“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:?
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—?
I took the one less traveled by,?
And that has made all the difference.”
–Robert Frost (1916)
When you graduate from college everyone tells you, “The world is your oyster.” Whatever the heck that means. The next step after graduation is typically GET A JOB. But with nearly 10 percent of America looking for work that may not be as easy as it sounds. So lately it makes sense to have a pretty solid post graduate Plan B.
For Moira Roberts her Plan B after she graduated from college last May involved fostering a writing career and enrolling in graduate school, even though neither of those options were on her radar when she started college. Ms. Roberts has been to college twice, but only graduated once. The first time she attended Washington State University right after high school, but left after three years to get married and go to work. At that time she started her career in banking, where she was initially hired as a new accounts rep.
And Then Life Happens
Ms. Roberts quickly moved up to the loans department, which was lucrative, but increasingly unrewarding. At the same time her marriage fell apart and she soon found herself divorced. Plus, she was dissatisfied with her job, mainly because she couldn’t climb the corporate ladder without a college degree. She decided to go back to school, but couldn’t afford to re-enter the brick-and-mortar university system, so she chose to earn her degree online at Kaplan University.
“When I went back to college I worked for a title company at the time, but I knew I had to find something more flexible or else it would take me forever to finish my degree, so I considered freelance writing. I took a community ed writing course and the instructor told me I needed a portfolio of work that potential clients could review.”
Unfortunately, she had no writing samples, but decided she needed to get some. She perused freelance websites (Elance, Craigslist, Monster, etc.) and eventually found a writing job overseas that paid one-cent a word. She applied for it and was hired.
“At midnight the company would send me three to 10 press releases and it was my job to turn them into articles. I had to have them all back by 3:00 a.m. Even though it was grueling, it gave me the bylines I needed to apply for better writing jobs. And it taught me that you can’t wait for inspiration if you’re going to write for pay. You need to be good AND write quickly. Ironically, I got a huge sense of satisfaction out of that job that I never got in banking.”
She built up her writing portfolio and eventually amassed enough print and Web writing jobs that she could quit the title company, thus freeing her up to be a full-time student. Due to the college credit she received from her days at WSU it took her about a year and a half to complete her degree at Kaplan, and on May 31, 2011, she finally graduated with a BS in Professional Studies.
And Now the Really Hard Part…Finding a Job
Ms. Roberts always assumed she’d go back into banking, given that she’d be eligible for higher paying jobs that required a college degree. However, the job market in the banking industry is not great right now, even with the boost of her previous experience. So she came up with her own Plan B.
“After going back to school I found I love online education. What I’d really like to do is teach ethics online to freshman and sophomore college students. In ethics it’s the conversation I love and not necessarily the analysis, and those conversations take place more in the lower division classes. But in order to achieve that goal I need a minimum of a masters degree.”
So instead of lamenting that the banking industry didn’t want her back, Ms. Roberts took a different path. She enrolled in American Public University (a.k.a. American Military University) online, and now she’s pursuing a two-year masters degree in humanities with emphasis in philosophy. However, she’s doubling up classes with the hope of finishing by next July.
And yes, she’s still freelance writing.
“It’s always been my dream to make a living as a writer, but eventually I need to have a job that provides health insurance. I hope I can get that by working in higher education. But I will always write professionally on the side.”
Is Ms. Roberts disillusioned that she had to resort to her Plan B?
“Not at all. In fact, I’m much happier. I think I will enjoy teaching way more than I ever would’ve liked working in a bank. I opted for Plan B and that has made all the difference.”