Working it Out
September 28, 2007 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Problem is: I am grown up.

I'm thinking that in about 4 years I will be headed back to the workforce. What workforce is the issue. My youngest will be entering kindergarten at that time and thus freeing my time up somewhat. What to do?

I have about a year left of my undergrad degree to go. I take a class here and there (but haven't taken any classes in about 2 years). I would like to finish up my degree before the wee-est one enters kindergarten. Most of my credits are in criminal justice so it makes sense to finish that degree up. I don't know what to do with that degree, however.

Like I said, I would like to enter the workforce, but am conflicted with what direction to take. It is important that I am home when my children are home. This is severely limiting my choices. Also limiting is the fact that I don't really care for children except my own, so being a teacher is not an option . . . at all. So, what can I do? I understand that a lot of employers may be flexible with schedules and whatnot but that doesn't take into account summers when the children would be out of school the entire day.

Work at home options? Other options that coincide with school schedules? What am I missing?
posted by Sassyfras to Education (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Well, my solution was to attend culinary school and open a personal chef business. I make my own hours, I decide which clients to take, I set my fees, and I decide what other things I'll do (small parties, cooking classes, writing, etc.). I think what you should do is think about what your passion is and if you could make a living at following it. If you're set on the criminal justice degree, why not talk to someone in the field to see what your options might be? Do you have an advisor (or even a professor you respect) at your university? Maybe he/she could help.
posted by cooker girl at 12:02 PM on September 28, 2007

What happens if you think about what workforce you ultimately want to be in, after your youngest is 14 (or whatever age it takes to go to school and then do extracurricular activities till 5 or 6 pm)? From there, maybe you can derive a part-time or from-home version of that career that you can work towards now and then expand upon in 10 years.
posted by xo at 12:05 PM on September 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

cooker girl (whose handle is apparently very appropriate) has the right idea. Being an independent contractor allows you a lot of freedom. My mom went back to school when I was a toddler to become a bookkeeper. She has always worked at home, set her own hours, chosen her own clients, etc.
posted by radioamy at 12:15 PM on September 28, 2007

I would finish the criminal justice degree, just because you are so close. Although you said you don't like kids, you may consider some kind of position in a high school; they are not quite so kidly there. The schedule should match up with your children's school schedule more or less.

I think with a few extra courses, a ciminal justice degree might allow you to be a guidance counselor or perhaps a government teacher.

My wife did something similar. She finished her degree in 2005, when our oldest finished high school and our youngest was just starting. Because she has experience with teenagers (our sons), she pretty quickly cut through her students' b.s. and established a pretty orderly classroom. Having raised our sons, along with other life experience, has helped her advance rapidly (she's a lead teacher in only her third year of teaching). Having seen some of the world helps give her a leg up over new teachers in their early 20s.

Yeah, I know you said you don't like kids, but I thought I would throw this out there anyway.
posted by Doohickie at 12:54 PM on September 28, 2007

You are actually doing the right thing in thinking about not so much what you want to be, but how you want to be. You are looking for a certain situation. You also haven't really talked about how you see your work. How much of your identity will be wrapped up in work? Is it just about having something to do and getting out of the house and contributing? You can expect to hold a series of not-really-connected jobs or you can make a career, but the career will be tougher and maybe all you need is a set of skills that will result in a job. Accounting is great. Maybe there is something in court reporting? Another tactic is to find a small company that needs office part-time help or full time help seasonally.
posted by Mozzie at 12:56 PM on September 28, 2007

If you don't want to work directly with kids, what about non-teaching (administrative, etc.) jobs in schools or universities? Same convenient schedule, which is important to you. Other seasonal work could be something outdoors, which would depend on the seasons.
posted by bassjump at 1:33 PM on September 28, 2007

Get your bachelor's. You could probably do that with one evening or correspondence course a term for the next few years. Then, when your kids start school, you can look at a wide range of jobs.

In the meantime, do you have any skills or experience you could use to start a business? I do marketing and business consulting and I also teach at the college level. The return for my time is pretty good and I'm able to be a SAHM (WAHM?) at the same time.
posted by acoutu at 2:57 PM on September 28, 2007

To answer some questions: I would ideally like a career as opposed to just jobs. I'm sure I could find work at the local grocery store or whatever, but I don't want that.

Before I had children I had an idea of being a high school English teacher. But, honestly, the thought of working with older kids both scares and intimidates me. Although, I do like the idea of guidance counselor (thanks Doohickie).

If I were starting life all over, I think I would like to be a medical examiner or go into law.

Before I had children I worked as a family law paralegal in a law office. I loved that. I don't know if I could carry that on my own, however.

As for skills - I am severely lacking! I am a fairly competent typist (90 wpm). I have a natural tendency towards law and manipulation, if that matters. =) I am pretty adept at knowing human nature. A lot of stuff that you can't really qualify.

I am terrible at math. I still use my fingers to add and subtract. Love reading.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:11 PM on September 28, 2007

If I were starting life all over, I think I would like to be a medical examiner or go into law.

Why not now? I didn't start my culinary degree until I was nearing my mid-thirties (37 now). I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology and finished half a Master's degree before I burned out. My husband plans to go back to school for political science once my business is able to support us. If nothing else, you could finish your CJ degree, get a job, and start working toward something (degree, certification, whatever) in those other fields.

As for this part of your initial question:

summers when the children would be out of school the entire day

I know lots of working parents who schedule different camps that fill the time school would normally fill. The kids are gone from home for the "regular" time and their work schedules don't change.
posted by cooker girl at 3:57 PM on September 28, 2007

My mom's friend also doesn't care for children, to the point where she never had any and was actively cold and distant to us until we were about fifteen. However, she wanted summers off and now works as a sort of math coach in the school district where she lives, which means sometimes tutoring students one on one, sometimes training teachers, etc. She has a bachelor's but not in math. Seems to really like the flexibility and the variety of the work and it's relatively low stress.
posted by crinklebat at 5:40 PM on September 28, 2007

You should think about talking to a career counselor to get some more information. Where have you been taking your classes? Is there a career center available? I've mentioned this in answer to other questions - taking advantage of your school's offerings as far as career counseling could be the first step in helping you narrow down what is, right now, an extremely broad question. The final choice will be yours, but at least some personal guidance will help.
posted by bibbit at 9:28 PM on September 28, 2007

A dear friend of mine recently finally figured out her career and knew what she wanted to do, got a class to become qualified to do it, and now she does it. She's 60.

I don't know how "grown up" you really are, but the truth is especially in this day in age it's totally normal to not know what is going on in your life. I wouldn't sweat it.

I have the same problem and it's frustrating, but my response is basically to go with the flow until I get a kick in the butt. I'm hoping the kick comes soon -- I'm past 30 -- but I also don't feel like I should pressure myself into a "career" that might make me miserable.

If your youngest is entering kindergarten, you are either quite young yourself. Either that, or you can make a living as Worlds Oldest Mother or something. You don't have to "start life over". You can just start living.

It sounds like you like law, but are afraid of going into it because you don't know if you can cope. I suspect that you can cope. My recommendation would be family mediation. It doesn't require a full-on law degree (I believe) and many, many mediators do some of their work from their house, so that might give you more flexibility with hours. A twitching legal mind is no doubt an asset here.

You can do it.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:10 PM on September 29, 2007

cooker girl - it never crossed my mind to sign the kids up for summer day camps! great idea!!

Deathalicious - family mediation, eh? that really sounds like something I'd do!!

Thanks everyone!!
posted by Sassyfras at 8:37 AM on September 30, 2007

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