NOT OK THAT’S OK MOMENT BY: NICHOLE BERNARD
It’s 2017 and I am a 35-year-old intern (again).
I will be graduating with a Post-Master’s certificate in school counseling this May and plan to start my second career as a High School Counselor! This has been a rollercoaster ride with many emotions as I take this risk into a similar yet different field.
I will go from working in a community setting into a school with a whole set of different rules and policies. I am nervous and excited about this new adventure, as I get closer to completing this program. I will soon attend job fairs, complete online applications for several school districts and network.
It can be very daunting to think about everything I need to do in such a short time, but I am really trying to live in the moment by taking it one day at a time.
Here is a little information about my background. I originally attended graduate school in my early 20’s and earned my Master’s degree in Community Agency Counseling so I could work in the mental health field. At first, I thought I would become a therapist, but even as the market crashed while I was about to graduate in 2008, I did not go in that direction.
Luckily, my internship site at the time was seeking a new employee as someone was retiring. I applied and was offered the job. I worked as an Employment Specialist, helping adults with severe mental illness seek employment in the community. This involved helping them create resumes, completing job applications, practicing interviews, visiting with employers, collaborating with community partners and providing on-site job supports.
After 2 years working as an Employment Specialist, I left this job to work with the local state government agency that helps adults and high school students with all disabilities obtain and maintain employment. I worked here for 5 years. I enjoyed working with my clients, but many times felt that something was missing. I knew my time spent in the high schools was fulfilling and I enjoyed meeting with the different students and their parents to discuss transition plans from HS.
Every student was very unique with his or her plans for life after High School.
Some wanted to go straight to work while others wanted to pursue higher education or vocational training. It was exciting to work with the students individually and provide guidance as well as the necessary tools they may need to achieve their post-secondary goals. The best part of this job was seeing them gain the necessary skills to be successful in the world of work and/or post-secondary education.
It was at this time, my husband suggested that I consider returning to graduate school to become a school counselor so I could spend more time with the students since I was covering 9 high schools. This made it challenging to spend a lot of time with them individually. He suggested this in 2015 and I felt hesitant at first as I felt old (I was 33), and I was worried that my classmates would all be very young.
Why did this matter? I don’t know. I just felt like I should have my act together at this point because I am now in my 30’s and I should be thinking about starting a family, saving more money towards retirement, my savings account and all of the other adult responsibilities that one may have in their 30’s.
Well, I decided to take the leap of faith and started my first class in January 2015. Luckily, I only needed 3 more classes in addition to a practicum/internship to obtain this certificate. So I continued to work full-time and took one class a semester. It was a little difficult at first since I have been out of school for 7 years, but as the semester continued, I felt more at ease with the process. It is also different this time around because I am married. On top of that, during my last class I was pregnant with my son. He was born in April 2016 so fortunately I was able to finish the last class so I could take to my practicum this past fall.
Was it crazy to complete a part-time internship with a 4 month-old baby at the time, go to class one night/week and spend quality time with my husband while getting all of my class assignments and house responsibilities done?
YES! Somehow I managed to get it all done and at times it felt like a blur. Let’s just say it was crazy!
Now, I am gearing up for my final semester as an intern with a High School and I couldn’t be more excited! The past couple of years have gone by quickly, but at the same time, I couldn’t be more ready to take the next step in my career. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous about finding a new job especially since this field is competitive. Has this risk been worth it? YES!
This is the happiest I felt in over 5 years.
I feel like I am going to do something that I am passionate about while helping young adults plan their post-secondary life.
I am eager to start my internship next week and start the final trek on my second career journey.
Do you have a “NOT OK” moment you want to share? We would love to hear it.