Hi everyone. I currently work for a top tech company (think IBM/Salesforce/Oracle/CISCO) selling SaaS and high-tech enterprise software. My base salary is $60k and last year, I made around $100k before taxes with commission. I'm 26 years old, and have been working in sales for 1.5 years. My job is in inside sales, so I mostly work from the office and sell via the phone. On the plus, I only work on average around 50 hours a week. I hate my work and don't find it fulfilling at all. If I keep hitting and exceeding my numbers, I could be promoted to a field rep position within a few years, where I could make between $150-200k year (although the hours would go up, and I'd be on the road a lot, although it'd definitely still be less hours than management consulting or BigLaw).
On the downside, while I am quite good at sales, it's A HORRIBLE FIT. It is completely opposite of my personality, my skillset, and my interests. I just did sales because I couldn't find any other work I wanted to actually do. I'm introverted. I don't like talking to people more than I have to. I hate wining and dining clients. I hate smalltalk. I was never the "life of the party." I was always the smart kid in class that others trusted to get the job done, but didn't necessarily want a beer with.
I'm fine with being that guy, I don't want to be a party animal. I don't want to be the "guy who knows everyone" or the "guy who everyone likes," but want to be "the smart serious guy who knows his shit and everyone respects to get the job done." Sales isn't who I am. It's the complete opposite of my personality. I'm an INTP. Sales is one of the worst career choices based on my personality type. The hours aren't bad at all (sometime I work 40 hours a week), but there's an extreme pressure to perform and close that deal right by midnight, which can be very stressful. Also sales is in pretty much no way intellectually stimulating or analytical IN THE LEAST. Sales is all about hustling, all about closing.
To succeed in sales, you have to be very socially adept, being funny, charismatic, outgoing, personable, etc. And despite being in the tech industry, we're taught to "dumb things down" in sales calls and instead do a lot of small talk on sports and other topics to get the ball going. We take clients out to lunch, play golf with them, butter them up and kiss ass, be a smooth sweettalker and showman, use weird tactics like change your caller ID if you're in nevada calling into texas, doing lip service and flattery, and other shit that's annoying. Working this unprestigious unintellectual has been a slow existential rot for me, where I feel I haven't lived up to my potential.
I work in a field where the stakes of what I do are pretty low. I'm more than happy to trade in my easy breezy, relatively lucrative job for a much more stressful and demanding and intellectually rewarding career. I want something intellectually rewarding and satisfying. Why the fuck did I even go to school in the first place?
Also, to succeed, you have to make it all about the customer constantly, and I find that exhausting. I hate doing this. I really miss being in college and just talking to my peers in an analytical and intellectually rigorous way. And while I make a good amount of money, no one really thinks highly of my profession in sales, and it's definitely not considered "prestigious." It's consider the job that people who don't have any other marketable skills go into. It's the job that "smart people don't go into." In fact, my manager even said "smart people don't go into sales." Sales people are very socially adept, but not in the least intellectually curious or analytical.
As someone who went to an ivy league undergrad (cornell) and got a 3.7 GPA in Applied Math and Economics, I really do miss being in an academic and intellectually stimulating environment, and being surrounded by brilliant peers. i failed all my ib interviews from cornell, and then got into sales because i was initially enticed by the good money, and it's good straight out of undergrad.
Half of my fellow sales reps, while making bank and are social animals, and have amazingly high social/emotional intelligence, are high school dropouts. A monkey could go do my job, and it's pretty low-skill all things considered. Just find that high school dropout who partied all day and ditched class, got Fs and Ds while flirting with girls and making friends, and instill him a good work ethic, and he would excel at my job.
As someone who always held myself to high academic standards, and excelled in high school and college, I feel like pretty much my entire schooling was put to waste, and I barely use my brains for my job. My degree seems pretty useless, since I could have eventually gotten the same job via going to community college.
