Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Middle

People of the Internet - lend me your advice!! (would'ya?). I'm trying to make a major decision, and in true me fashion, I'm having trouble with it. I've talked to friends and family members already, but sometimes it's good to get points of view from completely objective people who don't really know you, who have nothing to gain or lose and have no emotions tied up in the decision (though even if you know me personally, I still welcome your opinion).

I have contemplated going back to school for a while now. My struggle finding a job in Public Relations (which is what I actually have a degree in) has opened my eyes to the fact that I'm not sure the field is entirely for me, and I'm also in the crappy position of not having enough experience, but no one willing to GIVE me the experience I need. I'm stuck. So, I feel like I need a change and that I need to upgrade my skills; switch gears a bit or maybe start over. It's a good time to do it as I'm single and don't really have any obligations tying me down (no mortgage, car or kids). I also am still young enough that going back to school won't be an enormous adjustment and when I get out I'll still have a good 30 years of career-building to look forward to.

However, I'm very torn as to what kind of education I should get. At this moment, I'm torn between two completely different possibilities - two possibilities that each have their own merits and their own disadvantages.

On the one hand, I could go back to college (not University) and take a 2 year diploma in Graphic Design, which is something I already have experience in, is related to my existing degree, and is something I think I could be really good at (it's already been proven that I have the basic skills and talent to do well in such a field). This is the main possibility I've been considering up until now. On the other hand, I could take a more ambitious route and take a Bachelors degree in Nursing, which is a field I don't have as much experience in, but do think it would be a rewarding field that could open up a lot of interesting doors for me. My current temp job is actually at a local University in the School of Nursing, funnily enough, and I guess interacting with the students and faculty and doing some research into the field has sort of opened my eyes to this possibility (and perhaps it's not a coincidence that I ended up working there??? Hmmm...)

I have gone over and over and over this in my mind and I'm just not getting anywhere. This is where you come in - I would really appreciate any advice, comments or insights that any of you can provide in the comments below. I realize many of you may not have any experience or insight into EITHER field, but you still may have a unique perspective or remind me of some points I'm not considering! One option I've considered is applying to one and if that doesn't work out then pursuing the other option (for example, attempting to get into Nursing - the more competitive of the two - and if I don't get in, then pursuing GD), but I just don't know.

Here I will list the positive and negative points for each option that I'm currently considering:

GRAPHIC DESIGN: *smaller risk*
- shorter program (would be out by age 29, less investment)
- less expensive (but depends on what program and expenses - may have to get a new laptop, buy software, etc, and this could all add up; plus it could generally be harder to get work in the field, and chances are starting salaries would be medicore - could be harder to pay off debt)
- already have a base of skills and experience; would be fairly easy to apply and get in
- passion for the field (doing something creative professionally really appeals to me, as well as eventually cutting myself off from "the man" and working for myself); and could combine with other passions - writing, blogging, fashion - to develop some interesting projects or offer some valuable services; plus I like the idea of working//collaborating with other creative people
- could complete program away or at home
- no opportunities to study/volunteer abroad, which is something I'd like to do

NURSING: *bigger risk*
- longer program (4 years vs. 2 - would be age 31 when completed)
- more expensive (but pretty much guaranteed a job with a good salary upon graduation, and this is a field that will only grow and create more jobs)
- no previous experience (I've barely been in a hospital my entire life)
- could be very hard to get into the program (haven't taken science courses since high school and even then they weren't my favourite, there would most likely be an interview so I'd have to prove why I should be chosen over others; plus there are limited spots available so could end up on a wait list)
- not sure I have the passion for it or would be "cut out" for it (like that I would be able to help people and would be positively contributing to society, but don't feel it's a "calling" for me - also it's a tough job (could involve shift work, on your feet all day, dealing with emotional issues like death and serious illness, not to mention gross things like "bodily fluids", touching total strangers, etc) *I do feel, however, that I could develop a passion for this field (but there's of course the worry that this wouldn't happen and I'd end up hating it)*
- could complete the program anywhere and work anywhere upon graduation; also like the idea of being able to volunteer/study abroad (e.g. health initiatives in Africa, research projects); further to this my mom is a nurse, so she could be a great resource/contact, and my brother/sister-in-law could as well (they both work at the BC Cancer Agency - sister-in-law as Assistant to the Nursing Director), and I could talk to profs/staff through my work to gain insight into whether it would be a good choice for me
- could be an interesting lifelong career (don't necessarily have to work in a hospital - could do research, admin work, combine with current PR degree, start my own business, write books - lots of opportunity to grow)

That's all I can think of so far. I think the crux of this debate is whether I should take a smaller risk (i.e. choose the "safer" option) and avoid a lot of extra work and stress (though there's no guarantee of that), or take a bigger risk and (possibly) get bigger rewards? Or maybe there are other fields related to the above that might be a good fit for me but I'm just not aware of them or thinking of them? Have at it in the comments!

