Stay for work 'cos I should or move 'cos I can?
June 2, 2009 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Do I stay for a few years where I'm unhappy to advance my career or do I move to be closer to nature/family/cool stuff? If I stay, how can I cope?

I'm a year away from getting my MSW degree. After I get my degree, I need two years (approx 100 hours) of supervision by a licensed social worker before I can get be a licensed independent social worker. I have an entry-level full-time mental health related job which I like and was basically handed. My employer has offered to pay the supervision costs ($100+ per hour) but I have to sign a 2 year contract. Professional contacts have told me it is harder to get hired if you need supervision because it is costly.

The thought of three more years in MSP makes me want to cry. I have no family here and want to move to a smaller town out West where my brother lives. I like spending time with him and his wife and there is awesome nature access. Mountains, the ocean, etc. I know location doesn't fix unhappiness, but I feel like I have been coasting through my life here. I have friends and I'm on antidepressants and I've given up on dating (see my previous, ludicrous questions) but I just think I'm done with MSP. I've been here for going on 7 years to get my two degrees which I am *thisclose* to finishing.
posted by ShadePlant to Work & Money (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is the middle path an option, where you stay one more year to get your MSW and then decide what to do?
posted by zippy at 4:25 PM on June 2, 2009

I'm unclear on why "MSP" is so unbearable, but "MSW" (unsupervised) would not be a problem for you. It would help if you'd explain these acronyms, and also why you feel that things would be better for you, emotionally, after the hypothetical three years have passed.
posted by yath at 5:56 PM on June 2, 2009

MSP = Minneapolis/St. Paul?? based on her profile.
posted by txvtchick at 6:31 PM on June 2, 2009

Response by poster: MSP= Minneapolis/St. Paul
MSW= Master of Social Work

An unlicensed (and thus unsupervised) MSW is problematic because it is less powerful and more expensive than someone with a license. I think things will be better emotionally because I will get to move closer to my family and be outdoors more. I am also sick and tired of doing what I am "supposed" to do and not having crazy sex and smoking pot like apparenly stereotypical 20 somethings do. Once I have my "supposed tos" done and am set to be a kick ass, credentialed social worker, I know I will feel better.
posted by ShadePlant at 6:35 PM on June 2, 2009

Best answer: I did this. I was there. I'm now back in the region I loathe for the summer while my professional life blossoms. It's not worth it.

My story abridged: Came out to the Midwest for college. First job out of college was local. Stayed for that. Then the inevitable happens and contacts start being made. Now I'm with an awesome company, known leaders in our field/region, with a growing contact list that includes the movers and shakers in the state. I tried escaping (after 8 years of college+work) and moved back out West. Now I'm stuck in the Midwest for the summer to get a startup off the ground. I don't think it's worth it.

Yes, my job rocks. My company rocks. My professional network continues to surprise me. But when not working, the *other* half of my life, I'm miserable.

Location does matter. You need to find a place to call home. That doesn't always mean where your family lives, but someplace that fits you. Urban vs. rural vs. suburban. Flat vs. mountains vs. oceans. Cold vs. hot vs. mild. Liberal vs. conservative. That all matters. Home is a part of our identity, and if we can't stand our home, we suffer.

So get out while you can... lest you take that lucrative first job in MSP... and never leave.
posted by whycurious at 6:46 PM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

One year away from getting degree = lots 'o time to find a job in a location that you like better. At any rate you have nothing to lose by looking. Clearly your current employer thinks highly of you; even with the hurdle of needing training, maybe you are more attractive to employers than you think.

Is the 100 hours correct? (not missing a zero, right?) If it is, then for me that would settle the question. $10,000 over two years is not outrageous, I would just budget carefully and pay my own supervision costs if it came to that.

Staying one more year in a place you don't like to finish up your degree, yeah that's worth it. Staying there for two additional years for $5,000 per year, not worth it.
posted by txvtchick at 7:06 PM on June 2, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry to not be clear. I will certainly finish the degree... It's just the staying 2 more years after I graduate in May 2010 for $10k that kills me. Time is money, I guess.
posted by ShadePlant at 7:09 PM on June 2, 2009

txvtchick has a very good point. But I'm having a hard time understanding your aversion to MSP. There is certainly excellent nature access, if not awesome, within a couple of hours of MSP. If I lived in the land of 10,000 lakes, I would buy a sailboat and stick it out.
posted by megatherium at 7:40 PM on June 2, 2009

Best answer: I am also sick and tired of doing what I am "supposed" to do and not having crazy sex and smoking pot like apparenly stereotypical 20 somethings do.

