Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Journey of a Thousand Miles

There are two reasons I am beginning this blog. The first is to heed the advice obtained from my 
Clifton StrengthsFinder results indicating that I should write more. The second is that I have this day officially begun my "five-year plan," an inside joke that essentially means I have decided to actively pursue concrete goals to obtain both gainful employment and potential relocation.

Regrettably, this is the same position I found myself in only six years ago, when I was laid off from the information technology position I had held for fourteen years. I well remember the trepidation I felt at my uncertain future. Fortunately, it was offset by the excitement of pursuing a new career in a different field—teaching.

Because the field of education was turned upside down by Bush's landmark No Child Left Behind legacy, the requirements to become a licensed teacher were intensified and required a college degree and completing a state approved program. For years I'd longed to complete a college degree so I looked forward to my college adventure. I graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts and a license to teach high school English.

Only then did I discover that, while teaching English was fun, the drudgery of the public school system was not. It was like working in a minimum security prison. Most students were indifferent toward learning at best, and adamantly opposed to it at worst. (I once had a student complete a test by circling random dots on a scantron form.)

Believing that the public school system was the cause of all of the problems with the education system, I turned my attention to the private sector. I accepted a position as a tutor for a home school cooperative. This organization had a reputation for rigor and excellence which appealed to me. At last I would be able to ply my trade among students who were eager to learn and discuss the nuances of classic literature.

Imagine my disillusionment when I discovered that these students, despite their parent's supposed commitment to quality education, were no more interested in learning than their public school peers. I found myself dealing with the same cross-section of attitudes toward education, from both students and parents, that were exhibited in the public school.

As a result, I came to two discouraging conclusions. The first was that the flaws that obstruct education in the public school system were not inherent in the system as I had believed, but were because of the attitudes toward education by society. The second was that even those who chose to educate their children privately exhibited the same attitudes, so I couldn't reasonably expect a better experience teaching in private schools.

So, six years down the road, I have a college degree to add to my resume, but find that this does not diminish the trepidation of an uncertain future, now that I have abandoned my pursuit of a teaching career. I once again find myself in the unenviable position of not having a clear direction. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, it is true, but before you can take that step, you must determine which direction to go.

Finding a job requires writing a resume. A resume must be tailored to the specific type of job one is seeking. I don't have a clue what type of job I should pursue, so I got out my Internet surfboard and searched for "how to find a job you love." Many of the results focused on the obvious, "do what you love," but didn't offer much help in determining what that was. Christine Zimmerman's "A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding a Career You Love" suggested introspection and a Forbes article pointed me to the aforementioned Clifton StrengthsFinder.

Among the interesting tidbits gleaned from the Clifton StrengthsFinder materials was this excerpt from Strengthfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath:  “[I]t’s clear from Gallup’s research that each person has greater potential for success in specific areas, and the key to human development is building on who you already are.” Rather than focusing on improving weaknesses, StrengthsFinder's approach is to leverage and improve strengths. This coincides with what I remember from reading Richard N. Bolles'es What Color is Your Parachute, that, generally, we enjoy doing what we're good at.

So, at the end of the day, I'm really not much closer to my career goal, but at least I have a blog to show for it. I know from previous experience that everything I learn will come in handy somehow. My plan is to document my job search insights along the way. If nothing else, it gives me a forum (excuse?) to practice writing. If it helps someone else along the way, that's good, too.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your heart - we are praying for you and with you on this journey! <3