Author Topic: Seeking Advice Regarding College/Education options. THANKS!  (Read 2355 times)

JanetJackson

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Hello!
I am a moderate to low-income Mustachian who is working on my undergraduate degree after taking time post-associates degree to catch up with life.  My dilemma is that I'm not certain if I should cater my degree a bit more specialty to help with job prospects (not such a generic degree) or if I have enough in terms of certificates/experience/etc. to jazz up a resume with a basic old undergrad.... or... GASP, if I should just crank out the undergrad and go for a short program Masters....
Here are the details:

Currently: Working on a Bachelors Degree in Psychology.  Considering turning this into an Operational and Industrial Psychology Bachelors degree, which would add about 10 months to my program and about 10k additional in cost or so.  I am thinking that the OPI Psych degree is a bit more specialized toward business and may help my prospects... but I'll list my certificates, etc. below... maybe I don't need it and I can just *say* on my resume "concentration in business* or something?

I'm working on the Psychology degree simply because that's what I was closest to when I took my associates degree, which I took because I was simply out of money for school at that time. 

Currently:
Duke University Certificate in Non-Profit Management (I looooooved this program and felt like I excelled in the social enterprise and strategic planning portions, which got me interested in the OPI Psych degree in the first place)
Kent State University Associates Degree (Science)
Virginia Commonwealth University ACE PARAPRO Certificate (this will allow me to use QMHP after my name if/when I finish the Psych degree if I choose to)
I have definitely moved around a lot, which I think looks a little weird on my resume, but it is what it is....

Other Randoms:
CPR/First Aid/AED (Adult, Child, Infant, Canine, Feline)
Basic Life Support Certified
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Basic Reflexology Certificate
Six Sigma Yellow Belt (Working on Green belt now)
Certified Safety Care Behavioral Specialist (can only use in one specific school district here)
Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting for Educators Certified
Ordained Reverend (random, but I got this 11 years ago to baptize a friend and marry another friend)

Work:
-About 5-6 years of direct service experience with individuals with emotional, neurological, or social disabilities in an educational setting.  I sometimes enjoyed this, but the burn out is so so so very real and I couldn't take it.  I now do special education tutoring instead as a side job.

-About ten years of experience managing a social enterprise Non-Profit region *cough cough, Goodwill* - I did not enjoy this, but did well and never had a losing year.  I'd have to look back, but I think I was near 100% sales growth every single year.

-Currently I manage contracts for the property of a large religious non-profit (historical art & text, physical land, 100+ fleet vehicles, 10+ buildings, etc).  I do enjoy this and am good at it, but they hate the queers and I'm a queer, so I can't hang on for too too much longer and feel ok about myself... they work with my school schedule and pay well, so I'm there for now.

-I've been a board member and the VP of a very small athletic non-profit, but I generally leave it off of my resume (a 501c3 Roller Derby league and people's poor perception of Roller Derby (OMG, do you wear hot pants and slap fight each other?!?! :| :| :( ) is generally more trouble than it's worth when I mention it)

So.... What does everyone think?  Do I need to specialize or can I just crank out the basic Psych degree and then spruce up my resume with pertinent other experience?
Thanks ahead of time for the help!!

Freedomin5

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Re: Seeking Advice Regarding College/Education options. THANKS!
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2017, 08:58:53 PM »
Your work experience and academic experience is kind of all over the place, except the part about managing non-profits, which it sounds like you did for several years.  Is that the field in which you would like to stay? If so, what kind of educational background do those jobs require?

Looking at your experience and certifications, it looks like you can already make good money working as a personal trainer, or by getting ABA certified, you have the work background to easily get work as an ABA therapist. So why are you doing a seemigly random bachelors?

JanetJackson

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Re: Seeking Advice Regarding College/Education options. THANKS!
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2017, 09:51:53 PM »
Your work experience and academic experience is kind of all over the place, except the part about managing non-profits, which it sounds like you did for several years.  Is that the field in which you would like to stay? If so, what kind of educational background do those jobs require?

