There has been a lot of upheaval in my life lately – both literally and figuratively. I lived through my first earthquake the other day – everyone and everything is fine but it is kind of freaky to feel the Earth move under your feet and I have had Carol King songs stuck in my head ever since. And there’s been a lot going on lately that has been making life feel a little shakey even when there is solid, unmoving ground to stand on.
Career Musings / Going Back to School
For the past few years, I have been mostly out of work. I used to work as an Executive / Administrative Assistant but was laid off after my company went through a merger. I wasn’t too worried at the time because I was a good admin and thought that I would find a job soon. Unfortunately, the economy took a nose-dive almost immediately after I started looking for a job and nothing even comparable with my previous job ever turned up. I have been working part-time at my knitting store and I really enjoy it but in terms of getting a full-time office job again, there really hasn’t been any opportunities that seemed like a good fit. It really got to the point where I started considering making a career change but it took me a while to figure out where to go from here and the best way to get there.
I finally made the decision to go back to school and get a teaching degree. Specifically, I would love to become a high school English teacher. This hasn’t been the most encouraged decision I have ever had. There seems to be two recurring themes to everyone’s reactions.
#1. There are no jobs for teachers right now and in fact, teachers are being laid off as school budgets are being cut.
I am not going to lie. This is a valid concern and one that keeps me up at night, wondering if I am making the worse decision ever. But basically, I am taking a gamble. The program that I want to enroll in takes two years to complete. Plus I have a bunch of pre-requisite courses that I have to take before I can even begin the program so I am looking at a process that will take at least three years which means I will have a lot of time before I am ready to start looking for a job. I am hoping that things will have improved to the point where there will be jobs available by then. I have nothing to base this on other than a vague “it-has-to-get-better-eventually” sort of notion but it DOES have to get better eventually, doesn’t it?
#2. It is impossible to get a job as an English teacher (even when there ARE jobs) because the market is flooded with English and History teachers – even when there isn’t a recession limiting the number of jobs.
This is the argument I take the most exception to. There are dreams that are really far-fetched and unrealistic. If I came home saying that I wanted to be an astronaut or a rock star or a famous novelist – it wouldn’t be completely out of line for someone to suggest that I might want to have a more achievable goal as a fall-back option or at least something to pay the bills while I wait for my big break. I just never thought being an English teacher would be viewed as so unrealistic a goal. Even if it is true that there is a disproportionate number of English teachers being certified and that there is a huge amount of competition for each job – I don’t think that would automatically mean that I wouldn’t be able to find a job as a teacher. I am bright. I am articulate. I am well-read and passionate about literature. At the risk of seeming immodest, I think I would be an excellent English teacher and any school would be lucky to have me. It may be true that there is a lot of competition but I think I handle myself really well and wouldn’t necessarily be at the bottom of the pack – even if it IS a large pack.
I don’t want to seem as if I am being overconfident. I have considered my options if I can’t get hired as an English teacher here in NY. I can (and will) get additional certifications to improve my chances of getting hired and if all else fails, I am prepared to move out of NY to a state that is actively looking for teachers. But I just reject the notion that I should give up rather than attempt to stand out in a crowd.
And at the end of the day, I have been so stuck on the decision of what to do with my life that I just need to DO something – to pick a direction and actually start making progress. I think that even if this path doesn’t end with me in front of a class teaching Wuthering Heights, it would still be good for me. So I am taking two courses at my local community college this semester – The Short Story and Asian American Literature. I am hoping to take more classes next semester and complete a bigger chunk of my pre-requisites but I think these two courses will be good for easing me back into the world. Classes start on Monday. So please wish me luck.
Changes at Keep Me In Stitches
Usually when life gets a little chaotic, I have a sanctuary that I can retreat to – my LYS (or Local Yarn Shop), Keep Me In Stitches. It is a safe haven where I can sit around the table with a great group of friends, work on my latest knitting or beading project and just decompress a little. I spent so much time there that they eventually put me to work. For the past few years, I have been working part-time as a sales clerk – helping customers purchase their yarn and beads and getting knitters back on track when their projects go wrong. Now the store is under new management and is about to move to a new location. I still work at the store but now I am also in charge of all the social media marketing for the store: their Blog, their Facebook page, their Twitter feed and their Raverly community.
There is a lot to be excited about. The new store is going to be gorgeous. The shelves will be stocked with some incredible new yarns that I can’t wait to play with and we are planning some really cool events. Once the chaos has subsided, the new and improved Keep Me In Stitches will be the place to be. But in the meanwhile, I have been busy helping with the transition and I have (temporarily) lost my sanctuary. It is hard to relax when everything is pulled apart and in boxes. Still there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our last day in the old store is on Saturday and the new store will be all set up and ready for the grand re-opening on September 10th. If we can get through the next few days, life should get back to normal soon thereafter.