4 Clues That Your Current Job May Not Be Right For You

Life is too short to spend time working in a job that you’re not passionate about. However, an overwhelmingly high number of reports suggests that many people who work are unhappy with their jobs in one way or another. Are you in the majority? If so, your current career may not be right for you! Here’s how you can tell.

  1. You’re not happy in your current role

Everyone has the occasional bad day at work. It happens. But, if you find yourself dreading the workday on a consistent basis to the point where you don’t want to be at work more often than you do, you may not be in the right job.

It’s important to take some time to figure out why you’re not happy with your job. Are the issues you come up with something that you have some control over?

If the issues are not in your control, how long do you think you can deal with them until something has to give? Think about the long-term picture here.

Also, take a look at your work environment. How is everyone else feeling about their jobs? Do they look unhappy as well? If you work with others who feel the same way, there may be a bigger issue that needs to be addressed by the higher ups. Having a whole team unhappy does not create a good work culture.

2. You feel unfulfilled

If your job leaves you feeling unfulfilled in what you’re doing with your life, you may not be in the right job.

I worked for a tobacco company one year while I was finishing up school for my second bachelor’s degree. As someone who grew up with asthma, I couldn’t get on board with their mission and their purpose.

I had absolutely no sense of fulfillment working there, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was making a positive impact on the world. On the flip side, there were many people who worked there that felt fulfilled to be helping distribute a product that they enjoyed using.

When you feel like you’re making an impact in the work you do, it can give you a great feeling of accomplishment and pride. It’s all a matter of making sure you know who you are and what gives you that sense of fulfillment. When you finally get that feeling of fulfillment in the job you do, it’s something you don’t want to lose.

3. You don’t feel appreciated

When you feel like you do a great job at work, and you put in a lot of effort because you care, it is the worst feeling to not receive any appreciation for it. You’re helping the company you work for be successful, but you don’t get the recognition you deserve. It can hurt your morale and drive to continue to do well.

Maybe you got overlooked for a promotion or raise. Maybe it’s happened on more than one occasion. If you don’t feel appreciated at work, it’s hard to be committed to doing your best.

If you’re not feeling appreciated at work, try bringing it up with your boss. It’s okay to be direct and highlight all the great work you’ve been doing. There’s a chance that they’ve been busy to the point that they haven’t noticed or it hasn’t been brought to their attention.

However, they may not give you the response you were expecting. The company may not be giving raises at that time, there may not be available positions to be promoted to, or it’s not in their management style to acknowledge great work.

If you’re feeling unappreciated at work, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change, you may not be in the right job.

4. You browse available job openings

On your down time you may find yourself browsing open jobs in your area. Sometimes the grass is 100% greener on the other side. You owe it to yourself to entertain the idea of what another job would look like for you. Take your job browsing a couple steps further.

Find opportunities to interview with other companies. The stakes would be a lower because you already have a job, so the stress levels shouldn’t be as high as if you didn’t have a job to begin with.

Look out for the things that would make you happy, fulfilled, and appreciated at the job, and ask questions about the things that have you looking at other jobs in the first place.

Ask to take a tour of where the new job is. Use this opportunity to gauge the mood of the room. Do people seem happy to be there? Ask if you could meet with someone who works there to get some inside information that you may not have gotten during the interview. These are all great ways to get yourself into a job that fits you best.

Summary

Many working individuals are not happy in their current jobs. It can be for a variety of reasons, but if you find yourself in the following situations for an extended period of time, your job may not be the right fit for you:

  1. You’re not happy in your current role
  2. You feel unfulfilled
  3. You don’t feel appreciated
  4. You browse available job openings

You should be in a job where you’re happy, fulfilled, appreciated, and you’re excited to be there. You owe it to yourself to find the job that’s right for you.

Are you in a job you don’t like? Or, do you have a job you love? I’d love to hear from you!

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Feeling Down At Work During The Holidays? Try These 3 Tips To Lift Your Spirits

There are many holidays that provide opportunities to celebrate throughout the year. No matter what time of year it is, there’s usually some holiday right around the corner.

For many people, however, the holidays can be a sad, depressing time of year. Whether it’s a specific holiday or the general celebration of all holidays, it can be difficult for many people to get into the spirit of celebration.

In the workplace, where there are many other people sharing their experiences and being fully committed to the holidays, it can be difficult for others to get through. The reasons can vary from person to person, but no matter the reason, there are ways that you can take back the feelings of wanting to celebrate a holiday and make it something that you will want to remember for the rest of your life.

