just, you know, need some confidence-building.
Marty: Let’s talk there.
Caller 3: Because my employment hasn’t been good for the last . . .
Marty: Let’s move forward. There are plenty of people who failed; I have failed many times in my life because I’m too intense. I get fired for being too bold. It doesn’t make you a loser.
Let’s see, if you were to be your best self and trust your best self, what would you do differently in this next job to ensure that? You know, you don’t have to be perfect, just good enough—that’s all I ask. We need healthcare advocates—end of story.
Marty: What’s your first name?
Caller 3: Sherry.
Caller 3: Sherry.
Marty: Sherry. So, Sherry, what do you need to do this time in the preparation, the training, and the way that you work, so that you’re at least good?
Caller 3: Well, I think it would be wise to go to as many association events.
Marty: Good. Which do these you need to stay vigilant about? Your work ethic—is it already great, or do you need to work harder?
Caller 3: It’s good.
Marty: We’re going to keep going down the list—knowledge of the science involved, studying, becoming good enough at the science.
Caller 3: Well, that would be where I would gain strength because it’s brand new, so it would be interesting to research and talk to people. I mean, you could talk to anyone. You could meet someone whose father had cancer or something, and talk about their experience.
Marty: No, what I mean is you may need to know a certain amount, for example, about the science involved when somebody’s got cancer—being able to be a good researcher to find out what kind of cancer; who are the really best specialists? Where does the insurance company turn you down? Doing that, you don’t have to be a physicist to be a healthcare advocate. But do you think you either have the existing knowledge or will be driven enough to get knowledgeable enough about the particular condition that the person has?
Caller 3: I don’t have any aspect of it right now.
Marty: That’s making me a little nervous now. The key is aggressive drive to be willing to fight the insurance company, to fight to get an appointment for your client who desperately needs an opinion from the expert. You need both the aggressiveness and the internet research skills and knowledge of the insurance company.
Caller 3: And it’s working with the families of the patients.
Marty: The compassion thing isn’t enough.
Caller 3: Their belief systems may not match your view or your opinion on what they should do, and you have to be . . . I don’t know. I don’t know.
Marty: You have to be a good communicator. You have to be a good influencer.
Caller 3: Yes.
Marty: As I’m listening to you, I am getting a little nervous. It’s a demanding job. It requires being very credible. You’re probably going to be self-employed. And you don’t feel entrepreneurial to me; you’re hesitant.
Caller 3: No, I’m not. I want to get into a clinic, something like that.
Marty: I’m wondering whether you might be able to function as an advocate for patients without being officially an advocate.
Caller 3: If you don’t know something, you can contact another navigator. They work very collaboratively, even the ones in private practice, they’re—
Marty: Even though you may find support, in the end you can’t always be turning to support; you’re going to be like this high-maintenance basket case. I’d encourage you, with a clear eye, to look into it, to job shadow a couple of people who do it, and then after you do that, ask yourself if, with training, that you have the abilities to do this job at least reasonably well. Have you done that already, or do you need to do some job shadowing?
Caller 3: No, I’m getting ready to do that.
Marty: That’s what you’ve got to do. Okay, I thank you very much for calling Work with Marty Nemko.
Caller 3: Thank you. Bye.
Marty: Okay, take care.
You’re listening to Work with Marty Nemko. Today, the show is all about you, especially if you are trying to figure out what you should do, career-wise. I’m talking about some under-the-radar careers, but those are not necessarily applicable to you, and I care to provide some guides that are applicable to you. So, for a three-minute workover, for you or someone you love, the phone number here at Work with Marty Nemko—415-841-4134; that’s 415-841-4134.
Before I go to the phones, like I said, I want to pepper the show with some careers that are kind of under-the-radar and that are not dying. And again, I’m focusing for the moment on a couple of careers that don’t even require a college degree. One is a claims adjuster. Insurance companies are always looking for people to adjust claims, whether they be healthcare claims or auto claims; or flood claims, now that the drought is . . .
