January 31, 2023

Winter Wildlife Eagle Boat Cruises Depart Weekend Days from CT River Museum

RiverQuest start Wildlife Eagle Boat Cruises Saturday, Feb. 4.

ESSEX  – Connecticut River Expeditions of Haddam offers cruises on the lower Connecticut River this February and March for the 14th year of Winter Wildlife Eagle Boat Cruises. This year they have teamed up with the Connecticut River Museum and will be departing from the Museum’s dock in Essex. With this partnership, passengers enjoy both the river and its wildlife from the water and also the entire Museum including their special “Eagles of Essex” exhibit.

A magnificent Bald Eagle.

As the river, lakes and ponds to our north freeze, eagles and other wildlife make their way to the lower Connecticut River for their favorite food – fish. Eagles have made a major comeback over the past few decades and more eagles are being sighted in this area. On past cruises, up to 41 Bald Eagles, three types of grebe and swan and merganser, golden eagle, many different gull and hawk species, loons, coyote, fox, deer, three types of seal, and even a bobcat have been spotted.
“Winter is such a special time on the river, it is serene and scenic and there is a sense of tranquility. With no leaves on the trees, the river’s edge offers a much different view, making it easier to find and see our winter wildlife.  On this cruise we will search for the majestic Bald Eagle and other winter species,”notes Mindy, Captain Mark’s wife, crew and co-owner of RiverQuest, pointing out, “Each cruise is different and you never know what we will find.”

Winter Wildlife Eagle Boat Cruises include more than just big birds. Passengers often site beautiful winter ducks and even harbor seals. Photo by: Bill Yule.

RiverQuest has a heated cabin, but it is suggested that you dress in warm layers since the best views will be from the open decks. Bring your own camera and binoculars, but if you forget –or don’t have — them, there are plenty on board to borrow during the cruise. 

“We are excited to be working with the Connecticut River Museum. We feel that our mutual interest in the river is a perfect match,” comments Captain Mark of the eco-tour vessel, adding, “RiverQuest is already docked in Essex at the Museum and we are ready to go. We are hopeful that relocating RiverQuest from her home berth in Haddam further south this winter will increase our chances of running every trip.”
“There are few places as breathtaking or as tranquil as the Connecticut River in winter. We look forward to working with RiverQuest and sharing this experience with visitors,” says Chris Dobbs, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum.
In the Museum you can brush up on your Bald Eagle facts and field identification. With life size comparisons of local raptors you will get a close up idea of how large these birds really are. You can also try your nest building skills and enjoy all the other exhibits the Connecticut River Museum has to offer.   Additional eagle related public programs will be offered at the Museum during the Winter Wildlife Cruise season.

Cruises will be Feb. 4 through March 19. Departures on Fridays are at 10am and 12:30pm. Departures on Saturday and Sunday at 9am, 11:30am and 2pm.  Cost is $40 per person.

For more information visit www.ctriverquest.com  or www.ctrivermuseum.org

Career Column 11: Seismologists, Hydrologists, and Meteorologists

Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and floods.  The news has been full of these problems and their disastrous consequences lately.  It seems that we need help on planet Earth.  Seismologists study earthquakes, hydrologists water patterns, and meteorologists weather patterns.  I am hoping that talented and dedicated people will choose these fields and work on improving techniques for predicting extreme weather,  earthquakes, volcanic activity, and so forth, making the world safer for all of us. 


There is a great description of the work of seismologists, put together by a Canadian organization, Eco Canada, here:  www.eco.ca/_student/PrintableProfiles/87.pdf.  Briefly, seismology is the scientific study of the movement of waves through the earth.  It is typically associated with studying earthquakes but has other applications, especially in the oil and gas industry.  The work essentially involves analyzing and interpreting data from records of earth tremors (seismic records), developing methodologies to improve data interpretation, and communicating findings.  A seismologist might set up equipment and collect data in the field or in a laboratory, create specialized maps, and prepare scientific reports. 

Seismology is a subfield of geophysics, a branch of earth science concerned with the Earth’s physical processes.  Careers in the oil and gas industry are open to individuals with undergraduate degrees in related fields, such as math, physics, or geology, but a master’s degree in geophysics will open up more opportunities.  A doctorate is necessary for those interested in a research career.  For everyone in the field, high level computer skills are important as is coursework in math, physics, and geology. 


Hydrologists study the movement of water through the earth, using specialized techniques and sophisticated instruments.   They tend to specialize in either groundwater or surface water.  According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), hydrologists “examine the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, its movement through the Earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere”.  They often work in the field, and they are needed in the United States and internationally to serve government and industry.  Hydrologists at the doctoral level often work in universities as researchers and educators.

There were only about 8100 hydrologists employed in the United States in 2008, according to the OOH.   It is expected to be a fast growing field, however, with excellent prospects for those with a master’s degree and field work experience.  Hydrologists will be needed to assess building and hazardous waste sites and to deal with issues such as rising sea water and water conservation.   Hydrologists typically study in graduate programs in geological sciences (geosciences), environmental science, physical geography, or engineering.    The University of Connecticut, for example, offers MS and Ph.D. degrees in geological science that includes coursework relevant to hydrology, through the Center for Integrative Geosciences.    Wikipedia has a very thorough description of the field, here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrology


Meteorologists, also known as atmospheric scientists, study the physical properties of the atmosphere, the air covering the earth, and how those properties affect the environment.  They predict weather patterns and climate trends using complex instruments and computer models, working for the federal government, private consulting firms, or radio and television stations. They work at weather stations, sometimes in remote areas, and in offices and broadcast studios.  Entry level meteorologists for the government often hold a bachelor’s degree, but they have completed very specific coursework in math, physics, and atmospheric sciences.  The field is small and, although expected to grow, job prospects are likely to be best for those with master’s degrees who want to work in private industry. 