  1. Create your own traditions

When you’re in the office listening to others share their wonderful past holidays, and you’re steeping in your own past experiences wishing you could forget them and move on, it can difficult to make it through the workday.

I used to despise celebrating my own birthday because I’ve had so many bad experiences around it. Although not a national holiday per se, everyone has a birthday. A lot of the bad experiences were relationship related, but before I met my wife, and she helped me create amazing, lasting memories surrounding my birthday, I wouldn’t celebrate it.

I would take my birthday off work just so I wouldn’t have to be subjected to happy birthday wishes from others. I took my birthday off social media so others wouldn’t know it was my birthday.

But, by doing all this, I was isolating myself from everyone else and creating more sad birthdays for myself. By not celebrating, it became one more birthday to add to my list of birthdays that didn’t go well.

The year I completed my graduate degree and started teaching, I decided to make a change. Instead of taking the day off from work on my birthday and being sad in my apartment all day, I decided to take a trip to see pandas and eat barbecue. On my day off, I drove 3 hours to a zoo that had pandas, and afterwards I enjoyed barbecue.

Although I was by myself on my birthday, I started a tradition that I enjoyed telling others.

  • Coworker: “Happy late birthday! So, did you do anything fun?”
  • Me: “Yes! I went to the zoo to see pandas, and I got some pretty good barbecue!”
  • Coworker: “That sounds like fun! I’m glad you enjoyed it!”

The following year on my birthday, I traveled out of the city again to enjoy my day. When I started dating my wife, we kept up my tradition of doing something fun on my birthday, although it took some time to fully embrace my birthday as a day to celebrate.

When a holiday has a dark cloud looming over it for a reason specific to you, one thing you can do is start your own tradition filled with fun things that you 100% enjoy doing. Whether you’re by yourself or with friends or family, start growing fond memories to associate with that holiday. Venture out, try new things, and fill your memories with great experiences.

I love pandas, and I love food. I enjoyed visiting a new city, and I did something similar the next year as well. It definitely beat staying in my apartment sulking all day on my birthday.

2. Get involved in the holiday spirit at work

This one can be difficult, especially if you’re not a fan of the holiday being celebrated, however, think of it like a volunteering give-back situation.

If decorations are being put up or potlucks are being assembled, volunteer your services! Giving back is always an inspirational way of building holiday cheer. If you help others in celebrating the holiday, you’re building a connection with them, and you can learn about their experiences in the holiday. Building friendships and being connected is a great way to steer clear of going down the path of isolation and depression. It’s also a great way to get inspired for what you can do for the holidays.

As an example, let’s say your work has its annual potluck. You bring in a wonderfully fudgy brownie, and it’s a big hit. Over food, you hear a coworker talk about a town close by that really gets into the holiday spirit with decorations and festivals. You enjoy festivals, so you talk to them about their experiences with it. From there, you make your own plans to visit and create happy memories.

Getting involved in workplace festivities may go against your immediate feelings, but in return for doing this, you have an opportunity to develop connections, make friends, and get inspired to create happy, lasting memories.

3. Tell someone you trust how you feel

Talking about your feelings can be tough. However, during the holidays, it is so easy to isolate yourself from the world and fall into a depressed state. It’s important that you talk to someone you trust about how you feel. It may not be easy, but having someone provide support can make a world of difference in how you continue to perceive the holidays.

Whether it’s friends, family, or concerned coworkers, being able to talk about your feelings surrounding the holiday in question is a huge step in the right direction.

But, how do you bring up these feelings in a conversation? It can be as natural as the following:

  • Friend: “I am ready for this 3-day break! It’s going to be so much fun!” Do you have any big plans?”
  • Me: “No, I don’t really like to celebrate this holiday. I’ve had some bad experiences. I’ll probably just stay home.”
  • Friend: “What happened? You know, you’re welcome to hang out with me if you want. It’ll be great!”

Look for an invitation in conversations to share your feelings and see how they respond. It should be clear if they want to be supportive or if they don’t.

What’s important here is that you’re sharing your feelings. You wouldn’t want to keep in any negative feelings to let it brew and build up. I’ve used the balloon analogy previously, and it also applies here. You don’t want to be like a balloon with too much air and pop.

Instead, find someone you trust to share your feelings with, and you will start to feel better. They will look out for ways to support you and make the holidays a more positive experience for you.