It’s always amazing, by the way. The government always takes forever to act, so they’ve now allocated $600 billion to drought relief as we’re being deluged. And Southern California’s overwhelmed with water. When I think about the last drought, and the brilliant government took months before doing anything and then they decided what they needed to do was build a pipe across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, pumping water from Marin to the East Bay. Of course, the pipe just sat there for years, doing nothing and costing a fortune. And of course, the drought soon ended.
And then, I think of course about the Napa trolley. In an attempt to get people in public transportation, they built these gorgeous, beautiful cutesy trolleys to go from Downtown Napa to various places in Napa—and it’s a monument to government stupidity. They continued for years to run empty, back and forth, spewing energy, [laughs] back and forth. Nobody was ever on them, these gorgeous . . . I’m sure they cost 200 grand each.
Government is just slow. Democracy is wonderful, but it’s so slow that by the time they get anything done, it’s diluted because of the democracy. Everybody’s got to get their 2 cents in, and everybody compromises. Or, it’s so late that it’s too late.
Later, science has proven their policy’s wrong, and the ethanol thing was a perfect example. It took them seven years to decide ethanol was the answer, and then the science found that they ruined engines, [laughs] but they’re still subsidizing corn-growing for ethanol; it’s a crazy world.
Anyway, let me go to the phones. All the lines are lighted up. Welcome to Work with Marty Nemko. It’s your turn on the air. Hi, it’s you.
Caller 4: Hi, I’m calling for a loved one.
Caller 4: Okay, all right, so I have a son who is African-American, and his father is Nigerian. And so, his father—engineer and sciences, total, and what you just said.
Caller 4: But the STEM thing—but he is totally passionate about neuroscience . . .
Marty: Me, too.
Caller 4: . . . and he is focused on . . . Neuroethics is what gets him the most.
Marty: Neuroethics is great, but the people who get to work in neuroethics are people who already have a long, distinguished career as leading sciences at Harvard and the National Institutes of Health. You don’t just say, “Geez, I’m really concerned about people who are not neurotypical. They have Asperger syndrome. And, why are they being prejudiced against in the work place?” There aren’t jobs in that, unless you are . . .
Caller 4: You’re preaching to the choir. But I’m also on this cutting edge where I understand that it’s important for someone to be passionate or like what they want to do but also with some intelligence. Because when I started in my career, nobody knew what I was doing. You know, 40 years ago, I went into the environmental field. I’m African-American, and [they] even said like, “What in the world are you doing?” But I kind of have that kind of feel for it. But, on the other hand, we need to figure out where to steer him, because he’s trying to do the right things. I mean, he got an internship in San Francisco last year, doing neuroethics kind of issues.
Marty: How old is he?
Caller 5: Right now, he’s 20.
Marty: And where is he at college?
Caller 4: He’s in Vassar, in New York.
Marty: And he’s majoring in a hard science or no?
Caller 4: No, his major is in neuroscience, but the thing about Vassar, which is really good, and also because of high school—he writes well. So, I’m on the same wavelength as you. You can’t write or read or articulate and speak in front of people. I just don’t care what you do. You will always go farther if you can have those skills.
Marty: Well, let’s slow down a little bit. He is majoring in a neuroscience, right now.
Caller 4: Yes.
Marty: How is he doing?
Caller 4: Very good—he’s doing very well.
Marty: Great. And how are his communication skills? I agree with you—that unless you have great communication skills, if you will get a job at all, you’re going to be staring at a computer all day.
Caller 4: No, he writes well and has a very good personality.
Marty: Okay, good. And, if you trusted your intuition, since you say, “I’m preaching to the choir,” I’m getting the sense that you feel he’s good in science, but he’s not a rock star. Should he go and aim at getting a typical master’s in public health and end up working for the government? I see the percentage of GDP that the government is increasing all the time, and the demographics and the way in voting patterns are likely to change, we’ll see ever more democrats being elected—and liberal democrats—and therefore, the size of government will increase. Therefore, the jobs, in my judgment, for people who are not superstar Harvard, genius rock stars, who are mathematical modelers—will be in the public sector. Should his aim be to get internships in public health entities?
