I’m a part time Health Policy and Administration student at Penn State World Campus.  It’s a decision I made when I was inspired to get out from behind my work cubicle.  I was comfortable and secure in my daily grind but once that spark was lit, I had to pursue higher education and the next step in a career. In this series, I’ll share how I got started, the resources I used, and how I plan to continue.

A life-changing transition into a new job forced me to consider how I was going to be prepared next time. There will always be challenges, so “next time” may come sooner or later. I felt I needed to be prepared. I started to search online for information on career strategies. I found many groups and pages geared toward entrepreneurship, STEM careers, non-profit volunteering which all sounded so rewarding, interesting and worthy to pursue. However, I found myself in the middle of many different directions. Which steps should I take next? Is it really what I’m interested in? How can I be sure? That’s when I found this image online.

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Try this assessment and share your outcomes in the comments!

This assessment made me separate my likes from my loves which was a huge first step. I like doing a lot of things! Narrowing down what I love to do made the rest of the graph easier to answer. Without going in any particular order, I used sticky notes to add phrases to each section. I’d step back. Take a look. Take a note down. Replace it with something else. I worked on it for a while. I ended up with a direction for a future career that made sense economically, professionally, and personally.

Once I sharpened my focus, I then worked backward to create my path. Education would be a priority. There would be no way around it. I met a counselor at my community college, San Joaquin Delta College, who viewed my college transcripts and clearly defined the courses needed to transfer to a California State University or a University of California for a Bachelor degree in Health Science. I started with an online English course, then Algebra and Statistics. Taking one online course at the time was manageable with my family and fulltime work schedule.

I had my vision. I had outlined my steps. But this journey could not be tackled alone. The support of my family continues to be my key resource. From taking on additional house chores to being my daily inspiration, they have helped me achieve my milestones. The big question is – how did this happen? The truth is, it doesn’t always happen but it happens often enough. First and foremost, my husband and children know to take care of each other. School lunches made, dinner prepped and cooked, clothes washed, Friday and Saturday house scrub downs, watching over Titus (which includes diaper changes!), and more happen one way or another. And once in awhile, when the kids stop by my desk for a quick chat or besito, I know we are all on this journey together!

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Starting my journey was a juggling act but my family has been huge help!

Using the assessment to focus my career vision, reaching out for help at my local community college, and relying on my family were all valuable resources that have helped me pursue higher education and the next step in my career. I couldn’t have done it without them! What are your resources? Who has helped you take the next step in your education or career? Let me know by sharing in the comments.

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