Job Advice, Part 59
April 1, 2024 12:46 AM   Subscribe

Hi there! Ask.metafilter has always helped reinvigorate my past job searches, especially during times of uncertainty and burnout. So I'm back to ask for help!

I am just about to turn 40, and I've been working in outdoor recreation and education for a cumulative total of 15 years. I've worked as an administrator at a public university for the past years, spending about 20% of my time outside and the rest doing budgets, hiring and staff management, grant execution, event planning, etc. t's honestly been pretty great except for the last year or so. I'm struggling, in particular with changing and unclear expectations in my job and my additional responsibilities as a mom to a 1.5 year old. My kiddo has some more complex needs due to disability.

I am super burnt out at work. My emotional capacity is low and I'm tired of university politics and bureaucracy. But I'm really not sure where I should be looking. I love direct education but I can't spend weeks on backpacking trips like I used to. My job has very generous sick leave and holiday leave and I don't know how I could get my kid to therapy appointments without that cushion.

Is there a good field for moms who need flexibility and for their work day to end when they clock out? I make 60k now but that's a song and a prayer when it comes to childcare and medical costs

I'll take all suggestions! I'm feeling kind of hopeless right now so even something absurd will give me a laugh.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you love direct education, why not transition to being a teacher? How stressful that will be will depend a bit on your local system, but it will be provide working hours and vacations well suited to raising a kid. And I would imagine your outdoor education, while obviously quite different, might overlap a bit with elementary science education.

The other idea that comes to mind is that the US federal and state governments hire outdoor educators (mainly the NPS and other state parks), and there the job is a mix of leading visitors on short hikes, answering visitor questions at an info desk, redeveloping educational displays in the visitor center, etc. Government jobs have great healthcare, and once you build of seniority have pretty good vacation (but nothing is going to compete with being a teacher). There are not a ton of these jobs though.
posted by coffeecat at 6:49 AM on April 1

I've known a few parents of kids with additional needs re-train as therapists -- play therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, pediatric nurses, inspired by people who have worked with their own children. This comes at a cost initially so it may not be possible, though I do know of at least one who received a scholarship and grant money to become a speech therapist (hugely in demand where I live.) These are well-paid, often flexible jobs.

Otherwise, a teacher? I know our local school has a PE teacher who also does outdoor ed classes; I always thought that sounded like a great job. Again, may require additional training (but perhaps not as much as you think.)
posted by caoimhe at 7:15 AM on April 1

Would a transition to a different job in higher ed work? I’m still fairly due to the world but the flexibility and benefits are amazing compared to previous roles I’ve held. So I’m wondering if there’s a way to keep that while entering an area with less after-hours work and where the politics would at least be new. Student life is a huge area where I am.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:07 AM on April 1 [4 favorites]

Not sure where you're based, but park districts in the Chicagoland area often emply folks with your background.

Even if you're elsewhere, it may be worth taking a look at what positions nearby park districts have available.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:14 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]

Do you live near any federal lands? Park Service field worker pay isn’t fabulous but you do get decent time off. State parks may also be a possibility.
posted by praemunire at 4:48 PM on April 1

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