I’ll be honest, I never really thought of writing about this topic until I received a DM the other day. One of you was looking for guidance on transitioning out of a corporate job and go back to school. I then asked you on stories if you would be interested in me talking about this as a blog and a lot of you said yes! So here we are!
To give you a little background I graduated college in 2011 with a degree in communication studies (and Spanish). I thought I wanted to go into PR and/or marketing. I started working for a small marketing agency that I interned at when I was a senior. And when I say small, I mean small. There was only 4 of us! It was a really established agency but it was always within the family so they never planned on expanding. My boss was great, and I learned a lot but after 6 months of being there I knew I need to make a change. I didn’t know if marketing was really my “thing.” So what did I do? I moved to NYC!
So here’s why. At the time my boyfriend of a few years was living there, my best friend lived there, and I had a ton of other friends up there. Plus, I had lived up there for past summers and I always loved it so I figured why not go back while I was figuring out my next step.
When I first got there, I got a job serving and started brainstorming about what direction I wanted to go in. I always loved fashion so I thought–maybe I’ll go to school for fashion merchandising. Before leaping back into school, I needed to try some things out in the fashion space first. I got a job interning at an online clothing company. Sidenote, I remember thinking the concept was so weird because they didn’t have a store, and it was only online. LOL. Clearly this was a long time ago! Anyway. So basically from 9-4 I would work there M-F and then 4-5 days out of the week I’d go serve from 4:30-1am. So most days were literally spent going straight from one job to the next. It was pretty exhausting but I really wanted to figure out what I wanted to do! Plus I was young then and wasn’t a grandma that needed to be in bed by 11pm 😉
It was at my serving job that I stumbled upon the idea of nursing. A few of the servers and bartenders I worked with were in nursing school. Long story short-ish, after some thought and research decided to go back to school for nursing. I was still interested in fashion but I didn’t think it would be a sustainable career (blogging and online businesses didn’t really exist then like they do now, so the opportunities in that space weren’t as big) but I figured that there was a lot of variety within the nursing field, I would always have a job, I’d have good health insurance, the content seemed interesting etc.
So steps I took once I decided to go back to school. First, I moved back home to NC where my parents were. The cost of living and classes (I needed to to take pre-requisites) were super high in NYC. Could I have made it work up there? Yes. But I knew it would be a smarter move to go back home. I moved back in with my parents and started taking my pre-requisite courses that I needed to apply to nursing school at a community college. As I was wrapping up those classes, I applied to 4 nursing programs: Duke, NYU, UNC, and UNCW. I ended up getting into Duke, NYU and UNCW. I ended up choosing UNCW because even though the program was longer, I wouldn’t have 100K in loans when I graduating.
During nursing school, I was very fortunate that I could live with my parents to save money. I know not everyone has this option but anything you can do to save during a transition time is helpful. Maybe it’s downsizing apartments, moving in with roommates, etc. I also worked 2 jobs during nursing school both of which were pretty part time. I tutored Pathophysiology & Pharmacology to nursing students in later cohorts, and then I would waitress on the weekends.
So that is my story! Sorry for the lengthy recap but wanted to give you the step by step of how I came to go back to nursing school. If you’re thinking of transitioning out of a career and going back to school, there’s a few things I would recommend. Before quitting your job, start thinking of what else you may want to do. I was fortunate enough that I was able to leave my job and just go serve somewhere while I was figuring out my next steps, but I was in my early 20’s and honestly didn’t really have any responsibilities! If I was making that decision now, well, like I did when I transitioned into blogging full-time, there were a lot of things to think about before jumping from one career to the next–it definitely took more time and patience. But once you start brainstorming ideas, you can see what the potential options around those are.
In this case since we’re talking about going to back to school, start looking to see what programs are available. Can you do classes online? Can you do classes part time so you can still work full-time? Is there a community college you can go to at first to save money, and then transfer to a university to graduate (Stephen and I both did this). Or maybe instead of going back to school for a full-degree, you can explore different certifications in the field you’re interested in. So many jobs these days don’t require a specific degree, so don’t assume you have to go back to school. Obviously, nursing is a field that you have to have a degree in nursing for. But most jobs as long as you have some experience (or are willing to learn) you don’t have to go back for an entire degree.
In general, going back to school or even leaving a career to pursue something else can be stressful. It can be a pretty uncertain time regarding what your future will hold, but also financially. My biggest piece(s) of advice is to do your research and have a plan, and know that it will be worth it in the end. Like anything, sticking with what we know and the routine we are in is comfortable. So we tend to think, is it really worth it? Do I really want to go back to school? Do I really want to pursue something else? But you know what? The time will pass anyways so you might as well be working towards something you love and not look back and think “what if” or “I should have.”
Another thing that I just want to touch on if you’re thinking of going back to school. When I found out I got into NYU and Duke for nursing school I was so excited. I had worked my ass off during my pre-requisites, interviews, essays etc. and felt like it was all paying off! BUT the more I thought about it–did I want to get out of nursing school and have over $100K in debt? Definitely not. Especially with a nurses salary! LOL. At the time though, it was initially really difficult to turn down those schools. I wanted to go to a school that had a “good name” and that I was proud of. I will admit that NYU and Duke had some notoriety that I wanted to be a attached to. But please listen to me when I say this–for most professions it truly does not matter where you go to school. Start at a community college, then transfer to a university if money is an issue. Or take classes online. There are usually ways to work around going back to school and/or pursuing any dream where you don’t need to go broke or in insane amounts of debt doing it!
I hope this post was helpful but if you have any other specific questions, or if sharing your experience can help others, please comment below! xxC