Post # 1
I’m 25. My husband is in grad school, about halfway to finishing his PhD. I finished college in 2006 (BA in French), and have been kind of working here and there since then. Up until now I’ve always assumed that I’d go back to school eventually, but now I’m 25 and I have no idea what I’d even go to school for.
I’m out of work right now, and I just feel so defeated. The jobs available to people with just a liberal arts degree are so low paying I can’t even make student loan payments, and I don’t want to get stuck in a field I hate. The thought of spending the rest of my life stuck in a little cubicle filing papers away makes me want to die.
My husband will finish his PhD in about 4 years, at which point he’ll get a job as a professor. It’s unclear whether this job will be a one year contract, or tenure track, or what. There’s no telling how many times we’ll have to move before he lands a tenure track position, and we have no real way of predicting where we’ll end up. I need to find something that I can do that will be available pretty much anywhere.
So my options are keeping doing crappy office jobs and being miserable, but office jobs seem abundant everywhere. Or I could try to get more education so I can get a better job, but I don’t really want to go back to school and dig myself deeper into student loan debt without knowing for sure it’s what I want to do.
I’ve considered going to nursing school– I don’t hate the idea, the pay is good, you get to move around, you don’t have to wear uncomfortable business casual clothes, and jobs are abundant everywhere it seems. The cost is pretty low here, and I’d have time to complete the degree and work off the cost of school before my fiance finishes his degree, making it basically free. It’s not really my lifelong dream, but I’ve realized that I don’t really have one. I went to college because "that’s what you’re supposed to do." So maybe it’s best to make the practical decision now? If I wait for my husband to finish his PhD before starting, I’ll be almost 30 and just getting started. I’d rather start now at something so I can get some experience at something under my belt.
Bees, help me. What do you do? Do you have a liberal arts degree? Is it totally useless? Do you have a career already? How did you get there?
Post # 3
I have a law degree…but I don’t practice law. I did. But I hated it. So now I am the Assistant Director of Student Life at a law school. And I love it.
My fiance has two liberal arts degrees – and both are worthless. He has a journalism degree and an english degree. Poor thing has been out of work since January. He is currently taking his licensing tests to become an insurance agent and a teacher. But this economy definitely has him down.
How long would nursing school take? You’re right – it is a great field and the jobs seem plentiful. But it also isn’t an easy job, so be careful committing yourself to something you may not love doing…
Post # 4
Also, I definitely do not want to work in translation, and teaching is impractical because by the time we settle in one place long enough for it to be worthwhile to get certified in that state, I could be in my 30s.
Post # 5
I have a literature degree; while I am planning to go back to school within the next two years to get my Masters of Library Sciences, right now I work in HR. Honestly, I could stay in my job and progress up the corporate ladder, so to speak, to one of the top positions at my company. But I don’t really want to do that. I love my job because of the stability, pay, benefits, etc… not because of the work I am doing.
You said you got a degree because that’s "what you were supposed to do." Is there anything you LOVE to do, though? I think foreign language degrees are actually more versatile because you can find a job in almost any market. The tough part, though is figuring out what you want to be doing.
Can you contact your career counselor at your (old) college? Ours offers services to alumni at no charge; or maybe you can use the one at your husband’s college for free because you are his spouse. Anyway, they often administer tests designed to help you discover what your passions are and how you can turn those passions into a career. If you are really lost on what kind of job would make you happy, the career counselor might be a good place to start…
Post # 6
I feel like I could have written this!
So I have no good advice, just support from a fellow bee frustrated with what to do next 🙂 I have a degree in English and have been working in a library since. it’s fine, and I have a great boss, but it’s not what I want to be doing. But then lately I’ve been increasingly frustrated because I don’t know WHAT I want to be doing, period. Same thing as you – I want to start something soon as opposed to waiting until my FI is done with all of his post-undergrad stuff. But what? I have no idea. Very very disappointing place to be in, and you’re totally not alone. As if that helps 🙂
Post # 7
I feel like I am right along there with you amandopolis. I have a B.A. in Political Science with a French minor and a B.A. in English. And, I’m in law school right now… but here’s the hitch… I don’t think I’m going to enjoy practicing law. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting close to finishing up, but it just doesn’t feel like me.
So, I’m horrible on advice on this… because I’m in the same boat with you. But, I just wanted to let you know, as minneapolitan did, that you aren’t alone. Maybe the other bees will be able to help all of us in this position out a bit with their advice.
Post # 8
I don’t know what your husband’s PhD is in, but it’s important to keep in mind that academic careers are tough. Jobs are scarce, and you often have to be willing to move just about anywhere for a position. This is one, of several, reasons fizicsGuy and I aren’t doing that (not that we’re not both so specialized jobs we really want are scarce anyway). Having a career that’s pretty universal and flexible would really make your lives (and your kids’ lives) much easier…if I remember correctly, you are expecting, right?
I would have suggested translation, but I get that you’re not into it. Nursing is a good option, but I will say your heart has to be really into it. Nursing is a tough, tough job. Well, most health care jobs are, but as a nurse you have a lot of demands on your time and compassion…and you usually don’t get the respect you deserve b/c people shower it on physicians (I’ve lived my life aorund the medical profession with two doctors as parents, having volunteered at hospitals a lot, and having trained as an EMT). I don’t recommend going into it half-hearted. Same with teaching.
