Monday, January 26, 2015

My First Job Out of College: A Bad Choice

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

Almost every day for the last couple of weeks I've received a notification from someone happily announcing their college graduation. As I've received these notifications, I've remembered with no degree of fondness my first job out of college and how and why it was a bad choice. Hopefully you won't make the same mistakes that I did.
I finished my last year of working on my bachelor's degree as a married woman. My husband was a huge motivation and support to me as I worked toward graduation.
After finishing school, I decided that I'd like to start a family as soon as possible, but I both wanted to contribute to the household income and stay at home with the kids.
My First Job Out of College
I had a brand new Bachelor of Arts degree in English. I could type 100+ words a minute. I operated at a high level of proficiency in language. To my amazement, I found the field of medical transcription. Although this job required no degree for entry, the ladies in it made tons of money, had scheduling flexibility, and were able to work at home. It was a dream come true! I applied to three companies, tested, and all three made hiring offers.
I was ecstatic! My focus shifted to making the huge dollars that others were boasting about and becoming a mother so soon in the game fell to a lower place on my list of priorities. Along the way, I kept seeing a lot of "irregularities" in the field: constantly shifting quality guidelines that were used for cost containment, worker unfriendly management, and grueling work conditions. But I was making good money, so I turned a blind eye to it all and kept plugging away!
What Happened Next
The longer I stayed in the field, the more disenchanted I grew. It was becoming harder and harder to make the money, our flexibility was taken away, and our pay was constantly being manipulated. I decided that I wanted to do something more with my life, so I decided to go back to school and get a master's degree.
Biggest Lesson Learned
With my husband's continuing support I studied for two long years until I had a graduate degree in hand -- but it seems I still hadn't learned my lesson. I stayed in medical transcription for another 12 years, and the field continued to decline, wages became stagnant, and it became an electronic sweatshop. And by this time, because I hadn't actually used my degrees in any direct professional application they had become somewhat obsolete.
Tips for You
  • Don't just choose a career based on money. Do what you love and the money will naturally flow to you.
  • If you see that a career field just doesn't make you happy, don't prolong the time. Make an exit plan and get out as soon as possible!
  • Your first job out of college doesn't have to be your last job. You'll find that your career is a living, moving, breathing dynamic. As you continue to grow in your personal development, you'll become more qualified for positions with more responsibility and, correspondingly, more pay.

Enjoy these first few days after you graduate. You deserve some down time after all of the hard work that you've put in. But after you've caught your breath and slowed down a little think seriously and strategically about the career path that you wish to follow.

*Photo: Evonne via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/05/2014 (no longer published there).]