Caller 4: Well, that’s something I’m going to have to introduce to him because he has ideas that will probably cost us. So tell him to take a public policy focus and get into a top notch graduate school?
Caller 4: To aim for a top notch graduate school.
Marty: Yes, we live, unfortunately, in a brand name society.
Caller 4: Oh, I know that. I’m not, you know . . .
Marty: Right, preaching the choir again. So, right, he’s at Vassar, and, yes, trying to get into a first tier. Obviously, Johns Hopkins is the leading one for public health.
Caller 4: Yes, but he’s in contact with, like, Yale, Johns Hopkins.
Marty: Okay, great.
Caller 4: He’s trying to do the right things—even Oxford.
Caller 4: He’s trying to do the right thing . . .
Marty: So, what’s the question?
Caller 4: . . . but he needs help.
Marty: So, where is the question?
Caller 4: Well, I think you’re answering it. In terms of neuroethics law, I agree with you. I don’t want to see him go yet. I’m trying to find alternatives. Public health—if I can try and talk to him and say, like, “Look, it’s not just total nursing issue.”
Marty: Don’t talk to him—show him. Just go to the Johns Hopkins website and the Yale website. Under public health degrees, they’ll show you the range of things in public health. They don’t do nursing. Those people there—they’re policy makers; they’re activists; they craft legislations; they’re lobbyists.
Caller 4: That’s where his heart is.
Marty: Okay, well, there you go.
Caller 4 Are there any other suggestions besides public health?
Marty: That is a launch pad. That opens door to many careers.
Caller 4: And somebody also said like maybe a business degree and work for a pharmaceutical company, but he’s like—because of ethical things—
Marty: No. What I’m hearing you say about neuroethics—that’s code for “I hate corporate America; I hate pharma.” So, let’s not challenge that just yet. I’m not anti-corporate, but just listening to you, and given that you’re an environmentalist, given his focus on ethics, he might be smarter rather than challenging that ethical framework from which you operate to stay in that public sector for now. Does that make sense?
Caller 4: Yes. I’m maneuvering myself to do something that can really make a difference for a large amount of people.
Marty: And I have to say that I believe that African-Americans have an edge in all of this, so I am more optimistic because he’s an African-American, because they’re underrepresented, if you will, in public policy. The government is very committed to more racial equity, so I could be even more optimistic in his case. The field now is oversupplied with white women. There’s a lot of white women who want to make policy.
Caller 4: He need to see where he’s going to fit it into.
Marty: I invite you to go with him online, whether if he’s back in Poughkeepsie, now. Go and spend some time on the phone with him, both of you in front of the computer and look at the . . .
Caller 4: The Johns Hopkins?
Marty: . . . Johns Hopkins and all those schools that have premier public health programs. And look—they always have a career section: “Here are some of what the graduates have done.” And that will expand his options. And I’m a big believer in being laser-focused, so I would encourage him to pick one thing that really excites the hell out of him. Maybe he wants to be a lobbyist for Kaiser—who knows?—or something else, but let him develop a goal that’s specific. And then, let him choose his term papers, his field work, his internships, his essay for graduate school, which graduate schools he applied to. Based on that specific goal, he could change. But having a specific focus is motivating and maximizes his chances at getting hired. Makes sense?
Caller 4: I couldn’t pay for this advice, I’m telling you.
Marty: Well, good. You don’t have to.
Caller 4: That has been bothering me in my gut.
Marty: Good. Well, I love that you called, and I’m glad to have helped. Feel free—I love it when callers call back. So, it could be six months, two years, three years down the road when things get clear and he’s made some progress, or whatever. You’ll call me back, would you?
Caller 4: Is there any way that this is streamed, so I can tell him to listen to this program?
Marty: Yes, if you go to my website MartyNemko.com, I have a link to the KALW site, the actual page where it’s located.
