How to turn 2 out-of-date Master degrees into a job?
May 22, 2015 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I have a MLS from 1993. I have a MS Education in Counseling from 2000. I do not have my license to practice counseling, and it is probably far too late to get it. I never used my MLS either. (My undergrad is in Religious Studies.)

I have been a stay at home mom for about 13 years. I asked a question awhile back that touched on being a SAHM a bit. I did work at a local university in financial aid for a year and a half during this time with my daughter. Before I had my daughter I was an Assistant Director of Financial Aid for a couple of years at IU. I did not like that type of job. I've done some volunteer work over the years (primarily with my daughter's school), and I am currently volunteering with a dog rescue group. In the past I did many temp jobs through Manpower and other odd jobs, such as working in a book store, being a VISTA, and doing bed-side counseling at Planned Parenthood during abortions.

I have no idea what to do for a job. I'm divorced (almost a year) and need a job for my mental health and sense of purpose. I just finished seeing a career counselor, and while it was not without merit, it didn't reveal any great career ideas. I know I want flexibility, no cubicles, and nice co-workers. I am not interested in being a manager or some amazing leader. I'd just like to do something that feels meaningful and makes a close-to-living-wage. Can you think of anything that would combine my education into a unique career path? I don't really have any passions. I like animal rescue and I like abortion rights issues, but there aren't jobs in my area right now. And Planned Parenthood isn't even taking volunteers. I haven't ever been called when I've applied for any low-level --or any-level library-- position here. I feel like my degrees can only hurt me because I'm too educated with no experience, yet they are too old to be an entry into a position.

I really feel/fear I am a dilettante. I also have dealt with depression all my life and my divorce has sucked balls.

Thanks for any ideas!
posted by bluespark25 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you checked out what community-based organizations exist in your town that help students with their college and career readiness skills? Many urban schools have had to cut the number of counselors due to funding cuts; it's not strange for a counselor to have a load of 200-300 kids. Because a load that large makes it impossible for staff counselors to provide the necessary guidance to youth re: exploring and researching post-secondary options, learn about what kinds of training is necessary for the careers they're interested in, etc., most communities have a number of non-profit orgs who try to fill this gap via after school, weekend, and summer programs. Your background in financial aid, and degrees in counseling and the MLS would make you a good candidate for that kind of work.

The pay's PROBABLY pretty awful, but no cubicles and your coworkers will probably all be folks with their hearts in the right place.
posted by smirkette at 2:41 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

How about your local school system? They frequently need people who are not teachers but willing to work with kids as aides, library techs, and potentially as a homework helper/after school leader. Your unique degrees and experience would be an asset.
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:29 PM on May 22, 2015

If counseling is something that you are interested in, I encourage you to explore your state's licensing agency for more information and perhaps focus on school counselor licensing information. With your degrees, experience and interests, you may enjoy working as a guidance counselor in a high school, or as an academic adviser in a community college. There may also be a lot of opportunities at a community college that don't require a counseling license but would value your degrees and experience.

The SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) online training is offered by SAMSHA, is free and self-directed and may fit well with your social justice interests. One great aspect of this training is that during the course, you get to work on a practice case file and then get feedback on your work. This may be something to check out to see if you like it, and it could help you create a writing sample that can help demonstrate your current skills and interests. There are also a few job postings on the training website for caseworkers who work with people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness to help with fast-track SSI/SSDI applications, and it sounds like your degrees and experience would be helpful for finding community development jobs like this or similar to this.

The SOAR training and writing sample may also help you find paralegal work at a law firm that handles SSI/SSDI appeals and/or personal injury cases. If you are interested in pursuing librarianship, you may want to engage in self-study and continuing education programs - if you focus on issues related to law libraries and legal information management, you may be able to find paralegal work at a variety of law firms, including public interest organizations. Continuing education programs can be a great networking opportunity and would add recent educational experience to your resume.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:41 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

>I'd just like to do something that feels meaningful and makes a close-to-living-wage.

My mother had a similar issue once my dad died. She hadn't worked for ~20 years and all of a sudden was faced with raising children (they had me in their mid-20s) on her own. She looked around at the demand in our area and started her own home daycare business. It's shocking how much money she made.
posted by GiveUpNed at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's not animal rescue, but you could start up your own dogwalking business? (Or apply to an existing business). It pays surprisingly well, you get to play with wonderful pups that would otherwise be stuck inside, and it also gets you outside and walking around. You'll have to get insured and possibly take a course in pet first aid/dog behavior, but your experience with the dog rescue group definitely boosts your credentials.
posted by thebots at 9:54 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some managers will understand and even value your life experience, but many will not. It's those managers, rather than the specific job, that will determine how well the job fits you.
posted by Mogur at 6:00 AM on May 23, 2015

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