Welcome to week five!!! The Career Fair last week was a huge success, and we’re inching closer and closer to the end of this academic year. As we do, I’m inching closer to the end of my story of a Career Changer. Or maybe not the end, but I’m definitely inching closer to my present moment, where my career path is right now; though it’s always a living and breathing thing that can morph and change.
Last time we talked, I had just graduated from my MFA program and realized that I didn’t want to teach; I wanted to advise. Because of this switch late in the game, I decided to take the summer “off” from thinking about the future by working as an actor at the Creede Repertory Theatre again. It was great fun to perform again, be with friends, and regroup.
As the fall and the end of the season neared, my time was taken up by wedding planning for a September date. After the wedding (A great party, you should’ve been there!), I started to ask around town for possible winter jobs. If I could find something, we could just hang tight, work in Creede for the year, and I would job search for my advising dream job from there. In a small town like Creede, it didn’t take long. A couple of people approached me about work they needed done. I got my substitute teacher’s license so that I could work at the school. I was asked to work part time as the high school drama club coach for a small stipend. Then, rumor had it that one of the local real estate offices was looking for an office manager.
Now, I’d worked in offices before, but not in a long time and never for real estate. But my skills in writing were unusual, as was my facility with different software programs. I brought a resume into Broken Arrow Ranch and Land Company and spoke with Anne, the owner and main broker. The following Monday, I started at an hourly wage.
One thing I want to stress was that I was able to sell my skills to Anne, letting her know that I would be comfortable with taking on marketing, writing up advertising, filing, phones, etc., and also that I would be comfortable learning everything I didn’t know about her business. She trusted that my previous experience as an instructor would translate to managing her office well. And although it took me some time to learn the procedures of real estate, I jumped in to learning about a brand new field with both feet. As you move into a new industry, it is important to acknowledge what you don’t know and what you need to know in order to do the job well. I spent much of my first week studying the file folders on the computer network, learning how to use Microsoft Publisher, and asking a lot of questions. Soon, I started offering small suggestions for streamlining some of her processes and improving her advertising. I was in a totally new field, and it was really fun!
So, all this is to say, be flexible, be open, be a learner, and you never know what doors will open. Although my job at Broken Arrow Ranch and Land Company was not in the industry I hoped to be in, I was learning skills and honing abilities that would help me get that dream job someday.
Have a great midterm season, and I’ll be back Week Seven with the next chapter in my Career Changer life!
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.