I’ve gotten more questions about this than you can imagine, so instead of sharing an outfit today, I thought I’d walk y’all through how I made the transition from public education to corporate America.
I’m going to go way back for this, so bare with me here. I studied English and Education at Ole Miss, and stayed there for an additional two years for a masters degree is Counseling. I so enjoyed my time in Oxford and felt prepared to start my journey in the classroom.
I received an invite to interview at a high school in San Antonio (the city where I grew up), and although it was my first interview, I KNEW in my heart that I wanted to work for this principal. He had vision, heart, and truly put students first. I received an offer and got to work putting my classroom together, I WAS SO EXCITED!
My first year posed some challenges. My mentor teacher taught a different grade so she couldn’t help with actual lesson planning. Challenging students. I’d say pretty standard. Well, I won those kids over. I was connecting with them and getting them to care about my class. I won new teacher of the school. Then I won new teacher of the school district. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. It felt so incredible to be recognized for the hard work I put in.
The next few years went well. I got in the groove of teaching 11th grade, continued to have great students. Students hoped to have me. That was a great feeling. I also became the level leader and got to pilot a google Chromebook program. I took my classroom digital and it was AWESOME! At the same time, there was an administration change and one of my students committed suicide. Getting through the rest of the semester was tough, not only for me, but for my students coping with the loss of their friend.
Then my last year in the classroom happened. By this time, I was the department coordinator. I was managing 25 other English teachers and teaching six classes (three of which were inclusion classes so I had a couple co-teachers). I should also mention that I was the youngest person in the district to be the department coordinator. I was so looking forward to a great year, but holy cow, I was not in any way, shape, or form prepared for the hell that was to come. Fights in the classroom, student threats, disrespect, other teachers struggling, a lack of support, state testing, a student prank (I don’t even know if I can call it that) that went so so south, and parents that set out to destroy me. My personal safety became a concern. I didn’t even know if I would make it the year.
Meanwhile, outside of the classroom wasn’t any better. My mom and I found her best friend passed away (I’ve briefly discussed this in a previous post). I was experiencing PTSD from losing/finding our beloved Swell and all the chaos in the classroom.
My parents sat me down, with a bottle of wine, and told me that enough was enough. I was killing myself for a job that was putting me dead last. I had thought about moving out of San Antonio and now it seemed like it was time. I was motivated to make a new start start for myself and needed a change of scenery. But man, did I feel guilt. Guilt for leaving my students, who I absolutely loved, guilt for leaving the other teachers, guilt for leaving a profession that I was so passionate about.
I moved to Houston in July of 2017 and started my job search. I thought long and hard about where I could make an impact. I knew I wanted to work with people and not sit behind a desk all day. I landed at a consulting firm in their talent development division, focusing on training and curriculum. Honestly, it was a great transition and I’ve grown with the firm so much since I started almost 2.5 years ago. My experience and skills gained in the classroom did prepare me for this. I could do something else and do it well.
If you’re looking to transition into a different industry/career path, DO NOT sell yourself short. Your experience IS experience. Classroom management = working with a diverse cross function of roles.
I still keep up with a lot of my students, who are starting to graduate from college, and it does my heart good to see them growing into productive young adults with bright futures. And to think I had a hand in their development is such a rewarding feeling and I don’t regret a single moment spent in the classroom, investing in them.
If you ever want to talk about changing careers or needing any advice, feel free to reach out anytime!