Recap

The holidays are a time for celebration, but for many people, it brings up old, painful memories. It can be difficult to manage these feelings, especially in a workplace environment where you’re there for a bulk of the day. Here, we discussed 3 things you can do to keep your spirits up during the holiday times:

  1. Create your own traditions
  2. Get involved in the holiday spirit at work
  3. Tell someone you trust how you feel

Reach out to someone if you or someone you know start showing signs of depression or something worse during the holidays as well as any time of year. You’re not alone, and it’s important that you know that.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

Career Spotlight: Software Developer

In my Career Spotlight series, we dive into different careers by answering common questions people have about them.

This edition of Career Spotlight focuses on my current role as a software developer. A software developer is responsible for designing programs and applications within a software development life cycle.

But what does that mean? Let’s take our phones, for example. Just about all the applications, from the navigation app to your favorite games, were created by software developers. The same goes for most, if not all, of the programs on your computer.

Have you been asked to update any applications on your phone? Software developers are responsible for that as well. Not only do they create software, they also have a responsibility of maintaining it after it gets to the customer.

Depending on what job search site you use, the number of open software developer positions can vary from 50,000 to over 200,000 jobs. It is a career that is in high demand all around the world.

According to a U.S. News report, software developer ranks as the number one job for salary, jobs, future growth, salary, and work-life balance. All of these factors make software developer a highly rewarding and satisfying career to pursue.

Let’s get into some questions.

Q1. How did you get into software development?

It’s interesting how I ended up going down this path. My first career was in teaching. I loved it because I felt I could make a positive difference in my students’ lives.

There was one school I taught at that put an emphasis on the students learning computer concepts. So, every grade took at least one computer class throughout the year.

One day, I decided to spend some time with my students in their computer class as a way to bond with them. In the class, they were working on learning to build code through a game, and I instantly got sucked into it. It was so fascinating to think that what they’re working on could lead to creating so many things that I use daily.

From there, I took a few free coding classes online to see how I would like it, and I was hooked.

I considered going back to school to study something involving coding, but it was hard for me to commit to pursuing a different career when I already put so much time and effort into teaching. I was torn.

I had one of those light bulb type moments one day in the middle of the school year when I was sitting at home after teaching all week, and I felt mentally burned out from it. I couldn’t see myself being happy long term feeling this way. As much as it hurt to leave my students, I made it a goal to return to school to change my career path.

Q2. How did you get a software developer job?

I got into my current position by chance, really. I did an internship with a company over the summer between the first and second year of my program. I worked with a team that assigned me a task of automating an application to create less manual work for people using it. Through this task, I found that I really enjoyed the work.

At the end of the internship, I was presented with a job offer by the company, but I wasn’t informed on what my job would be. I ended up accepting the offer because I loved the company, and I felt that I could develop my career with them.

Fast forward to the next year where I’m about to begin my orientation, and I get an email saying what team I’ll be on and what my specific role would be. As luck would have it, I got placed into a software developer position. Some other areas I could have ended up in were information security, quality, or data science.

Q3. What did you study when you returned to school?

I studied computer science. The school I attended offered both computer science and computer engineering, but because there were more requirements to graduate for computer engineering, I opted for computer science.

I took many math courses like calculus and linear algebra, but most of my time in the program consisted of computer science courses. Some of the classes I took include java, data structures, algorithms, operating systems, and a yearlong senior project.

Q4. What is the difference between software development and software engineering?

This is one of those questions where the answer you get depends on who you ask. In my industry, both titles are used interchangeably, and that’s how I treat it.

If we’re looking for a difference, it would be in the engineering part of software engineer. software engineers use a set of engineering principles in problem solving and creating software just like other engineering professions, but a software developer may not necessarily use these same principles when creating software.

Because of this, it’s common to hear that a software engineer can do what a software developer does, but a software developer may not be able to do all of what a software engineer does.

Q5. What does a typical workday look like as a software developer?

One of the things I love most about my job is the variation of what I’ll do in a given day. One day I could be writing code for functions of an app that operate behind the scenes, and the next day I could be learning about user interface concepts.

My workday starts when I get into the office. The layout of the office is open with no assigned seats, so I can sit anywhere to work. Think cafeteria style, but with more defined spaces for people to work. I’ll spend some time checking my emails and seeing what meetings I have scheduled for the day. These meetings can vary from meeting with members of my team to taking time to learn something new through my company. I could be in meetings anywhere from 30 minutes to all day depending on the day and time of month.

