Over or Under Qualified? The Job Hunt.

Over or Under Qualified? The Job Hunt.

A few months ago I posted about looking for a job. You can read my post here. I wrote it in February. It’s August. I still don’t have a job.

As I’ve looked, and applied to at least one job that interested me, I’ve realized that I am overqualified for some and under qualified for others. Currently, I’m finishing my second Master’s degree. I received my first one in 1990. Yes, I guess that means I’m ancient! But, really, that degree was in Child Health and allowed me to function as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, which I did for nine years.  I was good at what I did, working at several esteemed institutions in the East, and even held national certification for nurse practitioners.  Being a health care provider is a world I left behind to raise my boys.  And, that world has changed. Now, NP’s are required to hold doctorate degrees in nursing science, nursing practice, or education. I think that is ridiculous. But, then again, my opinion doesn’t count because I left that world.

For twenty years, I’ve been active in the world of education. Volunteering, teaching, developing and leading groups, all without a teaching license. About four years ago I decided to pursue another Master’s degree in Environmental Education (EE) since what I felt I was good at and what I was spending my time at was teaching young children about nature based topics found right in our own community or school yards. Today, this is called place based learning. I am proud to say that I’ve taught over 500 children in those twenty years. To put it simply, that is a classroom worth of 25 students per calendar year!  And, that number does not reflect the students I had for book club or writer’s circle, both of which ran for five years or more. Yes, I love to teach. But, I still don’t have a license. I went into the Applied MS program for EE with my eyes wide open. I knew it would not allow me to get a license but buy me some legitimate authority on the subjects I was teaching.  While I think it has done that, I am finding that I still cannot get a job.

Jobs in environmental education seem like they are available for the young and mobile. They are for park rangers, USFWS personnel, summer camp instructors, and other similar, mostly temporary positions that require travel to another area of our country. or state.  I am too old for that. I have my roots, a family, and want to stay near to those I love. Life is short.

My lack of employment is not for lack of trying. The winter before last I applied for a park ranger position that was available close to home (on Brice Prairie). My application did not even make it to the site. It sat in the Twin Cities, regional office for the USFWS, and was not forwarded. In my opinion they missed out on having a passionate local person teach people about our prairie. I am not knocking who they hired, for she could have been local too. But, still, it was a missed opportunity for both me and the community.

After that, I applied for a consultant position for an organization that helped school districts develop and conduct outdoor classes (essentially, environmental education). After a lengthy time without hearing anything, I was contacted about a job 3 hours away. I turned it down. It would mean traveling several times a week to this site. They re-contacted me and promised they’d get in touch when they were looking for someone in our area. That was over nine months ago. I have not heard a thing.

Then, I took a co-curricular job with a neighboring school district to be their garden club advisor.  Essentially, I am paid to do what I had been doing in my resident district for the last 13 years. But, it is only for 75 hours per school year and only half of that are student contact hours…..not much for someone who loves to teach. The job has been somewhat of a challenge with gardens much larger than I previously managed and the student group much smaller than I was used to teaching. I’m staying another year to see if I can “grow the group.”   Membership letters will go out the first week of school, so we shall see.  Without the teaching piece, the garden maintenance is arduous at best. There were volunteers promised that did not materialize and now have pulled out without ever picking a weed.  Fortunately, with the aid of my husband, three other parent volunteers, and a good friend, the gardens look nice. We also experienced a random act of kindness when someone (we don’t know who) weeded the enter front garden!  It has been manageable, even without the promised volunteers from a local company.

And, lastly, I applied for a position at a local university – not teaching but in the library as a resource person. I never even heard from this institution as far as whether or not they received my application, filled the position, or even whether I was considered. Frankly, I’ve come to expect this kind of rudeness when applying for jobs.  And, that is a sad statement on how things are today. It would only take two minutes to write a one line email stating the job has been filled and thanking me for my interest! Don’t you agree?

So, where does this leave me? Still unemployed or underemployed if you count the measly hours I am getting paid for the co-curricular position. I think there are three things at play, 1) I’ve been out of the work force for too long, and 2) I am somewhat over qualified for some of the positions I am seeking, 3) I am under qualified for other positions, (there was another teaching position I considered at another university that required a doctorate) and, 4) I still have no teaching license, but still love to teach.

While I am trying to take life as it comes, the hunt for jobs has been disheartening. I keep revising my resume (CV), asking friends and colleagues for references, and then we wait. I am getting tired of it, I have to admit. I know I’m tired of being “in school”. The last few courses have been somewhat tiresome to get through. I’m ready for something else. But, what that is, I am not so sure. Sooner or later, I hope that I am thought to be neither under or over qualified but just the right person for the job!

This is my contribution to Slice of Life, Tuesday, a blog forum hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. Thanks to them, we can connect with other educators who enjoy writing and enriching the lives of students!