I’ve spent the last few days or so thinking about my current career path, especially after this post where I noted my lack of a commitment to my career at this point in time. This brought about a slew of conflicting thoughts and feelings and I spent some time processing them because I’d never really given them much power, but the frustration is eating away at me daily, the closer I get to graduation.
As some of you know I am in graduate school finishing up a Masters in Counseling Psychology and Forensic Psychology, this is a dual degree program. The program had become a challenge of sorts over the last year due to the hoops I have to jump through in order to make sure that I’m on the right track to graduation which includes Internship and as you get closer to graduation, the classes you take require more self-disclosure which has always been an issue for me, none of which I will discuss here.
Current Resentments: Internship and Salary Prospects
Internship, not because of the place, but more so the the setup of it all. I love my placement, my supervisor and professor are awesome, mindful of boundaries, maintain a professional image and demeanor and are knowledgeable in their fields. I really really appreciate them because they are few and far between in this field. That said, I detest having to pay almost $2000 for a class AND work for a company for a year while getting nothing back in the ways of a stipend or hourly compensation. Some of us have had to quit our jobs just to make space in the day be able to do this and it has become utterly frustrating and I wish there was a way to change this, especially given the fact that we lose earning power while in graduate school since we can’t work FT, well most of us.
Speaking of earning power, this is my biggest bone to pick with the field. The type of work that we do helps people put their lives back together. This can be in the areas of family issues, substance abuse, supervisory conflicts, grief and loss etc etc. So when I see a large and successful organization with multiple contracts paying its counselors between $30-40k I am pissed. Those of us who are in this field, while we don’t do it for the money, we put our heart and minds into helping clients piece their lives back together. So, to see that the field after 3-5 years still hasn’t changed how much they pay counselors especially in light of the recession burns me up! I left a job as a Clinical Counselor paying $38k because I thought that with a graduate degree I could get paid much more than that. Well, come to find out I was getting paid as much as the other counselors with graduate degrees. Talk about a let down!
Decisions To Make: Passion, Purpose or Career?
I have some decisions to make regarding my pursuing my passion/purpose, or pursuing a career. There’s a difference and while some are blessed to be able to have both, I am still in limbo when it comes to answering this question.
My passion lies in working with women empower themselves towards self actualization. This is what I was meant to do in life and I have no questions about that. Where did this fit in with my career? Well I’ve spent the last 3-5 years working with female populations in the counseling field doing trauma work, counseling and financial empowerment.
This was the impetus behind Girls Just Wanna Have Funds when I bought the domain name a few years back. I wanted to dedicate my life to helping other women like me increase their feelings of self worth through financial empowerment. And, at the time I really enjoyed the counseling field and the work I did with the trauma population.
But now I question whether or not my intentions were financially motivated or purely for the love of the work. I don”t know but with my student loan payments hovering around $700 when I graduate $30-$40k won’t cut it.
So I plan to go back to school for the degree that I came to DC for in the first place. I won’t get into the specifics of why I left that program but it was stupid on my part and I should have checked things out before making a rash decision about my future. Am I making a rash decision about my future before even testing the waters? No, I’m just making plans just in case salary expectations are not fulfilled because the mortgage needs to be paid and I don’t plan on being broke after 2 Masters degrees.
Talk to more people in intended career field
I’ve already started doing this and was invited my a local company in the field to do a paid internship with them but that would need to be towards the end of the summer as with my current internship, I don’t have the time. I plan to follow up with the contact there later this week.
Network with other companies and ascertain the value of my intended degree
I’ve already done this and have been told that this degree is potentially lucrative as I gain more experience. With my current degree I will hit a ceiling unless I am licensed and that will take 3-4 years and then I will still need to build a practice.
Research Flexibility and Corporate Culture
I’ve talked to one person so far and need to do a bit more of this as the application deadline nears. Flexibility and corporate culture are important because I don’t thrive well in cut throat situations, but I shouldn’t let that bother me because there will always be challenges in the office. I just need to make sure that wherever I end up after the completion of this new degree program I will be able to have some flexibility as I do have other interests and plan on having children. This is an issue I will expound upon in another post.
That’s it for now. Writing this post was therapeutic as I was able to get all my feelings down and potentially gain some feedback from others. I have been boiling for the last few days especially with my best friend making more than the counselors at my internship and she doesn’t have a Bachelor’s degree. I’m salty, I know. All of this has made me really question the value of a college and graduation, specific to my field, the behavioral sciences. I really am questioning the point of getting an education when it doesn’t really pay off more than if I’d just stayed home and worked. Then I question whether or not I would have met my husband and I wouldn’t change that for all the money in the world. So there are reasons why this is happening. At least I can say that I met the love of my life while on this journey, and I can still get into the career field that I originally planned for. Anyhoo, I’m rambling, thanks for reading as this wasn’t a scheduled post, but I wanted to share and receive feedback.
Have you changed careers? How old were you when you made the decision? Are you happy with the decision you made? Did you make the decision for the money or love of the field?