There are many other narrowly defined fields in atmospheric and geological sciences, each employing relatively small numbers of specially trained individuals.  For example, you can be a geochronologist  (“use the rates of decay of certain radioactive elements in rocks to determine their age and the time sequence of events in the history of the Earth”), a geomorphologist (“study Earth’s landforms and landscapes in relation to the geologic and climatic processes and human activities, which form them”), or a mineralogist (“study mineral formation, composition, and properties”) among many other possibilities.   These fields and several more are described here:  www.agiweb.org/workforce/brochure.html

If you are not afraid of math, science, and computer modeling, don’t mind getting dirty (doing field work), and are interested in the physical properties of our environment, a career in the earth or atmospheric sciences could be fantastic.  There is often funding available for graduate training at both the master’s and doctoral levels.  Salaries are good, if not great, and job prospects seem to be stronger than in many other fields,  including other scientific fields, with opportunities in government, industry, and academia in the United States and internationally.   

Career Resource

There are some helpful tips for applying to graduate school in the sciences here: http://envsci.science.oregonstate.edu/graduate/future/tips_applying_grad_school, in an article prepared by the Oregon State University Zoology Department.  I think it’s on target.  The advice includes:   Focus on programs that offer a good fit with your academic and professional interests, and faculty members in the program who might serve as mentors, rather than focusing on a particular school.  Apply for fellowships, because if you are awarded a fellowship you will increase your chances of acceptance at a program of your choice by a large margin.  Your undergraduate program should have listings of fellowships you can apply for.  Contact potential mentors (faculty members you might want to work with) and visit programs you have an interest in.   Work hard on your essay (the article offers some detailed advice about the essay) and choose references who are familiar with your academic work, especially your involvement in research.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column 10: Working in Human Resources

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), job prospects for human resource managers are expected to grow much faster than average, by 22 percent, in the coming years.  Revisions to safety standards, changes in health care regulations, labor relations disputes, and increased training needs due to technological advances are expected to contribute to a healthy demand in the field.   A bachelor’s degree in human resources, industrial-labor relations, or related areas (especially business administration with relevant coursework) along with an internship would be ideal preparation.   A liberal arts degree will need to be supplemented by internship or work experience and a business background.  To advance in the field, a graduate business degree with a concentration in human resources or labor relations, or a master’s degree in human resource management, is essential in some settings. 

To enter the field without a business background or experience, a graduate degree in business or human resources and an internship will be very helpful.   However, counselors could become employee assistance professionals, lawyers could become compliance officers, and accountants could become compensation and benefits analysts without much additional education.  In addition, an employee may be able to transfer into the human resources department of his or her company when there are openings.  

Hiring the right employees, reducing turnover, increasing productivity, and following complex employment laws are challenges for every corporation.  Human resource generalists have a hand in all of these functions in a company and more.  Human resource specialists, usually employed by large corporations, focus on a narrow area such as compensation, benefits, training, development, recruitment, or labor relations.  A third group of human resource professionals work as consultants to firms that outsource their human resource management needs. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an important professional organization in the field, has an excellent website (www.shrm.org).   Among other things, it identifies and describes several disciplines in Human Resource Management, including Leadership, Human Resources Technology, Safety and Security, Compensation, Labor Relations, Benefits, Diversity Management, Ethics and Sustainability (ethics includes a lot of legal and regulatory issues), Employee Relations, and others.  It seems there may be something that interests everyone, making it an exciting field to explore. 

Most human resource positions are a good fit for individuals who are project oriented with an interest in directing, persuading, and helping others and creating and following routines.  Strong oral and written communication skills, good teamwork and leadership capacities, knowledge of human resource functions, a business and finance background, confidence, flexibility, and a high energy level are important for success.   Those who work hard, deal with people well, and show management potential can move up the career ladder.  

Human resource jobs at the management level pay well, about $95,000 annually.  However, they may not pay as well as other, more business oriented, positions in some settings, because they do not generate profits.  Compensation and benefits managers seem to earn a little more than training and development managers. An experienced benefits administrator should earn about $65,000 annually, while an experienced benefits analyst will earn about $95,000.  (A benefits analyst has responsibility for researching and evaluating benefit plans, in addition to administering them.)   Assistants in these fields, who work under managers, earn closer to $50,000 annually.  (All salaries are based on medians in Hartford, Connecticut, as indicated on salary.com). 

SHRM has a helpful brochure that describes the field and how to position oneself to enter it.  It can be found here:  www.shrm.org/Communities/StudentPrograms/Documents/07-0971 Careers HR Book_final.pdf.  A more complex view, for business students, is offered by the University of Michigan School of Business at  www.bus.umich.edu/StudentCareerServices/resources/CP10HRChangeMgmt.pdf

Career  Resource

www.collegeboard.org  is the website for the College Board, a not for profit organization that administers SAT’s and other exams.  The website offers extensive college planning tools for free.  You can search for colleges by location, major, cost, size, setting, and other factors.  You can also find all kinds of information about a specific college, from average SAT scores to sports that are offered and housing options.  Take a look!

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column 9: Helping People in Need (Without Going to Graduate School)

With the recent controversy about public employees and the impending budget cuts for health and mental health care in Arizona, I was thinking that there will always be people who can’t manage well without some extra help, whether it is funded by the state, the private sector, families, or charitable organizations.   Whether they are challenged by developmental or physical disabilities, dementia, or serious mental illness, some people rely on others for a little or a lot of everyday support.  People who help others with everyday tasks are called human service or social service assistants, and according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), the job prospects in this field are not just good, but excellent

OOH notes that social or human services assistants “provide services to clients to help them improve their quality of life. They assess clients’ needs, investigate their eligibility for benefits and services ….arrange for transportation….and provide emotional support.”   As might be expected, they also have to keep records and report to supervisors.  Employees in this field might be called case management aides, social work assistants, community support workers, mental health aides, community outreach workers, client advocates, childcare workers, or similar titles.

In Connecticut, a job as a social service assistant typically requires an Associate’s Degree in Human Services and experience or a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, although some may be open to individuals with a high school diploma.    

