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10.19.2009

Thinking about direction

So lately the subject of school has been back on my mind. In a tight job market, I need to find a way to stand out from the crowd of Associates' Degree bearing administrative assistants who fell in the same trap I did.

I've also been reading Luci Swindoll's Notes to a Working Woman. She spends time discussing years of wandering down the career path rather aimlessly, following whatever happens to be in front of you at the time. That really summarizes my career to this point - I've taken the jobs that have fallen into my lap, and made the mistake of thinking "well, this isn't fulfilling/enjoyable/meeting whatever esoteric need I've perceived at the time" and just moving on to the next thing.

In a bustling job market, it's easier to move on to the next administrative role with little to no fuss. The worst I'd ever experienced was six months of unemployment after 9/11/2001 and the unfortunate ending of a temporary assignment just about two weeks before that day. Until now, of course.

So, my resume is full of six months here, six months there, and what is definitely job hopping. I chalk it up to a lot of things - uncertainty about where I'd be geographically, general undiagnosed depression, and a feeling that something just wasn't quite right and maybe changing jobs would fix it. For the last six months I've been working a minimum wage job in a pharmacy, studying on my own for the certified technician exam and trying to figure out how to make the best of this thing I've found myself doing.

I've come to the realization it's time to start putting out feelers for something in the administrative field again. I'm not saying I think I'm too good to work in the grocery store, or that I think I'm better than the people who've chosen to make their career there. It's just not for me. It's okay for right now, but in the long term I can see the benefits of getting back into something that's more appropriate for my skill set and personality. Quite frankly working 40+ hours a week in a "part-time" position with no benefits, no vacation, and no idea of what is coming down the pipe is discouraging. Couple that with the people I deal with on a daily basis, and sometimes I wonder about my personal sanity.

The question remains - how do I turn my resume around? How do I get someone to look past the negative that I'm certain they see and get the opportunity to meet them?I know I come across better in person than on paper right now, and the struggle is finding faces. It's made even more difficult by my schedule and current geographic location - the part-time job has me working five or six days a week, and I'm at least 45 minutes from anything resembling a larger town, so how do I get my networking (face to face, of course) in?

Do I try to go back to school in the midst of all this? And if I did, what do I study? Do I simply finish my Bachelor's in whatever I'm nearest degree completion? Do I try for a certification without a B.A./B.S. as a quicker route in the short term? Do I even worry about those things, and just focus on creating a network in Houston?

There are so many questions, and so many different answers out there. It's a matter of figuring out what works best for me and my family; not as easy as it may sound. But at this point I think I'd rather try and fail than continue to stay in the rut I've found myself.