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Finding the Perfect Job

Doctors save lives. Lawyers bring justice to the nation. Teachers provide guidance to young children through education. Artists fill hearts with their creativity. But, while infinite opportunities flow throughout the world, so many people still find their respective jobs unfulfilling. Careers sometimes reach a plateau‹boredom sets in and the position becomes less challenging or desirable. Some feel pigeonholed or uninspired with a sense of quiet desperation.

Unsatisfied and unmotivated, these individuals want something more rewarding for their futures than what their current jobs provide. But that search intimidates many people; they believe they’ve invested too much in their existing careers to make a change. Many women have fallen victim to this pattern. Fortunately, many have chosen to improve their situation, sometimes incorporating education to facilitate a change.  

Though dissatisfaction and frustration in a job may cause many of these women to feel helpless and trapped, continuing education can provide a means for a career change, resulting in happiness.


"The most common theme is [that] the early adult career choice is no longer viable when the adult enters her 30s,” says Jean Davis, a psychotherapist for adult career transitions who works with individuals to help them discover where their passions lie and how to achieve their goals.

According to Jean, career choices made in the adolescence years were triggered by a parental or societal desire. “I think they make choices that are [caused] by external rather than internal agendas,” she says. Some believe the decisions made in college or soon thereafter would  navigate their careers. However, as they grow older, these individuals realize their professions no longer stimulate them and they begin to search for a career more gratifying, Jean explains. “What they assumed were values and priorities in their adolescence then get turned around, and they experience very different values and priorities,” she says.

A career guided by pre-college decisions was what ultimately pushed Chicago resident Lisa Cohen into the field of advertising. “I really enjoyed both design and concepting ideas, so advertising seemed the best route for me,” she says. It incorporated her passion for art with her design skills - what she had trained for in school. But her “real world” projects differed so
greatly from school assignments that she immediately recognized her interests fell outside  advertising. Lisa eventually focused her energies on the field of art therapy and joined a program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. “As soon as I discovered art therapy, I knew that I had to go back to school. I think it will allow me to combine all of my interests in a positive way.”

Career counselor Arlene Hirsch believes when someone desires a career change, she will research professions profoundly different from her current ones and hopefully escape a constricting situation. Individuals used to a corporate environment may desire more service-oriented jobs. Analytical people may prefer careers that unleash a more creative and artistic side.  

Finding creative outlets within a workplace can be undeniably arduous, especially for those who have constantly suppressed this element of their lives. “I feel [some people] have surgical clamps on parts of themselves because they haven’t been able to release and express the more fun-loving dimensions of themselves,” says Jean, who also integrates creative exploring processes with her clients to unfold hidden passions and dreams. In the end, these tools may lead the person to a more engaging and enjoyable occupation.

Why wait?

The motivation behind altering an occupation involves risks, courage and a fervor for that fulfillment so many crave within a workplace. However, taking that plunge can be daunting and considerably frightening for those women who already feel stable in their work. Stability often leads to duration in a job, but it doesn’t always constitute satisfaction. “If you’re attached to a status or field as a professional, then it’s hard to give that up and be a student again. People don’t [think of] being a student as being an adult,” Arlene says.

Some women have devoted years, or decades, to a certain profession and must evaluate the level of sacrifice. Others have countless responsibilities, such as families or mortgages, that impede them from leaving a job. Many hope a promotion will result by staying at the same company. And often times, relocating to another job in the same field may simply redefine the geography, but not necessarily the overall sentiment. Making less money, criticism from their peers, the time and cost involved in returning to school, and hesitation are among the many fears that could withhold someone from taking the next step.
In spite of these concerns, some women still acknowledge they must find job satisfaction elsewhere. Furthering their education is sometimes the only way to obtain their goals, even if it engenders more anxieties.  

Back to school

Master’s degrees can often open new doors and provide the flexibility one’s career lacked previously. “Whatever part of themselves that’s not being used, that’s what they’re looking to fulfill,” says Arlene. Social work, business or other professional degrees like medicine or law demand higher education. These women must first choose a career that complements their
agenda and then decide on the right program.  Katie Hendricks faced this battle when she made the intrepid decision to become a librarian. Originally a teacher, Katie was discouraged by the stress and anxiety associated with her job and hoped to find a field that completely matched her interests. Being a librarian suited her well, but she knew she had to return to school in order to begin that career. A degree in Library Science called to her, regardless of the time, money and effort involved. “I just felt like I was wasting all of my skills [because] I realized the thing I enjoyed the most was reading to the kids and going to the library,” she says. Fortunately, she was able to use the resources provided for her, such as librarians she knew, to steer her in the right direction.

Higher education can sometimes release subdued desires, allowing someone to interact with subject matters they may find fascinating. These individuals can finally take courses they were curious about during college, but never had the opportunity to enjoy. “I wanted to choose a program as an opportunity to advance as a writer [and] also allow me to study things I have an interest in,” says Chris Stratinsky, a Chicago resident who left the field of public relations to pursue a master’s degree in humanities.

Many women hope to apply these degrees to something more tangible; a job that can produce a steadier and more satisfying income. “[These people are] more pragmatic Š they have a clear sense of what they want to accomplish with that degree and what kind of job they want to get,” Arlene says. Returning to academia can be an expensive mistake to endure, so careful thought and consideration are involved when choosing a program.  

Help is on the way

While so many women face the challenge of finding a new career, it’s comforting to know resources exist to assist them with their search. Career counselors employ their knowledge to guide their clients to a better working environment. Michelle Cohen, a Chicago resident who works at United Airlines in the financial analyst group, used her MBA program to help direct her to a new career. She took various classes that concentrated her attention on different areas of business. “I’m very quantitative in nature, so finance was a natural gravitation for me,” says Michelle, who first started her business career in both accounting and real estate, but realized a career in finance better fit her needs. “I knew going back to school was the only way people would ever see me as anything other than a C.P.A.,” she says. Taking advantage of these helping agents can aid someone who’s inundated with options to narrow her search and make the process easier.
Finding a new career involves challenges and large risks for many women. But the journey can be exciting and worthwhile if that change brings these individuals to a happier place. And, maybe that extra education can be a blessing in disguise.

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