Taking the Scenic Route to Your Career Destination

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I would like to share a personal story about my experience in career development. One of my former high school students accepted a teaching position. Before he did, he asked how I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Instead of answering the question straight away, I gave him a story instead. Sit back and relax, it’s story time!

The summer before entering undergrad, my time was filled with private cheer and tumbling classes in order to prepare for my first collegiate cheer camp and practices, they were intense.

Note: This is not my team from college but this is a similar pyramid we had to do

Declaring a major was NOT in the forefront of my mind. Honestly, if you’d asked me what I wanted to be at that time, I would have said either a Dance Studio Owner or Archeologist, yet somehow I ended up attending an institution noted for their PGM Program (golf).            

When I met with my freshman Advisor, I told her that I wanted to be an Archeologist, and she sweetly informed me that there were no such majors at the college; but I could try the Geology program instead. After taking my first class on rocks, I considered changing to Education. Only one other girl on my cheer team was an Education Major and she was always teased that teachers did not make a lot of money. Newsflash: she was from Jersey, where teachers made a lot of money because they had a Teacher Union. Nevertheless, peer pressure got to me and I decided to switch my major to Psychology instead of Education.

As I sat in Dr. Campbell’s psych class and listened to him drone on and on about the history of Psychology, I decided to schedule another meeting with my Advisor. The poor woman was always so kind, but I bet she was getting quite tired of me. I told her that I wanted to be a Psychologist, but the class was not interesting to me. She nicely informed me that I would need at least a master’s degree in order to practice Psychology, so if the classes were not interesting, I may want to consider changing my major to something else. One of my friends told me maybe I should consider Business Administration. Are you all noticing how “my friends” were guiding my career decisions? eye roll.

I decided to switch to Business Administration, but I had to declare a minor, in which I decided on Health Care Administration. I was then placed with the Health Care Advisor and clicked with him instantly. He told me how I would have the opportunity to add a license so that I could teach Business at the middle and high school. Even though the idea intrigued me, I still did not get the teaching certificate. I performed exceptionally well in my Business and Health Care courses. Once I reached my senior year, completed my internships; one at hospital and another at a private imaging clinic, I felt this sinking feeling I had made a mistake.

I digress by saying throughout undergrad, I always kept a part-time position at an early childcare facility, even though I was a full-time student and on a cheer/dance team. I loved working with students. When it was nearly time for me to graduate, and after I had my first job offer in my major, a nagging question entered my mind. How on earth did the Childcare Center and Circuit City pay more than what was offered to me by a Private Health Care Imaging Company? I was extremely insulted that I had spent four years plus an arm and a leg in school, only to be offered a part-time position, working from 7pm to 11pm, making less than I was already making!

I didn’t even ENJOY working at the Private Health Care Imaging Company. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not trying to sound like an entitled spoiled brat. I am making a point that I was sold a bill of goods in college! I was told that choosing a certain major that PAID WELL, was more important then choosing what you truly wanted to do. Because I chose the option I thought “paid well”, I was supposed to be guaranteed a good position.

Instead, I ended up spending the first year after undergrad in an MBA Program, while working in group homes with high risk children, then an after school program. It was during the time I was working in the after school program that my former cheerleading coach from high school saw, and told me the high school I had graduated from was in dire need of a Business Teacher and Cheer Coach (optional). She mentioned that four Teachers had quit during the first semester and that they needed someone to start the next month in January. I was a little frighten by the possibility, but she told me she thought I could do it. She set up an interview with the Principal (who ironically happened to be her former high school cheer coach) and I was offered the position.

Let me tell you, as I sip my tea, the salary was more than what any of the health care facilities were offering me, and was more than what I was making at that time. Not to mention, I had the holidays off. This was huge because in childcare, there were hardly any days off. I started teaching high school, coaching cheerleading and it felt really organic for me. I have always loved working with young people (in church, group homes, babysitting, and in childcare), so I had finally found my niche!

One of the teams I have coached.

Do you know if I had went ahead and majored in Education during undergrad, I would not have had to go on such a wild goose chase? I would have most likely found a teaching position right after graduation, been able to start paying my student loans, and establishing myself. Because I did not do this, and was not able to find a steady job after graduation, I had to put my loans in deferment. For those of you who do not have experience in this area, your loans will indefinitely capitalize during this time period. Which means that interest will multiple and could end up equaling nearly the same as the principal.

            In conclusion, after I continued with my education, I was blessed to have professors who retired as Instructional Leaders, Principals, Assistant Superintendents and Superintendents. They taught me that it was not about chasing money, but doing what you loved. When you chase money, it will run from you, but when you do what you love, money will follow.

            Back to what I was originally talking about, my former student asked me how I knew which career I wanted to do, and I told him I have always liked working with children, so the natural thing to do was go into education. I just ended up taking the Career Scenic Route to get there.

            Moral of the Story: Do not listen to your peers, or to other people about certain positions not bringing in any money, it simply is not true. What sense did it make for me to have to work odd jobs making less, all because I chose a major I heard would bring me more money, when in reality I would have been better off in the long run with the major presumed to bring in less?

If I had majored in Education, I would have found a teaching position right out of college which is the norm compared to majors “rumored” to be more lucrative. Those may be lucrative, but finding a position can be tough. In these cases, student loan companies do not care whether you find a position or not. They will defer your loan but at your expense. I will talk more about student loans in the future because I have experience in that area and would like to help others avoid the mistakes I have made. 

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

            Wellness Tip: Avoid artificial sweeteners (saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, sucrose, neotame, high fructose corn syrup, and sucralose). Sweet and Low, and Splenda are artificial sweeteners and also contains some of these ingredients. This should be avoided because it can cause weight gain, increase desire for sweeter foods, induce blood sugar disturbance potentially leading to chronic disease, decrease good gut bacteria and immune response, has been linked to some cancers and is not found in nature.

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” ~Max Lucado

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