Monday, January 28, 2013

Quarter Life Crisis

I'm writing this instead of dealing with the  heap of dishes in the sink.  It's one of those "this chore has been put off so long it's overwhelming to even start" sort of situations.  Pray for my soul when you get done reading this, because I'm pretty sure by then I will have run out of reasons not to pull up the big girl pants and actually tackle that.

So... I did it!  I passed my "final exam" and am officially accredited in my new job.  What is that new job?  I know I posted a few clues here and there... Before you scroll down and ruin the surprise for yourself, do me a favor, just because I'm curious:

Make your best guess - what is my new job title?  
Write it down, and then tell me 
what you thought in the comments.  

Now scroll down, following whatever ridiculous gifs I put in a row here to add space before the "big reveal" and see if you were right!  (I'm almost positive this is more exciting for me than it is for you.  Sorry I'm not sorry.)

I'm a dog trainer.  
(and soon enough, Mac will be my demo-dog, what what!)

I'm gonna go ahead and refrain from using the actual company name here, but you can rest assured that I'm in line with a corporate entity that sells stuff for your pets and also offers dog training.  I'm pretty sure that leaves you with 2 options to guess, but there's a whole spiel in my employee manual about how my online life should stay reasonably separate from the job.  So you know, disclaimer: my opinions are my own, and do not reflect those of the corporate pet store through which I am now gainfully employed.

After returning from Mexico, and getting married, and assuring that we would likely stay living in this general vicinity for some amount of time, I started job searching in earnest.
I reviewed my skill-set as I polished up my resume:
  • Graphic design and fine art background.  
  • Education in counseling and human development.  
  • Past career in student development and housing in University/ Collegiate setting.  
  • Penchant for organization.  
  • Admittedly still burnt-out on the idea of working with students in a position that required me to be responsible for things outside of my regular working hours. 
(anyone who has ever held a duty-phone is nodding their heads and saying "amen sister" to that last one, I promise you.)

This all seemed to make a transition to an office manager for a school the most logical bet.  And wouldn't you know, there are a lot of those types of positions open around here.  I applied to... well I can't say all, but most.  I was looking for a part-time gig, something to get me out of the house a reasonable amount of time, give me something more fulfilling to do than *dishes*, and give me a reason to put on something other than sweatpants (even I can say that was getting bad, y'all).

Then one day in November I walked over to the pet store with Mac to kill some time.  At the checkout line, if you are not familiar with pet stores, they usually have some cookies for dogs in a container at the counter, and the cashier will ask if they can give your dog one.  I always say yes, but that Mac has to earn it.  Typically that means he gives a high five, but the gal scanning our bag of pig ears that day got excited at the high five and asked to see Mac's whole repertoire.  So we ran through that, and she said "wow, you should be a dog trainer."  I jokingly replied "ha, are you hiring?"  But you know what?  Consider that bug officially planted in my brain.

Wouldn't you know it, even though I feel I was more qualified professionally for everything I had applied to before then, the only call back I ever got was from the pet store.  I went in for an interview and they invited me back to observe a class being taught, to make sure I felt comfortable with what was being asked of me (I get the impression that a few people had been gung-ho about this job until they realized that it's not 100% playing with puppies but more a 90% playing with puppies and 10% cleaning up after the puppies).  As soon as that class was over, before I could even walk out of the building, they grabbed me into a side office and just like that, I was hired.  (You know, minus a pee test.  But we already went over that.)

I think I'm still in an adjustment period.  I've long had a very proud feeling to be an "Administrator" that worked at an "Institution."  Big, impressive words that I've now replaced with "employee" and "retail." I wasn't sure if my friends and family would think I had taken a step down.  I hadn't realized until that thought hit me just how important a professional image was to me and my self-esteem (hey there, blatant honesty).   I wasn't sure if I thought I'd stepped down or not.  What if it was just a weird phase?  A quarter-life crisis?  Will I grow out of it?

I guess I'm still not truthfully 100% sure on any of the above, but I have decided that regardless of the answers to those things,  becoming a dog trainer was / is totally the right move for me.  