When I’m not in meetings, I work on assignments that I am responsible for completing in a given time frame. As a software developer, usually this involves writing and updating code for the application I am responsible for. These assignments update every couple of weeks, so there’s always something to work on.

I work as part of a team, and we all have responsibilities that are geared towards completing goals that we set in increments. We meet daily to discuss what we’ve done for the day, what we plan to do the next day, and anything that may be holding us back from completing our work. There’s a lot of accountability and checks in place to ensure we are on track to reach our goals.

On the job, I am always learning. If I get stuck with my work, I have a mentor that I can reach out to for support. Compared to teaching, the stress level is very reasonable.

The work time is flexible as well. I can arrive anytime in the morning before my meetings and leave when I feel that I am at a good place with my work. I also have the flexibility to work from home, which is a huge benefit for me when my son has to stay home from daycare, or if I have other things to take care of outside of the office.

Conclusion

This was Career Spotlight, where we focused on common questions people have about software development.

If you have any other questions about the profession or want to learn more, leave a comment!

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for another Career Spotlight article!

Networking As An Introvert

If dogs were all I needed to network with, I would be set. With their warm coats, lovable demeanor, and innate understanding of humans, it’s easy for me to run up to any dog I see while I’m out on the town and greet them as if I’ve known them all my life.

Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. In order to develop your inner circle, your professional contacts, as well as get ahead in your career, networking with others is a crucial, constant task to accomplish in your daily life.

As an introvert, it takes getting out of my comfort zone every time I try to get to know someone else. Whenever I see an opportunity to connect with someone, my palms start to sweat, my heart races, and my mouth gets dry. It never fails.

If you experience any of the things I just described, or something similar, it’s okay! You are not alone in this. The ability to network, like other skills, is something that can be developed. Here are some things you can do to improve your networking skills.

  1. Be aware of nonverbal communication

Whenever I get caught in my own thoughts, it’s so easy for me to forget my body language. Be aware of your nonverbal communication! People gather information about others in such a quick manner, and most of that information comes from nonverbal cues.

The way I address my nonverbal communication is to be actively aware of the message I am sending. Some questions I’ll ask myself would be:

  • What am I saying with my facial expressions?
  • Am I slouching?
  • Am I crossing my arms?

Addressing these questions will help with your nonverbal communication.

As an example, If I am new to a job, I’ll make sure to have a smile on my face, position myself so that I am not slouching (such as in a chair or standing) as well as not crossing my arms.

If I’m not paying attention to my facial expressions, sometimes I can come across as being not very approachable. This can hinder my networking opportunities, so I make time to be aware of the message I am sending in this way.

Slouching usually sends a message of not being interested in what’s going on, so watch out for it!

The reason you don’t want to cross your arms while networking is that it creates a perceived barrier between you and the person you’re talking to. We don’t want barriers when networking! It’s important to show that you’re open to communicating with others.

2. Look for the right moments to engage in a conversation

This is a huge networking problem for me. Imagine you’re joining a group mid conversation. The discussion interests you, and you want to contribute. Or, the conversation doesn’t interest you, but if you don’t contribute, then you’ll feel like the quiet person of the group who doesn’t add to the conversation.

In either case, finding the right time to jump into the conversation can be tricky as an introvert. For me, I always sit on the border of wanting to wait until an opening comes up, but also not wanting to miss out on giving my input. I’ve missed out on so many conversations in my life because I waited until it was too late.

Especially in a group setting where there’s obvious extroverts excited to share, how do you engage in the conversation?

  • Look out for side conversations

If you’re the kind of person that shutters when thinking about speaking up in a group conversation, look out for smaller side conversations within the group you’re with.

When you hear someone speaking up, but not quite loud enough that it gets picked up by the whole group, try to make eye contact with the person and build on what they were saying. The eye contact part is important here because it creates a connection between you and the other person to start talking. Throw in a smile and genuine interest, and you’re on your way to building your network!

On the flip side, it’s okay if you share your input out loud, and the whole group doesn’t hear it. It’s practice, and you’re actively working on networking! There’s a strong chance that someone will hear and engage in a side conversation with you.

  • Use a person’s name before sharing

This can be helpful if someone is taking control of the conversation. If you have something to add, say the person’s name and make eye contact with them before you talk. This can give you the space to contribute to the conversation.

