Sunday, August 22, 2010

Unemployed Teacher

In the DC area, tomorrow marks the first day of school for many districts, including Prince George's County, my old haunt. As you know, I've been looking for work in the US since way back in February. It's been a frustrating, humiliating, desperation-making, humorous, and slow experience. The end result of it all is that I have now joined the ranks of the US unemployed. Not that I'd even be counted in the statistics, since the job I left was in Korea (and I left it voluntarily), so I don't qualify for benefits. Plus, I do have part-time work as an editor. But my career? The one for which I hold the highest certification the State of Maryland can bestow? The one that would give me health insurance and enough money to support me, my immigrant husband, and his mother back in Korea and allow us to consider starting a family? Yeah... I guess that's "on hold" for now.

Way back in college, I made the decision to become a teacher for several reasons.  First was that I love literature and writing and want to share this joy with as many people as possible.  Up there as a major secondary reason, though, was a virtual guarantee of a livable salary and work available just about anywhere in the world I wanted to go.  I didn't ever want to end up where I am now, unemployed, living in my parents' house, so rather than pursue some other more "unstable" lines of work, like freelance writing, acting, or publishing, I became a teacher.  After all, year after year in America they were practically begging bums on the street to fill their classrooms.  Fellow teachers and I regularly joked about how they almost preferred "warm bodies" to competent people because of the ridiculous hoops you have to jump through for certifications and the like. I figured teaching would always be "safe" from an employment perspective.

Here I am, six solid years of experience and a Master's degree later, unable to get a job.  I am an unemployed teacher.

My plan from back in Korea was that if I couldn't find a job, I would just substitute teach for a bit and get my name known around at a few schools so that when an opening did come up, I could slide in, no problem. Well, even that plan is blown. Montgomery and PG have no subbing openings. And I don't really have a car (I borrow family members' cars), so I can't commute many other places--not for subbing (I'd figure it out if I was offered a permanent position).

My backup plan--to change careers into public relations, editing, or writing--is moving slowly because as few contacts as I have in education here, I have even fewer in those areas (although, as I said, I do have a part-time, freelance editing gig that's helping keep me sane).  I have one very exciting, very promising lead, but it's moving at a snail's pace.

I'm lucky.  I have a family that can support my basic needs while I try to figure out a way to become independent again.  It's not ideal, but I have a place to sleep and food to eat and transportation most days.  Mom has offered to help out with health insurance if it looks like the unemployment will last for awhile, and it looks like I will have to take her up on that offer, though I really, really don't want to (um... point of moving back to US being to HELP my parents, not be a burden on them).  And I am truly grateful to them for their help and support.  I'm trying to pay them back in ways I can--cooking dinner for everyone (maybe even saving them money by doing so), helping out with the remodeling projects around the house, organizing and minimizing the stuff I put in storage before I left for Korea--but my number one priority is becoming independent of their care again.  It's ridiculous that a married career woman should be this dependent on her parents.

It's hard on me.  I'm a planner, but with no idea of what the future looks like, it's nigh impossible to actually make plans.  I have two dependents, Min Gi and his mom back in Korea.  We have a plan figured out for the financial support of his mom, but he and I are moving back to dependency--which also means we're putting our plans to start a family on hold (bad idea to get pregnant with no health insurance, no job, and no house).  This is depressing.

I'm staying positive.  I'm trying to enjoy my unemployment time by reading more, experimenting in the kitchen, and staying active.  I've taken on a number of self-improvement projects, which I will be blogging about as I go through them.  I'm considering just making the leap into self-employment, but unfortunately my health situation (unless we figure something out there) makes that an untenable plan for the long-term (stupid America's stupid lack of appropriate, affordable health care).  I just have to learn patience.  Patience is not a strength of mine.  But this whole experience is schooling me in it.

9 comments:

  1. I know it isn't a first, second, third, fourth, or fifth choice, but have you looked into a teaching position with the state or federal department of corrections as a teacher.

    At the federal level (and some states), I believe you can retire after 20 years. It's pretty stable employment for those that can deal with the nature of the students.

    Good luck.

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  2. Hang in there. I know that it is extremely tough going from being independent in Korea to dependent here. The job market is is not there and everything that I read has shown that it is taking twice as long to find a job these days. We went through basically the same thing when we moved back. I kept telling my wife that our journey in America is like a marathon not a sprint. I am sure that you will find something soon. Good luck!

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  3. Well... you know I'm back over here because there simply wasn't work over there, at least not in my part of the USA - although it's pretty hard of come by these days in places where jobs used to be readily available. GOOD LUCK!

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  4. I hear what you're saying, Diana. I'm in the same floaty boat. Good luck! I'm sure you'll get something great, though.

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  5. Good luck, I am sure you will soon find something permanent. You are right, the richest and the most powerful nation on earth lags behind many other smaller nations in health care services for its citizen. Newsweek ranking puts us 28th in the world behind the likes of Slovenia, S.Korea, and Portugal. Shame shame shame.

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  6. John,

    I did look into that (I'd actually love a job like that). Nothing. At least not in the DC area.

    Jason, Jane, Jenn (wow that's a lot of J names),

    Thanks for the support. You guys have all been through this. I think I'll feel better when Min Gi joins me over here... it's a little lonely without him.

    David,

    I know! Absolutely ridiculous. I know Canadians and Aussies returning from Korea and they don't get what a big deal it is... Soooooo jealous. Why can our country not wake up about this?

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  7. There are jobs out there (including private prisons), but some do take a long distance move or two to get.

    I've lined three good jobs up for a good friend of mine across Texas, but he refuses to move more than 50 miles away from his elderly parents. It seems that a lot of people today have forgotten the wagon trains from the days of yore and those long voyages across the Atlantic and Pacific with no guarantee of a better life or even getting there at all as my sister-in-law is now only finding out about. At least now she is not only rethinking her stance on not working on Sundays since my brother lost his job a couple of weeks ago, but she is also loosening her objections to moving farther away from her parents as moving in with my other brother hasn't exactly been a bed of roses.

    What really sucks for those of us coming back from overseas is that we don't qualify for many of those federal jobs because they require a 3-year U.S. residency requirement. However, after a cursory glance, it looks like this job might be right in your neighborhood and is a great one to boot without that 3-year requirement but getting secret clearance is a bit time consuming. By the way, it closes at the end of this week (29th).

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  8. Because our health system is treated as a business and is the goose that lays the golden egg. The lobbists that represents any health related services or products will obviously block any changes that would hurt their bottom line.

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  9. Hey :) Just wanted to wish you the best in finding a new job. I read your blog all the time, but i tend to lurk :/ I'm in the UK, so can't even give you any tips, but I've been in the jobless seat many a time and am living at mt folks, so I have some empathy :)

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