Friday, December 07, 2007

Just a Thought

I've been saying for awhile now that if my job doesn't change in this year-end shakeup, I'll start looking for something else. I've followed up my talk with my boss, and frankly, wasn't particularly overwhelmed with warm-and-fuzzies about the results. It made me think that perhaps, even if I do get the promotion, this company may not be the place for me for much longer.

Now, I can do this one way: I can look for something else in publishing, where my skills are good and the turnover is high. I'd rather pull out all my fingernails than apply for another editorial assistant job, though, so if I can't find anything in editorial proper, I'd hit up & start calling my parents' friends.

Or, I could do it another way, and apply for teaching fellowships. There's the renowned Teach For America, of course, but there's also the New York City Teaching Fellows--less of a resume boost, but you earn a subsidized master's degree in education. Which would be pretty helpful on the resume when I apply for my PhD. And though they're selective programs, especially TFA, I'm pretty confident that I'd be accepted into either. On the downside, though, both programs require a two-year commitment, and that's longer than I wanted to put off grad school.

On the upside, though, I wouldn't be so goddamn bored all day. My work would mean something. I've really enjoyed the tutoring & teaching I've done in my volunteer work. And, oh yeah, fellows in those programs make a teacher's starting salary: in NYC, that's close to $45K. That's way more than I make now.

Just how much am I willing to change my life?


Janine said...

Just a word of warning, TFA is usually a love it or loath it experience - there's really no in between.

You also have to be absolutely willing to dedicate most of your time to the program during yout two years (including intense summer training.)

I nearly joined in 2001 (people running the prog told me I'd have time & resources to dedicate to my 2nd career/passion) until an honest friend told me that would probably not be the case.

But, many of my friends are still involved with the program even after completing their two years and have said it was the most rewarding time of their lives.

I think it's a great organization and provides a great opportunity for young folks - as long as they understand what they're getting into from the beginning.

PS - Love the blog!

Strange Bird said...

TFA doesn't subsidize, but it's totally possible to get the degree anyway depending on the school you earn it from (mine would have cost less than if I'd got it from a CA public university, and it was still a highly respected university in my area). If you find a cost efficient school, it is totally doable to earn the degree part time on a teacher salary. (TFA also had some arrangements with some LA universities to help participants earn their credentials and M.Eds; they might have similar partnerships elsewhere.)

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I used to recruit for TFA, and b/c it's an AmeriCorps program, you get the AmeriCorps education grant that you can apply to future or current student loans. In NYC, most corps members go to Pace because the tuition costs about the same as the grant. It might be different this year, but you can find out on their website. Or just send an email to, they will be really responsive.

TFA is very selective because they have a very specific mission and focus--they are not just looking for people who want to teach for awhile, they are looking for people who are passionate about public education and want to commit all their time and energy to closing the achievement gap. TFA corps members give everything they can to try and reach highly ambitious goals for their kids, often trying to get them to make 2+ years of progress in just 1 year. This is incredibly challenging, but also the most rewarding thing you could do.

I agree with Janine--if that sounds like you, you would love it!

I don't know as much about the fellows, but I believe it is also a great program where you can make a big difference.

Frugal Duchess said...

In the long run, a boring job really can deplete creativity & drive.

Teaching is an option. Do you have patience for kids, classroom management and paper work?

Those factors were a factor when I taught younger students.

I'm working on a graduate degree so that I can teach on a college level.

Good luck.

I enjoy your blog very much!

Anonymous said...


I've been reading your blog for several months now through Trent's site. Reassuring to see that I am not alone in my bout of QLC.

About the teaching career... if it's your passion, go for it! I'm taking up my Masters in Language Education while working fulltime, and its my classes that make life bearable.


mfaorbust said...

I thought about joining TFA, but after talking to friends, realized I just didn't have the thick skin for it.

However, I have to say, I've been really happy working in a nonprofit after leaving entry-level publishing. Much of the work is the same, but it somehow feels less boring and more mellow. It keeps me busy enough to feel like I'm contributing something (however meager) to a cultural field I care deeply about, but I also have plenty of downtime to work on my own personal projects... like grad school apps.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it you have a couple directions to take. One, you can stay at your current position and stick it out, because let's face it, not very many people get promotions after their first year of work straight out of college. It takes time to work you way up (think 20+ years). Secondly, you can go back to get your PhD soon, but the stipend is not really that much to live on, so you'd have to supplement your income with another smaller part-time job (think restaurant). Finally, you can go teach and work your way for 2 years to head in a different direction. My advice is this, think of your final end, your ultimate goal and work towards that in whatever direction makes you most happy. But don't necessarily take shortcuts or choose the shortest route.

English Major said...

Oh, Anonymous 5:02, heart of my heart, if I knew my final end, my ultimate goal, I would not be dickering around with a new life plan every twelve minutes.

Sistah Ant said...

a few words for you:

don't make decisions out of fear.

you stick to that, you'll do alright.

frugalfumbler said...

Just a quick thought about careers...

Have you ever thought about something like Speech Pathology? Or Teaching ESL? I know SLP is generally lucrative.

It would be in a teaching type of environment, but not neccessarily a classroom. And I know SLP is a Master's program and I'm pretty sure ESL is too.

I'm also debating on my directions, so I somewhat know where you are coming from. I'm a fellow "waffler".

Jimbo said...

You might want to look for writing/editing jobs in the financial services field. Pay is decent compared to publishing, and the benefits are great.


Anonymous said...

All of a sudden I see so much about future plans on your blog. Can you elaborate? What are you planning to pursue a Ph.D. in? Why? What is the goal with the Ph.D.? Why are you considering moving to teaching or non-profit work?
Just curious. I don't know how long you have been at your job, but you might try sticking it out at least two years before moving on, if you aren't suffering, unless you have a really clear vision of what you want to do. There are pros and cons at every job, and at a lot of places they are still getting to know you after a year. How long has your boss been working there?
If you want to make a change like into nonprofit or teaching, I suggest either breaking into it with volunteer work first, or trying some informational interviews.
Part of the reason I feel inspired to write to you about this is that I have started to consider a Ph.D., and am thinking about it two years off, but have been doing a lot of research. I would be looking at classics. From what I understand, only 10% of Ph.D.'s in English find a tenure track job afterwards. I don't want to discourage you if that is your plan, just to say that getting a Ph.D. isn't an "answer." I think it is good to show yourself that you can make it in a job job before returning to the extremely competitive world of academia. And more experience in publishing will certainly stand you in good stead, especially in academic publishing, from what I understand.
Good luck, I know how disheartening entry level jobs are.

Bethany Pledge said...

I joined TFA, completed the summer institute training, and then resigned before teaching in the fall. It was the best decision I made in 2005 (maybe tied with dumping the ex-boyfriend). You might have more of a personality for it (very type-A, driven, able to control hordes of unruly children); I remember failing a lot, and failure is not something I am good at. I also remember "free time" being code for "personal hygiene time" - in other words, I worked almost constantly, except in the shower.

I have no doubt it could be amazingly fulfilling, but know what you are getting into.

Also, remember to be thankful for where you're at now. MOST jobs are boring. To have a job that uses a few of your favorite skills (working with words, I'm assuming) and to be getting positive feedback from your employers -- I envy you.

- fellow English major

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