Author Topic: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?  (Read 4089 times)

Luck

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Hello Mustachians! I am looking for comments and advice on two subjects: (1) Have you been stuck in underemployment, and if so, how long/how did you get out? and (2) Should I go back to school for a passion? If so, should I finance it through a student loan or just keep trying for a job in my current field?

UNDEREMPLOYMENT & MY FALLBACK:

I have been stuck in retail (occasionally supplemented by seasonal or temp jobs in my field) since I graduated in Dec. 2013 with a Bachelors in Accounting, 6 semester hours away from being able to sit for the CPA exam in Tennessee. It's been difficult to piecemeal together experience like that, not to mention my income is very low (I filed taxes this year with an AGI of less than $14,000, which was a combination of seasonal and retail income).

My current job is tax prep. through an H&R Block franchise that will turn into bookkeeping throughout the year. My payrate is $12/hr and I'm guaranteed 30 hours until April 15th, after which they don't guarantee my hours.

MY PASSION:

Originally, I wanted to go into counseling/therapy and helping people (psychology/social work), but I was discouraged by a lot of people about my job prospects, so I went into something I felt would be a good career so that I could pay my way through the education I needed for the field I wanted and have the experience for a good fallback, but so far, it's been a lot of unanswered applications and just seasonal work. I'm the first one in my family to go to college and I don't really have any mentors to go to.

I feel like I'm jumping through a lot of hoops for a prize that someone else said was better than the one I wanted to go for in the first place (don't mistake this for my attitude in the workplace; I am a very naturally upbeat person and I try my best to do a good job and be especially friendly whether I'm shoveling shit or cashiering, which anyone in retail can tell you, isn't always mutually exclusive ;) ).

Part of me honestly wants to just go back to school and get into what I wanted in the first place because, at the very least, I'd be working my ass off toward a passion rather than a fallback. (My only student loan is less than $8,300; I got by on merit scholarships, pell grants, and extreme poverty).

What do you guys think? Advice, experience, face-punches?

Knitwit

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2016, 07:46:38 PM »
I too enjoy "helping people", so I took a bachelor's degree in psychology, and I have to say - it was essentially useless at getting me a job "helping people." I'm in a helper job now, but my degree wasn't what got me here. One thing to keep in mind, if you are thinking of becoming a registered psychologist, you'll likely need to pursue a Masters degree or better. If you are thinking a more generic "helper," think of something you are talented/good at/passionate about (finance? business? accounting? perhaps a hobby?) and combine it with your innate helping skills, and I think you will come out much further ahead than pursuing more education.

Luck

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2016, 08:04:06 PM »
Thank you guys for the responses!

@lhamo - I checked out the Ramsey Solutions website and it appears that their only open position is for a consulting position (which I wouldn't have the qualifications for). I volunteered for VITA for several years, so I do realize that there are opportunities to help people in that. Honestly, that's why I enjoy doing taxes.

As far as how difficult or expensive it would be, the estimates I've seen for attendance at colleges close to me focus on full-time students, so I will have to call around when I'm able.

Education-wise, I'm willing to pay out-of-pocket and only go part-time while I work. It's just been frustrating because I feel like, income-wise, I wouldn't have been any worse off trying to find something entry-level in the field that I want to be in, and at least I'd have been working my way up in it.

@Knitwit - I definitely don't want it to seem like I'm discounting the impact finances have on people, but I have a personal background with mental illness and depression/anxiety. I know people need help financially, but it's not comparable to what I want to do and why I feel passionately about the subject. As to the job title I want, I'm not sure what is actually required of therapists (as opposed to writing/recommending medication). I think a social worker I met who was offering CBT here had a bachelors degree in SW, but it might have been a masters. I was expecting to have to complete a master's either way.

Edit for clarification
« Last Edit: February 09, 2016, 08:09:23 PM by Luck »

Luck

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2016, 08:54:18 PM »
@lhamo - I honestly had never thought of trying to get into the mental health field using my business degree. Also, after reading your and @Knitwit's responses, I tried to start looking for things related that don't require licensing (I didn't think you could do anything related without credentials and licensing).

