I have had a lot of jobs in my life. When I worked in the town library when I was in high school, I discovered books on the Aztecs and the Mayans and I wanted to be a female Indiana Jones. I knew I wanted to be an archaeologist.
I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology (I’d had my kids by the time I got to college and archaeology field school did not work out. It was hard to get a babysitter for eight weeks). I decided not to go on to graduate school right away, so instead I took my web design hobby skills I’d developed in the late 1990s and applied for a job as a web content manager with an herb and vitamin manufacturing company. And that was what I did for a while. I built a new, shiny corporate sales web site and traveled around the USA teaching people how to use the site.
I stuck with web design and then moved into web development. In 2001 when the dot.com bubble burst, I lost my web development job and I started focusing on making non-profit web sites for little-to-no money, because it felt good to me at the time. I volunteered my skills so my kids to take free ballet lessons and I worked part-time for a friend’s company. Then I found myself divorced and needing work. I knew a friend whose brother managed a big retail store and I applied there. I got a job in their computer repair department. As I bounced around from store to store, I moved into the computer sales department and all-of-a-sudden I was a salesperson, focusing on my attachment rate and how many people I could get to sign up for a store Mastercard. I did that for a while, and I did web development on the side, and then when I found myself out of work again, I decided to go back to school.
But not in archaeology. No. Instead I focused on business management and specifically, non-profit management. To this day, I cannot really tell you why, except that I thought I could make a career out of that and it seemed to have good market potential. By the way, making money and whether or not the job market is growing in a particular field is not a reason to go back to school or change careers.
The notion that we have to choose a single career path and stick with it from beginning to end is simply a myth. Regardless of your age or experience, we all eventually hit a roadblock at some point in our lives when we need to ask ourselves: “What’s next?”
I graduated with my Master’s in 2012 and did NOT get a job in non-profit management. Instead I applied to teach community college and ended up teaching computer skills.
I am certainly not a shining example of what to do with your career or how to change careers or how to not take a giant step backward in your career. But I can strongly advocate that if you don’t feel it in your heart, if you don’t love what you do, then you would be better served by finding something else to do. If you wake up on Monday and dread work; worse yet, if you start to think about how much you don’t want to go to work on Sunday afternoon, then that might not be the job for you.
This web site and all that comes with it is my decision to do something that makes me feel good. I want to give back. I want to help people. I want to feel like I’m making a difference in this world.