Grad school failure

I’ve discovered that apparently going to grad school for social work is likely to result in unemployment because I don’t have any experience in the field. Internships and required practicums won’t count. But I would find it very difficult to have a job in the field that would give me that experience because I’d need to do those field placements while in school.

In other words, it’s essentially the same trap that got me in undergrad, when I couldn’t do internships because I had to take care of my kids and could barely get enough child care to go to class as it was.

So I’ve got more than a little stress about this already because I did awesome in my undergrad, but my career went nowhere because I had no experience. I don’t want to take out more student loans for something else that will leave me unemployed.

Everything I am interested in is an oversaturated field. Add that to the fact that I’ve been a freelancer for more than 10 years, I’m 45 years old and overweight. All those are factors that make it less likely I’ll get hired as an inexperienced new graduate.

I first found this out because I got a job notification that the hospital is hiring night shift mental health technicians. I decided to look on LinkedIn for that job title, and what I discovered is that quite a few people who have the licensed master’s of social work degree are working as mental health technicians.

Mind you, that job’s requirements say that anyone with a nursing aide certificate is qualified, and it pays accordingly. Hardly a good use of a master’s degree.

From there, I did a google search for “unemployed social worker” and surprise, surprise–such a thing is common.

This is far from the first career I’ve wanted to pursue that I talked myself out of because there were too many unemployed people with the degree. Examples:

Nursing, because I wanted to be in labor and delivery specifically and the only nursing openings in my area back in Michigan were part-time and in assisted living facilities. I was told it was impossible to bridge the gap between nursing homes and nursing in L&D. But of course if I had been here, I could go into L&D even now. I just don’t think I could do 12-hour shifts on my feet anymore.

Librarian, because the only openings seemed to be in children’s services and I really didn’t want to work with kids. That’s one of the toughest ones because I do have experience in the field and maybe I could get hired. But I’ve known so many people with a master’s in library science who ended up working 18 hours a week in jobs that didn’t require the MLIS degree.

I’d still consider doing that but honestly I suck at planning programs. But if I could just answer reference questions, my life would be awesome. Maybe that’s just one aspect of the job that I already know I don’t like as much, but I do like the rest of the job.

I also wanted to get a master’s in sociology, my truest love of all, or maybe even a doctorate. But adjunct professorships don’t pay shit and I definitely couldn’t repay my loans on that. And tenure-track professorship jobs are few and far between–and I’d probably have to uproot my husband’s career to go to whatever college had an opening for me.

It’s not actually that I’m flaky about careers. Not at all. It’s that I’m terrified of taking on more loans and being unemployed, never being able to work in my field. My husband’s not working in the same field in which he got a degree, either. I feel like I’m too old and inexperienced to make a career change and I’m afraid I’ll end up still freelancing because that’s what I’ve done for so long.

So I have to decide what to do next. I could go for the counseling degree rather than the master’s of social work; they have that program at the same university near me where I was going to try to do the social work program in person. Being a counselor doesn’t seem to be as prone to unemployment.

But at this point, should I even go to grad school at all? Should I apply for the mental health technician job and see if I like the field, then go from there? At least that would give me experience in the field.

Should I go back to the library field? I do still really like working in libraries and it doesn’t seem too prone to age discrimination. Maybe I could learn how to conduct programs better, or maybe I wouldn’t dislike them so much if I weren’t planning craft activities for children.

Should I go to become a licensed professional counselor and be a therapist? I have waffled all along between counseling and social work for the grad degree.

Should I go for sociology and just suck it up if I end up being a low-paid adjunct?

Should I get my 1-year certificate to work as a patient care tech in L&D, then go on for a nursing degree while I’m working in the field?

Or should I just give up and keep being an isolated freelancer forever? I feel like either that or working in a library are the only things I can do. I feel stuck.

I feel like anything I choose is likely to end up with me being unemployed, underemployed, or still freelancing, which puts so much freaking weight on my decision. I think I’m going to wait on going back to school until I’m more sure.

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