These kinds of positions can be a step towards graduate school and a professional degree in a social service field, such as social work, counseling, or psychology, or they could be a step towards a career in health care administration or a management position for a non-profit.    For some people, though, these positions are long-term and a way to make a living.  Unfortunately, social service jobs don’t pay very well, although some positions have more authority and offer salaries at a higher level and others offer the opportunity for overtime or shift differentials.  The most recent data (2009) indicate that wages in Connecticut for workers in these categories are higher than they are in many other parts of the country, with the median salary listed as $40,000, but job prospects are not projected to be quite as strong as they are elsewhere.   

Clearly, these kinds of jobs are not for everybody.  Some positions are physically demanding and potentially hazardous. (Before taking a job, it would be a good idea to find out, and verify, what steps the employer takes to keep workers safe.)  Some require working long shifts, or evenings, weekends, or nights.  The best candidates will be comfortable doing routine tasks and helping and directing other people.  They will be good communicators as well as responsible, understanding, and patient.  They also may need to pass a background check.

Recent social services assistant job openings in Connecticut include multiple positions in residential treatment, providing support for individuals with developmental or psychiatric disabilities in group homes or supported apartments, and some that are more along the lines of case management, for example, helping clients access medical benefits or advocating for families.  Related jobs include mental health aide in a psychiatric hospital, teaching assistant in special education programs, therapy aide in a behavioral treatment program, or rehabilitation aide in a rehabilitation hospital.       

Careerbuilder.com lists these and related positions under the category of non-profit/social services.  It would be a good place to start a job search.  However, job titles for these positions are quite varied, and you will have to use a number of different key words to do a thorough search.  You can try searching for human service assistant, social service assistant, case manager, therapy aide, mental health worker or for some of the other titles listed in the OOH noted above.  Large social service providers and hospitals also list openings on their own websites.  You might want to do a job search regionally, looking for employment opportunities at all of the social service and treatment facilities within a geographical area.  You could also do a job search with a focus on a particular group of clients, such as the elderly, people with developmental or psychiatric disabilities, or troubled children.  Find out which agencies in your community serve people you are interested in working with and start your search there.  (You can ask for help at locating this information at your local public library.  Also, there is a long but not necessarily up to date list of DCF licensed “child caring agencies and facilities” here:  www.dir.ct.gov/dcf/Licensed_Facilities/listing_CCF.asp.)

For training, most community colleges in Connecticut offer programs in human services.  Make sure that the program you choose provides experience as well as coursework, because experience will be key to getting a job, especially if you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree.   

Career Resource

Idealist.org (www.idealist.org) lists volunteer positions and jobs with non-profits in the United States and abroad.  Its mission is to connect “people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.”  In addition, in the Idealist Career Center (www.idealist.org/info/Careers) you will find free, downloadable, book length information about careers in the non-profit sector, as well as tips and exercises to help you choose a career path. Take a look.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column 8: The Manufacturing Sector

The number of people employed in manufacturing in Connecticut has declined consistently over many years.  But that’s not the whole story.   Manufacturing is the fourth largest of the ten employment sectors in Connecticut, employing over 166,000 people in 2010.  That’s a lot of jobs, more jobs than in construction, finance, or government.  Manufacturers in Connecticut make everything from airplane parts and medical devices to bread and soap.  They each employ a few to hundreds of people.

Today there were 348 manufacturing jobs in Connecticut listed with careerbuilder.com, more jobs than listed under the construction, banking, food service, or automotive categories.   What kinds of jobs in manufacturing are available and how can you get one?  A review of manufacturing jobs posted on careerbuilder indicates that there is work in shipping and receiving, assembly, and production at all levels.  A number of jobs are temporary and offered through staffing agencies.  Most, but not all, require experience. 

For those of you who are not knowledgeable about production work, here are some definitions:
Machinists are hired because of their knowledge, skills, and experience.  They use machines to produce precision metal parts.  Good machinists have a math background, good problem-solving skills, and the ability to do very accurate work.  They also have specialized training, which they get in technical high schools, community or technical colleges, or on the job.  They don’t need a college degree.  Although the number of jobs for machinists is likely to decline, there is not expected to be a lot of competition for those that remain.  According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) job prospects for machinists are good.  Something to be aware of, however, is that experienced machinists are preferred by employers, and with the recent downsizing in manufacturing there is likely to be a surplus of experienced machinists who will get hired on first.  Machinists in Connecticut earn $40,000-60,000/year. 

Tool and die makers make precision tools and metal forms.  According to OOH these are the most highly skilled and highest paid production jobs.  Despite the decline of manufacturing, job prospects for tool and die makers are categorized as excellent.  Tool and die makers learn their trade through formal education and on the job training. They earn $50,000-65,000/year.

CNC programmers and operators use computer controlled machines to produce parts, often in large numbers with a great deal of precision.   There is projected to be a reasonably high demand for operators and low demand for programmers in coming years (because of technological advances).  Those with the skills to operate a variety of CNC machines will be most employable.  CNC operators are trained in high school or community college programs and on the job.  They earn on average $43,000/year. 

Assemblers usually work as part of a team.  They put together finished products.   Their jobs range from easy to quite complex.  They need good manual dexterity and to be able to work quickly and methodically.  Although for the most part assemblers learn on the job, almost all of the assembly jobs listed by CareerBuilder today ask for experience.  Job prospects for assemblers are categorized as good by the OOH.  Electronics assemblers earn on average $32,000- 43,000/year. 

Manufacturing and mechanical engineers and engineering technicians are also employed in manufacturing.  Engineers need to complete a Bachelor’s degree while engineering technicians complete an Associate’s degree.  Note that there were few jobs listed requiring training at the engineering technician level, and the OOH indicates that engineering technician jobs are likely to grow more slowly than average.  Job prospects for engineers, in contrast, are expected to be good.  A manufacturing engineer earns about $66,000 -94,000/year. 