Looking at your experience and certifications, it looks like you can already make good money working as a personal trainer, or by getting ABA certified, you have the work background to easily get work as an ABA therapist. So why are you doing a seemigly random bachelors?

You are not wrong, I do have experience all over the place.  Most of the random seeming stuff is from side hustles (I worked a 5am and 6am class at a gym before work for quite a few years), but I did want to include everything so that it would show the "big picture."
I've considered and been encouraged toward the ABA route, but I'll be honest, I have decided not to do so because most of the work is with children, and as a 'child-free by choice' person I came to the realization that I just don't like being around children much.  A Bachelors is required for ABA or BcABA as well (Psych. would work for this).
I enjoy the WORK that I do now, just not as much my employer.  I get to be highly detail oriented and organized, I do not have sales quotas or progress goals besides my contract budgets, I don't have to deal with co-workers much at all or anyone breathing down my neck, and most of my contact is with outside vendors on my terms. 
So long story short, I've realized the direct human service route (a trainer, a social enterprise [retail] manager, or ABA with parents breathing down your neck or assuming you'll babysit) really isn't my cup of tea... I like the behind the scenes business operations, hence my interest in Operational and Indust. Psych.
Do you think I could just finish the Bachelors in Psych (I have maybe 6 or 7 classes left) and use the other business-based qualifications (Duke, Goodwill, Six Sigma, etc) to make a nice resume and I'd have decent prospects?
I don't love working in general, so I am trying to find a fit for me mentally and financially (so I can stop working sooner

spokey doke

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Re: Seeking Advice Regarding College/Education options. THANKS!
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2017, 08:13:55 AM »
A few things I'll throw out there (x-university professor).

First, I think getting a better sense of what you want to do...informed by some focused investigation of job prospects that are available, given the various paths you are considering, is really needed.  In doing so, don't just take the word of academic programs - make sure to see the evidence about job placement with degree/certificate X. 

When you find something you think is a winner, also go visit with someone who does the job you are thinking about getting qualifications for.

If that isn't floating your boat, you might just consider the quickest route to your bachelor's degree and crank through it and see what you can do with that degree.

I'd put off considering graduate school until you get your undergrad wrapped up first, and I personally wouldn't do a graduate degree unless if was funded, with a very strong job prospect at the end of it...it is a shameful racket that many graduate programs engage in, taking in graduate students to keep their programs afloat with few if any job prospects for their graduates.  That doesn't make graduate school the wrong decision, but one you should only enter wide eyed and well informed (unless you have resources or are so driven that you want to follow your passion regardless of the job prospects or debt you incur).


Bicycle_B

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Re: Seeking Advice Regarding College/Education options. THANKS!
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2017, 09:05:27 AM »
JanetJackson, good questions.

I suggest an intense unpaid course in What Color Is Your Parachute.  Buy the latest copy of the book in your preferred format, or read the library's copy again again until you've done all of the exercises.  It gets you to articulate diverse experiences in a way that you can explain to you employers, and lead a self-directed research project that finds numerous jobs you would actually like.  Most likely there's someone out there who wishes they could hire someone exactly like the current version of you, and your WCIYP research will cause you to land in their office/at their roller derby dojo/at the back of their queer bar empire/whatever it is.  Joy and payment will ensue.  Obviously, if the research shows that few more classes will add $15k to your pay rate, slam through the classes at that point.

Rando thoughts:

1. In Austin, I imagine you'd like working at UShip - they'd probably like your individualistic fast paced vibe.  A generalizable version of this would be to research the top 50 employers in your area and see if you can get jobs at any of them where you don't dislike their attitude.

2. Your work tastes sound like a business degree would be a better qualification than something specialized in work you don't like. You can take business classes cheap at community college.  Be the ops person who can do a budget and balance the books, and you can make a good living in many different fields. 