A few things:

1. the feeling like you should be having crazy sex and smoking pot all the time is another "supposed to."
2. You can have crazy sex and smoke pot in Minneapolis just as well as out West. You can also do these things while working and studying (well, not at the exact same time, but you get my drift)

Apologies for the dime store psychoanalyzing, but I wonder if you are feeling some normal dissatisfaction with your life, and are basically putting that all on Minneapolis. Based on what you wrote, I'd guess you are in your mid-twenties, and it's certainly not uncommon to feel this way at that age. But I have moved cities for similar reasons, and the thing is, once you get over the thrill of the new city, the dissatisfaction remains until you work out the core issue. In you case, it sounds like you are feeling some resentment and ambivalence about "growing up" and committing to a career. Which, again is normal, but not fun.

But since you have a very compelling reason to stay, maybe you could work hard to shake things up. Try meeting some new people, doing some new activities, even move to a new neighborhood. There's lots of really great outdoors stuff to do in MN - no ocean, but Lake Superior is amazing, and the cliffs around it (and the Mississippi and LaCroix) are a decent approximation of mountains for hiking, camping, etc.

Also, I spent a lot of time in Mpls in my 20s, and now that I live on the East Coast, I've got to say it's easier to meet people in Minneapolis than almost anywhere else I've seen. So maybe it's time to expand your social circle even more.

Anyway, this is mostly a devil's advocate argument. It may be that it's just time for you to leave Mpls. But definitely try to think of there are ways you can make MN "work" before you leave without another job.
posted by lunasol at 9:41 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is $10k that much money? It seems to me that if you are willing to be flexible about your income in terms of salary/supervision as an intern, you should be able to find something that works where your brother lives. After two years, you will be licensed and able to work without supervision and the whole problem goes away. In the meanwhile, visit your brother as often as possible and start networking with people in the mental health/social work field. You never know what might fall into your lap.
posted by metahawk at 9:47 PM on June 2, 2009

By the way, if LCSWs are like the other licensed professions that I am familiar with, you are risking your license if you get arrested (and convicted) for doing those "wild and crazy" 20-something activities.
posted by metahawk at 9:52 PM on June 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all. I appreciate the views from all sides. I love my line of work and I can't quite pinpoint what my 20's angst is about, but it's there.
posted by ShadePlant at 4:55 AM on June 3, 2009

Best answer: If it makes you feel any better, I'm a 20 something and last year I quit my MSW program and moved back home to be closer to my family and friends and now I'm doing a completely different line of work and feeling much more grounded. I'm not saying you should quit social work if you love it but I felt totally overwhelmed trying to take care of myself and trying to take care of other people (implicit in social work to some extent).

Also, there are a lot of 20 somethings having like normal sex and not doing crazy drugs.... I don't know, most of my friends, lots of sex/drugs, none, or some where in between- are all pretty confused.
posted by Rocket26 at 7:12 AM on June 3, 2009

I think the 20's angst is the realization that life can't be like it was in college.

My outlook is this: I work to support the lifestyle I want to lead. You need to maintain and improve your career to be able to support your lifestyle. If you figure that work is 40 hours a week, and sleep is 56 hours a week, that leaves 72 hours a week that are yours. Roughly. That seems like a good balance.

Turns out, they call it "work" for a reason.
posted by gjc at 7:16 AM on June 3, 2009

Response by poster: Since I've posted I've had two older, radical social workers whom I trust, one in academia and one in the field, recommend that I take the free license. I am afraid of being stuck here and becoming a hot-dish making "you take care now" soul-less "Work Harder Boxer!" Willy Loman type. People have said that will only happen if I let it and that once I am licensed I can practice almost anywhere independently.

It seems like taking the license relates to GJC's comment. I'll need the license to support my future out west. I appreciate the dose of MeFi upside the head. =) IRL people are too polite to be honest.
posted by ShadePlant at 9:44 AM on June 3, 2009

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