I'm possibly moving in 6-8 months and not sure how I'll make money
January 5, 2014 9:30 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend is in the middle of applying to phd programs all over the country, and a parallel job job (k-12 educator) may not be easily available where we're going. I'm trying to prepare for alternatives so I can land on my feet.

Regarding the move: she's applying to schools in every corner of the country right now so predicting exactly where we'll be won't be more clear for another couple months.

I'm in my late 20s with about 6 years experience teaching music in an urban school setting. I'm definitely not opposed to finding a similar job wherever we end up, but between individual state licensees and the current job market in my region of the country (NJ), I'm skeptical that I'll be able to find anything for the upcoming school year. I have a comfortable amount saved up for emergency purposes, but I don't want to rely on that if I can find a decent job.

Before I even figure out what I would like to do, I'm not sure what types of jobs I'm qualified for. Actually, I'm pretty flexible in what I do, so long as its not aiding evil and I can avoid bringing emotional stress home every day (Easily the worst part of my current job). I feel like teaching is more like most office jobs than people realize, but HR departments might not feel that way. I'm organized, and I have fairly good writing skills (albeit a little dusty) with a few brief forays into grant writing. I work well in group settings, and I have some leadership experience. I'm also very comfortable using technology, and I'm a fairly quick learner, but I also don't have substantial proof of any of these things.

I'm not opposed to start learning a new skill now that might be in demand, so long as I can study it after work between now and the move. I've considered trying to teach myself some sort of technology skill like coding, but I'm not sure if someone with self taught skills and no experience could meet a manager's candidate expectations.

Obviously as a musician, I could look for freelance work in a variety of areas, but that takes a long time to get off the ground, and depending on the area may not have a lot of potential.

Has anyone done something like this? What did you do to make the transition as financially comfortable as possible? Do you have any suggestions or advice?
posted by lownote to Work & Money (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This may not align with your personal lifestyle, but I'd consider bartending - be selective where you'd bartend, but find a nice place where the bartenders and clientele are a lot like YOU, and would be a place that you'd wanna hang. That way, you can make friends in your new town, meet various people in different industries, and perhaps open doors to an opportunity of an interesting job that fits your personal skill that you may not've considered. And make you money in the meantime.

Also: if you have any special areas of interest as an educator, but are not able to find a good gig as an educator in your new town, consider starting a consulting business. My friend does consulting regarding international education. That helps her make money on the side. It requires a lot of reaching out, writing guides and presentations, public speaking, etc. But if you find a particular niche that fills your personal area of interest it could be a great supplemental income that also gives you freedom to travel when needed.

Good luck!
posted by zettoo at 9:43 AM on January 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can you teach private music lessons as a freelancer? While that takes a little time to get off the ground, I wonder if you'd have a leg up having a PhD candidate girlfriend? Lots of academic types have kids.

Office administrative type jobs should be attainable enough.

What about trying to find a job through her university?
posted by Sara C. at 9:44 AM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As a certified teacher, you'll be able to get an emergency certificate wherever you end up. To start with you can sub, while looking for a permanent position. That brings money in right off the bat.

You can cast around for Customer Service jobs. I started out in Customer Service at the phone company in a call-center. The job wasn't very stimulating, but I really liked my co-workers and when you hang up on the last call of the day, you are DONE!

What's good about starting in Customer Service is that you can learn a lot, and ultimately, be poised to move up in the company. I went from Residential Customer Service, to Mid-Market Business Sales, to Field Marketing, to Teleconferencing Sales, to Data Engineer, to National Account Manager. I made indecent piles of money, had a great time meeting cool people and learning about all sorts of businesses. I have toured steel mills, chemical plants, airports, and met with all sorts of executives. I'm now a Data Analyst and I love that too!

I'd recommend a company where positions are unionized, but that's a lot to expect these days.

One thing I would recommend is that you teach yourself Microsoft Office programs. Word, Excel, PowerPoint are ALL in high demand. There are tons of videos online and I believe there are tutorials if you own the products. My Excel skills are ALL self-taught and I frequently blow people's minds with my Excel-Fu.

I would also recommend becoming a Salesforce.com Administrator. Perhaps you can volunteer at a non-profit that uses it, so you can get some hands-on experience. The classes to officially learn it, and to become certified are pretty reasonable (in the grand scheme of things.) I'm self-taught, but it's been a great door opener!

When creating your resume, concentrate on the general business skills you'll need to branch out into other positions:

1. Evaluating performance
2. Microsoft Office Suite of Products
3. Resolving conflict
4. Planning and executing
5. Training
6. Data Analysis

You get the idea.

