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Where do the “Cool Jobs” live?

April 8, 2009

So, lately I have been watching/participating in a rather hysterical internet fight between Ask a Manager and Rebecca from

Essentially, Rebecca gave some, what I consider to be, awful advice about burning bridges, and championing the “new rules” and that “cool jobs” won’t check references. But if you want to work, in like, insurance  – go right ahead and be old school.


I read a lot of websites that seem to focus on Generation Y and Millenials (I think I may fall into this demographic) and am convinced that for a lot of people, they are just posting to be inflammatory and link-baiting, but I think a large majority of them believe their own hype. But, that’s for another day. My issue is this idea that the only “cool, change the world” jobs are in internet start-ups with questionable profitability plans.  And what is actually changing in this New World Order? Can’t I change the world if I work in an insurance firm? Or in a mid-sized internet company? What if I am in charge of corporate responsibility at Bear Stearns, or Wal-Mart?And what are these life-changing things that are happening as a result of these new rules. We got Obama elected, and really utilized social media. Okay. Now what? I feel as if I see a lot of passion, but no clear goal. What about the world are we trying to change?

Are these conversations about jobs and career advice only for those who want to work in PR/Marketing or Community Building? Is this “new way of thinking” non-applicable for those who work in some other, perhaps lame field? Or for large, established companies?

Is this obsession with “cool jobs” really just a desire for large salaries given for skills that consist mainly of using the internet and technology effectively? Can you have a “cool job” and work for a big company?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. humanresourcespufnstuf permalink
    April 8, 2009 2:51 pm

    Ideas are great, actionable outcomes are better!

  2. April 8, 2009 5:15 pm

    This is such a good post and response. I’m not sure there’s a definition of “cool” jobs – I’ve worked for non-profits that fed the hungry, another that helped young people get jobs, a company that tried to make developments environmentally friendly, and now a start-up. (As an aside, our profitability plan is not in question. The co-founders of the company have sold three companies before this one, and their last start-up to Microsoft for $50 mil).

    I think they were each cool in their own way. I think that you can make change in any area that you’re in if you’re willing to put in the effort. And I also think that different things work for different people. I tried to bring up a different way of doing things, just like these questions you bring up. That was the point. Not to say that every one should drop what they’re doing immediately and change.

    Anyway, enjoyed the post.

    • April 8, 2009 9:55 pm

      Thanks very much for your response, Rebecca. I should note that my comment about profitability was not directed about Alice in particular (I love it, and its actually how I found you in the first place!) The whole post wasn’t really about you in specific, although it appears I certainly framed it that way.

      The problem is, I think that everyone I read, reads each other. And the advice seems circular and I am getting lost in who it’s directed towards. My fear is that everyone has the same job – which I think consists of writing blog posts/social media about people who write about writing blog posts/social media.

      I would love more real world, concrete examples of where you think your advice and insights will be helpful, and some data that supports your suggestions. This is the kind of stuff that I think can really make an impact on our daily lives.

      Also, more love for those of us who may not have “cool jobs” but successfully pay the bills my doing some unsexy jobs we love.

  3. April 8, 2009 7:07 pm

    I’m puzzling over — and being annoyed by — the “cool jobs” thing too. My job feels pretty cool to me, but hell, I’d think any job where someone is paying you money to do something you like to do, where you like the people you work with, and where you aren’t causing harm to the world is pretty cool.

    • April 8, 2009 9:56 pm

      100% Agreed. I love my job, but I don’t think it really drips with awesome to the outside observer. Which is good, because I would hate to fight someone for it. But I would.

  4. Anthony permalink
    April 8, 2009 10:42 pm

    It’s like 1999 all over again, only the names (and medium for discussion) have changed.

  5. Benjamin permalink
    April 9, 2009 11:01 am

    I like your input into the discussion. I would say that no one wants to be a cog in the corporate machine, but two people could think that very different type of jobs are cool to them. I think that engineering jobs that have to do with computers and complex machines are cool, but you all might be bored to tears with the amount of calculations involved.

    It seems to me from Rebecca’s video that she was able to get one of her “cool” jobs by knowing someone who knows the President or the CEO of her two previous companies. This goes against advice that burning bridges is ok when leaving a job. The people that she said she knew were good friends of her’s and I have many good friends from previous jobs. Who knows if someone from previous jobs will know others that could unlock the door to the cool jobs.

    I feel that she is only getting this strong of a reaction because the idea of ‘burning bridges’ is so controversial. I still disagree with the idea that burning bridges is ok, because I have worked with very cool and interesting people with whom I still talk from time to time.

  6. April 10, 2009 12:32 pm

    Cool is subjective. My cool is definitely not everybody else’s cool. Your cool is not my cool, for the most part.

    But I think it’s a great point to step back and see how we are defining the cool jobs – it seems like it’s defined as startups. But maybe that’s because we’re talking on the internet, immersed in the world of startups and failing business plans (ha!).

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