Right now the job market is tough, but it’s not a bad time to be looking into career-development. One thing that’s struck me is how excited you were about all the DIY you did for your wedding. Is your heart in something a bit more creative-oriented? Maybe graphic or interior design or something? The job market for that isn’t great now, but when (fingers crossed) the economy picks up in a few years there’ll probably be huge demand for that (as new businesses design logos, new buildings are completed, etc).
Post # 9
Not to be a downer, but I agree with fizicsgirl–nursing is a demanding and exhausting job and you need to want to be there. My fiance worked as a certified nurse’s assistant for 2 years before going to PA school. Frankly, the CNAs and nurses were treated very disrespectfully by patients for not being doctors and even treated disrespectfully by doctors for the same reason. You need to want to be there to get through the crap you’re going to be given.
You say you don’t really have a life dream. Maybe you can look into jobs on a college campus? Even if you are an office clerk, you’ll be in a learning environment with lots of opportunities to see what options are available, maybe even audit some classes. Good luck and remember–even if things don’t really get rolling career-wise until you’re 30, that’s not that old!
Post # 10
You’re right fizicsgirl, I *am* expecting, which is part of the reason I feel so desperate to figure something out. It’s that mothering instinct or something. I think that’s part of the reason nursing appeals to me- I’d make enough to supplement my husband if he has trouble finding a job, and even if we end up in the middle of nowhere, I should be able to land something in nursing. I do love making things, but I’ve never thought I was talented enough to actually work in design. It would definitely require more education. And while interior design is definitely appealing, I can only imagine us ending up in the middle of Iowa, where I doubt there’s much of a market, even when the economy is good. But that might just be my defeated attitude! I seem to think no job will ever work…
Post # 11
After graduating from college with a theatre degree (kind of totally a little bit worthless), I worked in box offices and ticketing, before reaching what I imagined as my penultimate position – and being completely miserable. I restructured my life a bit, and found a lower responsibility, more well paying position in my field, but it’s not where I want to be.
Unfortunately, the job that I WANT to do doesn’t pay my bills at the moment, but I’m hoping to cut some expenses by the end of the year, take a leap of faith, quit my day job, and be able to focus on my business, which is truly what I love to do and what I am passionate about.
I quite literally stumbled on what became my passion – keep your eyes and ears out, and find something you love to do – and then figure out how you can get paid to do it.
Post # 12
I was totally you 2 years ago! I was stuck in a rut. Hated my job. Worked a horrible office job. I went to a career counsellor and did 3.5 hours of testing to find 3 careers that would be a good fit for me. I picked Human Resources and ran with it. I switched jobs and did school part time in the evenings. 2 years later I make twice what I did when I started out, even though I still work in an office, I love what I do and every day is interesting and different.
I think a career counsellor is a great place to start. I did 4 different tests in the 3.5 hours. They tested aptitude as well as your personality and attitudes (towards status, money etc) When I met the counsellor after the testing, she had a 20 page report for me including charts and graphs analyzing my results. One of the tests asked questions about what you like to do with your free time. It matches your hobbies and likes and dislikes with those of people in different careers (with high job satisfaction) so you get matched into jobs where people with your similar personality do well. It’s very cool.
Post # 13
Amadapolis, I think we’re the same person. I graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in English, and now I work for an educational publisher. The job has great benefits and decent pay, but I sit in a cubicle from 8-5 Monday-Friday. I’m getting an M.A. in English so I can teach at community colleges, but even that isn’t my ideal career. It’s so frustrating to have tons of ideas of what you DON’T want to do, but very few about things you DO want to do.
My husband is getting his doctorate in psychology, and he suggested I see a career counselor. They don’t just give you personality tests but actually work with you like a therapist to find out where your interests and strengths are.
Best of luck from one frustrated liberal arts graduate to another!
Post # 14
I think you should find out more about the careers you are interested in! If you are interested in nursing, find out more about the classes you’d take and what you’d be doing in a hopsital! I work closely with a lot of medical professionals and I am thinking about pharmacy school myself 🙂
Post # 15
I got an undergrad in Business Administration and now work in insurance. I always thought I wanted to be a Pharma Sales Rep, but my Dad was totally against it and made me interview for an underwriting position. I had no idea what underwriting was at the time, but the company I was with trained me very well and I’ve since moved to NYC and do Business Development which I love! I even met my Fiance through Insurance too.
It’s not the most sexy job or industry, but it pays the bills and is pretty steady. There’s also a lot of opportunity for moving around.
If I were you, I would definitely do some research about the classes you would have to take to be a Nurse. Nursing doesn’t seem like it’s for everyone – if you can’t stand the sight of blood you may want to rethink that. But it is a very stable and lucritive career, Nurses are in high demand everywhere and well paid.
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions about insurance!
Post # 16
Time to do some research. If you are interested in nursing, see if you can do some kind of volunteer work in a hospital and see if you like it. If you are interested in other things, see if you can talk to a career counselor and do a tour. They can then also talk to you abotu financing and what-not. Massage therapy is a growing field and only takes about 9 months of school, another thing to consider.
I also have an undergrad in liberal arts (painting, very useful stuff) and went back to school when I was 27 to get a master’s in social work. Part of what appealed to me about the degree is that it is so versatile that you can do many things with the degree, however most of them lots of hard work and not a lot of pay. Still, I do know I can get a job just about anywhere.
But really, if I didn’t love doing this work, I’d be outta here because it ain’t easy and it is the same with nursing. So do your research. Thing about something out there that is fun for you that feels far fetched and find a way to do some volunteering and see how it feels. I think deep down you may know what you want to do! Find what you love to do and the rest will fall into place.