Dream Job(s)

27 Apr

The last few months we’ve been talking a lot about what comes next. I’ve been in school for 5 years and we’ve been living in the US for 6. Hubs is getting citizenship soon (Interview on Wednesday!) and babe is getting older. . . we’re ready for a change.

A couple of opportunities have come up that have gotten me thinking about my dream job. I love to travel (nothing makes my soul soar like getting on an airplane…) and this is the longest stretch of my adult life that I haven’t been abroad. I’m ready to go somewhere new! I have a secret dream to join the foreign service, and there’s one way to bring my education and my secret dream together: State Department English Language Officer. They only take applications sometimes, and in February one of those calls for applications opened and I spent a weekend preparing my application. If there’s anything I learned from my time in the Peace Corps is that successful government workers need to have a high tolerance for bureaucracy, and just applying for the job took a lot of patience. I had to fill in two full applications with work history, education, etc: one for the federal jobs database and a second one for the state department. There were also several essays I had to prepare for the job posting which took a lot of reflection about my goals and strategizing how my experiences fit the job profile. I’m not sure how many people they hire for this specialist position (i.e. I don’t know if they only hire super experienced English language teachers or if they want to bring people in with some experience and give them training to then climb the ranks). If they’re looking to cultivate someone, I think I’d be an ideal candidate: I’ve already lived in 3 countries, including a year in Great Britain and over 2 years in Ukraine. I have a Masters, I’m a PhD candidate and with luck I’ll complete my dissertation in the next year or so. I’m young and adventurous yet tolerant of bureaucracy and excited to work in diplomacy. They closed the job posting last week and I passed the first qualifications test, so I have one set of fingers crossed that I’ll get an interview for that job.

Out of the blue a few days ago a Peace Corps friend emailed me about a different job. She’s a professor of Russian at a small liberal arts college and she is working with the Dean and President of the university to open an English Language Institute at the college. The are imagining that they would bring a cohort of 50 students to the college to study English for a year and then enter that college as freshmen (or potentially go elsewhere). She asked if I was interested in such a job. . . and if so, what kind of feedback I could give for the position. Just emailing with her got me excited about what such an English Language institute could be – what I’ve learned working at a big university with tons of international students and all the growing pains we’ve had. If I were to build a program from scratch, what would it look like? If I were to travel across the US to take a job on the East Coast, what would it take? What kind of status should the job hold. It was fun to think that through–and I emailed her a document with my thoughts and she forwarded it to the dean and he liked what I had to say. The position is still being formed and they’d need to go through a full job search, but I could definitely be a candidate for the job. So my other set of fingers is crossed that I get an offer for a great job as director of that program.

These two jobs are so different and yet they both utilize the experience I have been building. I see our family happy in both situations: small town in Pennsylvania, building a program, making friends, and raising a happy boy vs. living in various countries for 2-3 years each, travelling widely, doing language outreach, and raising a happy multicultural boy.  There are scary things about both jobs, but exciting things as well… and both jobs have calendars that could begin this fall. . .so I may not even be living here in a year. Scary and exciting to think about! It is strange to contrast those thoughts with the gardening we’ve been doing. . but that’s another thing Peace Corps taught me: a year or two is both a blink of the eye and long and important. Even if you’re only spending a year somewhere, it is important to put down roots (sometimes literally) in order to enjoy daily life. It is important to make the place you are living “home” however temporary that may be.

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