Crossroads and Confusion

January 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm (Uncategorized)

So it’s a new year, and somehow I feel like I am missing out on an opportunity for a new me. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly which opportunity I’m missing out on, since I feel myself being pulled in multiple directions.

Lately, as you know, I’ve been looking into changing careers. I worked for the Navy for a year as an analyst, and while I was good at what I was doing, I really did not like it very much. I felt like I was trapped in a cubicle with a neverending supply of spreadsheets to work on. Even when I got alternate assignments… like creating macros for Excel to automate days-worth of calculations and manipulations, or performing schedule analysis with really cool and expensive software that used Monte Carlo simulations to predict the best, worst and most likely scenarios for given outcome… I felt like those were just ancillary to what I was going to be stuck doing (the spreadsheets) for the rest of my career.

When I went to college, I was dead set on being a scientist. The job market did not agree with my plans and I only got job offers for positions in mathematics. The issue was, most scientific careers that are in growing industries are either engineering or forensic in nature. I have a strong interest in both, but my degree is in neither. All that matters to a job recruiter in the first round is the subject in which you received your degree. Although NAVAIR had plenty of engineering positions, there was a strict requirement for having a bachelors in an engineering discipline. So I was pretty much limited to either cost analysis, schedule analysis, or both. And those are math positions with very limited interaction with engineers.

Right now I am working in the social services field. I have experience from my college days working with people with special needs, so when I had the opportunity to look for a position in my hometown, after I exhausted the limited options for my background in math and science (after all, most places require 5-10 years of experience… my single year as a cost analyst really did nothing for me), I looked for something in social services because it is something that I already knew I could do well. I got hired as a rehabilitation associate for Pathways, Inc. last month. I enjoy the work– I go out to group homes for adults living with mental illness and assist them in working on their rehabilitation goals, which usually include developing skills in independent living, money management, medication and health management and communication. But as anyone who has ever worked in this field can attest, I do not make enough money to survive. I am living paycheck to paycheck, and if it were not for my fiance, we would have already lost our home. This can only work for so long, and then I will need to find something that pays better.

And the reality is, while I can live with working in social services, I really do not feel like my heart is in the work. My heart belongs to science! And in this economy, with the market flooded with jobless, bachelors degree-bearing individuals with minimal experience, I have no leg to stand on in the field where I truly want to work. I need a Masters, at the very least. And to get a Masters, I still need three or four undergrad courses to qualify for the programs in which I want to study. I live in the middle of nowhere and those classes are not available here. So what to do? I certainly cannot afford to move right now. I also work a strange schedule (either 7 am-3pm or 3-11 pm on most weekdays, and 10 am-6 pm on the weekends) which will make taking any class difficult anyway.

I feel like I am treading water and I really hate that. I’m at a crossroads… and I’m really confused about which path to take.

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