Career Direction and Making a Move
May 22, 2014 6:55 AM   Subscribe

Settle further into a career I feel "meh" about in order to move to a desired location, or stay put and keep hoping for a "dream" career that has been so far unreachable?

My career goal is to become a high school guidance counselor, for which I have already completed schooling and licensure requirements (3 years ago). I couldn't find a job in the field and instead went back to my previous field of college financial aid.

I like about 30% of what I do, don't like about 40%, and despise the other 30%. I've done/am doing volunteer work related to counseling to build my network and experience and continued to apply and get a few interviews (not just guidance but some higher ed/nonprofit as well).

Me & my SO are getting sick of our city and want to move to a more rural area closer to family, but aren't in a huge rush just yet. Most good friends are in the city, not where we're moving to (though a day trip on the weekends is do-able). We just had a baby.

Out of curiosity I applied and interviewed for another lateral-move financial aid job closer to my desired location (not in it)... and was informed I got a 2nd round interview. I got a good vibe from the group interviewing me, but my gut said NO (mainly about moving so quickly with such a little baby for the same salary/position) so I called the director to politely give my regrets prior to the interview. I was told I was the primary candidate and they would likely re-post in a few months and to please re-apply if I was interested then. I said to myself, great that will give me this summer to really see if I can hustle to find a school counseling job...

Except they re-posted just a few weeks later as a higher-level, higher-salary position. I know this will bring more competition but I feel that should only apply if I am 100% committed to it. The application deadline is tomorrow.

I am thinking two scenarios... don't apply, stay where I am and give myself until Fall 2015 to try to hustle for a school counseling job, being relatively flexible on location. If I don't get one then suck it up and do a job search for whatever I can get in the location we want. But I will likely not find another financial aid job as good as the one being offered...

The other scenario is to go for the job, commit 2-4 years, and continue building volunteer experience relevant to guidance counseling, and job search again. But I'll be 5-7 years away from my schooling and internship experience. And the idea of continuing this lifestyle of working full-time at a job I don't really like and doing lots of volunteering on the side is EXHAUSTING, especially with a baby. But... we would probably be in a better position financially.

OMG I hate being an adult sometimes. Please throw your advice at me. I'd rather not hear "well you won't love 100% of your "dream" career either" I KNOW THAT, but I just want to have a chance at it first. I have "good weeks" where I don't think about getting a school counseling job, and "bad weeks" where it's all I can think about when I'm sitting at my desk. After I returned from maternity leave it's all been bad weeks.
posted by wannabecounselor to Work & Money (6 answers total)
It sounds like these are your options:

1. Stay in your city, stay at your job, continue looking (why haven't you found anything yet -- because you haven't been actively looking or because it's not a good market for you?)

2. Apply to the new job and if you get it, move and continue looking, knowing you probably won't take anything for at least a year (why 2-4 years? and if your dream job came up 6 months in, why not go for it?)

If you pick #1, you could look for something that seems like a better fit in the new location. How likely is it that you'll be able to find a counseling job? If you can't, is there a good chance you'll be able to find a different job (whether in financial aid or something similar) in your new location?

If you pick #2, you would presumably commit to moving. How much do you want to move? Would you be happier moving sooner, and having basically the same job you have now but with more money? Or would you be happier staying put and looking for a job that you're confident is a good fit before you move?
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:05 AM on May 22, 2014

Is there a reason why you couldn't still look for a school counseling job whilst in a new position/location? Why do you need to commit to the new job for 2-4 years?
posted by sparklemotion at 7:06 AM on May 22, 2014

Would you consider moving into a job in higher ed that more suited your skills and interests? I'm thinking that your background could be a good fit for something in retention or working with at-risk students, for instance.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:09 AM on May 22, 2014

There ARE school guidance conselor jobs, if that's what you really feel called to do, that's what your next job should be.

The federal government is accepting applications for Teacher jobs in the DOD Education Academy. These are in cool locations, and once you get a foot in the door, the world (literally) is your oyster. Great benefits, awesome experience and the ability to travel on the government's dime. It's an option.

Don't keep moving and taking jobs you're only 50% committed to, I mean, would you advice your students to do that?

In the meantime, get a job in a high school. Even part-time coaching, because any school is going to want to see that you've kept up your certifications and have contact with the cohort that you want to counsel.

Apply to everything that meets your criteria (public, private, charter) and be willing to relocate to get the experience.

There's no Job Charming, but continuing to accept jobs away from your career path will continue to keep you from realizing your goal.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:14 AM on May 22, 2014

I was unsuccessful in a career change, so I wish you better luck.

I would prioritize your dream right now and give it all you've got until your deadline. (But don't make that deadline too short, eh?) If it still doesn't work out, then focus on massaging your current career into something you don't hate. (Is it the people? Because people make a Huge Difference.)

Don't let anyone in your current position know about your Dream Career, as it could limit your adjacent options in Current Career.

Unless you know someone who is willing to 'take a chance' on you, adjacent moves are your best bet. Like RB says, edge your way in via similar jobs.

If you move, you will be so involved with the change and newness and exploring the location that you might as well buy a cemetery plot for your dream. Moving is a big deal. don't underestimate that. Moving on top of Baby is an even bigger deal.

Also adjusting after mat leave can be difficult in and of itself. Don't be discouraged.

good luck!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:13 AM on May 22, 2014

Counselor jobs are hard to get. A lot of competition, especially if you are limited to location. And to be honest, most principals/school boards are reluctant to hire someone who has such a gap on their resume when they could hire a promising new grad.

I'm not saying this to discourage you, but you may need to widen your location requirements if it's what you really want. I think you need to decide what it is you really want, how much longer can you fight for that ideal job?
posted by Aranquis at 1:23 PM on May 23, 2014

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