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My bachelor’s got me nowhere

I love what I do, but I’m struggling with debt. Should I make a career change?

Don’t be scared, says our elder. Now is the time to build your resume, and find out what you can do.

Dear EWC

I have been struggling financially. I am turning 28 soon, and already instead of having savings going, I have put myself in line of credit debt, along with some credit card debt and student loans. I feel so drowned, and I think about it quite often during the day. At the end of the day, I am still grateful I have a roof over my head and am alive and breathing (even though I still currently live with my parents). I chose to do a career that helps those with developmental disabilities. With only my bachelor’s, I barely make enough to get by; hence, still living with my parents. You would think a bachelor’s would get you somewhere but not in my field of psychology, it seems. I love what I do; it’s been the only job I have been able to sustain. But I still keep thinking that I am stupid and dumb (I acknowledge those are the same words but I really do feel that way). My question is, should I make a career change? To something that will help me get by and pay off my debts while volunteering at places that I believe in? Or do I continue in this field and pick up a side job? At the same time, I feel so insecure in my abilities and skills. I am so scared.

CraigJ replies

Good for you, keeping your perspective about things while these troubles are on your mind. Sometimes those kinds of things can get lost.
As for your dilemma, I know it’s hard to make money in the psychology field without a master’s, and probably a doctorate. So recommendation number one is to determine what you need to do in your field of choice that leads to better income, either going back to school or if that isn’t in the future, examining other jobs in the developmental area that could be down the road.

If the answers are that you don’t really want to go back to school, or you can’t afford it; or/and there are not really good jobs out there in your field without a graduate degree, then maybe you have to look elsewhere.
Where this could be is hard to say.
If you want to keep helping people, I know there are a lot of health care centers that use administrators and others, many of whom pay pretty well. My daughter works as a part-time administrator at a senior care center and she does well, so maybe something like that is an option.

Then maybe there is teaching, which would require some additional study, but maybe not too much since you have a degree already. A graduate degree in education, maybe?
Or, if you really want to change things up, there are a lot of sales jobs out there that generally pay very well, and maybe some of these would be connected to your field. I know a bunch of younger people who are doing this, with varying degrees, and I know the pay is good.

Selling isn’t for everyone, but a lot of the people doing this are really just very nice people who learned a section of business very well, then are competent in the nuts and bolts. You don’t really need to be flamboyant, or over-the-top with social skills to do this.

The key in all of these is to find what you’re good at and keep building skills and experiences. I know this is very general, but it’s true — do everything you can to build your resume while you’re young; it pays dividends down the road and allows you to be more independent. If you stay in a low-end job too long, it can become a trap.

I think almost everyone questions their skills and abilities along the way. Mostly, though, it’s just like anything else — the more you learn, the more you get into things, the more experiences you build, the better you become. But, you do have to find that ‘thing’. If it’s teaching kids, then do everything you can to build your advanced skills; there is little choice. If you go a different route, be aware of where it can lead, and what you need to do to get there at a higher level.
No matter what, though, start as soon as you can. Now is the time to find out, and even make some mistakes. It can be scary, but not nearly as intimidating as being in your thirties and not having a strong employment background.
I wish you all the best and hope this helps a bit; I know finding your place can be hard, but don’t be shy. Get out there and do what you need to.

Letter #: 448914
Category: Career

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