Another Teacher Wants to Leave the Field

Vonni writes:
I’m currently a 2nd-year teacher at a New York City public school. I’m 22 years old and a Swarthmore College graduate. I am absolutely depressed at my job. I chose my current position because it was the only thing available that offered good benefits and a decent salary. I however hate it. I majored in French because of my passion for languages (I speak three) and minored in psychology because I love working with people (on a one-on-one basis not one-on-37!) I find that I am unqualified for most of the professions and careers out there.
Sometimes I feel like quitting and working at a retail store but that would put my $30000-a-year degree to waste. I don’t know what to do. Would you have some advice to offer me?

The Career Doctor responds:
Wow you sure seem to have steered off course! But take a deep breathe and relax because you are not alone — a large percentage of recent college grads end up in first jobs that they dislike or that don’t fit their career path. The thing you most want to do is not make that mistake twice — and certainly taking a job in retail out of desperation is the wrong strategy.
First while teaching is a great profession why is it that you settled for a job/career in a field where you had no interest or background? You need to answer that question before you start job-hunting again — because it’s going to be a long road and you’ll need to have the determination to stick with the job search.
Second you know you have a passion for languages and you enjoy working with people. Do you realize you have special skills that make you stand out from the crowd. How many people can speak three languages? Now you need to go the next step and identify jobs/careers that need the skills and education that you have. Careers that come to mind include: translator/interpreter foreign language tutor guidance counselor travel writer travel guide cultural assistant and foreign service.
Third you need to revamp your resumes and cover letters to refocus potential employers away from your teaching to your new career goal. A strong resume is critical to the job search. Take advantage of one or more of the many articles and resources we have available in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
Fourth once you’ve identified types of jobs and careers and revamped your job-search correspondence now you have to go out there and find the job openings. Since New York is such a center of foreign trade culture and diplomacy I would think you should be able to find multiple opportunities for your unique mix of skills and talents. Make sure you use all your available job-search channels including the career services professionals back at Swarthmore Swarthmore alums in the NYC area (assuming you want to continue living there) your network of contacts job postings job ads (online and off) and cold calling/direct mail. For more details on this step read through this Quintessential Careers tutorial: Job Search 101.
Finally be persistent. Make a plan to complete some element of your job-search every day. When the economy continues to pick up steam stay focused on finding a job that better fits you. It may be a bit harder now (though people are still finding jobs every day) but it should be easier over the next few months. Stay focused stay determined.
Best of luck.
800-652-8430 Mon- Fri 8am - 8pm CST
Sat 8am - 5pm CST, Sun 10am - 6pm CST