Monday, November 7, 2011

An opportunity

My friend H. is fond of saying two things: 1. You can always break/stop a habit; and 2. You never know what professional opportunities might present themselves.

Some background: I had a demanding, fulfilling professional career before I had children.  I was well-respected by most, and liked by many, and I was good at what I did.  I was able to have a little bit of an impact on many  young people and (I hope) a significant, positive impact on a few (hey y’all !).  It was meaningful work and I remain grateful to God that I was called to it.  When I was pregnant with Beezus, I started submitting proposals to my employer to change my job to part-time.  They said no.  I submitted a different proposal.  They said no again.  This continued after my maternity leave ended and while we were negotiating they agreed to let me work part-time, although I went back to work full-time for three months during a particularly busy time.

Eventually, I realized that neither of us were going to change our minds, so I quit and luckily got pregnant with Ramona right away and picked up a couple other part-time gigs while I was pregnant and then after she was born I stayed home for almost two years.  It was very, very hard and very, very sad to leave my job.  At the time, I thought I would never have the opportunity to work in a position where I got to be paid to help people. 

I currently work part-time in a job that is interesting but it’s not doing anything to really help anyone or better society.  I spent some time teaching ESL classes to adults and that was fantastic – incredibly fulfilling work but also demanding – two nights a week for a full semester.  I stopped after a while, and have felt that void again of not being able to help people in a systematic way.

Sure, I can give advice to other mothers on the playground and I engage in some light community activism, and both of those things have a small impact and make me feel like I’m doing something. But it's not the same.

I was recently offered a position at a local community college to work with adults in their outreach/workforce development ESL program.  For lack of a better descriptor, these are classes for adults that focus on “life-skills” speaking/listening  and then reading/writing English.  But at some point, they will finish the sequence of courses, or perhaps they need to learn a specific set of vocabulary for their job, or computer skills for work, or maybe they even want to work on an associates degree.

And that’s where I come in.

I’ll get to meet with students in the higher level classes and advise them of the other educational opportunities available for them, teach them how to read the course catalog, and encourage them with all the registration/paperwork.  Oh, and I get paid to do this and it’s only about 15 hours a month for 3-4 months per year !

5 ½ years ago I saw the writing on the wall and realized that I would have to quit my meaningful career.  I thought I would never be able to help anyone again (dramatic, but true).  I guess you just never know what might present itself !


Lauren said...

Hooray for you! And I can't think of a better woman for the job. I look forward to the details!

Rachel et Natalie said...

congratulations. These people are there for a treat and they do not know it yet.
So proud of you

it must have been hard but so rewarding to spend so much time with the girls

herself said...

That sounds great.

Elaine said...

Perfect! Enjoy!

Helen said...

Wow! That sounds great!!

-- H.

Laurie said...


AwwwTrouble said...

You give me hope.

janel said...

Sounds wonderful! I definitely have the "need to make a difference" ingrained in me as well. Luckily I am paid full time to do that and can do more feel good volunteer work through the school. It is really a great feeling.

Mom said...

What are you waiting to take it!!! Sounds fantastic!!!!

Marya said...


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