This little experiment (of “quitting job searching” for a month) hasn’t gone quite as planned, but it appears to have served it’s purpose in large part.
I’ve made a decision.
I’m going to stop job searching… permanently.
The thing is, for a long time I’ve been treating tutoring as this thing I’ve been doing while I look for a full-time gig, and the reality is that right now tutoring looks like the best job available to me. I have been not fully committing to tutoring by seeking out private clients (which pays better than working with agencies) because my goal has been a 9-5 kind of job. Because being insecure scares me, and because I have this idea in my head that grown-ups have full-time jobs with ordinary work hours.
But here is the reality: If I JUST wanted any old 9-5, I could have immediately started on earning a teaching certificate. Or I could be teaching myself some highly in-demand programming skills, and then seeking out jobs in those fields. But as much as I want to be secure, I don’t really want any old job. Realistically, getting a well-paying job that I don’t care about would solve one of my problems (money), but it wouldn’t help with the general existential angst I’ve been fighting since leaving science.
What I really want is to use my skills to do things that I find at least moderately rewarding, and make an income doing it. In an ideal world, that would mean someone paying me a living wage to spend hours researching topics, analyzing the data, and compiling it into written/presentable form to explain the subject to some designated audience. I’d really love it if the topics involved could be science or policy topics, but honestly just the process of investigating a story and figuring out how to tell it is enough for me.
I haven’t been committing to “writing” or “science writing”, because a) I’m afraid I won’t make enough and b) the above description sounds too damn vague. I feel like I should have a more specific goal, like being a science blogger on X topic, or writing books about Y, or writing science curriculum, or something? But that’s not really how it works, is it? In actuality, you write and you chase opportunities and eventually you figure out what you like doing and what you can get people to pay you to do. You can’t know what the perfect opportunity is until you build your way there.
The new plan is this: I am going to commit to making professional tutoring a significant enough endeavor to completely support me financially. This will almost certainly require figuring out some way to obtain a vehicle, as so far I have limited myself to tutoring centers and online work because of transportation time eating my profits. If I’m going to make this really work, I’m going to have to stop limiting myself. In the short term, this is going to be a very big project. I’m going to have to lean on the lower-paying jobs I do have to get by at first, so I’ll be working as many hours as I can take. As I build up a steady list of higher-paying clients, I will hopefully be able to bring in enough income to pay all my bills working around ~30hrs a week, which would leave a substantial amount of time for working on writing.
As for the writing, initially I’ll just be journaling on paper, writing my heart out here, and continuing on the science blog when I can. I’ll be aiming for two full length posts a week, with shorter features as it suits me. I’ll also apply to small jobs and continue working with my one current freelance client, but I won’t expect it to generate much income for awhile. I’ll consider this training, at least as much as my perfectionistic brain will allow.
Eventually, I would like to move to taking on larger writing projects, either by pitching them to clients or by embarking on projects I believe in and finding ways to fund them or sell them later. And maybe eventually this will lead to a full-time position somewhere, or to large enough clients to phase out the tutoring as a primary income source…. but that won’t be the goal, not for awhile at least. I actually love teaching, and am open to always making at least some of my income that way, but I want to do it on terms I am comfortable with. Since I have major philosophical differences with nearly every educational institution/business that I’ve ever come into contact with, that very possibly will involve me forging my own path. Which, again, is scary but… why not?
So. What does that all that mean for this space? Well, completely coincidentally, my tutoring schedule has picked up and I have some freelance work this week, so I’ll still be writing as much as I can, but I won’t be posting 5 times/week. Expect more like 2-3. That may ease off even more in December, depending on how much my schedule picks up.
Taking on tutoring full-time probably means that eventually you’ll get some education-focused rants on this page… it’s pretty much inevitable. If it gets out of hand at any point, do let me know. I can always break out education stuff to another blog if need be.
Finally, this is my tutoring website:
If you are in the LA area and know of anyone who might be interested in a kick-ass high school science tutor, or if you know anyone interested in online tutoring, do pass it on. I’ll of course be marketing properly as well, but I’ll take whatever help I can get.