In my post on Monday, I announced the big decision that I made to quit my job to focus on my health and to start figuring out a new career. So, sit back and let me tell you a little story about my dilemma in today’s job market that helped lead to these decisions.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007. I worked for three different companies gaining “real world” experience in the two fields I really love – psychology and public health. I always knew that graduate school was in the cards but I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go. I had many passions and working right after college was supposed to help me figure out which passion I wanted to pursue as my career. When I finally figured it out, I went to graduate school and earned a Master of Public Health degree in 2015. At that point I had more than six years of relevant work experience and this newly gained knowledge to utilize in the field I had chosen. I really wanted to work in health program planning, implementation, and evaluation.
But here’s where it gets frustrating.
I’m overqualified for most entry level positions yet I don’t have enough work/post degree experience for most of the positions in my field. I know this because of an experience I had a few years ago during an interview for a position at a nonprofit where I was volunteering. Even though it was an entry level position, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me because I really liked the organization, I felt I could get my foot in the door to start gaining experience in the field, and I could start working toward the career I really wanted. HOWEVER, the director stopped me after the very first interview question and told me I was overqualified and wouldn’t be happy in the position, and then refused to continue interviewing me. First, while her observations may have been true, I feel it wasn’t her decision to make for me. Second, so much for getting my foot in the door so I could gain the experience that all those other organizations and companies require, right? If I can’t even get entry-level experience in my field, how am I supposed to get the jobs that I actually went to school for? What exactly am I doing wrong?
Fast forward a few years and, after getting laid off from a job I thought I would be happy making into a career, here I am doing something that is not even close to utilizing the knowledge I gained in graduate school with no prospects in sight because I still don’t have – nor am I currently getting – that specific type of field experience that employers require.
And don’t get me wrong; I know it’s a great privilege to have an education and to be earning an income to provide for my family. And I’m thankful for that, truly. But my current situation is costing me my physical and mental health and it is taking me away from my family, and for that I just can’t be grateful. In the few years since finishing my graduate program, I’ve lost out on several other jobs because they decided to go with someone who had more experience. And I’ve been told by well-meaning folks that “there’s always going to be someone out there with more experience than me,” and if that’s the case then why even bother at all? Won’t they always get chosen over me? And how to I get experience if no one wants to give me a change to learn? I have no idea how to get over this hump.
But let’s try to stay positive, shall we? I’m thinking this is a good time to start all over and try something new. A job that I’m in love with and look forward to doing every day, and one that will allow enough flexibility that I don’t have to sacrifice time with my family. For me, I think that’s writing. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I wrote on Monday about how it took me a long time to give myself permission to believe that I am a good writer. So I’m taking time to figure out how to break into the writing world with little experience, a bare portfolio, and a love of words.
I’m holding out hope that I’ll eventually find a job that brings me joy instead of anxiety, and I hope that soon I’ll be on my way to establishing a successful career. Whatever I end up doing, I just want to love it. Friends, wish me luck!