Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Switching Careers

By Melissa Cecilia
Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer

I’ll be completely honest: when I graduated from college I had no idea what job I would be able to find. The Class of 2012 (to which I belong) was the first that graduated without “guaranteed” jobs. While it had been my dream to work as a freelance writer, I never thought I’d be able to find a job in the field. Luckily, that all changed 4 months after graduation when I was offered jobs with both a prominent company as well as (what many established freelance writers call) a “content mill.”

As I worked hard for both companies,  I relished in the idea of being in the field I dreamt about. While the prominent company paid well, I have only done four major assignments for them in the year and a half I’ve been employed by them. As for the “content mill”, where most of my work was coming from, it doesn‘t pay very well. Would you like to earn an average of $7 per assignment doing half a day’s worth of work researching and writing?

I didn’t think so. It took me months of the financial instability, and not being able to contribute to the household expenses, to make the hard decision to let go of my dream and to consider a change of career.

While I am a young, unmarried woman, I still have responsibilities that I chose to take on. My little family consists of my widowed mother and I. While she does have a stable job, it’s occasionally not enough to even keep the ‘fridge full since we live in one of the most expensive cities in the country. The older she gets, the more her health fails and the more I feel the need to take over as many responsibilities as possible.

This was my main motivation for wanting to change careers. However desperate I felt, I didn’t want to jump into a job that I would hate just because it paid better. Thankfully, a dream (yes, an actual dream) and my Godmother to help me figure things out.

One night, about a year ago, I had a dream that I was babysitting a good friend’s son. When they returned, I had told my friend and her husband that I wished that I was speech-language pathologist so that I could help them with their son who has apraxia of speech in real life. I normally don’t read anything into my dreams but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I should look into it.

A couple of days later, I did just that; I researched it and saw that it would be a good fit for me. I’ve always loved children and I seem to have been blessed with the patience necessary to teach; tutoring 5 year-olds made me realize that. Furthermore, volunteering at my mother’s job (at a convalescent hospital) has helped me learn how to communicate with the elderly if that’s where I am needed. As soon as I spoke to my Godmother (who has known me my entire life), and she enthusiastically agreed that it was the “perfect” choice for me, I knew I’d found the right career.

Before I go on, I should say that I didn’t actually know what speech-language pathologists earned on average. I didn’t want my want of helping others to be clouded by the monetary aspect of it. I didn’t look at those numbers but I did check what the projected job prospects were and saw that SLPs are quite in demand. I would be entering a field that I would be happy in (helping others) and I would have the financial stability needed to help care of the household expenses.

Transitioning from freelance writer to (future) speech-language pathologist has not been easy. It took me months to get to where I am; months of prayer as well as taking everything else into consideration. I have begun the process of getting the education needed; I am set to earn my 2nd Bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Science in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education) in May 2015. I do not know where I will attend grad school but I will continue on until I am prepared to enter the field.

While my career change might’ve started out as a way to create financial stability for my family, it has turned into much more than that. I am so passionate about the prospect of helping my future patients/clients that I will be giving my education 110%. Once I graduate, I will do all I can to help others in any way that I can. More than that, I will be able to help my family move forward and that alone is priceless.

Melissa Cecilia is a 20-something year-old freelance writer from Los Angeles, CA. She holds a BA in Religious Studies and will begin working towards a BSci in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education this coming May. She enjoys swing dancing, hiking, being a budding photographer, and getting lost in the world of literature. In her spare time you can find her working on her novels and blogging over at Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer.

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