3. Use your skills to your advantage

I haven’t always been very good at small talk. However, I’ve been a stellar listener for as long as I can remember. When networking, I always make it a point to remember something specific about the person I’m talking to, and I’ll try to incorporate it into a conversation we have later on.

A while back, a coworker and I were talking about vacation. He was telling me about his plans for his vacation. I made sure to ask questions to show I was interested, and it allowed him to talk in the conversation more than me, which is usually where I’m most comfortable.

Flash forward to when he returned from his vacation, and I made it a point to ask about it. I brought up specifics to show I was listening before, and he was happy to share. Now, we talk about things we want to do on our vacations all the time!

If talking is not your strong point, don’t worry! You have many other strengths that you can lean on when networking with others. Think about your skill set, and try to incorporate it into conversations with others. Skills like empathy, team work, positive attitude, trust, and creativity are just a few examples of skills you can use.

3. Preparation is key!

Like many things in life, preparation is a big component to networking success for introverts. If I didn’t prepare a few questions or have a goal in mind for when I was networking, I would stumble with my words, feel awkward, and not make a good impression.

Practice what you want to say in networking situations. Have questions ready in your head. Doing this will allow the conversation to take off, and you can guide the conversation based on the responses. Having that buffer of questions in your head ready to go can go a long way in developing your networking skills.

4. Send a follow up email

This is important in a work setting. If you successfully network with someone, and you get their contact information, send a follow up email thanking them for their time. Say something specific about the meeting and keep the line of communication open between the two of you. This can go a way in maintaining the connection for the next time you meet with them.

5. Be true to yourself

As an introvert, it’s exhausting to be the center of attention and talk for any extended period of time. I need a decompress day just to recover. This holds especially true for when I try to be someone else to build my network.

Conversations are so much easier when there’s things in common between the people talking, isn’t it? If you’re trying to network with someone, it can be so easy to jump on the first thing the reveal they’re interested in or like to talk about. If you do not share the same interest, it’s important to refrain from expressing interest in it as well.

For example, if your boss says to you that his favorite hobby is watching baseball games, but you have no interest in baseball, you wouldn’t want to tell him that baseball is your favorite sport and you’ve been playing it since you were a child.

Instead, having a follow up question ready for this situation would put you in a better position to build the relationship for the long term. Some follow up questions to something that doesn’t quite interest you would be:

  • I’m not very familiar with that. What would be some important things to know?
  • What’s your favorite thing about it?
  • How long have you been involved with it?

Having a follow up question ready will enable you to keep the conversation going, and it allows the person you’re with to talk about something they’re interested in.

Tip: It’s easier to talk about something you’re interested in as opposed to something you’re not. This holds true to the people you’re talking with as well.

You do not have to share all the same interests as the people you’re networking with, but chances are you have more in common than you think.

In being true to yourself, when you’re talking with others, you can casually add your interests into conversations to see if they have the same interests.

For example, if someone asks you what you did last weekend, that would be a perfect and low risk time to share an interest you have. If you went to a concert or festival you enjoyed, or even played video games, you can put that alongside other things such as relaxing or running errands.

If the other person shares a similar interest, they’ll keep the conversation going. If not, it’s okay! You’re being true to yourself, and you’re working on your networking skills.

Summary

Networking as an introvert can induce a lot of stress and cause anxiety. In this blog post we hit on 5 keys for introverts when working on your networking skills

  1. Be aware of nonverbal communication
  2. Look for the right moments to engage in a conversation
  3. Preparation is key
  4. Send a follow up email
  5. Be true to yourself

Working on these 5 things will put you well on your way to growing your network.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

Does Your Company Offer Tuition Assistance? 5 Things To Consider Before Taking It

With the increased concern of being able to pay off student loans affecting millions of people nationwide, companies are adding tuition assistance to their benefits package to attract and retain talent.

Whether it’s to help pay down student loans you already have or to help pay for any future classes you’re thinking about taking, tuition assistance is a great benefit to consider taking advantage of. But, should you accept the assistance if it becomes available to you? Here are some things to consider before signing on the dotted line.

  1. Is there a commitment to the company attached to the offer?

This is something everyone must ask their manager or human resources department before accepting tuition assistance from their company. Some companies require a signed statement saying that an employee will work for the company for x number of years in exchange for accepting the aid.

If you’re fully committed to the company and see your long-term future with them, then this isn’t so much of a problem. You can accept the tuition assistance and develop your skill set to reach your goals within the company.