(Note that all salary estimates are taken from www.salary.com and based on employment in Hartford, CT.) 

There are numerous other production jobs in manufacturing, in food, textile, and other areas.  Some of these jobs are low skilled and offer low wages and they can be unsafe, especially in the food manufacturing industry.  Others are in decline due to technological advances and the lower costs of production in other countries.

“Dream It-Do It” is a nationwide program offered regionally through the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).  The purpose of the Dream It-Do It campaign is to attract people to manufacturing careers and promote an understanding of advanced manufacturing methods.  Connecticut signed on in December of 2010, through the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), to “help create a new generation of highly-skilled workers”.  The program will work with community colleges, technical high schools, and business and industry to meet its goals.  For example, CCAT is offering summer programs to introduce students in grades 7 – 9 to advanced manufacturing methods, in the hopes of interesting them in pursuing a career in manufacturing.  Find out more at www.dreamit-doit.com/ or on the CCAT website. 

For information about training for production jobs, look into the Asnuntuck Community College Manufacturing Technology Center in Enfield  (www.acc.commnet.edu/manufacturingtechnologycenter/) or the Connecticut Community Colleges’ College of Technology Next Generation Manufacturing website (www.nextgenmfg.org/.)  When choosing a training program, research it carefully to make sure it offers the breadth and depth of experience and training needed for available jobs.  The Enfield program, for example, offers a wide variety of machines to train on, providing students with more of the experiences they need to land a job. 

Career Resource

Careerbuilder.com (www.careerbuilder.com) is a comprehensive job board published on line and in newspapers by the Gannett, Tribune, and McClatchey publishing companies and Microsoft.  It is very easy to navigate and lists millions of jobs nationwide and globally.  You can search job openings by location, category, and keywords and you can also post your resume.  Note, however, that not all job openings are posted on careerbuilder.com so it should be one part of a broader job search strategy.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column: The Teaching Profession

President Obama, in his recent State of the Union address, made the following pitch:   “….. to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child — become a teacher. Your country needs you.”

Do we need more teachers?  Is unemployment less of a problem for teachers than it is for other workers?  Today’s career column aims to answer these questions for would be teachers in Connecticut. 

In Connecticut there are a few paths to become certified to teach elementary or secondary education at a public school.  You can get an undergraduate degree, typically a Bachelor’s of Science in education, from a number of colleges.  Or, if you already have a college degree, you can complete a post-baccalaureate (post college) program leading to teacher certification at a university or an “alternative route to teacher certification” program through the state over the summer or on weekends (available for specific subject areas).    To become a special education teacher you need graduate level coursework or, if you already are a certified teacher in another area, you can complete an alternative certification program.    Everyone has to take some standardized tests, the Praxis exams.  None of these paths to certification are highly competitive or time consuming. 

However, once you are certified, finding a teaching job can be challenging, depending on where and what you hope to teach.   It is not too difficult to find openings for teachers in shortage areas.  Currently, in Connecticut, these include English, family and consumer science, math, music, science, technology, and world languages.  Special education also seems to be in demand.   There also tend to be openings for teachers in inner city school districts.  But getting hired on as a teacher in elementary education, social studies, art, or physical education in non inner city school districts is difficult, with many more applicants than openings. 

Once hired, new teachers face multiple challenges including a lot of paperwork, mandates, budgetary constraints, and managing a classroom of children.  They need to get along with other teachers, administrators, and parents.  They need to write lesson plans and grade papers after school and on weekends, and they need to complete a graduate degree within a certain time frame.    In addition, early career teachers are closely evaluated and not all have their contracts renewed.  

Good teachers like children and are motivated to help them learn.  They communicate well and have common sense and self-control.  They are patient, fair minded, optimistic, energetic, and creative.   They manage stress well and can cope with a challenging bureaucracy and multiple demands.  The best know intuitively that they want to teach, and many have wanted to teach since childhood.  

Teaching can be a great career choice for energetic adults who are looking for an “encore” career.  It can also be a great choice for young people coming out of college or parents returning to work after staying home with children of their own.   But would be teachers need to know what they are getting into.  They should be prepared for a challenging job search or plan to teach in a shortage area or in a difficult school environment.   As is true for most things worth doing, they will have to work hard at their chosen career.  

Job boards for teaching jobs in Connecticut can be found at www.cea.org and www.ctreap.net.  Note that job postings for teachers are to some extent seasonal.  Once a budget is passed and teachers give notification that they are retiring or resigning, school districts know which positions need to be filled for the coming school year.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career column: Working for Big Pharma

For this career column I planned to look into the kinds of jobs available in the pharmaceutical industry.  I thought I would have a look and report back, so readers could be better informed and get an idea about whether this would be a good direction to head in.  It seemed like it might be an exciting industry to work in, with its focus on developing new drugs and all of the news about recent developments in genetics and stem cell research.   

Hours later I can conclude that the employment picture for Big Pharma is a lot more complicated than one would think, and the news is gloomy.   I examined Pfizer as a local and representative example.  Pfizer lists 146 openings in the United States and about 80 internationally.   However, Pfizer reportedly cut 10,000 jobs in 2007 after failure of a new drug, 19,500 jobs in 2009 as a result of a buyout of Wyeth (which led to redundant jobs), and another 8,480 jobs in 2010, leaving a lot of angry former employees.  Hoover’s, a reliable source of industry information, lists Pfizer as having 116,500 employees in 2009.  So the 146 open positions listed in the United States are a trifle.  

Obviously there are other pharmaceutical companies that have openings, including Genentech, NovoNordisk, and Abbott Laboratories among Fortune 500 companies.  According to the Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS), pharmaceutical manufacturers altogether employed over 280,000 people in 2008.    Many of these people, perhaps 40%, were employed on the business or office support end of the industry, in jobs that involve financial planning, business analysis, marketing, sales (the number of sales representatives is diminishing at a high rate, however), contracting, outsourcing, corporate communications, and public affairs.  About 30% were scientists or other professionals and a smaller percentage worked in production. 

