Q&A: Career Change

Y’all asked so many questions about my job change over on Stories a few weeks ago and I’m finally putting aside some time to answer! If you didn’t know, I used to be a high school English teacher and I left the classroom a little over 3 years ago. I’m now in campus recruiting at a consulting firm and am really happy with my decision, although I was terrified at the time I made that decision. You can read more about that here.

Y’all asked about 50 questions (with some repeats), so I’m going to start with answering the most frequently asked! I hope this gives you some insight and if you are thinking about making a career change, I’m happy to help in any way. Someone asked for resume/cover letter advice and that will have to be its own post lol. I’ve also written a post about interview etiquette that you can find here!

So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Q: How long were you a teacher? I taught high school English for three years at a high school in San Antonio. I subbed on and off for a year while taking the Texas teaching exams after wrapping up grad school at Ole Miss. Although I crushed the national teaching exams, Texas makes you take theirs (insert major eye roll here).

Q: Why did you quit teaching? How much time do you have? My last year in the classroom was extremely taxing. My last year teaching I was promoted to department coordinator and was not prepared for the responsibility. I had to move to a different grade level that I hadn’t taught before, I had three inclusion classes. I managed 25 other teachers. I had the worst year professionally (ended up having to talk to the FBI about a situation in my classroom) and personally (my mom’s best friend passed away and my mom and I found her which led to some ptsd issues). I’ve been pretty vague about these situations as it’s difficult, emotionally, to revisit. I’m stronger for these experiences, but I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy. When I’m ready to get into the deets, I will.

Q: What were the signs you knew it was time for a change? I loved being a teacher most days. And I thrived in the classroom, in building relationships with my students, in being a apart of their success. Students used to request to have me. What an amazing feeling! I used to love driving to school every morning, jamming out, wondering what shenanigans the day would bring. I told myself that when the number of days I’m dreading going in outnumber the days of joy, that’s the time to make a change. I never thought it would happen, so it felt like I got hit by a bus when that awful year went down.

Q: Do you ever miss the kids? How could I not?! I keep up with SO MANY of them and seeing where they are in the world and the amazing humans they are, it makes my heart so full. To feel like I had some small part in shaping their mindset, their success, their treatment of others, it’s incredible.

Q: Was it terrifying leaving education and entering the corporate world? YES! I literally thought, okay I’m miserable, and need to make a change so what do I do?! In the middle of my terrible year, my apartment lease was up and I ended up moving in with my parents and saving as much money as I could because I knew a change was coming, whether I was ready for it or not.

Q: How hard was it finding a job in a new career? How did you get into this job? Being a teacher, I really didn’t have a LinkedIn built out and that is where I went first. I built out my page, listing out my experience, skills, and connecting with professionals in Houston (where I was moving). I started looking into where I could apply my skills. This included customer relations, sales, social media, etc. There were so many different roles I was looking into! I actually applied to a client relations role at my now company and made it to the final interview, and that was when the Director of Talent came in and dangled a carrot of a talent development role that seemed very enticing based on my experience in the classroom. So I started in the talent development team working with our new hires through their time in the training program and also working with their mentors. I loved it! I had autonomy in my role and really got to help build out the training program. At the same time, I helped out with their campus recruiting team (and got to go back to Ole Miss) and also LOVED that. I got to share what I loved about my company with young people looking for their first job out of school. I’ve grown quite a bit since I started, being promoted twice, and I’m now in a role that didn’t exist. I’m fully in our campus recruiting program and I am our Campus/New Hire Relations Senior Associate focusing on relationships on campus, recruiting, and helping our new hires in their onboarding process. I wear a lot of hats and would not have it any other way!

Q: Did you have other experience besides being a teacher? If no, how did you get a corporate job? I’ve been working since I was 15, so yes! Besides my teaching experience, I worked in restaurants and retail, so a lot of my other experience involved customer service. I even worked in a veterinary office when I was in grad school (AND HAVE WILD STORIES). All experience is experience, y’all. DO NOT sell yourself short!

Q: How did you know what to apply for? Like how do your past skills apply to a new job? Great question! I really thought about my previous experiences and what I’d be passionate about. Skills like classroom management equate to the ability to work with a diverse cross function of multidisciplinary teams to achieve common goals. I’d also say flexibility, organization, creativity, and being results-driven are skills that can be applied universally to different positions!

Q: How did you handle the change from 2 months off in summer to a standard work calendar? It makes me laugh when people ask about summers off as a teacher. Most teachers don’t have summers off. I worked part-time at Free People during the school year and full-time in the summer. One summer I also taught two sessions of summer school. Texas teacher salaries are better than most, but I still needed to do what I could to bring in more money. Shout out to my parents that taught me my work ethic and the meaning of hard work.

Q: How did your first week feel going from school to corporate? Amazing! I felt welcomed, supported, and also that I had no clue what I was doing. I had a mentor that cared about my learning and development though, so I went through our training program (which lasted about 3 months), and I spent a majority of time with the departments I would be supporting.

Q: I feel like this is a 180 from teaching! What prompted that change in direction? Going into talent development first was actually not that big of a leap. And moving into campus recruiting actually was full circle as I was helping my high schoolers get ready for college and now I was helping college grads find their first job out of school!

Q: How hard was it to change to something completely different? It was challenging, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t looked in the rearview once with regret. I found a happy home at my company. I’m pushed and challenged, but am rewarded for the impact I’ve made and truly love the people I work with!

Q: Do you think it’s permanent? Do you think you’ll change again or go back? I can honestly say I know I will not go back to teaching. The amount of respect I have for those who have continued to show up on a daily basis for their kids is indescribable. Especially this year. My god, I don’t know how they’re doing it. Teaching is one of the most challenging professions in this country and it’s disgraceful how teachers are treated. These teachers, and me when I was in the classroom, devoted our time, energy, money, and lives to ensuring our students were not only doing well academically, but personally, emotionally, physically. Besides teaching, the people that spend the most time with other people’s children play mom, nurse, therapist, social worker. RESPECT YOUR TEACHERS!

Q: What do you do on a day to day basis? Oh gosh, no day is ever the same! I’m focused on recruiting so lots of phone and video interviews! I also work on building relationships with career centers, professors, and students. Then, I’m also focused on our new hire experience so I facilitate new hire onboarding, too! I love that my role is a global role and what I mean by that, is that I get to interact with just about every single person that starts at our company and their teams. I get to be a face for our firm and I’m very proud of that and feel a strong sense of responsibility to do that well.

Q: What other careers are useful with a teaching degree? My biggest piece of advice is not to limit yourself. Here are some common careers though that teachers find themselves in post-teaching: Corporate Training and Development, Social Services, Education Technology, Educational Consultant, Standardized Test Developer, Textbook Author, Life Coach, Career Counseling, Admissions Counselor, Recruiting

Thanks for reading!

Next up in the job series: Resumes/Cover Letters!

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