8.11.2015

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beginning of the summer I needed so badly to decompress from what was my toughest year of teaching, that I became a bit withdrawn.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!

26 comments:

  1. Best of luck to you! I am actually in your new field and also live in Virginia. I spent 8 years in the non profit/higher education world working on everything from membership, marketing and event planning to communications and development. When I started reading your blog post I was going to suggest CNE in Charlottesville. They always have great job postings, workshops and networking. I am now the Executive Director of our local Chamber of Commerce and I love it. You may want to look into some of the smaller Chamber's around the state. They are a great way to gain experience and make business connections. You also may find that you love the mix of community and business in working with a Chamber. I'll keep an eye out and pass along anything I see. I know you'll find something that you love!

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  2. I think we have discussed that I left teaching for the world of "private" education. I was lucky enough to get a job 3 weeks before school started. I think my principal was going to kill me, but I couldn't stand him anyway. Maybe you should get in touch with Tricia (Landlocked Mermaid.) Shoot me an email and I will introduce you two. She left teaching for the non-profit world. mcathleenw at gmail

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  3. Thank you for posting this! I just quit my teaching job and I can 100% relate to all of those articles, plus everything you are saying! Right now, I'm just being a mom and tutoring on the side, but I am always wondering what I will do when I return to the working world. Good luck with your job search!

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  4. I think it's brave to change your mind about what you wanna do, not a failure by any standard. If you feel there's something else out there you'd rather be a part of, you should find it. You don't want 30 years to go by before you do what you really want. Good luck on this adventure! :)

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  5. Finding a job in the non-profit world is TOUGH. I was lucky enough to get a development job for a non-profit symphony right out of college, but it wasn't my first choice, and I never thought I'd be living at home! Devo is really rewarding, and I think you'd be great at it! Good luck!

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  6. Hi - I recently found your blog and haven't commented before, but I had to comment on this post. I taught middle school and then community college. Four years ago I took the leap you are now taking. It was hard, and I spent 8 months working retail, but eventually I landed in the position that was right for me. I have never regretted my decision, and I wish you the best of luck with your job search. Kudos to you for having the guts to follow your heart and do what will make you happy in the long run.

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  7. Best of luck girl! When you follow your heart it's sure to get you where you need to go :) If you're looking to break into non-profit you may want to check out your local Junior League (if you're not already a member) as it's a non-profit that offers tons of leadership opportunities to its members. All the best!

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  8. Best of luck on your next endeavor! I've commented before that I think we have had very similar teaching experiences and I applaud you for doing what is best for you! I have wanted to do exactly what you are doing for the past 5 years. It is a tough job and sometimes I feel guilty that I don't love it as much as I should. I'll be staying home with my baby once he arrives and I am so thrilled at the thought of being able to leave teaching behind! Again, best of luck in your job search, you have much to offer and I am sure you will find something you love!

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  9. I'm sorry I don't have any advice - but I do wish you lots and lots of luck! And send lots and lots of prayers!

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  10. You need to do what makes you happy, I took me three years to get into the job that I have now, and I heard the exact same thing, no experience... how do you get experience without getting hired?! I worked my tail off and in the end it paid off, you are making the right decision, just know that something better is coming along!

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  11. Best of luck in your search - happiness in your career is so important! I also recognized early on that I needed a change from teaching and had some similar struggles with "giving it up." Ultimately, I stayed in education in a different role but also looked into jobs in higher ed. There were some great opportunities with alumni associations, event planning, etc. that may be a fit. Trust is God's plan for you!

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  12. Good luck, Allie. I know exactly what you mean about felling like you're a quitter - I've never really any quit anything... it either ended (high school sports and clubs) or just went on to the next level, and I find that having that feeling does hold me back at times, and I need to be better about taking risks and doing what I feel is right for me!! I know you will be fine, and I'm so proud of you!!! I'll be here to support along the way :)

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  13. Good for you and congratulations! You have taken a hard first step, but it definitely seems like the right decision. I did something similar too. I resigned at the end of the year before I had another job. It ended up working out as I found another job by the end of summer. I applied for a lot of things and during interviews emphasized all of my transferable skills. I know it will work out for you!

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  14. Best wishes to you, Allie. YOu'll do great. I'm about to email you.

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  15. Wishing I could give you a big hug right now! Through this journey, you're going to learn so much about yourself and your passions. Being a recruiter, I'm confident that you're going to find the perfect for you right now! I'm happy to help in any way! Xo, Stephanie

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  16. This is such an exciting blog post! My sister just did the same thing, and I know you'll find something great soon. It's definitely worth the wait to wake up and not dread going to work! THe experience conundrum confuses the heck out of me- how do we get experience in something new if experience is required to start?! I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers while you're hunting!

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  17. Oh, best of luck! I planned events for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce for a few years and it was one of the best work experiences I've had. Try reaching out to the Richmond Chamber -- I'm sure they have similar positions and it would give you the experience needed to work more on the management / development side later!

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  18. Yes! I left my job unexpectedly and was very scared and just spent the past few months unemployed yet excited for my next adventure and just started a new job this week! It's in my field but very different from what I've done before and much more "me." Best of Luck! You will find a new path and be very happy I am sure of it!

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  19. I am such a believer in leaps of faith. It gets harder to do when you have people depending on you and your leaps of faith directly impact their lives, but if it's right, you JUST KNOW. And you'll be so much happier for having tried -- even if it doesn't work out in the end. Good luck!

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  20. Congratulations on taking such a brave step! Many people are not brave enough to do what they feel is right in the heart, but I think this is so great!! The right job will come along and I think you have so much heart and strength!

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  21. Good for you for following your desires. I am hoping that it works out for you soon, but I love that you have a plan! Keep us posted! xo

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  22. Keep at it, the right fit will come along! I completely switched careers from marketing to teaching and it was tough but the right decision. Now I've switched again to stay at home mommy, and will probably do something totally different once my kiddos are grown! Keeps life interesting :-)

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  23. Good luck to you!! You have such a positive attitude about everything and such great support - good things are going to happen! You really seem to be finding your new niche and doing something you love! Can't wait to follow along as it all comes together sometime in the future!

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  24. Oh my! I just read this. I have been terrible at blog tracking lately and I am so glad I took some time to read this because I hadn't heard from you in a while. I will try to write you an email this week but I am really, really proud of you!! XO - Maddie

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