Figuring stuff out...Please share feedback!

This post is going to be a "figure my shit out" post because I feel a little all over the map career-wise right now. I would appreciate feedback or words of wisdom from your own experience. It seems I'm in that situation where, even though I am excellent at coaching others and helping them make career decisions, I'm struggling to coach myself. Like the painter whose own house paint is cracked and peeling. ha

The context is that my career counseling business is in a "valley" within the journey of peaks and valleys that is self-employment as a counselor/coach, at least until you build enough passive income sources online. My college counseling unemployment ended, and I replaced it for the most part with a part-time, 15 hour a week (3-day), Resource Specialist job with a local brain injury support organization. Unfortunately I spend 2.5 hours per day, 7.5 hours per week commuting, so it ends up being at least 22-24 hours per week. Still okay, though the commute is stressful, but it limits my client and business building time. I still have 10 clients, three fairly new, though several are vacationing right now.

As I may have mentioned before, my clients often pay for a complete career counseling package up front, which is great in that moment! But not so great over the long term when I'm working with them but not receiving regular payments. To rely only on my business through one-on-one counseling work, I would need to bring in at least three or four new clients a month, and regardless, I need to bring in 1-2 new clients a month right now to supplement my other income. It doesn't sound like much, but that translates to doing a certain level of outreach and conducting at least 2-3 free career consultations per week. I haven't been marketing/networking as I should, though I did send out my third information-packed newsletter last week.

I also have drifted in my connection with my business marketing program. I'm officially finished with the weekend intensives that come with the program I signed up for. I want to enroll in the next-level program, but I didn't feel ready to do that a few months ago when my other program ended. I'm scheduled to assist at another introductory summit weekend in September, which will bring in several hundred dollars and another lower-rate opportunity to sign up. I have realized that being part of this program and actively developing myself and my business within a group of other committed, like-minded folks - many of whom were inspiring in that they were several steps ahead of me - really did push me and generate momentum in my business. As I think this through, I believe my next step will be assisting in the program I completed myself, Mastery, in Oct/Nov of this year and/or Feb/March of next and then moving forward with more money socked away towards the payments and hopefully receiving a higher income at that time.

Regarding the higher income piece, which is core to the desire to "figure my shit out," I have been applying for both full and part-time counseling positions with colleges and within other contexts. These positions generally pay more than twice what I make hourly at my current part-time position (my independent career counseling work pays four times as much per hour but as mentioned is difficult for me to predict and manage right now). I have two interviews next week, one as a career counselor with a memorial trust organization working with the region's largest health care system, and the other as an Advisor (career and academic counselor) at a state university in Bend, Oregon. The thing is, I'm not sure I want either of these jobs. As I have mentioned, I have thought that my ideal would be to find a part-time college counseling position close to where I live, which allows me to continue to put a lot of time into my business.

BUT And this is a big BUT, as you know, I am super excited to move forward with the CA Conceptions program and become a mom in the next year. To take the next step and begin receiving donor profiles, I need to take out a loan for the required up-front payment, and I believe I will have a higher chance of receiving this loan if I am making a consistent, higher salary. Not to mention, preparing for and supporting a baby down the road requires a good salary, as well.

Please bear with me as I analyze these two opportunities. It would really help if you share your opinions on these!

Pros and cons of the memorial trust position... Pros: located in Oakland which is where I see many of my clients and where I have friends; pays quite well - a little higher than a full-time college counseling position; seems to allow working remotely or virtual commuting; and uses many of my strengths while allowing me to develop skills I want for my business such as hosting webinars. Cons: full-time; requires some marketing and detail-oriented program management which doesn't fit me as well; limits my client contact to folks working within this health care system, though the system is large and requires many types of positions, not just medical practitioners.

Pros and cons of the Oregon state university position... Pros: located in Oregon, near family and in the same city where my family now has a vacation house and travels regularly (could be a big plus when I have a child); great weather and recreation in Bend; located near friends from my hometown who I recently loved reconnecting with at my reunion, including two living in the same city and one who works at the same university; and I am excited about the opportunity to work at a four-year university and see how that differs from community colleges. Cons: would require me to break my lease and move after having found a great roommate; pays significantly less than university advising/counseling jobs in N. California (10-15K less), though the cost of living is considerably less, too; full-time and would require me to put my business on hold for a while, though I believe I could rebuild it there; I would need to travel for CA Conceptions procedures; and relocating is stressful. One point worth mentioning is that "full-time" usually means 32-35 hours in a college/university setting and you often get part or all of summer off.

It's not as though I have been offered these positions yet, but I would like to go into the interviews with clarity about whether and how much I want the job. Another iron in the fire is having a full-time application in at the college near where I live, which I should hear back on in September. I guess I want to focus more on what I want and need in a job right now, and these parameters feel like they necessarily now include financially supporting my dream to become a mom in the near future. Please share your thoughts and experiences...What would you do career-wise, or how would you be thinking, if you were me?


  1. Personally I would lean towards a college position. It sounds like even though the salary is lower, the cost of living makes up for that. And the benefits of having many of the same vacations as your child... priceless. For me to cover all the random 1/2 day and full day closures is easily a couple thousand a year not to mention summer camp etc. not to mention being closer to family. this became so much important to me once as I had a kid. (It is such a pain to travel with them... :) )

    I would ask the university positions about college tuition... I have a friend who works for a state college here on the east coast and if her son gets in, they pay full tuition. So while the salary may be lower annually, that is a HUGE factor if you don't have to save for college.

    And maybe because she works for a state university, her position is unionized which adds a lot of job security for her.

    As for the stress of moving, yes it sucks but it may be well worth it. And if your family has a summer house up there, could you crash there for awhile while you get the lay of the land and find a place you want to settle into?

  2. Hmmm....the college one sounds great with the time off, but if I was offered both and had to choose, I would go with the memorial trust. To me the pros are pretty good - more money, you don't need to move, keep your clients,and can do the cycle without having to commute/take time off. Yes there are some PM responsibilities but I think you can handle it. And while being near family is awesome, right now I would focus on building up my bank account. You always look for something close to family later...