Friday, August 12, 2011

No pics (sorry!) but job advice needed

I was planning to post pics, but my husband just told me that he moved the pictures off the SD card onto his computer and will get me copies ... sometime. Who knows when? I really wanted to post pictures of the kids here, but alas, they are not available to me. Sigh.

Moving on ...

I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life when Tadpole and Turtle start school. How does one go through that process when one isn't strongly drawn to any particular field? Or how does one recognize that one is drawn to a particular field when it's not terribly obvious? Help!

When I was younger, I always wanted to teach. Well, I cycled through a bunch of different career ideas, both realistic and not, but teaching was usually always on the list. And then ... I don't know what happened. Actually, I remember a few things that happened, one of which was a summer teaching internship program into which I was accepted and which my mother begged me not to go to because my father was ill. She basically tried to put my life on hold for about 8 years because my father was not well and it might be my last Christmas/birthday/summer with him (etc.), although in reality it was because she didn't want me to leave her. (Now she's claiming that SHE'S not well and doing the same thing - nice!) Anyway, I agreed to stay home and work concessions in a movie theater instead of having a career-building internship, and I often wonder, what if?

In the meantime, I got a law degree, but could not find a decent job and bounced around from one meaningless job to another, which after a couple years paid decently well but found me dying inside from shuffling papers in a cubicle to support over-regulated government programs in which I did not really believe. (BTW, there is no underlying political message here, and I'm quite surprised I wrote that last sentence, but there you have it.)

So anyway, now my kids are two years away from preschool, and I know that if I want to make a major change in my career, the time to start is now. I'm looking into a teaching credential/master's program in the town where I live, and I can apply this fall for the following year, which means I'd start teaching the year the kids go to school. I used to think I wanted to teach high school, but I'm no longer sure. Having young children has really brought out my love for seeing them learn basic things at an early age. I also have to have classroom experience, which I don't have, and I have retake all the exams because I'm sure my scores are too old now.

I don't need to worry too much about income because my husband has things covered, so pay is not a huge issue for me, but job availability in general might be. My town is small and from what I've heard teaching positions can be difficult to find. I might be willing to commute, but not too far, and there aren't a lot of places that are super close. Also, I'm nervous about the idea of having a classroom full of children. I'm not that experience with handling large groups of kids.

I guess the thing is that I've put a lot of time and energy into things that in the past have not worked out for me (like a law degree), and I've decided in the past (when I was studying for the bar exam for the second time) that I didn't want to go forward with a teaching credential that would take another two years of my life and have nothing to show for it in the end because I wouldn't like teaching. I just want a job that I look forward to going to most of the time, and that doesn't feel like it's crushing my soul.

So ... this goes for those of you who love your jobs, or who switched careers, or who teach. Give me your thoughts, please!

If you love your job, why? Is it the people you work with? The work you do? Did you always know that was the job you wanted?

If you switched careers, why? Did you hate your prior career, or just not find it fulfilling? Or did you realize later on that what you really wanted to do was something else?

If you teach, please tell me your thoughts, the pros and cons. Is it something worth doing in your mid-thirties if you have to start from scratch? What do you love and hate about your job?


  1. Whatever you do, be sure you love it. I switched careeres (from molecular genetics to engineering)to avoid the commute (120 miles a day) and now I sit at a desk doing crap that it's mind-numbingly boring. I don't want to discourage you, just don't get stuck w/ some thing that you don't like again.

  2. Because I switched to the career you are seeking to leave behind (law), I'm not sure how helpful my comment will be. I was a registered nurse for 7 years prior to attending law school and did not feel it was a good fit for me for a variety of reasons. Ending up in nursing was not a well-thought-out decision but something I kind-of fell into.

    I went to law school when I was 30 and graduated at 33. I really enjoy being a lawyer and am happy every day that I switched careers.

    Good luck finding the right fit for you.

  3. I just found your blog today. I was a teacher (prior to my daughter being born) and will go back to it in a few years. I will say that the stress of teaching, style of teaching, availability of jobs, etc varies greatly depending on where you live. You must really love what you are doing. I LOVED working with the kids. I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was in grade school. It is not an 8-5 job. You will spend hours in your classroom before and after school and frequently on the weekends working on lesson plans, assessments, tests, and trying to figure out a strategy for bringing certain kids up to level while keeping your high achievers challenged. Your first few years are the hardest as you are trying to figure everything out. I moved states 2 years ago (from the South West to the Mid West) and I was shocked at the differences in the educational systems. Each has positives and drawbacks. I would just encourage you to consider why you want to go into teaching and whether you are really dedicated to it. I have a lot of friends who went into it as a first career and burned out after a few years. The profession has changed a lot and there is a lot more pressure placed on teachers now.

  4. You should read, 32 Third Graders and a Classroom Bunny by Phillip Done. Good glimpse of teaching elementary...

    I do it because of the kids, and because I just can't imagine being stuck in some cubicle. I do it for the uplifting atmosphere, schools are pretty happy places. I do it because it makes me feel good at the end of the day, that I've touched some life maybe in some way I can't even imagine.

    Yes, teaching jobs are scarce, however, doing that master's program, AND having a law degree, I'll bet you'd get a job pretty easily. Plus, when you student teach or do internships, you'll network.

    The pay is crap. Sometimes (ok, often) you can't go to the bathroom when you need to. The pressure for kids to do well is there. You drag your work home or stay late to finish it.

    Most teachers are collaborative and that part is fun - it feeds my need for brainstorming and being creative.

    Good for you for thinking about it this far ahead. :)

  5. I feel like we are in the same boat. I am nt lookig forward to taking the GRE again. I feel like once I actually start thinking of what I want to do I am going to start obsessing about it.

  6. I wish I had a good answer for you. I have a degree I don't use, and in fact only used for 3 years after I graduated college. Turned out that I didn't have the stamina (physical, emotional and spiritual) for my chosen field.

    Then I worked retail for more than 10 years. Initially, it was to pay my rent, but it truly did become a passion. For many years I loved it. And then it became that thing I did to fill my days between AF and O and AF. By the time I left, I was so ready to be done.

    I don't really know what direction I will go next. I just know that it has to be something that inspires me. It has to be a job that isn't a job.

    (sorry, that's not very helpful, I'm sure)

  7. I don't know why they have us pick careers at 20 - who knows what they want to be then? I've always envied those who find a career that is their passion. My father is in the ministry and he lives and breathes it; my brother is in law enforcement and he was made for it. I envy the fulfillment and joy they have in their every day working life.

    I just sort of fell into my career, too. I enjoy my work, but I don't love it. I wish now I had become a vet, but I didn't even know I wanted to do that when I was in my twenties.

    I hope you find just the right fit for you! It's such a hard decision. Do you think you could do an internship or be a classroom volunteer, just to get a taste of it?

  8. From reading you over the years it seems you are really into physical activity, biking, swimming, etc. What about being a personal trainer or teaching some sort of exercise classes? That would probably give you some flexibility since preschool is usually only 2-4 hours a day a few days a week and elementary school lets out in the afternoon. Just a thought.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!