Author Topic: Grad School or Get a Job  (Read 4159 times)

undecidedot

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Grad School or Get a Job
« on: February 17, 2016, 08:31:33 AM »
I have a bachelor's in education, taught for five years and burned out. Started researching my next move and felt that something in healthcare would be the most practical and secure choice. Began nursing prerequisites and realized that nursing is not for me. I am introverted, so clinicals would be a nightmare (my teaching internship was hard enough). Also, I am terrified of making a mistake and harming/killing someone. I have a feeling I would go home after each shift and freak out that I did something wrong or documented something incorrectly.

So, I kept looking and discovered OT. Seems great and a good match for my personality/goals, but I have learned to be very skeptical over the years. Every career has pros and cons. I'm concerned that the vast majority of health professions are plagued by greed and I don't want to compromise my values just to make money. I observed this first hand while gaining observation hours.

At this point I have to make a decision. Go back to school for two years to pursue OT. Finally have good pay, benefits, and some flexbility to life. However, I will end up with $50k to $80k in debt. This is hard to justify because my husband and I are very close to being debt-free with the exception of our mortgage ($55k). The alternative is to do something I know I will love (nonprofit work) making about $38k to start, or seeking employment at a college ($45 to $60k) plus benefits.

What matters most in life to me is having quality time with my husband and pets and being able to travel domestically and internationally at least twice a year. Everything else is a bonus.

I have been agnozing over this decision and could really use some advice! Thank you!

iris lily

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2016, 08:41:01 AM »
By "OT" I assume you mean Occupational Therapy.

I dont know how to advise you. How old are you?

Do you know the job porspects for OT?  I know that foe PT,it is veey good, but not sure about the other.

I lean toward incurring no more debt and getting a job as you can now. If you are not going tomhave children, you and ypur hisband can sock away a lot of momey even on modest salaries.

MrsDinero

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2016, 08:55:14 AM »
You've mentioned one reason you didn't like nursing is because you are an introvert.  How do you see working as an OT good/bad for you as an introvert?  From what I understand is required of the profession you will be dealing with a lot of people.   I'm not saying it is bad, but I'm wondering if this will be another forward facing profession for you that you will decide is not the right match?

pbkmaine

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2016, 08:59:04 AM »
Seek employment at the college. You will be happily surrounded by introverts.

rubybeth

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2016, 09:07:26 AM »
I would encourage you to do more research on this career, possibly even shadow an OT or two. Look at job postings for a few months and see the salary ranges. If the salary increase would make it a break even or better proposition, it could be worth it. But only you can know if the career interests you and will be fulfilling.

My sister is a Speech Language Pathologist (aka a Speech Therapist), and her issue with OT is that, while it can be helpful, is not a mandated requirement for schools to have them in the same way they need to have an SLP (maybe that's just in our state, but you could do the research). It's also a similar debt load to an SLP degree without as much career opportunity (SLPs can work in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, early intervention with babies and young children, clinics, private practice, and can be generalists and work on a variety of issues, or specialize in various areas--swallowing, stuttering, accent reduction, etc.). I would strongly encourage you to look into a variety of medical-related fields and their career potential before deciding on grad school.

I also want to add that if teaching burned you out, OT or another medical field working directly with patients may have some of the same issues. It depends on which aspect of teaching burned you out--was it the long hours and high expectations, was it all of the student/classroom interaction, was it administrative BS, etc. Some of those will be issues in any career where you have to talk to people (read: most careers).

bobechs

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2016, 09:17:16 AM »
I'm guessing you may be generally too sensitive a soul to live in the material world.

If that's the case there is likely no employment, as we know it, that will not chafe you.

BeanCounter

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2016, 09:25:20 AM »
I have a good friend who picked OT as a second career, however she did not get her masters. She went back and did an associates because it is much cheaper. She's technically an OTA. I think you should investigate that.
However, from what I know OT is not a good fit for someone who is an introvert.
I second what others have said-
-you need to job shadow before you move forward with picking a program
-investigate the educational requirements for the field further
-spend some time defining what about your prior career didn't work for you, be sure that those issues will be fairly resolved before you make another change
-do NOT incur debt for another career

mozar

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2016, 09:28:17 AM »
I've looked and there really aren't many jobs that won't bother an introvert. It's better to get good at the interacting with people part. There's no magic job that pays well and is solitary.