If, however, you’re on the fence about your future with the company offering the assistance, then it’s important to find out if there is a time commitment attached to the offer. You wouldn’t want to be stuck repaying the assistance with your time if you find that you want to be somewhere else.

As an example, my wife accepted tuition assistance from a company she used to work for. She received $5000 to cover tuition costs, and in return, she had to commit to working for the company for 2 years. In the second year of the commitment, we started making plans to move because I received a job offer from a company out of state. We had to consider our options at that point because if she didn’t fulfill her obligations, she would have had to pay back the entire amount she received from the company. This brings me to my second consideration.

2. Would you have to pay the amount back for any reason?

It’s important to get a clear answer on this question before taking any assistance from your company. The reason being is that life happens. If you’re forced to drop out of a program that you’re getting assistance for, or you have to quit working, you want to make sure you’re not stuck with having to pay back what you took from the company.

My wife and I got lucky in our situation with her company. She was able to transfer to a remote position months before we were scheduled to move for my new job. Doing this allowed her to continue fulfilling her 2-year commitment to working for the company in exchange for the tuition assistance.

3. Is the assistance given before the semester starts or after you get your grades?

This point might be the biggest hurdle for anyone thinking about using their tuition assistance benefit at work.

If the assistance is given before the semester starts, then that’s great! You’ll want to make sure you work hard to meet any grade requirements set forth by the company. Grade requirements are normally attached to the deal in accepting tuition assistance to ensure you did well in your classes.

Many times, however, tuition assistance is only given after you get your grades for the semester. In this case, you’ll need to send a transcript or proof to your human resources department showing that you met the grade requirements before the company will pay anything.

When tuition assistance is given after grades are received, a potential problem is figuring out how to pay for the semester up front. You’re responsible for paying for your education in the beginning, and once you send your grades to the company, they’ll send you the money. There are many options to consider here, and it’s a story I’ll save for another day. However, it’s important to explore all available options to see how your education is going to be paid for before the company pays you.

4. Would you be limited to studying what the company wants you to learn?

If you’re interested in going back to school, and you want your company to help with the bill, they usually want you to study something that will benefit the company. It’s important to make sure that your manager and HR department are aware of the classes you’ll be taking and for what purpose before you enroll in any program.

If you tell them that you’re taking classes for your MBA, but you end up taking one finance course along with a couple astronomy and physics courses, they may not offer you the full tuition assistance amount for that semester. Stick with the side of caution here and ensure everyone is on the same page with the classes you’ll be taking as well as the program you’re wanting to get into.

5. Is the tuition assistance for student loans you already have, or is it for taking classes while working with the company?

This is something to consider before accepting a new position.

If you’re swamped with student loans and have no plans of going back to school anytime soon, then having tuition assistance for only future self-development wouldn’t be very helpful to you in paying back your current loans.

On the flip side, if you’re wanting to go back to school for an advanced degree while you’re in your current position, but your company only assists in paying for student loans you already have, then this may also not be helpful for you.

Tip: When a company says they have tuition assistance, make sure to understand what kind of assistance it is, whether it’s help paying down current loans, or it’s to help fund a future degree.

Depending on what situation you’re in, one of these tuition assistance benefits may be significantly more useful than the other.

Conclusion

If you’re thinking about taking advantage of your company’s tuition assistance benefit, take into account these 5 considerations before you accept it:

  1. Is there a commitment to the company attached to the offer?
  2. Would you have to pay the amount back for any reason?
  3. Is the assistance given before the semester starts or after you get your grades?
  4. Would you be limited to studying what the company wants you to learn?
  5. Is the tuition assistance for student loans you already have, or is it for taking classes while working with the company?

Having answers to these questions can save you a lot of time and money.

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Thinking About Going Back To School? Here Are Some Important Things To Consider

Whether you’re wanting to finish the degree you started, begin a master’s program, or earn a second bachelor’s degree, there’s a few important things to consider before going back to school.

  1. Why do you want to go back to school?

Before I decided that going back to school for my second bachelor’s degree was in the best interest of my family and myself, I created a list of reasons why I should go back to school. This is a good first step to do if you’re deciding something major like going back to school as it enables you to visually gather your thoughts in one place.

Creating a counter argument list is also helpful in comparing the pros and cons of going back to school versus not going back. To create a counter argument list, you would write down reasons why going back to school would not be a good idea, and then you would compare your results with each other to see which side makes the most sense for you.

