Sometimes we need to stop and reflect about what comes next.

Career Changer, Jessica, here, ready with another episode in the tale of my wavy career path. Last episode, I was in Colorado, working at the Gifts & Gas, when I decided I would go to graduate school. I made this decision for a couple of reasons, some good and some not so good. First, as part of my winter in this small mountain community, my favorite memories occurred during a Women’s Writing Group that I helped create. Six or seven women would gather at one of our homes on a Tuesday or a Wednesday night, share things we were writing, respond to creative writing prompts, and share those impromptu writings as well. I really enjoyed coming up with writing activities for the group, challenging myself with writing, and the whole experience allowed me to share things through writing that I might not share in casual conversation. So, I thought, why don’t I go to school to do this as a job? Why don’t I get a degree in creative writing so that I can be a writing instructor and do this all the time?

I mentioned that there were good reasons for me to go back to school and a couple of maybe not so good reasons. One good reason was that I was truly going to pursue something that I loved doing. Another good reason was that I could see myself in higher education, working in some capacity at a college or university. I loved college towns, and I could see myself raising a family in a college-centered community. However, some of the other reasons I went back to school involved a lack of knowledge, about myself and about the field I would enter. I didn’t quite know what was next for me. I felt a little lost, and thought, why not more school? I wasn’t a person who was motivated by writing; I didn’t need to write, but I enjoyed it. Also, the creative writing instructor market is pretty saturated with MFA graduates trying to secure professorships. I didn’t know then that it can take 10 to 15 years to find a secure creative writing job at a college or university. I probably could have done a bit more homework investigating my own strengths and ultimate goals and what I could expect afterward.

Without acknowledging all my reasons, good or bad, I applied to 9 programs across the country. I applied so many places because creative writing programs can be competitive. Only three of the nine schools admitted me, and I decided to go to Colorado State University.

In August of 2006, I began my first graduate degree, an MFA in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. We found a house to live in, and I settled into the fast pace of graduate level coursework. Let me tell you – it was intense! I tutored for several hours a week in the writing center and spent all day Saturday and Sunday each week reading and writing. Remember that I’d been out of school for 6 years; it was difficult. But I eventually found my footing and made it through my first year, studying poets I’d never heard of before, writing my own poems and critiquing my peers work, and investigating theory, something I’d never engaged with before. Next time, I’ll tell you about my 2nd and 3rd years of school and what happened when I graduated. Have a great Week 8, OSU!

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.