BeanCounter

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2016, 09:39:26 AM »
I've looked and there really aren't many jobs that won't bother an introvert. It's better to get good at the interacting with people part. There's no magic job that pays well and is solitary.

Not really true. I can think of a few-

-Staff accountant
-Financial Analyst
-IT Programmer
-IT support
-Analytics
-possibly some pharmacy positions
There are probably many more others can think of.

I was a financial analyst. Most make between $75k-$90k and the job is pretty solitary. (in fact I can go sometimes a whole week without face to face communication with anyone) I have telecommute options, flexible schedule and lots of paid PTO (30 days). I have 10 years experience so I was at the high end of the pay scale, but I do not have a masters. I was recently promoted to manager and at this level it does require more collaboration and managing others. What it does require is a LOT of self motivation and being deadline driven as well as an extreme attention to detail and a good numbers sense.

MrsDinero

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2016, 09:51:48 AM »
I've looked and there really aren't many jobs that won't bother an introvert. It's better to get good at the interacting with people part. There's no magic job that pays well and is solitary.

It depends on the person.  My SO is an introvert in sales and is very successful.  For him it is knowing and making sure he gets the necessary recharge time each day. 

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2016, 10:01:13 AM »
What specific OT degree would you be pursuing? The field typically requires a masters now. Are there any possible funding options (ie. get an assistantship with the college) that would help you avoid taking on debt? My masters was free (minus opportunity costs) because I worked as a graduate assistant which paid full tuition plus a stipend. If you qualify for a similar opportunity, it would make the degree worth it.

For the sake of analysis, let's assume the only option to pursue another degree is to take on debt. That's bad deal. Why? For starters, you don't know that you'd enjoy the field. You also have the opportunity costs of two years of lost income and work experience. Investigate whether the ROI is there before you pursue another degree.

My personal two cents: Life satisfaction matters more than gross salary because you can't buy happiness and you're more likely to thrive in a position you enjoy. If you're offered a job that you know you'll love and the numbers are workable, take it.

tanzee

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2016, 11:18:20 AM »
https://www.onetonline.org/  is a great resource for exploring different career options.  Check it out.  It has all kinds of information about most professions. 

asauer

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2016, 12:35:37 PM »
Yes.  Job.  Now.  As an HR professional I can tell you that we will almost always hire someone with work experience (even if unrelated) over someone without.  So....why not work for a couple of years, save some $, get some experience and then go back?  Or, go to school part-time/online while working?  Or...get into a school system/ private practice that will PAY for grad school?

Inaya

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2016, 01:35:20 PM »
The ideal option would be to get a job at a company that will pay for your continuing education. My company (financial sector) is one such--lots of people start out in the call centers, get degrees on the company's dime, then use said degrees to move up through the company. I realize that's pretty uncommon, but a great gig if you can get it. I've been considering doing it myself, even though I'm at a higher paygrade than the target demographic.

oldsoul

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2016, 07:09:53 PM »
I'm the OP. Signed up using a throwaway email account earlier for privacy reasons; decided it doesn't matter. I also was in a hurry this morning so please allow me to clarify a few things:

1. I do mean occupational therapy. I've been so immersed in that world lately I sometimes forget to write it out at least once. Sorry!

2. I'm 34. I should have rephrased the subject line. I've been steadily employed since high school with just a few short gaps here and there due to moves. I moved to a rural area in '07. I was young and dumb. Could not find a teaching position. I can't say that it broke my heart! Took what I could find and eventually started working at the family business. It has been okay, but I realized a couple of years ago that I have no desire to take over and hence need to figure things out.

3. I've made researching careers a part-time job. I've considered everything from academic advisor to water treatment plant operator. I read about each field, watch YouTube videos, connect with people on LinkedIn and ask them questions, observe when I can... I made the wrong choice once and I don't want to do it again especially if I have to take on debt.

4. I'm exhausting myself and everyone around me with the indecisiveness. I'll find something, think it is a good choice then read more about it and talk myself out of it. OT is the only field I consistently come back to. The job prospects seem great currently because OT programs are so competitive and only admit a small number of students. For example, I was told that the school of my choice received 200+ applications this year and only 30 will be accepted. However, I was also told that "there will always be jobs for teachers" and that turned out to be far from the truth.