So, which one would you pick if you were me??
(very much appreciate the comments in advance)

*Not sure if you noticed, but I didn't post yesterday - and frankly, this posting every day thing is just too much for me, so I'm not gonna do it anymore. I'm still participating in NaBloPoMo, but will only post when I have something of value to say. This makes much more sense, and really who cares as long as you're blogging?*


Trudi said...

Hi - total stranger here. I see you considering nursing because it seems like a clear direction with no choices to make once you're done school. "Degree in nursing means I am a nurse!"

Your degree in PR can get you all kinds of work if you broaden your horizons a bit but it is ambiguous and you have to carve out your path on your own. All that decision making can be hard. You can work and take graphic design or teach yourself on the side, and not incur any risk and really build on your current resume rather than take a leap into something new.

and that's my 2 cents.

The women's employment centre on Brunswick is a free service that you can do some career testing and counselling with real pros who can walk you through this decision making as well if you think I'm full of shit.

Kim Humes said...

Thanks Trudie! Wow I didn't even know that women's employment centre existed! Good to know and I'll definitely think about visiting. I definitely think sitting and talking to some kind of career advisor will help me figure this out. Appreciate the advice!

Kim said...

So what I see in your pros/cons lists is that you like PR, you feel passionate about it. You are a creative person by nature, and PR + graphic design would support that creativity in the long run (although you've gotta do what you gotta do in terms of getting a foot in the door). When you wrote about nursing, you said yourself you're not sure you have passion for it, and while it's certainly a proud and difficult profession, if you don't feel like it's a calling maybe that time/stress/monetary investment would be all for naught. Maybe when we get together we can talk about it's definitely a tough decision.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you what to do, I just have to tell you that I think about the same thing all the time! I really enjoy designing and writing the content of marketing pieces much more than running campaigns, and I wish I could get into something like that which is more creative! I think maybe you should start by talking one or two classes, (that would later translate into credits towards your degree should you decide to pursue it), to test the waters.

Anonymous said...


Just by what you've written, you sound a lot more passionate about the Graphic Design; however, you also seem to be really concerned about money too. And when it comes to money, nursing can be a really good option.

It's good that you've been speaking to some nursing students about being a nurse though. It's always best to research with the best resources.

Maybe you should get a job in a hospital. Being a ward clerk, secretary, cafeteria worker...ANYTHING...get yourself into an the environment. Maybe volunteer at the IWK.

Also, you don't have to jump right into the RN programme. NSCC has an LPN programme, and you could always upgrade later at Dal (they have options for this, I was thinking about being a nurse at one time). Also, another thing about being a nurse: think about some of the cons. Shift work, working on weekends(when you start), shortage of nurses so there can be ALOT of overtime, dealing with a persons bodily functions on a daily basis. To be honest...that's what got me...I couldn't stand the thought of dealing with peoples bodily functions on a daily basis...but I have some friends who are nurses and eventually, for the most part, it doesn't bother you anymore.

When it comes to programme length..I wouldn't dwell on this too too much. You're young, and like you said you have nothing tying you down. Bottom line===> go with your gut, it doesn;t lie. (Scientifically--you stomach is directly connected to the brain and reacts :)) more tip (sorry this is so long) If you're going into nursing make sure you take a grade 12 chemistry course..Dal's continuing education offers one. I wish I had, it would've helped me soooo much.

I feel your pain of the decisions you're trying to make. I'm going through the same thing right now (looking at being an accountant).

Good Luck!!


Kim Humes said...

Seriously thank you all SO much for the comments. It's really really helpful. Somedays I just feel so lost and indecisive when it comes to my future I'm afraid I'll never get anywhere. But thanks to discussions with you all and others, and lots of thinking I'm getting closer to making a decision and moving forward!! Much love xo

KaelaQLC said...

I can't tell you what to do, I just have to tell you that I think about the same thing all the time! I really enjoy designing and writing the content of marketing pieces much more than running campaigns, and I wish I could get into something like that which is more creative! I think maybe you should start by talking one or two classes, (that would later translate into credits towards your degree should you decide to pursue it), to test the waters.

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