The most recent BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) does not present a rosy picture for employment prospects in Big Pharma, concluding: 

Despite the increasing demand for drugs, several factors will limit employment growth in the industry. Drug producers and buyers are placing more emphasis on cost effectiveness, due to the extremely high costs of developing new drugs. Competition from the producers of generic drugs also will put pressure on many firms in this industry as more brand-name drug patents expire. On the manufacturing side, continuing improvements in manufacturing processes will improve productivity in pharmaceutical plants, while many companies are also manufacturing more of their products overseas.

In addition, industry insiders writing for Science Careers, a blog published by Science magazine, and BioJobs, an award winning blog about careers in the life sciences,  suggests troubling job prospects for early career life scientists who hold doctoral degrees.   They note there is little government grant funding for science and few jobs in academia (except for postdocs).  They also suggest that much research and development takes place in emerging markets, where foreign born scientists trained in the United States are available to do the work.   The OOH also points out: 

Doctoral degree holders are expected to face competition for basic research positions in academia. ….. In general, applied research positions in private industry are somewhat easier to obtain, but may become more competitive if increasing numbers of scientists seek jobs in private industry because of the difficulty finding positions in colleges and universities. (italics added)

Also noted in the OOH: “ an economic downturn could influence the amount of money allocated to new research and development efforts, particularly in areas of risky or innovative research. An economic downturn also could limit the possibility of extension or renewal of existing projects.”

It seems that those who have a science and business background will be best prepared to work in the pharmaceutical industry.  Mostly business with a science background would be a good bet.  Those seeking a life in research after obtaining a doctoral degree in the life sciences should plan carefully when they decide where and what to study and which lines of research to pursue.  There are exciting and rewarding research positions available in academia and in the pharmaceutical industry, but not enough for all who want them.  It’s hard to say what will allow production workers to get and keep a job with Big Pharma.  Production workers do not need to be highly educated and there are not many job openings, so there is a lot of competition.  Relying on friends and family already employed in a factory to pull someone in, the old fashioned kind of networking, could be key.

Career Resource

In the course of learning about employment with Big Pharma, I stumbled across two good resources for science jobs:

www.sciencecareers.sciencemag.org is full of information and career advice for scientists and others looking for work, and it has a good science job board. 

www.biojobblog.com/ is more personal and has a lot of interesting observations and career advice, especially for life scientists.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column: Buying for Sephora (so the rest of us can buy from Sephora)

My daughter’s boss’s friend’s daughter has what many young women would consider to be “the best job ever.”  She is a buyer for Sephora, the high end cosmetics retailer with well stocked independent store locations in malls all across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  I made it my mission to find out how one goes about getting this job and what the job might entail.  Here’s what I discovered:

The headquarters for Sephora USA is in San Francisco and most corporate level positions are located there.   Posted openings on Sephora’s website include one for an assistant merchandise planner and another for a planning manager.  Although these are not buying jobs exactly, they are closely related.   The assistant planner’s responsibility is to help with the creation of SKU (stock keeping units) forecasts and the placement of orders and requires 1-2 years of corporate retail planning experience.

I also looked at openings for buyers for similar companies and found this list of qualifications for an accessories buyer for Juicy Couture, a brand well known to Sephora shoppers:

  • 8+ years of Buying experience, 2+ years of previous management experience
  • Keen understanding and interest in fashion industry and trends
  • Excellent Retail Math and Excel skills
  • Proven vision for building line plans and assortments(and other qualifications that are less specific to the position and industry). 

I also found out that an associate buyer of dress collections at Saks Fifth Avenue needs 3 – 4 years of business experience and “strong business and financial analysis skills,” among other requirements.  Nothing in the rather long list of requirements for the Saks position had anything to do with a vision or interest in beautiful clothes, but perhaps having such an interest goes without saying.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Buyers purchase merchandise for resale from wholesalers or manufacturers. Using historical records, market analysis, and their sense of consumer demand, they buy merchandise, keeping in mind their customers’ demand for style, quality, and a reasonable price range. Wrong decisions mean that the store will mark down slow-selling merchandise, thus losing profits.” 

An assistant buyer for natural skin care products for Sephora gave an interview to the website “I Want Her Job” (more about the website below).  She reports that she started out in an unrelated retail business and moved on to become an account coordinator and later an account executive for a manufacturer who sold products to Sephora.  She moved over to Sephora from there.  It is evident from her interview that she loves cosmetics and loves working for the company.  She describes what she does each day this way:  “I help determine the correct assortment of products to carry and how they will be merchandised. I am not just involved in skin care merchandising, but I also work closely with our marketing, education, operations and inventory teams.” 

In sum, to become a buyer in the fashion or cosmetics industries, it is vital to have a good head for numbers and to be motivated to achieve business goals.  A buyer might also work long and unpredictable hours and will need to be able to respond quickly and manage stress well.  For someone who has these qualities and loves the products the industry sells, a career as a buyer could be very exciting.  Like any other good job, it takes a lot of work, persistence, and drive to get there.  Relevant internships and retail sales experience would be a good first step.  A college degree is not always essential, but it is desirable, and a business or merchandising degree could be a requirement for some positions.  According to salary.com, the median annual salary for an experienced buyer in New York is $77,000. 

Career Resource

IWantHerJob.com (www.iwantherjob.com ) is an inspiring website that profiles women who love their jobs.   The site is a pleasure to view, interviews are informative, and women with all kinds of interesting jobs are profiled.  The site is fairly new so hopefully there will be a wider range of jobs profiled over time.  The interview with the assistant buyer for Sephora is here:  www.iwantherjob.com/cassie-cowman/ .