Caller 4: Okay, but that’s my problem. I’ll research that. Don’t worry about it, but I appreciate it. Because I think if he could hear it, himself, it will be good rather than me heckling it.
Marty: Good point.
Caller 4: Well, thanks for your time.
Marty: It is my pleasure. Thank you for calling Work with Marty Nemko. All our lines are lighted up. I will go back to the phones, but as I said, I wanted to pepper the show with some careers that are not obvious, that are not oversupplied like STEM and law.
Status is so important to people, but I consider status the enemy of contentment. There are a ton of jobs in the utility industry. This may gross you out but… I want to thank Maureen Barry, a listener to the show, who wrote to me the following: “I‘m writing today regarding my industry, the wastewater workforce. There’s a growing need for more people at all levels—technicians, plumbers, engineers, planners, project managers—you name it.”
So, think about utilities. Here’s another example. Your gas stove or drier, or whatever, there is somebody who runs that gas plant. Not somebody—there’s lots of people who control the systems and do checks to make sure the gas plant of PG&E are working properly.
Nobody thinks about those kinds of jobs. My job is to help you go under the radar. Okay, let’s go back to the phones. Welcome to Work with Marty Nemko. It’s your turn on the air. How can I help? Hello.
Caller 6: Great program. Thank you.
Marty: Thank you.
Caller 6: I wanted to comment on that set of career that may not necessarily be under the radar but that are available with a great deal of opportunities for people that are committed, talented, and that have drive.
Marty: Great. Let’s hear it.
Caller 6: And this is in the area of graphic design.
Caller 6: Web design, global design.
Caller 6: Absolutely. I manage a brand for a multi-billion, multi-global corporation in the Valley and we are desperate for qualified talent, not just talent that can put pixels together but talent that understands the need to translate business objectives, project objectives, utilizing their creativity, utilizing their communication skills into effective design systems.
Caller 6: We are talking about 100K-150k a year, and we cannot find people to deliver these skills.
Marty: Got it. Now, help me understand this. I’ve had many graphic design clients, and they are good at the graphic design—they make pretty things—but they’re not business people. In fact, there are many people who love design, and they hate business and that’s why they do their art. How does one gain the skills as well as the values that enable them to understand the business side of things?
Caller 6: I understand what you say. They don’t necessarily need to be business-savvy. They need to understand the business, the product that this particular company is involved in. We are involved in hardware and software or large enterprises. They don’t need to understand the marketplace, what our competitors are, the overall marketing strategies, but they do need to understand what a piece of software does, so that they can translate it visually, in a very compelling way, to a website design, to a brochure, to a color palette. They need to understand what that product does for the consumer and then utilize the skills so the visualization, rapid prototype and production bring that to creation.
Marty: Great. And so, the ability to understand a complicated product, is that just simply a matter of intelligence, or is it something else? I’m trying to help my listeners who are graphic designers. Is it intelligence, or is it more than that?
Caller 6: Intelligence—I think it also has to do with the ability to utilize the creative process and ask the right questions to identify the right solutions. I know that this is not tangible enough.
Marty: Let’s be specific. Take a piece of hardware. Give me an example of a piece of hardware where you might need a graphic designer.
Caller 6: Storage.
Marty: Okay, great. So, big, solid-state hard disks drive that are in an array of a hundreds terabytes—is that the kind of thing you’re talking about?
Caller 6: Absolutely.
Marty: Great. So, that’s the product. What do you expect this graphic designer to be able to do regarding that product?
Caller 6: The product marketing team is going to come to the table to us, the branding team, the branding and graphic design team, and say, “Okay, I have this storage product that we need to launch in three months, and here’s a long list of product features and functionality.”—long, long. And I’ve been in the industry for many, many years, and I still don’t understand many of those line items on that list, but I will ask questions about what makes this product unique.
