Well, I’m not quite sure what the title is exactly, but I do know that starting April 1st, I’ll be starting a new full-time job. A REAL job. Like, with benefits, and paid time off, and paid holidays, and….a PAYCHECK every two weeks! I’m still hoping it’s not a cruel April Fool’s joke, but being that it’s with a church, I’m pretty sure that’s just my paranoia.
Back in January, Jeff and I decided I needed to start looking for a full-time job. As much as I’ve enjoyed being my own “boss” the last two years, I haven’t been very good at it. For the effort I put in to having my own firm, I think I did pretty well. I got a lot of experience, although each step was terrifying. I realized pretty quickly, however, that family law wasn’t something I wanted to do long term. And I slowly realized that maybe law in general wasn’t something I wanted to do (this isn’t exactly new news). That’s a tough conclusion to accept when you have $200,000 in loans riding on it. And it makes motivation hard to come by.
Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who’s been incredibly supportive from the beginning. Whether it’s taking on another volunteer position, or going to yet another event that I committed ourselves to, or telling him I don’t want to practice law, he’s never judged me or forced me to do or be someone I’m not. I can’t even begin to tell you all how amazing that is. Maybe it’ll be our financial downfall someday, haha, but for now, I just love that he loves me no matter what I do.
That takes us back to January, when I was starting to seriously look for jobs again. I would occasionally check the legal job listings, but realized a) I wanted to puke any time I read a legal job description, and b) I wasn’t really qualified for any of them. Being that I’ve bounced around a bit since graduating law school, I don’t have the typical experience a law firm would expect of someone that’s been out of law school for almost four years. I’ve done many a thing in the past four years, but that has never involved a trial, trial preparation, researching and writing motions, etc. And what’s a lawyer without at least some of those skills? Honestly though, I have no desire to attain them either! So, that ruled out legal jobs.
Then I looked at non-profit jobs, which is where I really think I could thrive. The challenge there is that although I have plenty of volunteer experience in doing random little projects and volunteering with a handful of non-profits, I’ve never had a long term position with a non-profit where I can show that I’ve achieved certain goals. All the jobs I looked at wanted someone who’s consistently been in the non-profit arena for 5-7 years, can prove that they’ve raised over $10,0000 (or more), have previously written and attained grants (which I haven’t, but would like to at least for Haiti Scholarships, but…haven’t yet), etc. Reading the qualification requirements was just depressing, especially because they were jobs I really wanted. The other challenge with a lot of these jobs is that they’re mostly in Los Angeles. I’ve never been a fan of having to spend 3 hours a day commuting, and much less now that we have a baby on the way.
Which takes us to another challenge I was facing in my job search: assuming I DID find a job that suited me and I felt I was qualified for, and that they didn’t dump my resume straight into the trash can, and I got an interview, why on earth would they hire someone who’s 3-4 months pregnant? I know, I know, legally they can’t use that as a reason not to hire me, but we all know how that would go. There would be someone else who maybe didn’t charm them as much as I did, but who’s probably in her/his early 20s and doesn’t even have babies on their radar. And the choice would be made–not “technically” because of the baby thing, but they’d come up with something, like “they live closer,” “they’re willing to accept a lower salary,” “they’re more qualified.” Who knows.
I’d also have to explain why I was applying for this job when I have a J.D. degree and have the potential to make three times as much in a legal career (which I did have to do during my interview to get this job).
Anyhow, taking all of this into mind, I sent out an email to a select group of people I know that work in or with various non-profits, asking them to keep me informed of anything they saw that might be of interest. I got an email back that same day from my former youth group leader, whom I’ve known since I was about 14 or 15. Turns out she’d just found out there was an open position in the office, and wanted to know if I was interested. Given how long this post is turning out to be, I’ll save the details of how it all went down, but….I got the job!
So what is it? It’s primarily an administrative job with the School of Religious Education at a Catholic Church (the same church that I was in the children’s and teens’ choir in, as well as did my confirmation and attended endless youth group meetings, retreats, and events). Although I’ll miss the flexibility of being my own boss, I’m so excited to be settled down at a job, to have something consistent day in and day out (I know, to most people that are in consistent jobs, this probably sounds like a drag, but for someone who has had her days constantly changing for the last two years, I can honestly say that I’m ready for a little routine). Not to mention, the excitement of having a steady paycheck every two weeks without having to harass clients for a payment. Plus the schedule is still flexible; it’s full-time, but I’ll be working Monday through Thursday only, and having lighter hours during the Summer. It’s also with an organization I’ve known for years and would honestly love to be a part of.
ALSO, it’s a non-profit, which means I qualify for the Federal Loan Forgiveness Act, which means that if I keep working for a non-profit for 10 years, my student loans go away! Granted, there’s a lot of fine print around this, but I think I can make it work. I also think I’ll be able to work in a lot of the things I’m interested in: fundraising, event planning, sharing cool non-profits with our youth group, etc. I think this is the perfect beginning I needed.
I’m also excited to be productive again. I’ve mentioned before that I’m way more productive with my time when I’m busy. Lately, I haven’t been busy and I haven’t been productive. I can already feel that this job will make me more active in so many other aspects of my life.
My only worry now is how to respond to people who are taken aback by my refusal/unwillingness to get a legal job, after I went to law school and went through the terrifying experience of taking and passing the bar exam. I’m still pretty active in a local bar association, which means I’ll be organizing and attending events where the question “so what do you do” inevitably comes up. I’m still working on my response, but there’s one thing I do know: the one person who’s opinion really, truly, matters, is ok with what I’m doing, and that’s really all that matters.
Jeff has always said that he prefers that I come home happy rather than with a big paycheck. I’m sure the skeptics will say “just wait, that’ll change,” but here’s why I think they’re wrong. We’ve been living paycheck-to-paycheck, or below paycheck-to-paycheck, for years now. Given our job roller coaster situation, we always have been. But you know what? We’ve always managed to be happy. Sure, we can’t afford a lot of stuff, and we can’t always do or buy what we want, but we’ve always had each other, and as cheesy at it sounds, it’s always been enough.
I know, I know, “but you’re having a kid.” And we’ll figure that out as we’ve always figured things out. Every parent wants to give their kids what they didn’t have, but the reality is that neither of our parents raised us with much, and we turned out just fine. Sure, high school was difficult because we didn’t have all the cool stuff that other kids had, but we both grew up in happy households, and that’s what really matters. Our children may not come home to a four bedroom home, or get a car when they turn 16 (or 18…or 20), but they will come home to happy and loving parents.
I’m sounding like a broken record here, I know, but I honestly can’t thank Jeff enough for sticking things out with me these last few years, where I’ve been bouncing around quite a bit. Although my income was never consistent or nearly what we needed, it allowed me to experience and do so many things that I wouldn’t otherwise get to do. I started Haiti Scholarships, I went back to Haiti, I got to test my business management skills with both my firm and our shop, I got to be a stay at home wife (which I will miss quite a bit, I have loved being home when Jeff comes home for lunch), I got to volunteer my time where I wanted, I got to have endless lunch dates to catch up with friends, and attend endless meetings for anything I wanted. So, thank you boo bear: ti amo.
Cheers to the next chapter in our lives!