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column: Keeping Us Safe in a Hostile World

I just saw the movie “Fair Game” with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.  It tells the story of Valerie Plame, the CIA operative who was outed in the course of the political craziness of the times.  Her story made me wonder about what it takes to become a covert agent for the CIA.   This career column will attempt to answer that question, for the CIA and for other government agencies that have a strong national security focus.  Given the state of the world, there will undoubtedly be good jobs in these agencies for years to come, and we need good people to fill them. 


According to her Wikipedia entry, Valerie Plame’s father was in the Air Force and worked for a period for the National Security Agency (NSA), so perhaps she was born into it.  She attended Penn State and obtained a degree in advertising before applying to the CIA, and the CIA sent her to graduate school. It seems that a specific educational background is less important than talent, personal qualities, and the ability to pass a thorough background check.   

For those who find the alphabet soup of agencies confusing, the CIA is the agency that collects intelligence information and conducts covert actions against adversaries of the United States; it hires and trains spies.   It turns out that the CIA website is extremely user-friendly for job applicants and those just wanting to learn more about its mission and history.   It is so effective that it could serve as a model for government and corporate websites of all types.  It has good explanations of positions it hires for, videos about them, and a fun “personality quiz” that dispels myths about CIA service.  Regarding working for the CIA it notes, among other things:

“there are some fundamental qualities common to most successful officers, including a strong record of academic and professional achievement, good writing skills, problem-solving abilities and highly developed interpersonal skills. Overseas experience and languages are important factors as well.” 

Anyone can apply and the on line application is easy enough.  However, the applicant must:

“be prepared to undergo a thorough background investigation examining your life’s history, your character, trustworthiness, reliability and soundness of judgment. We also examine your freedom from conflicting allegiances, potential to be coerced, and willingness and ability to abide by regulations governing the use, handling and the protection of sensitive information.” 

How they conduct this investigation and determine one’s “freedom from conflicting allegiances,” etc. is left unsaid. 
If a career in the CIA sounds appealing, and the thought of going through an extensive background investigation does not dissuade you, check out the job possibilities on the CIA website, www.cia.gov/careers/index.html


The FBI is concerned with law enforcement at the national level.  Among other things, the FBI gathers intelligence from domestic sources, so the CIA apparently goes through the FBI if they need information from within the United States.  The FBI website indicates that it is currently recruiting Special Agents with certain critical skills such as accounting, finance, engineering, and the hard sciences. Applicants need to be between 23-37 years old to be considered for these positions, and they also have to meet physical requirements and pass a background check.  The FBI is also recruiting to fill professional positions, some of which have to be filled by current FBI employees and many of which require the applicant to pass top level security clearances.  The FBI careers website is much less appealing and more difficult to navigate than the CIA website, but many positions are posted for FBI offices in different parts of the country.  For example, there are postings for administrative officers, biologists, and paralegals.  Note that most positions have very specific requirements for experience.  FBI jobs are listed here:  www.fbijobs.gov/index.asp


On its website, the NSA, or National Security Agency, indicates that its “core missions are to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information.”  That is, the NSA protects national intelligence information and gathers intelligence information (signal intelligence, or SIGNIT) to share with those who need it.  The NSA…” collects SIGINT from various sources, including foreign communications, radar, and other electronic systems. This information is frequently in foreign languages and dialects, is protected by codes and other security measures, and involves complex technical characteristics. NSA…needs to collect and understand the information, interpret it, and get it to our customers in time for them to take action.” 
The NSA hires very smart computer scientists and engineers but also those with a background in international relations or anthropology.  For example, with a Bachelor’s degree in one of these fields you can apply for entrance into an intelligence analyst development program.   The NSA also offers a number of internships and scholarships at all levels. You can find out more about careers with the NSA here:  www.nsa.gov/careers/index.shtml.  The NSA website is easy to navigate and interesting to explore, but the information it provides is complex as perhaps is appropriate for its mission.  

Career Resource

The Federal Government’s official job site, www.usajobs.opm.gov/, is big, well organized, and informative.  It is a good place to learn about the hiring process for federal jobs and browse for federal jobs, and it is the only place to apply for most federal jobs.  If you take the time to explore the site, you will also find valuable information on how federal jobs are filled and you might be surprised at what kinds of jobs are available. For example, I did a quick search for jobs for psychologists in Connecticut and I was surprised to discover that the department of agriculture hires counseling psychologists for the Job Corps program.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column: It’s All About the Money

Literally, the jobs described below are all about the money, exchanging it, managing it, and making it, without manufacturing anything at all.  If you work in banking or financial services, you probably already know about these jobs.  This column is for those who don’t work in banking or finance.  It should be of special interest to parents, spouses, friends, or siblings of people working in these fields, or readers who are considering them.  


Financial Analysts

These professionals assess the performance of investments by studying financial statements and analyzing other financial information to project earnings and determine a company’s value.  Financial analysts typically focus on specific industries or narrower subject areas.  They use spreadsheets and statistical software, and they are likely to work long hours, travel, and face stressful deadlines.  Financial analysts need strong math, analytical, and problem-solving skills, and they should be detail-oriented and highly motivated because they have to do intensive research and focus on minute details.  They need a good academic background and at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field.  These jobs pay very well and are highly competitive.   Students who are considering a career as a financial analyst should work hard in college, majoring in business, economics, finance, or a related field.  A strong background in math, good study habits, and good time management skills honed in high school would be an advantage.   

Stockbrokers, Financial Services Sales Agents, Investment Bankers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes stockbrokers, investment bankers, and financial services sales agents in one category, “Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents.”  These positions have in common the need to find customers and sell them financial products.  Stockbrokers advise clients on investments and conduct transactions, charging a commission on each one.  It is essential that they build a customer base.   Financial services sales agents sell a variety of financial products, such as insurance, banking services, or credit cards.     Investment bankers sell advisory services to companies and sell securities.  All of these jobs can be quite stressful.  Investment banking in particular requires very long hours and a very high level of motivation.  Only the top performers keep their jobs after the first couple of years.  Those who succeed, however, are rewarded by making quite a lot of money.    Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, self-confidence, and high levels of motivation are essential to success in all of these fields.  A college degree in business, finance, or a related field is usually required and sales experience is an advantage.  Young people considering these fields can prepare by honing their interpersonal and time management skills along with studying math, business, or finance. 