Good Luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:46 AM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure that private schools will not necessarily require certification from the state you will be in.
posted by carter at 9:58 AM on January 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd look into teaching at private school - most don't have the same licensing requirements. (on preview, carter beat me to the punch). You could also look at afterschool programs or teaching music privately.
posted by fermezporte at 10:00 AM on January 5, 2014

What are your career goals? The economy has been improving and I bet you can find more than one job available in a city big enough to have a Ph.D. program-sized university; what you should be trying for is a job that furthers your own career ambitions.

You can teach in private schools without license.
You could teach ACT/SAT/GRE/etc either solo or through one of the several companies that do this if you had high enough scores on the tests yourself.
You can tutor/proofread papers/give music lessons/etc if you post around the university.
You can get an entry-level office job (administrative assistant,etc) in most industries of your choice and move up from there. If you do this you have to be clear with your superiors that you do want to eventually move up and learn or you may be cast in their minds as career admin.
Sales positions have high turnover and are cheap to staff due to commission-based pay and are always an option.
Restaurant/bar positions are almost always available.

Also: when I was still in graduate school I attended the university job fairs because I needed to work during the summers and part-time during the school year. Despite their being geared mostly toward undergrad positions (summer camp counselor, etc) I found several positions through those fairs by talking to the reps of businesses I was interested in and asking if they had any higher-level opportunities for a graduate student with a good work history. So once you move you can always ask your girlfriend to get you into one of those fairs (not that hard - borrow a student ID from one of her male friends and they'll scan you in; if they give you a nametag just take it off once you go through the doors). The fairs really broaden your understanding of which companies want new, bright, young talent and are actively searching for it in your region.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:00 AM on January 5, 2014

Agreed with carter- in most places, private schools won't care about whether you are certified. In some states, charter schools also don't have requirements that teachers be certified, so long as they have appropriate experience.

You could also look into contracting with an online education company in the meantime. Many large education companies are hiring virtual instructors for 6-12 education (online hasn't really spread to K-5 yet). You could do a job like this from home for a semester or a year. The work is not very labor-intensive, though you will be given an insane number of students to manage. The difference is that you're not teaching them, you're really just grading essays and written work, and being there to answer questions. Most companies have students getting all of their content through videos or online texts, and all of their regular assessment is done online and website graded.

Finally, you could look into curriculum development for online education companies. This might include writing articles, lessons, or assessment items. A number of large companies like Pearson, Scholastic, and Kaplan often hire contractors to do these kinds of jobs remotely.

Finally, I just want to echo vegartanipla about admin jobs. At my company, which is relatively small (just 300-400 employees), I've seen three or four workers join the company doing entry-level HR work (reception, basic HR bookkeeping), and have moved up the chain in HR, or moved over to other parts of the company doing accounts, marketing, and training. It's worked out very well for all of them, and this is something you could do too if you come into an entry level job with clear ambitions and a willingness to work to impress.
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:05 AM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could also look into getting an English as a Second Language certificate. Depending on where you end up, there could be private schools looking for instructors. You might be able to a credential online, especially since you already have a teaching background.
posted by rpfields at 10:55 AM on January 5, 2014

Great advice all around. I've transferred my teaching credential from one state to another - it's a hassle but not insurmountable. Most schools, if they want to hire you, will just put you on an emergency cert for your first year while you jump through the hoops necessary to transfer your credential. That said, getting a teaching job may be a challenge depending on the time of year and/or not having many connections in the city you're moving to.

You may want to consider the types of education jobs you could be a fit for if a music teaching position doesn't open up. Reading specialists, ELL specialists, EAs, etc. are all in high demand. If you could take on something this semester that would show your ability to work in one of these capacities (doing some after-school tutoring, leading some professional development at your school, etc.) that would be a useful thing to put on your resume to show that your experience extends beyond teaching music. Good luck!
posted by leitmotif at 11:32 AM on January 5, 2014

Nonprofits will like the fact that you can work with diverse people including kids and teens, and can write grants. I never did get the teaching job that I trained for, but did end up doing drug and alcohol prevention and working with area nonprofits like Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters and United Way.
posted by 101cats at 12:25 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Another option would be online teaching - Rat Race Rebellion's Education page may be helpful.

I suggest this, in part, because you *don't* need to be in the same local as the students/job... so it's something you could start applying for soon - and perhaps even start before you go.
posted by stormyteal at 2:18 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! This has given me a lot to chew on and process, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

My top goal is to find another position, first in a certificated school, second in a private/charter school, but I'm not terribly optimistic about one of those falling into my lap.
posted by lownote at 4:58 AM on January 6, 2014

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