I became aware of a program within my state (recoverywithinreach.org is the website it provided for anyone else interested; not sure if that's state-specific) where you can become a peer counselor to help people suffering from mental illness. The requirements vary by state, for mine you have to have had a mental or substance abuse illness, and be in recovery for 2 years. Not sure if it's volunteer only or employment as well but honestly, I don't care. I think I'll start there and then look into it deeper if I want to move deeper into counseling.

JJNL

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2016, 12:48:05 AM »
Well, I don't know about the US labour market, so I may be wrong here, but I was wondering: why don't you look for a helping people job where you use your bookkeeping / financial skills? Out here, counselors who get paid to help people in financial trouble with their backlogged administration and debt are definitely a thing. Or you could become a personal finance coach or something. Who said you need a psychology degree to help people? Just use the degree you've got!

Kaikou

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2016, 02:42:32 AM »
@lhamo - I honestly had never thought of trying to get into the mental health field using my business degree. Also, after reading your and @Knitwit's responses, I tried to start looking for things related that don't require licensing (I didn't think you could do anything related without credentials and licensing).

I became aware of a program within my state (recoverywithinreach.org is the website it provided for anyone else interested; not sure if that's state-specific) where you can become a peer counselor to help people suffering from mental illness. The requirements vary by state, for mine you have to have had a mental or substance abuse illness, and be in recovery for 2 years. Not sure if it's volunteer only or employment as well but honestly, I don't care. I think I'll start there and then look into it deeper if I want to move deeper into counseling.

I was going to mention this. It's called Peer Support paraprofessional around here. Very entry level and open to those in recovery.

ragesinggoddess

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2016, 04:42:18 AM »
My local Community Action offers financial counseling to low-income folks--that might be a good kind of place to look. You can definitely help people with your current degree. If you do decide to go back to school, please don't get a Bachelor's in Psychology--it's literally the worst paid degree out there and really doesn't give you a lot of options. If I were you I'd try working for a few nonprofits using my current skills, and see if one of them would eventually pay me to get a Masters in Social Work, Nonprofit Management, or similar. State jobs in my area provide tuition remission. You can definitely get closer to your dream without spending a lot for a degree.

BikeFanatic

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2016, 05:30:20 AM »
Hi there, so glad to read your post.  I had a passion for helping people until I got into grad school for social work.  Turns out I hate that field (took a lot of time & $ to find that out). I  still love helping people so became office assistant, which I loved.   Turns out I'm good at bookkeeping.  Went to night school for accounting and by age 40 became a CPA.  Now I volunteer my time as a CPA for charities and work in affordable housing.  It took me many, many years to figure all this out.  And I was poor and in debt for a long time.  You are just getting started and are doing great.  Get your 6 credits and tackle the exam.  Don't expect it to be a piece of cake.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done.  But I took Becker's prep class and got a 99% on one of the four exams, which is unheard of.  So apply yourself and don't give up.  Yes you will be poor for now.  Every should be poor at first.  It will give you good perspective later.  Good luck to you. 

Luck

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2016, 05:34:21 AM »
Personal finance counseling does interest me. I'm not aware of any initiatives that do that so I'll do some research, but it's something I'd love to get training in and help people with, especially the financial planning side of it.

@BikeFanatic - thanks for the insight. I would love to be able to help low-income people, as that's my background as well. I feel a lot more positive that I can pursue passion alongside this career without having to change out of it necessarily thanks to you guys. :)

little_brown_dog

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Re: Underemployed & Disillusioned: Should I Set Myself on Fire for Passion?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2016, 06:22:28 AM »
I have degrees in psychology. Unless you are going to get a phd, work your tail off for years, and become a clinical psychologist or a well funded researcher the odds of your degree actually helping you out financially are very, very slim. Most social workers and professional counselors (school psychology, etc) require at least a master’s degree as well. You can’t do anything with a bachelors in psych, sociology, etc. It’s sort of like getting a pre-med bachelors – you need to have specialized expertise via graduate training before most people will let you near a patient. You have to go to graduate school, and even those degrees won't make you wealthy.

If you want a lucrative field that is very altruistic and life changing, I’d suggest nursing. You can get an accelerated bachelors degree and then start at a hospital with a good salary with little experience. Many hospitals are desperate for nursing staff. Nurses really change lives, but the work itself can be physically and emotionally draining. You have to be really okay serving others and getting dirty. You also have to be okay with seeing really hard things - especially if you go into hospital pediatrics.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2016, 06:26:51 AM by little_brown_dog »