Personal Financial Advisors

Personal financial advisors assist individuals with investment, insurance and related decisions and help them plan to meet short and long term financial goals.   Some financial advisors also sell financial products.  All must do a lot of marketing to establish a client base, and they may conduct seminars or programs to engage clients.    Personal financial advisors usually have a college degree and often take courses in investments, estate planning, or related areas on their own.  They need good sales, math, and communication skills, and with experience and an exam they can obtain the Certified Financial Planner credential.  Good job growth is expected, but these jobs are competitive and those who have strong sales skills are likely to be most successful.  A career as a personal financial advisor can be a good choice for a career changer who has strong interpersonal and sales skills, an interest in the field, and a facility with numbers. 

The careers described above all require math skills, analytical ability, and a high level of motivation.  Financial analysts need a stronger finance background, while stockbrokers, investment bankers, financial services sales agents, and personal financial advisors need strong interpersonal and sales skills.  All of these can be challenging, stressful occupations requiring long hours and hard work, but for individuals with the right interests, talents, and temperament these fields can be tremendously rewarding, personally and financially.   One caveat, however, is that the demands and stress of these positions can, and often will, take a toll on family life.  That’s a topic for another column. 

Career Resource

The Riley Guide (www.rileyguide.com/), published online since 1994, is a comprehensive and easy to navigate directory of online job search and employment resources.  It provides straightforward information about careers and also provides links to helpful job search information.  For example, the Riley Guide offers a  directory of executive search firms for finance and accounting jobs as well as links to salary guides.   It also offers pages and websites that provide more general career advice, such as how to write a cover letter and how to network and interview.   In addition, it has a section on handling a job loss.    I highly recommend it as a place to start or continue a job search.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column: A Good Hire

Long ago I was hired for a job that I thought would be perfect for me.  I had just graduated from college with a degree in psychology, and the job was to write summaries and test questions for psychology study guides.  It went well for about a half hour.  Then I was bored.   I didn’t want to stick to the straightforward answers required of me; I wanted to expand on the material and discuss the complexities.  In addition, the office environment was extremely still and quiet, and I wanted to move around and listen to the radio.  I didn’t do the work that was asked of me very well, I complained, and I distracted my colleagues.  Even though I had the right credentials I was not a good hire, and I didn’t last very long there. 

Now that years have passed and I have had to do some hiring of my own, I am better able to put myself in the shoes of my employer.    He didn’t hire me as a consultant to tell him how to improve his study guides.  He hired me to write them as they had always been written, quickly and without complaint.  The job turned out to be one I had no interest in doing, but it was the job that I was hired for.  It was my responsibility to get it done.

A “good hire” is someone who gets the job done.  He or she is also reliable and, at the very least, pleasant to be around.  The job that needs to be done, of course, is different in every circumstance.  It may require very specific skills, credentials, experiences, or talents, or more general qualities, such as quick thinking, good interpersonal skills, or a particular appearance.   For my study guide job, I was reliable and pleasant to be around, and I had the right skills and credentials, but I was not good at completing routine tasks in a quiet environment.  I was not a good hire. 

Why is being “a good hire” important to job seekers?  If Jane is looking for work, or expects to be looking for work, thinking through what it takes to be a good hire can help her get hired for the right job.  She can focus on the skills, credentials, and personal qualities that she “brings to the table,” that is, the strengths, interests, and all of the other characteristics that make her a good hire.    She might see areas that need improvement, and make the improvements, so that she is a better and more confident candidate.  Or she might choose a different focus for her job search, or move towards a different career altogether. 

Here are some suggestions to help you answer the “What makes me a good hire?” question.  Think about:

  • What did you do well at your last job (or at school, at home, or in a volunteer position)?
  • What aspects of the job were easy for you?  Perhaps you found it easy to run meetings, work with colleagues, or get tasks done quickly, for example.  
  • What did you enjoy most?
  • In what circumstances were you most productive?
  • What difficult things did you accomplish? 

Also ask yourself: 

  • What could you have done better?
  • What was difficult?
  • What was unappealing?

Finally, think about what you want to improve, that is, what would make you a better hire, not for any job but for a job you want. 

For my study guide job, I could have, with difficulty, settled down and become a good hire, and perhaps I might have been able to establish a career in publishing or business.   I took a different path, however, working towards a position that would be a better fit for me.   I went to work in a restaurant to earn money and volunteered as a research assistant so that I would be a more competitive applicant for graduate school. 

We are a varied lot, and each one of us brings different qualities to the workplace.    The more we understand ourselves and what work requires of us, that is, knowing what makes us a good hire, the better choices we can make and the better we can present ourselves to potential employers. 

Career Spotlight:  Cybersecurity Expert, Digital Forensic Scientist

Cybersecurity experts protect data on computer networks.  Digital forensic scientists examine digital data to solve crimes.   Jobs in these areas are often stressful and demanding and sometimes they can be tedious, but they can also be exciting and financially rewarding.  Some of these jobs provide the bonus of being able to work with the newest technologies.    Both careers should be of interest to people who like thinking through problems, hands-on work, and following routines. 

\These are “hot” careers.  There is such a high demand for cybersecurity experts that the federal government is trying to interest talented young people in the field while they are still in high school through high school cyber challenges (competitions).  A Bachelor’s degree in computer science provides a good background, but other science and engineering majors could also find a home in cybersecurity or digital forensics.  A strong interest in and ability to grasp computer and related technology is key.  There are internship opportunities and specialized training and certification programs, similar to other IT career paths, and there are also a few specialized master’s and doctoral programs.   Law enforcement agencies and law firms hire digital forensic specialists.   Government agencies and private corporations hire cyber security experts, and they don’t seem to be able to get enough of them. 