Little by little, perhaps the concept of extreme performance will come up. And, through some revisions and through some harder interviews, extreme performance will be continue to be a concept that bubbles up in the conversation. And so, we will then put away the list of 20+ product features and focus on performance. And then it is the job of the graphic designer to come up with ideas that visualize extreme performance but not in a vacuum, not just in any artistic way, but in a way that makes sense for a hardware product, which means that the visualization of it has to have very specific, back to a piece of circuitry and metal, so that it doesn’t look like we are talking about something soft and ephemeral.
And so, it is that. It’s that, Marty. They’ll be able to ask questions that will put aside the technical aspects of a product, focus on the benefits that the market will receive by buying this product, and visualize in that in a way that is appealing to the eye and engaging to the brain.
Marty: This is more just for curiosity: It seems like every product, no matter how many features . . . And you’re right. The old days of trying to market with features is stupid—it’s always about benefits—but aren’t the benefits always either better performance, better price, or better service? Does it always come down to one of those three?
Caller 6: Perhaps, but then that is the job of the brand manager and the product manager—to go even deeper and figure out, given the competitive landscape in that particular product, what then to highlight for that given period of time.
Marty: But if there isn’t a clear, definable benefit—let’s say, the storage system—of either performance, price, or follow up service, then is the product maybe not worthy of being introduced? Isn’t that really a good litmus test?
And then, let’s say it is extreme performance. It doesn’t take a genius to get a visual, like on the top of my head . . . If I were trying to show my performance, that we had the lowest error rate of any hard disk storage system, I might simply have a one-page ad that filled with pixels that are all black, and only one—out of the ten million pixels that are on that page—is red as a way of instantly visualizing its outstanding low error rate. Should it be more complicated than that?
Caller 6: Well, Marty, you have to come work with me. It is as simple as that, but it’s also as complicated as that. You would be surprised to see how many graduates of the local and even national graphic design schools are graduating without critical thinking skills, critical problem solving skills, and instead of focusing clearly on the technical aspects of the applications that we use to do our work.
So, going back to your question, it is about critical thinking. It is about intelligence; it is about creative intelligence—translating complexity into simplicity, product features and functionality into business solutions, and doing all of that in the context of design, color, pattern, typography, photography, illustration.
Marty: You are a fabulous caller. It has been a privilege to have you on the show. I want to do something for you. If somebody who’s listening to this show feels that they would do a good job for you, do you want to give out the contact information so that they can contact you?
Caller 6: I will give out the contact information for the agency to which I source talent.
Marty: Okay, whatever.
Caller 6: I encourage people who are interested in this kind of work, who have a passion for doing meaningful work, to look up Talent Table—and that is the agency that I source my talents.
Marty: And what’s your first name, if I can ask you?
Caller 6: My first name is Francisco.
Marty: Francisco, it has been a pleasure talking to you. You’re anhonored member of the Work with Marty Nemko workforce. Thank you so much for calling the show.
Caller 6: With pleasure, Marty.
Marty: Okay, before I go to take another call, again, we’ve been talking about under-the-radar careers. Here is something that seems odd: I drive in San Francisco, and I see the cable car conductors. You know, that’s kind of a fun job, for the right person. It’s social. You’re out and about. It’s not rocket science. It’s regular hours. And, in fact, in this article that I’m drawing on here called “40 High-Paying Jobs that Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree,” it’s listed as number 29—subway and street car operators—but it’s not something most people would think about.
Status is the enemy of contentment. Please remember that some of the happiest people are not the ones who are corporate lawyers; they have status, but they’re not always so happy. I’m not a stupid person, and yet, if I’m quietly asking myself, the jobs that I’ve been happiest in my life—it’s career counselor, which is not as prestigious as when I was a medical researcher through Rockefeller University; and New York City cab driver, which is a low-status job—yet I had a great time. So please don’t let status overwhelm other factors, especially in this era where status jobs are ever harder to come by.
Just a couple more examples . . . I want to take one more phone call. These are, again, from the list of 40 High-Paying Jobs that Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree.
Postmasters and mail superintendents.
