Leap of Faith

Happy Tuesday readers!

I hope you are doing well...I feel really detached from the blog world lately. At the beginning of the summer I needed so badly to decompress from what was my toughest year of teaching, that I became a bit withdrawn. Now that I've had that time to decompress, my life seems to have kicked into overdrive and I rarely have time to sit at the computer for pleasure. I did want to acknowledge, however, that I have read each and every one of your comments, despite not responding to them all. Your support as I have opened up about this new phase of my life have meant more than you know!

All that being said, it's time for a big update on this next life adventure. I titled this post "Leap of Faith" because I have just taken what might be the biggest leap of faith in my life so far. I'll explain...

As you all know, I've questioned my teaching path a lot over the past two years. I first opened up in this post. Rather than repeat all the reasons I've been unhappy with teaching, I'll direct you to some great articles I've read over the last year that acknowledge many of my struggles:

In grad school, you hear about all of these issues, and teacher turnover rates, but you often think "That won't be me" or "That's only in the really bad schools." For a long time, the perfectionist in me, didn't want to leave the profession, because I saw it as quitting or a failure. I didn't want to add to the statistic. What I have realized over the last several months, however, is that leaving teaching isn't quitting: It's taking a stand for me. 

After that realization, the next big question for me was: "If not teaching, then what?" I've always been someone that has been interested in so many different things; so narrowing down a path has been tough. I would call my dad in an emotional tizzy every semester when it came time to register for classes. My choice to pursue a Masters of Teaching was questioned by many, including myself, over the years. I could see myself being happy in several different careers. 

Almost two years ago, when I first became unhappy, I began looking at job postings to try and answer that question. I never had any intention of applying for jobs during the school year, rather, I hoped that after reading enough descriptions I could narrow down a field or some career areas that seemed like a fit. In college, I also had been interested in the "business" side of nonprofits: marketing, PR, fundraising, strategy, etc so I spent a lot of my time looking at job options on a website called ConnectVA. This website, run by the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence, is a place where local nonprofits can post job opportunities. I found that many of the job listings I was interested in fell under the "Development" realm. 

As luck would have it, this past fall I would connect with Ronald McDonald House of Richmond's Director of Development through my blog. You may remember I posted about their partnership with Dillard's to raise money through the sale of the Southern Living Cookbook here. When I first met Allison, the Director of Development, I immediately liked her. She is young and cute, and I left the house feeling so inspired. I also left thinking "I want her job." I reached out, asking to become more involved with the House, wanting to help an amazing cause, but also to gain some experience in the nonprofit field. Allison added me to their Red Shoe Crew which helps to plan and implement fundraising events for RMH. 

Now let's fast forward several months to this past April. I was having brunch with some book club friends and talking to them about my experience with Ronald McDonald. One of the girls shared that her husband was looking to hire a person in that exact field.  The position was "Program Manager" and would mostly entail event planning for a local non-profit. She put me in touch with her husband and the ball got rolling. From May to July, I was in the application process for this job. It ultimately didn't work out (I was the only candidate in the final 4 without experience), however, I am still so happy that I applied. Not only did it give me some valuable interview experience in the field, but it also gave me a tangible option outside of teaching. Getting so far in the interview process, gave me hope that I could (and will) find a fit.

After finding out I didn't get that job, I was at the point where I had to make a decision. It was mid-July and I knew that the likelihood I would find a job in the remaining weeks before school started was low. I also knew that if I did ultimately leave teaching, I wanted to do it the right way and not give my notice at the last minute. Finally, I realized, that if I went back to school, I was stuck for another 9 months and would be putting myself in the same position as this summer, only having 2 months to find a job, which isn't really a realistic time frame. My heart was telling me that I needed to resign, even without a new job lined up. Before making my decision final, though, I spent the next several days talking it over with Bryce and my parents. They could not have been more supportive and all agreed that I was 100% making the right decision. My mom said "Every time you talk about going back to school, there's a quiver in your voice and you can't live like that."

So here I am, unemployed. My emotions waiver from day to day, some days I feel excited and empowered and other days, I feel nervous and scared. I've applied for 10 jobs in the last few weeks, and have a few more on my list for this week. I have run into roadblocks a few places regarding my experience. It's that Catch 22 of "You can't get hired without experience, and you can't get experience without getting hired." I do feel confident that something will work out though. I am spending weekly time at Ronald McDonald House, volunteering my time to gain as much experience as I can at the volunteer level. They have been very supportive and have provided me with as many opportunities to learn about the field and network, as possible. I've also began to embrace telling people about my job search. I've found that when I share my experience, people want to help, and a few people have even approached me with jobs.

In the meantime, I will be coaching volleyball and subbing at a local private school, and will get an "in-between" job if need be. I also am fortunate to have one more paycheck coming in at the end of the month, from fulfilling my contract last year, which gives me some wiggle room.  And last, but certainly not least, I feel beyond fortunate to have such a supportive group of friends and family backing me up. Bryce, especially, has been my biggest cheerleader and without his support, I probably wouldn't have been brave enough to take this leap of faith.

And now (I hope I haven't bored you, yet), for those of you that commented or emailed asking for advice, I can share my tactics thus far. I don't have a job yet, but I do think my strategy will lead to success.  My first tactic, has been to reach out to anyone and everyone I know in the field. Being that I am trying to completely change careers without experience, I'll need all the help and connections I can get. The second, has been to work as hard as I can to gain valuable experience, through my time at Ronald McDonald. I also am planning to sign up for some workshops through the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence, and may see if I can get involved volunteering at a second nonprofit to give my experience more breadth. Lastly, I have been applying to each and every job that sounds the least bit interesting, both jobs that I may be over-qualified for, or, under-qualified for.  Allison, from Ronald McDonald, shared an awesome point, that you never know when someone may pass your resume along to somebody else, or to a different position within the organization. I realize that this first job, is likely to just be a stepping stone, so I'm willing to consider positions that may be outside of the development or nonprofit realm. Fingers crossed this strategy will pay off!

Have any of you readers taken a similar leap of faith in your life?

Any advice for me as I navigate this new adventure?

Have a great day!