The list I put together had many good points, I remember, but the number one reason for wanting to go back to school was the following:

  • I am not happy in my career, and I don’t see it getting better without change.

I read this line over and over again until it got stuck in my head. What if, I reasoned with myself, I could change how I feel about my career instead of changing my career? It made sense to try to make it work since I had already put so much effort into my career at that point. In thinking about it this way, I sometimes compare my feelings towards my career with a bad relationship. I wasn’t happy, but I was trying to make it work in hopes that it would get better.

With all the effort given in making my career work, in the end I realized that it just wasn’t for me. So, I continued with the idea of going back to school by building on the list I created previously.

From my list, I put together goals in order to work towards a different outcome than the career I was moving on from. My goals in going back to school was to put my family in a better place financially, and so I could get into a career that I was happy with. With my goals in front of me, I felt comfortable moving forward with going back to school.

2. How are you going to pay for school?

This is a big consideration considering the price of a single college class can reach thousands of dollars. Factor in your current bills and other obligations, and it can get expensive fast. Before I started my second bachelor’s degree program, I took out a student loan for just enough to allow me to get started with school. During the school year, I applied for scholarships that I qualified for, and I also worked full time. I set aside money earned from my work to pay the cost of tuition for the upcoming semester. These things together are the reason why I was able to make it through school without having to worry about finances.

When you’re considering how you’re going to pay for school, you need to be aware of the cost of attendance at the school you’re interested in attending, and how you’re going to get the money to allow you to continue taking classes until you graduate.

Tip: Many schools offer a reduced cost per credit hour after a certain number of hours in a semester.

I highly recommend seeing if the school you’re interested in attending does this. The school I was attending reduced the cost of each credit hour above 12 credits from a couple hundred dollars to under $50. This significantly lowered my overall tuition cost.

Also, if you’re still eligible, fill out the FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) online. Enrollment starts each year in October, and it can be a great way to receive aid if you qualify.

3. How are you going to fit school in with the rest of your life?

I’ll admit, this one was probably the toughest consideration for me to address. The reason why it was so tough to deal with was because I needed to work full time for the money and benefits. It is definitely not easy fitting a full time course load alongside a full time job throughout the week.

If you are in the same position as I was with needing to keep working during the school year, careful planning and flexibility is essential. It is important to find out if you can take the classes you need to reach your goals while maintaining your current job. To figure this out, you can talk to the advisers at the specific school you’re interested in attending to see if there would be any conflicts between your work schedule and the times classes are offered.

I knew I couldn’t continue teaching while I went to school because many of the courses that I needed to take were only offered during the day when I was teaching. It wouldn’t have worked for me. Luckily, I found a job that was flexible in allowing me to return to school full time.

On the flip side, there may not be much time available for other things in your life. I know I struggled with not being able to hang out with my friends or do fun activities as often as I would have liked because I had school, work, and family commitments that came first. If you’d like to read about how I balanced multiple commitments and how you can as well, check out the link here:

As A Full Time Student, Employee, Husband, And Father, Here’s How I Balanced It All

4. Do you have credits earned from a previous school & do they transfer?

When I went back to school for my second degree, I spent a couple weeks worrying about my credits transferring from the schools I previously attended. I had to argue my case with different department heads for not having to take any general education courses, since I already took them to earn my prior degree.

The new school I was attending did not offer some of the courses that I took, so I had to fill out transfer equivalency forms saying that a description for a class I took previously matched with the description for a class that was offered at my current school.

If I didn’t go through this process and instead accepted what the school said would be the credits they would accept towards my second degree, I would have been in school for at least an extra semester. The extra cost of tuition and lost wages for not being able to work in my new field would have been a major setback.

Tip: Sit with an adviser at the school you’re considering attending to see what credits you have will transfer and save you time in completing your degree.

If some credits don’t immediately transfer, do some research in the courses offered at the school to see if a class matches with any courses you’ve taken previously, and make a case to present to the department head that oversees the class.

Conclusion

There are many things to consider before going back to school. A few important considerations are:

  1. Why do you want to go back to school?
  2. How are you going to pay for school?
  3. How are you going to fit school in with the rest of your life?
  4. Do you have credits earned from a previous school & do they transfer?

There are many other things to be aware of before returning to school, but having answers to the considerations listed here will have you on your way to creating the future you’ve always dreamed of.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!