Today I went to work and I taught a dog to roll over.  I played with at least 20 different rolly-polly puppies, and I talked to people who were legitimately excited to tell me about their pets.  I help dogs.  It's fun, and it's a topic I never seem to run out of thoughts on.  I came home happy instead of worried about what still needs to get done before the next time I go to work.  And I have time to do the dishes.  You know, once I decide I want to.

Have you ever considered a career change?  
What did you switch from/ to?  
Was it a fulfilling change?

I've found a few things that have made me more comfortable with this shift from College Administrator to Dog Trainer.  Maybe they'll help you too if you're in a similar changing tides kind of boat.

          1.  The following quote from an online advice column called "the Rumpus":

You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. 
Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. 
But that’s all
          2.  The statistics!   True FACT: the average person will make a career change 5-7 times in their working life.  Sign of a changing society - people have the ability to seek a little more spice of life.  I'm just trendy.

          3.  History - Vincent Van Gogh was a schoolmaster, student priest missionary, and an art dealer BEFORE he became a painter.  I'm not thinking about cutting off my ear anytime soon, but if a career change or two is good enough for someone I consider one of the greatest artists of all time... well then hey, good enough for me.

          4.  Not to be rude or anything, but there are a LOT more transferable skills between getting college students to behave how you want them, and getting dogs to behave how you want them than one would initially think.  If you've worked with college students, you have the skills, patience, and tone of voice to train a puppy.  Believe me.

          5.  The Mister.  Mad points for how supportive he's been - taking up my slack when I was putting in long training hours, and encouraging me, and checking in to make sure I really like what I'm doing.

So I'm a dog trainer.  Or as I summarized on the book of faces last week:  Bring me yon puppies, for I shall teach them the way.

In closing - I need some good ideas for sweet tricks I can teach my dog.  
Because I've got that bug now, and Mac is ready to learn. 
(or he's ready to eat the liver treats, but same thing really)
What tricks would you want to see a my puppy do?  
(please not "get me a beer," I'm not ready for Mac to know how to open the fridge full of foods.)


Jamie said...

You read "Dear Sugar" too? Have you read the book "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed? She's "Sugar." Great book. I highly suggest it.

And yes, I did have a big career change/moment of identity loss/what have I done with myself time once. I went from a professional position in fund development at a Big 10 university to unemployed and then to working, ahem, serving, as an AmeriCorps team member for less than minimum wage. Best thing that ever happened to me. I would not be where I am today without that big crazy change.

Queen Holly the Magnificent said...

Holy Shit! I actually wrote down Unicorn Tamer. That was...well, way closer to reality then I thought.

Okay then.

Oh and the one thing I had always wanted to teach a dog was to roll on their backs and lay still when I made my finger into a gun and said "BANG!"

Useless, you betcha.

Awesome? Damn straight.

Kp said...

Haha, Mac totally does "Bang!" and it's not useless, it's like the best party trick ever. I'll have to make a video of it.

Therese said...

That is way better than the generic "accountant" I was guessing. But then again I'm new here. I found your blog kinda randomly buy those GIFs mean I have to stick around.

Danielle said...

That sounds like the most fun job ever. I've switched jobs so many times, I can't even keep track. I started out in the military as a jet engine mechanic. I decided to be a paralegal after that, but when family law became too stressful and I missed my kids, I decided to stay home for a bit. But got bored with that and went to work at a bookstore which was tons of fun, but odd hours. Now I stay at home again, but spend time writing and working on selling my crafts.

Good luck because it sounds awesome and sometimes a little awesome is all we need in life.

Kp said...

Therese - Welcome! Happy to have you! And accountant. I'm sorry I have to laugh at that, my math skills are... well I can use a calculator fairly successfully.

And so far so good, Danielle! Thanks!

Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd said...

Congrats on the new job! I was too lazy to even guess one for you.

I actually left a job in dog rescue over a year ago and I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do. Of course that job wasn't a lot of actual dog interaction, I would have loved it WAY more if it was.

Personal Essay Writer said...

Good advice. I will use it. I want to recommend this site. Companies from all over the world are gathered here Expertpaperwriter