This is what I want: I want to have a job where I actually use my fucking brain. Where I put my technical, logical, and analytical mind to use. Where I work with similarly smart and driven people. Right now, two career paths are opening up: management consulting, and biglaw. However, I have no idea how to get into these fields without further graduate education.
I took the LSAT in February, and got a 171, so I think with my 3.7 GPA, I have a good shot at the t14. If I went to law school, I'd want to pursue BigLaw, and then probably go in-house if I don't make partner track. I think I'd like the academic rigor of law school, and really miss doing analytical work and exercising my brain.
On the other hand, I have no idea if I want to be a lawyer. What I think, more than anything I want, is a job that requires some intellectual labor, and something that I can find fulfilling and where I can put my intelligence to use. Some friends suggested maybe I pursue an MBA to go into management consultant or something instead. But then again, I've never worked 60+ hours consistently, so I don't know if I would hate or regret pursuing a law degree or MBA just for the sake of "prestige" and "doing something intellectual." I took the GMAT and got a 730. I could get a dual JD/MBA too.
But I only have 1.5 years of work experience, so way too early to apply to MBA programs right away. Although I'm thinking about applying to just law school ASAP because I want to get out of the sales hellhole. I've tried applying directly to boutique consulting firms and law firms for paralegal jobs but have gotten rejected all the time BC my sales experience has pigeonholed me into sales positions. I got stuck in a job I hate, and can't escape it, the sales stigma on my resume always exists!! People don't think I have transferable skills to other, more analytical jobs :(
What other work do you recommend REQUIRES and UTILIZES analytical chops, intelligence, booksmarts, and technical acumen? Work that is detailed-oriented? That's not 100% based on soft skills/people skills (as my job is now?) I understand soft/people skills will always be needed, but I just want something way more analytical, since moving from Cornell to sales has been extremely, extremely jarring and I feel miserable. If you have any other job recommendations: such as corporate strategy, corp dev, operations, etc., that may be a good fit for me, please let me know.
Thank you so much!!! Please if you can let me know of a potential path to get to your recommendations. I appreciate it a ton!
Hate My Sales Job
The following advice is specific to this situation. The Brofessor chimes in with advice that is applicable for anyone who needs doesn't "fit" in sales. Specifically those with more analytical and solitary personalities. These people may be of the opinion that sales are not the most intellectually stimulating of jobs.
. from certified user @thebrofessor
it sounds to me like the lack of intellectual stimulation is what's the root of this problem, and I'd be willing to bet if you had interaction interspersed with deep thinking/problem solving, you'd be fulfilled. also, a common misconception is that introverts can't do sales, I don't buy that. introversion & extroversion are just ways of describing where you recharge your batteries. would you rather turn on Arch Enemy's pre-Angela work and rock out at home while you do the dishes? or would you rather go to happy hour and hang out with strangers? I find myself somewhere in the middle, because interpersonal communication (when done right), is exhausting.
here's what I'd do if I were you:
take an inventory, what are your marketable skills? specifics, like programming languages, technological proficiency like SQL, six sigma, etc. ask yourself where those could fit
find out if there are opps at your company to lateral. companies like those mentioned design customized solutions for clients (engineers) but have to have someone interact with those clients (sales guys). if you can be both, you can succeed, what I'm unsure of is how readily your applied math background translates
consider more schooling. would a masters in engineering be possible? this would get you directly into the technical side of your company but would be years off of work and without pay most likely.
reflect on your current situation, be brutally honest. is it your group, your clients, or the nature of your work? because the first two change over time without you doing anything, the third is difficult to change. if you're just surrounded by a particularly fratty group of guys, that will pass. if your clients are the issue, think of educating them as an opportunity to teach (I believe the highest form of intelligence is distilling complex concepts into layman's terms), but if it's the nature of the work (selling routers to corn farmers), then you need a change.
from certified user @dick_fluid
I feel there is a very strong potential that you will be disappointed with any job you take because people don't pay you to be intellectual, they pay you to produce. Fundamentally, that sounds like something you are uncomfortable with.