5. A better way to put it is that I'm an introvert, but an extrovert when I need to be. I've come a long way. 10+ years ago I had to be coaxed into calling to order a pizza. Today I can give presentations without wanting to pass out. It's just that my natural preference is to have plenty of time to myself. A lot of OT would be one-on-one and I can handle that. I'm not a total loner.

6. I feel that I burned out as a teacher partly because of the introversion (being on "stage" for 30 kids the entire day can be quite draining). However, the real issue was probably perfectionism. I worked ALL the time and there was never an end. I also didn't have much freedom. If you found a "teachable moment" you really couldn't take that tangent because it wasn't part of the list of standards. I felt like my hands were tied. Plus, so many kids out there are struggling with so much emotionally that they just weren't able to sit and focus on learning. Who could blame them? This is just a partial list. I could go on and on. I do miss teaching a lot, but it is nice to go to work now and not want to cry on the way there.

7. I considered the OTA route but the programs are becoming just as competitive as OT. Additionally, the private schools cost nearly as much if not more.

8. I have scoured every source to find a way to pay for an OT program without taking out loans. There are plenty of options for nurses, but very few for OTs. I wish I could work as an OT aide and have them pay for my education but that is unheard of as far as I can tell.

9. I have found a few certificate programs such as "contract administration" that are intriguing but I'm not sure if even $5k is worth it if I'll struggle to find a job later.

Your responses have been excellent. Thank you so much! Certainly gives me a lot to think about. I've been leaning towards finding a new job and not incurring any debt, but I don't want to regret not trying OT. It would be a very expensive mistake though if I ended up disliking it.

I've been working 60-70 hours per week, volunteering, observing, and taking classes. If I could just get the OT idea out of my head I could free up lots of time and just LIVE, not to mention work on my side hustle (tutoring), learning about grant writing, and a few passive income websites I've been thinking about. I find it so difficult to do though because I fear not having an in-demand job among so many other things.

Thank you all so much for the assistance! If you have anything to add I'd love to hear it!

ETBen

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2016, 08:08:04 PM »
One thing to consider with OT is the setting. Healthcare is greedy. But healthcare also isn't a solvent industry the way its set up here.  And so clinicians become increasingly pressured by units and efficiency.  I say this as one of those directors that has to be the bad guy. In many OT settings, you will be pressed for units or productivity. You will be told, how many times you can work with a patient, even if you think they need more. I think OT is a great field though.

I get the feeling you're a little obsessive about this. Like you get sucked in, maybe idealize it, a little more than just excited. Its hard to have clarity to make a big decision like that.  Also, will you have the scores to get into an OT program.  Do you tend to be a perfectionist about things?  healthcare doesn't always match up well to that. 

mozar

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Re: Grad School or Get a Job
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2016, 09:35:32 PM »
Quote
-Staff accountant
-Financial Analyst
-IT Programmer
-IT support
-Analytics
-possibly some pharmacy positions
There are probably many more others can think of.

I was a financial analyst. Most make between $75k-$90k and the job is pretty solitary. (in fact I can go sometimes a whole week without face to face communication with anyone) I have telecommute options, flexible schedule and lots of paid PTO (30 days).

I'm an accountant as well, I make 94k. I also can tele-work with a flexible schedule. I have worked in various accounting roles and some ITover the past 8 years. I don't buy the idea that a job can be solitary and pay well. I've certainly tried. If you are paid well there will be some sort of interaction. I think it's better to focus on getting better at interacting with people. I briefly worked as a hostess at a restaurant, just to force myself to interact with people more, and that helped.
But it could also be that I'm more introverted than the OP. I find emailing back and forth with people to be emotionally exhausting.

Quote
If I could just get the OT idea out of my head I could free up lots of time and just LIVE
I think this is really important. If you let yourself live for awhile it may help you get some clarity. I've been wanting to take some certification tests for years. I've failed a few times. But it's always on the back of my mind. I've decided to take a break from thinking about it. I don't know if I will try again but at least I'm not stressed about it.