What's my next move?
May 18, 2012 1:36 PM Subscribe
At a work-life crossroads: 23 years old, college grad, getting laid off, about to get married and buy a house, struggling to find the next job, in school but thinking about going back for more degree(s). Seeking general advice on my next steps.
posted by wansac to Work & Money (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
In March 2011, I graduated with a BA in Political Science with good grades, making Phi Beta Kappa and a couple other academic honors at a decent university. I had intended to go to graduate school for a MLIS, applied to the one school that wouldn't require me to move, and got accepted with a really poor financial aid offer. I felt increasing doubt that this program was the right path for me over the coming months and ultimately decided not to go. I felt hugely relieved when I emailed the school to let them know I wouldn't be attending, and have not regretted that choice since then.
I am getting married to my 25 year old partner in October. We're also in the process of trying to buy a house in our area. He works in tech/programming, and recently got a well-paying job in addition to a lucrative contracting gig, both of which have potential to lead to bigger and better things for him career-wise. Currently he can afford to support both of us indefinitely, and it appears as though his earning potential will only increase. He is smart and extremely talented, and potential employers seem to recognize this.
Through college I worked in a service position in a large hospital to support myself. After graduating and finding myself uncertain about my next move, I transferred to a high patient contact, non-clinical position in the hospital's ER. I immediately loved the fast-paced and unpredictable environment. I've been in this position for about 9 months, and like it so much that I am taking an EMT class with the intention of one day entering paramedic school.
My hospital is laying off about a third of the employees in my department due to a variety of financial problems. Because these lay offs are completely by seniority, I took a voluntary separation package because I would have been laid off had I not. This package will amount to about $5500-6000 before taxes in payments to me within the next month or so. I am released from my job on May 25.
For 3-4 weeks I have been trying desperately to find the next job. I have applied to over 50 positions, the vast majority of which are similar to what I have done in the past or what I do now (though many are in clinic settings and not in emergency or urgent care settings). This generated me 6 interviews. Two of those interviews were this week and I have not heard back, but am not optimistic based on the apparent volume of applicants they received. The rest of the employers passed.
I am increasingly concerned and frustrated by my inability to get a similar entry-level customer service job in a medical setting. This has not been an issue for me when job searching in the past. Each interview has seemed to go very well, to the point of several people hinting that they would be making me an offer, but they have ultimately passed. I suspect many of these jobs are opting for applicants with more extensive experience who will be more likely to stay in the position for years. While this is completely logical and reasonable, I'm not sure how to overcome the perception that I will only stay at the job in question until something better comes along (I have told each employer that I am looking for something permanent, which is true).
I feel that I cannot simply wait until I get my EMT certificate (in June) to look for a job in that field, because those jobs are excessively competitive in my area. While I will be (and am) looking for opportunities in that field, I don't feel like I can count on something working out right away. I am hoping/planning to start volunteering soon after I get my certificate, which is easier to break into, so I will hopefully be able to start gaining experience and improving my skills in that way.
My fiance and I have somewhat discussed the possibility of me going back to school if I can't find a job. He told me he thought I should go to medical school a couple months ago. He isn't really and hasn't been on board with me being an EMT; he doesn't like the element of danger sometimes involved and feels like it's a waste of my academic abilities. He doesn't understand why I would choose to do that when I could do something requiring more skill and presenting more challenging. I think he is selling that career path very short, but at the same time it is true that the EMT class is not an intellectual challenge and EMT level-care involves much less than I thought it would.
I'm somewhat interested in the possibility of going back to school to start a pre-med track. I would be very interested in it if it weren't for the fact that I'm concerned about the impact the years of study and potential moves required on the rest of my life. I'm sort of scared I will start down that path and wind up unable to finish with large amounts of debt accrued (I currently have no debt of any kind) and/or that the huge commitment will put a lot of strain on my relationship. My fiance says he would support me emotionally and financially if that's really what I want to do, but I'm just very intimidated by everything required at the moment.
I'm in contact with my former university's advising department to set up an appointment to ask a lot of questions about options for going back.
I also do freelance Spanish/English translating and interpreting, and made $5k or so before taxes in the 8 months I did this full time last year, but I don't want to do this as my primary career for a variety of reasons. My language abilities have generated some interest from potential employers, but evidently not enough to tip the skills in my favor.
So, MeFites, I'm looking for advice from the older and wiser (or just wiser, as the case may be), on how to sort out these issues. I'm not sure how to approach making decisions on all these things right now. Do I need to just work on getting the next job right now? And what if I continue working this hard on applications and still don't have a job in 6 months? Should I seriously consider going back to school for premed? Should I throw all my energy into looking for EMT positions and hoping I find something against the odds? Is there some other way I should be thinking about this whole thing?
Thank you in advance for any advice!