Opportunity Cost and Careers
It’s been nearly 10 years since I got my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from BYU. And while I was 3 months pregnant with my oldest son at graduation, I’m not sure that I reazlied that I would be career-less a decade later.
When someone asks me what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years and I say, “Other than being a mom? Nothing. ” My husband is quick to correct me by explaining my unpaid work and volunteer efforts. It’s true, I have been busy out of the home in ways that are productive to the communities I am invested in: hemophilia and Mormon feminism. I’ve even turned my love for group fitness into a hobby that pays for itself by teaching Zumba several times a week.
And yet, as my youngest child begins preschool in a few weeks, I’m focusing more and more on a return (entry, really) to the workforce and a probably return to school. Honestly, I’m excited about it. For 15 years, school was my thing. I loved learning, I loved teachers, and I loved the success of completing academic goals. Even though it’s been a long time since I was in school, I think I would still enjoy myself.
A career is another story. I’m overwhelmed with choices because there are so many things I’d like to do. The top of my list looks like this:
Social Work- Hospital or Therapy/Counseling
Pharmaceutical Sales (Biologicals)
MBA Supply Chain Managment/ Consulting
Non-Profit Fundraising/Grant writing
Medicine- Physician’s Assistant
As a 31 year old, I know I’m not over the hill and yet, I am a decade behind my peers in work experience and post-graduate education. Admittedly, I have been fortunate to be able to stay home with my children while they were young and I’m glad I made that choice. Even now, I am looking for flexibility in my career that will allow me to continue managing my home and caring for my family.
So when I look at this list of potential careers, each with it’s own balance of costs and benefits, I’m overwhelmed at the reality of opportunity cost. There is no way I can have all of these careers (with any level of success) in my life. Even more than a few would be a stretch. Perhaps it’s anxiety, perhaps it’s just normal cold-feet, but choosing and moving forward with one of these choices is proving more difficult for me than I imagined. I even have anxiety about not considering a career that would be a perfect fit for me- missing the boat entirely.
Many of my career options mean a return to school, which would require substantial sacrifice for me and my family. This sacrifice would be an acceptable cost if I knew I would love my career. I’m just not sure if I will. How do I imagine myself as a therapist, helping people or couples work through their problems? Do I talk to much for that job?
What about law, in law school I would be in the majority as women now outnumber men. However, in a law firm, I would be in the minority with very few women as senior partners to look to for mentoring. Would law be a good fit for the flexibility I need as a mother?
What about a PA degree? While I have limited experience caring for my sons’ hemophilia, do I have enough love for the field itself to get through bio and chem classes, the kind I haven’t taken since high school? Maybe I would dislike the medical field altogether?
I admire women who are in the same position I am and have a firm grasp of what they want to do and are working towards their goals. Perhaps that’s just what I need to do, pick something and start working towards it. Otherwise, I’m just walking down the up escalator, stalling for time.
I imagine these issues aren’t unique to me, so please share your comments or consider responding to these questions-
How have you been able to weather a career transition? If you were a SAHM, how did you (or do you plan to) transition into a career?
If you’ve changed careers, what spurred that change?
Have you recieved any helpful advice regarding professional development or education?
*Thanks to D’Arcy for taking the photo!