Power-line installers, whether it be for telecommunications, for the evil Comcast; I do consider them evil. Their pricing is outrageous, but they provide excellent service. It’s just very, very expensive. They’ve essentially driven out all competitors, so they have a monopoly—so I don’t like them. But they do have a good product, and they’re always hiring.
Transportation inspectors—One of the sources of bioterrorism is our ports. Countless containers are coming in. Those are jobs you don’t normally think about that don’t require a college degree—very important—and pay well.
MRI tech imaging—medical technology imaging—you do need to have some science, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist. MRIs are now becoming kind of passé. MEG scanners seem to be hot these days, which have higher resolution and less radiation.
Those are great careers that don’t necessarily require a college degree.
I’m going to stop there. Let me see if I can take one more call; no, I’m not going to do that.
I promised myself I wanted to do this for you. I’m really privileged that AOL has asked me to write a continuing saga about work for them. I’m calling it “Days of Our Work Lives”, and I thought I would see if you guys like them. I’m going to read you the first episode, as a way of ending today’s show. Let me just give you a little background.
While it’s fiction, it attempts to embed realities of today’s workplace plus my opinions and musings and advice in all manners of things. It’s about a family’s ups and downs. It’s computer geek David, his music teacher wife Susan, and their active son Adam. I just thought if I presented a career advice and workplace advice and life advice in the context of a story, it might be more interesting.
Part one of Days of Our Work Lives called “David’s Saga”; Episode One is “Open” Workspaces.
“As usual, David Sapian awoke grateful—grateful he’s well and that he has a decent job.
“Although he works very full-time, he dutifully helps his wife Susan get their 7-year-old son Adam ready for school. Today, David tried to get Adam to take his own cereal, but Adam likes being served so he threw a fit.
“David was grateful to finally escape into his car. He even preferred sitting in gridlock to his home’s morning madness—but gridlock raises his blood pressure, too. He’s angry not at the drivers but at the darn transportation planners for refusing to build more freeways, so—a la slowly ratcheted-up torture—we’re forced to sit in our cars and in ever more time-consuming and sardine mass transit. David would rather sit in gridlock in the sanctuary of his car.
“He arrived at the double-glass doors. ‘It’s showtime,’ he reminded himself. He pasted his corporate-acceptable smile and made corporate-acceptable greetings to co-workers as he strode to his cube. In corporate America, especially if you’re 40+, you may not trudge; you must stride. But not too fast—that would make you seem insufficiently controlled, just a moderate stride, with good posture: chin up, back straight, shoulders back, chest out. As Cosmo founder Helen Gurley Brown said, ‘After 40, it all comes down to posture.’
“HR had sent an email indicating they might finally might listen to employees’ pleas to add high walls to the cubicles. David thought, ‘What a stupid idea—open space workplaces. Yeah, let’s just collaborate, if listening to people blab about their kids is a sort of collaboration you want. But you can’t think, get any work done, certainly.’
“It’s been six months since HR sent that memo and, no surprise, still no walls. I guess they’re too busy revamping their corporate mission statement. After all, it’s hard to keep justifying, ‘People are our most important product,’ when they keep announcing layoffs to reduce headcount—oops—to rightsize the organization.
“No sooner did David’s butt hit his chair when a colleague came in: ‘Hey, David, the Big Enchilada wants to see us in five minutes.’
“‘That can’t be good. Will I still have a job?’”
Anyway, that’s episode one of Days of Our Work Lives. If you guys seem to like it, email me to let me know you like it—I may do more—but for today, that is Work with Marty Nemko.
I want to thank my board operator and, of course, all of you for listening and calling in. Please join me again next Sunday at 11. I will do three-minute work-overs on callers.
And, according to a just released report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest growing field, one you may not have heard of—industrial and organizational psychology, with jobs expected to jump 53% by 2022. I’ll talk with the former president of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Doug Reynolds.
Until next Sunday, this is Marty Nemko reminding you: We find comfort among those who agree with us; growth among those who don’t.
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