What’s Next

I mentioned in my last post that there were still some work-related issues that were left unresolved. Basically, because of funding issues, it doesn’t sound promising that I will have a job to go back to next summer when my maternity leave is over. A replacement was not hired for my position, and I was only on contract until March 31st, 2014 (so no, my employer is not obligated to have my job – or equivalent – waiting for my return). Me being a planner means that I will go into the next year assuming I don’t have a job. 
I really enjoyed it for the most part, and it was exactly what I wanted to do after I finished my PhD. My favorite parts of the job were working with the K-12 students, learning more about education theory and practice, and creating new activities, presentations, and programming for students and the public. I think I was able to accomplish a lot during my 2+ years in the position, and I was also able to develop some new skills. 
So, what’s next? 
Ideally, it would be great to stay in the education and outreach world, but the jobs in that area are really few and far between – especially when limited to staying local. I’ll keep my eye out, but here are some other ideas dancing through my head right now:
1. Teachers College: I know teaching jobs are incredibly hard to come by right now, but this has been something I’ve been wanting to do for years. 2014 is the last year the local program will be only 1-year (well, 8 months, actually), so it would be a good time to FINALLY do it.  
Pros: something I’ve wanted to do for years, so my interest/passion is clearly there; getting a teaching job means great pay, benefits, and vacation time. 
Cons: 8 months of no work (read: no paycheck) and paying tuition on top of that; could take years to get a permanent position.
2. Not-For-Profit: I would love to take my skills in volunteer management and event organization into the not-for-profit sector. It would be wonderful to be more involved in the local community, and working with projects that are important to me. 
Pros: meaningful work; getting into a sector with more mobility; working with like-minded, passionate people.  
Cons: switching sectors can be difficult; jobs tend to be short term in nature; would probably mean a pay-cut.
3. Doula: Going through my own pregnancy and birth experience(s), and hearing those of others, really makes me consider becoming a licensed doula. Educating women about their birthing choices, and acting as an advocate for them during a very intense moment in their lives could satisfy both my need to help people and my interest in women’s rights.  
Pros: amazing, rewarding work; certification can be done in a short-ish amount of time with relatively low expense; would be my own boss; gets me into medical world without huge amount of additional schooling; scheduling flexibility (can choose how many clients to take on, etc.).
Cons: would be my own boss (a bit daunting!); unsure of demand in the area (need to do research on this); always on-call.
4. Midwife: Similar reasoning to #3, but this would require 4 years of schooling minimum. If we didn’t have to worry about money, and lived in a city where a program was offered, this might be my top choice. Unfortunately, those are two HUGE strikes against this option, and I don’t think I can put my own wants above those of my family for such a long time. Perhaps #3 could lead into #4 in the future though?
Thankfully the timing of all of this works out nicely so that I have about a year to do some research and make some decisions, while getting paid through maternity and parental benefits. I will definitely submit an application to teacher’s college for 2014, and then can make the decision whether to go or not later (so at least I have that door open). I also would like to do some volunteer work during my maternity leave to create more contacts in the not-for-profit sector. 
Seems like I’m writing these posts every couple of years. I’m more excited than nervous this time around though – I feel very blessed that I’m in the position to have the opportunity to switch gears and do something different again.


Comments on: "What’s Next" (8)

  1. Like you I also find it great to be in a position to rethink my career and have possibilities to change. I like your positive attitude!
    I have been volunteering both at uni (writing proposals, not sure if that qualifies as “volunteering” per se) and at a local community share organic farm. At both I meet heaps of interesting people and hear of other opportunities for volunteer or paid work. I find that the contact with a lot of different people is very invigorating, and opens your eyes to alternatives.
    Good luck funding your next job!


  2. If the local teachers college is about to transition to a 2 year program that likely creates a “gap year” in the local school system and might make the odds of an eventual job better. It also depends if you are willing to travel outside of London . . .


  3. Teaching science would be emotionally fulfilling (most of the time!), engaging, and variable day-to-day. You could also teach maths because you have the depth of knowledge required to explain it well. You would have big chunks of summer and holiday vacation time with your family. With a doctorate you might command higher wages than most teachers. You've been thinking about teaching for a long time. Sounds like a good idea to me.


  4. Nina – that's great that volunteering is opening doors for you! It's always nice to expand your circles, too 🙂

    Joseph – yes, that's another bonus as well. They are also accepting about 1/2 as many applicants. So, that could help too (assuming I actually get in!).

    Tracey – definitely loads of pros for teachers college. Thank you for your encouragement!


  5. I love the options! Sounds like pursuing teacher's college, or at least applying is a no brainer. Midwifery is awesome, but not so awesome in terms of work hours – a lot of on-call work, which I know can make childcare challenging for many midwives.

    I do know someone (probably 2 actually) who recently became a doula/in the process of it. I'm sure they'd be happy to pass on their experience if you're interested in exploring that too.


  6. Nicole – Yes, another factor to think about for the midwife option. Honestly, I'm pretty sure that one is off the table due to the high financial and time costs, and that I would have to commute to and/or live in a different city (not something I want to do when kids are young). I would love to hear the experience of your friend(s) about becoming a doula!


  7. Alyssa all these options sound great and I'm sure what you choose will be rewarding. If you do go the teachers college route and would like to volunteer in a classroom let me know.


  8. Anecdata, but: a friend of mine went into high school teaching after a PhD and postdoc in the life sciences, and she was the top candidate for every job she applied for. Schools LOVE LOVE LOVE having PhDs as teachers.


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