3. In my personal observation, most people with nonprofit histories and diverse jobs aren't very practical.  The fact you like and are capable in business-y areas is something to build on.  You could transition to plain old business jobs where they don't care who you are as long as your work is good, or find places with an open culture where the fact you add diversity is a plus but you get paid Full Business Wage.  Then you could make big bucks instead of keeping yourself in the poor-and-oppressed-and-their-dogooder-caretakers ghetto.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2017, 09:09:58 AM by Bicycle_B »

Smokystache

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Re: Seeking Advice Regarding College/Education options. THANKS!
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2017, 09:51:05 AM »
Psychology professor here.

What classes/experiences would be part of the additional 10 months to get the specialized I/O Psych degree?

I'm especially curious if it would include more classes in statistics, data analysis, or a required internship/practicum (whatever they call a practical experience there). Those types of courses and the opportunity to have help finding a high-quality internship may be worth the extra time/money.

JanetJackson

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Re: Seeking Advice Regarding College/Education options. THANKS!
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2017, 12:59:01 PM »
Psychology professor here.

What classes/experiences would be part of the additional 10 months to get the specialized I/O Psych degree?

I'm especially curious if it would include more classes in statistics, data analysis, or a required internship/practicum (whatever they call a practical experience there). Those types of courses and the opportunity to have help finding a high-quality internship may be worth the extra time/money.

Thanks for the comment.  The extra classes are basically all business classes- it's essentially a Psychology degree with a business minor.  I'm only about six classes away from the Psych degree (depending on what school) but thought the more specific degree would help me never have to attend grad school and make a decent living.

JanetJackson

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Re: Seeking Advice Regarding College/Education options. THANKS!
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2017, 01:04:55 PM »
JanetJackson, good questions.

I suggest an intense unpaid course in What Color Is Your Parachute.  Buy the latest copy of the book in your preferred format, or read the library's copy again again until you've done all of the exercises.  It gets you to articulate diverse experiences in a way that you can explain to you employers, and lead a self-directed research project that finds numerous jobs you would actually like.  Most likely there's someone out there who wishes they could hire someone exactly like the current version of you, and your WCIYP research will cause you to land in their office/at their roller derby dojo/at the back of their queer bar empire/whatever it is.  Joy and payment will ensue.  Obviously, if the research shows that few more classes will add $15k to your pay rate, slam through the classes at that point.

Rando thoughts:

1. In Austin, I imagine you'd like working at UShip - they'd probably like your individualistic fast paced vibe.  A generalizable version of this would be to research the top 50 employers in your area and see if you can get jobs at any of them where you don't dislike their attitude.
Thanks!  This is kind of my plan- find a decently paid position in a company that can afford to give me decent benefits and aren't completely evil.  I don't need to LOVE it, I just need to do it.

2. Your work tastes sound like a business degree would be a better qualification than something specialized in work you don't like. You can take business classes cheap at community college.  Be the ops person who can do a budget and balance the books, and you can make a good living in many different fields. 

3. In my personal observation, most people with nonprofit histories and diverse jobs aren't very practical.  The fact you like and are capable in business-y areas is something to build on.  You could transition to plain old business jobs where they don't care who you are as long as your work is good, or find places with an open culture where the fact you add diversity is a plus but you get paid Full Business Wage.  Then you could make big bucks instead of keeping yourself in the poor-and-oppressed-and-their-dogooder-caretakers ghetto.
Thanks!  My diverse history generally comes from having several side jobs at all times.  Right now my resume (depending, of course, on where I would be applying) only has the leadership roles in non-profits on it, and may occasionally pepper in the CPR, etc. to show some diversity- so on paper I don't quite look like I'm AS MUCH all over the place :)  I also went through two certificate level semesters of a technical school for welding a while ago because the school was willing to offer me free tuition for being a TA one day a week.  My PT Cert was paid for by the gym I worked at, CPR too.... etc. etc.