Reality Blog: Begin with the End in Mind

Looking Forward

An Expensive Lesson

It pains me to say this, but I’m still paying on student loans… for a college degree I have never really used.

I went back to school at a “late” age after deciding to end my first two careers.

The first career was 10 years in corporate insurance. It just happened to be where I landed after finishing school the first time with an Associate’s degree. It was a soul-sucking job, and I stayed with it 10 years too long.

The second was less of a career… I’d been catering and cooking, which turned into waiting tables because cooking didn’t pay the bills. But waitressing was starting to take a toll on my overall well-being.

It wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life. And there was no way I was going back to insurance.

Plus, I was bored.

So I did some research… the old-fashioned way, with phone calls and brochures. I picked a school and a major based on what I wanted to study and learn.

Then I borrowed what seemed like a boat-load of money from the government to pay for it.

Looking back, there were some important things I failed to consider.

Not that there was anything wrong with the major or the university… I’m quite proud to be a University of Pittsburgh alumnus… but I went about it backwards. (Now that I think about it, I didn’t plan very well the first time either.)

You see, as I got closer to graduation and started looking for a “real job,” I realized that I wasn’t going to find a job in my major (Ecology & Evolution) without at least a Master’s degree. More likely, I would need a PhD.

Not only that, but there were only a handful of jobs at any level, and most of them were with the federal government. They weren’t the type of job I was going to just walk into and get hired like I had done with jobs in the past. They hired people who were willing and able to work for them as low-wage interns or volunteers. I just couldn’t do it.

I also was also limited by location. Even if I did land one of the few non-PhD level jobs that came with a living wage, it wasn’t going to be in an area I wanted to live.

Bottom line: I was never going to find a job in the field of ecology that I was willing to take.

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Tracy Clement Wilson

Tracy's a freelance B2B copywriter, web writer, blogger, science geek, tree hugger, and health food fanatic. When she's not busy with her family, she attempts organic gardening and hangs out with her chickens (the ladies who give her eggs), bearded dragon (her favorite...read "only"...lizard), and dogs (her office mates).

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