You can find information about careers in digital forensics at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences website, in the Resources section under Students :  www.aafs.org/choosing-career#Digital

For a description of careers in cybersecurity, the Wall Street Journal has a good write-up.  Click here to view article.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Career Column: Green Jobs

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Karen Goldfinger as a regular columnist.  Karen’s biweekly columns will focus on the world of work.  Dr. Goldfinger is a psychologist in Essex.  She has a special interest in career development, and she and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on-line career consultation to clients in Connecticut and New York.  In her private practice she specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, or forensic purposes. 

Love and work are fundamental. This column is about work, leaving love for others to expound on. Most of us have concerns about work these days, either for ourselves, our children, or someone else we care about. The world is changing, the job market is unlikely to return to what it once was, and people need to take steps to ensure their employability over the long term. That’s a good thing, because if we do that we have more control over our work lives than ever before.

I am writing this column to help readers think about their work lives and solve their work problems, from choosing a career wisely to landing the right job and knowing when and how to move on. I bring the perspective of a clinical psychologist with a special interest in career development. This is a large subject, with historical, economic, sociological, technological, and practical elements, in addition to the psychological. I will try to cover them all, in bits and pieces if not comprehensively.

Each month the column will focus on a topic related to the world of work. I will also provide information about careers in specific industries and tips about career related resources. I will present information that will interest a wide range of readers, from those thinking about their first job after college to older workers looking for a second or third career following retirement, both professionals and non-professionals. I hope that readers find something interesting and useful in every column.

Green Jobs

Green jobs are where politics, science, and the economy collide. At least $50 billion dollars of the stimulus bill (ARRA) enacted in early 2009 was targeted for green jobs. Concretely, the money is meant to be used for the development of electric cars, wind energy, a “smart grid”, weatherization programs, training grants and a range of other sustainable energy and conservation oriented goals. But the focus on green jobs is not new to the Obama administration. A Green Jobs Act was passed by Congress in December of 2007 and signed by President Bush to fund job training programs to support green industries. Government funding for green jobs is also international in scope, with programs in Europe beginning in 1997 and international labor and United Nations programs initiated in 2007. Green industries are likely to be expanding in coming years, given the push for renewable sources of energy and concerns about climate change.

A formal definition of green jobs was announced last week by the United States Department of Labor (September 21, 2010). Green jobs, officially, are:

  • Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
  • Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

These are jobs in renewable energy (wind, solar, biofuels, etc.), energy efficiency, pollution reduction and removal, conservation of natural resources, and environmental compliance and education. According to Department of Labor statistics, the largest percentage of green jobs are in the construction industry (38%, DOL, 2010) and in professional services/business (36%, DOL, 2010), but there are also green jobs in education, government, and other areas. Note that businesses and organizations of all types have sustainable energy initiatives and need staff to manage them.

Many people choose green jobs because of a sense of moral responsibility and the chance to have a positive impact on the world over the long term. Some choose green jobs because they are excited about finding solutions to challenging scientific and engineering problems with real world implications. For others, green jobs and green businesses are where the money is going for the foreseeable future, and they want to capture their share. An interest in the science and politics of green industries is relevant to all who pursue green careers, because opportunities in the field are evolving and those who are informed will be in the best position to make good career choices. Continually upgrading knowledge and skills will also be important, so if you pursue a green career, plan to keep on learning.

If you are interested in pursuing a green job for any or all of these reasons, there are a lot of resources to help you succeed.

From an education perspective, most states offer affordable training opportunities at the community college and university level. For example, at community colleges in Connecticut there are new grant-funded certification programs in sustainable and alternative energy that can be completed full-time in a year (or part-time over a longer period). More information is available at www.commnet.edu/soar/ChooseProgram.asp. At a more advanced level, students at Eastern Connecticut State University can minor in Sustainable Energy Studies in preparation for a career in energy policy. In New York, students can get a Bachelor’s degree in Alternative & Renewable Energy Systems at Canton College of Technology, a state college, or an Associate’s degree in Natural Conservation at Morrisville State College. These are representative of many examples. Every state has similar opportunities in state funded and private programs.

From a jobs perspective, you can search for green jobs at these and other websites: www.greenjobs.com/public/index.aspx and www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/greendreamjobs.main/?CFID=15371151&CFTOKEN=85027571.

Career Spotlight: Television Production

If you want to work in television production, start when you are young, plan to work really hard for long hours, especially early in your career, and be willing to relocate. Careers in television production are not for middle aged career changers or for the timid. But for young people who are energetic, ambitious, and talented, television production can offer an exciting career path with a lot of potential. Regardless of the state of the economy, a great deal of money is spent on creating entertainment, much of it for television (which does not seem to be going away as an entertainment medium), and television production is labor intensive. There are jobs for make-up artists, camera operators, sound technicians, casting agents, writers, producers, set and costume designers, directors, editors and other personnel. For all of these positions, workers have to learn their craft, whether at college, technical school, or elsewhere, and then they have to get their foot in the door, starting out as an assistant for a low wage. It is as viable a career path as any for young people with the right temperament and aspirations. If you are motivated enough, you will figure out how to get there on your own, but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Find contacts in the industry through personal connections, faculty members, mentors or your school’s career office. These people can teach you about the industry and, if you are lucky, help open some doors.
  • Look for internship or entry level free lance production assistant opportunities, and while you are working at them, learn everything you can. Try these websites for internship and job possibilities: www.mandy.com, www.media-match.com/usa/.

Career Resource: Occupational Outlook Handbook

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-2011 is free and on line at www.bls.gov/oco/. This is a comprehensive resource that covers hundreds of occupations, providing detailed information about job responsibilities, training requirements, salaries, job titles, and job prospects. Some occupations are covered in more depth than others. For example, there is a good section on employment issues for lawyers. It is easy and worthwhile to explore the information available here whether you are thinking about a first career or a career change.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net