You know you’ve got a great job when you bounce out of bed each workday, look at the smile in the mirror and say to yourself, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do what I do.” You may not be making the greatest salary and you may not be fulfilling your parents’ dreams, but you’re having the time of your life.
What is a fun job? The answer is unique to everyone. I like journalism – you may hate it. I avoid art, you may embrace it. The trick is to figure out what you like to do, then find someone willing to pay you to do it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
The Pickin’s at Pixar – Sometimes a company itself embodies the essence of fun. Pixar probably is the closest thing you will find to Peter Pan’s Neverland. Get a job there and you may never have to grow up. Pixar, by the way, is the computer studio best known for Toy Story I & II, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. The Emeryville company plans to steadily expand its campus and its crew for many years, so if you can fill one of their needs in any capacity, it’s practically guaranteed to be a fun place to work.
At Pixar.com, you will find a long list of current openings. When I recently visited the site, there were 24 pages of vacancies ranging from user interface prototype developer to layout artist and character designer to accountant. So even if you are not a creative person, you can still land a mundane job in this playful environment.
For those who want to land one of the creative jobs, but lack the training or experience, Pixar’s website provides profiles of a wide range of people who currently hold these positions. It can give you an idea of what a typical creative person does. You can learn about being a supervising editor, set designer, sculptor, visual development artist, storyboard artist, shading designer, director of photography, animator, director, and many other specialties.
Imagine, for example, having a sculptor’s job, which is to “come up with how a character will look in 3-D.” Working from sketches, he builds a wire skeleton, then molds the clay until the character takes form. Yeah, he’s thinking “They pay me to do this?”
Such is life at Pixar. Other similar settings that offer creative opportunities in Northern California include Yahoo and Google, two web giants renowned for offering whimsy amid the work.
The Shutterbug’s Life – Few people have as much fun as a photojournalist. On a newspaper, they capture images that tell a story or add dimension to a news item. On a magazine like National Geographic, they spend months in remote locations so the rest of us can glimpse nature at its most stunning, or view a corner of the world we would never see otherwise. Warning: photographers who have to spend months away from home have trouble maintaining a happy family life. At one photojournalism conference, I learned the entire photo staff of National Geographic at the time was divorced. Another note: competition for such jobs is intense. The best way to break into the field is to land an internship with any publication, even if it’s a small weekly, and even if it is unpaid. You will then be able to assemble a portfolio to demonstrate your abilities when you go for that paying job. Note: Once you are a paid professional, you can join the National Press Photographers Association (nppa .org), which offers a mentor program that can further your skills and your career.
Channeling Your Talent – If you think being a television journalist looks like fun, you’re right. But you have to pay your dues. You’ll need a degree from an accredited college with a solid radio-TV academic program. Then, you have to be willing to go wherever the opportunity takes you, often Podunk, USA, where making those beginner’s mistakes hopefully will not cost you your job. Once you have assembled some impressive footage of your best work, you can begin to break into bigger markets. Another option to consider is a job behind the lens. Many TV stations hire writers, producers, directors and camera crews. An internship is also a good way to break into this field. For an interesting analysis of TV career prospects, go to tvrundown.com/resourcf.htm.
All Hands on Deck – Working aboard a cruise ship certainly guarantees some measure of fun. Even if you are bussing tables, you know there’s some exciting shore leave in your future. You will double your delight if you happen to qualify for one of the fun jobs on board. If you have any musical talent, cruise ships regularly hire entertainers. Or maybe you are qualified for one of the wide variety of support staff positions. Here’s a list of some of the openings recently posted on CruiseLineJob.com: golf instructor, beauty therapist, massage therapist, fitness instructor, cruise director, jewelry shop manager, shore excursion staff. That’s just a sampling of what’s available. For a more complete picture, surf the Web for cruise-line jobs.
Find Your Own Niche – If this sampling of fun professions does not inspire you, you can research your own interests online by going to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Bls.gov. Click on the Occupational Outlook Handbook and then enter a profession in the search box. Under each vocation, the BLS typically provides a list of other resources, like organizations that can provide useful leads. Your favorite search engine is another good starting point for occupational exploration. Whatever method you use, the search itself should be liberating. One note of caution: Don’t do this while at work, or you may find yourself facing another more urgent career quest.