When I got out of the shower yesterday and dressed, I did what I normally do: I checked my phone in case I had missed a call or a text. Now, normally if I do miss such things they are from my sister while she is out walking the dog or she is sending a picture of the dog while out on a walk.
Yesterday, however, I noticed I had a missed call from a local (as in where I used to live local) number as well as a voicemail from that number. Turns out, it was the assistant principal at the middle school I was a paraprofessional at for the last part of the school year. He said how he does have it in his notes that I am going to graduate school in September, but he wasn’t sure if things had changed or if I’m taking night classes, because there is a paraprofessional position at the middle school that he would be willing to offer me.
After listening to the message, the fact that I essentially uprooted my life for graduate school really started to hit me. I spent the past three years in Education; during those years, I left an impression in the schools I worked at, so much so that they would be happy to see me returning there again. As that feeling of being uprooted started to rise, I reminded myself why I left my employment situation: to advance. I need graduate school in order to advance my career; with the fields I am interested in, you need at least a Masters degree in order to do so.
More than that, I needed to move on. It was time. Before I made my recent move, my employment situation was starting to feel like less than a possible career path and more of a safety net. A safety net that provided me with a paycheck to pay off my undergraduate student loans, gave some money for retirement, and left some money for other expenses. With graduate school, I will be taking on more loans that I will have to pay back; however, with graduate school, I will also be taking on new employment, satisfying employment.
For my Intro to Grad Study course, the professor has assigned us the following blog post “Working Classes” as part of our first week’s reading: http://jsench.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/working-classes/
In the blog post, the author mentions a type of thinking that is persistent among some: the “don’t go to grad school” attitude some people have based on the financial cost and overall uncertainty going to graduate school can leave a person and their career. Before I made the commitment to attend grad school, I admit, I had a strain of that “don’t go to grad school, will just bury self deeper into debt that might not even be worth it” thinking. I am still saddled with my undergraduate loans and taking on more loans to help fund graduate school just seemed too overwhelming. Plus, the “what ifs?” What if I can’t afford to pay back my loans without going destitute? What if I go broke just moving for grad school? What if I can’t find a job after grad school and the schools I worked at won’t remember me? What if I end up back where I started after I graduated, applying for hundreds of jobs with little success?
As the author of the blog post “Working Classes,” states, “I knew exactly what I was getting into. When you grow up in a family of working people you get to know a thing or two about how employers are not the best representatives of your interests.” With graduate school, I echo that statement. I know what I’m getting myself into. I know it’s going to be overwhelming and a lot of work, not just academically, but also personally and financially. But I also know that it’s going to be worth it. The author is right in saying “employers are not the best representatives of your interests.” Even when I was working in Education, a field I found highly rewarding on a personal level (not so much on a financial level), there were times when I felt my employers were not the best representatives of my interests. And chances were, I was right. Many employers do not look at individuals; they look at the voids, the needs within their agency, and see how to fill them. If an individual happens to be a solid fit for that need, then that individual is considered for a position.
In going to graduate school, I am taking back my career from the hands of uncertainty, from employers who might try to pigeon-hole me because of my experiences. I am taking control of my career, deciding what position(s) I am not only right for, but that I want. And being in control of your career, well, that’s what makes it all worth it.