When I entered into my undergraduate career in 2005 I was told that a degree in education would never fail me as teaching was not a dying field. Teachers would always be needed because the field of teaching was one that could not die. Fast forward 4 years to my graduation from The College of NJ, wherein I graduated Cum Laude, in the top 15% of my class, Dean’s list for all 8 semesters and was inducted into 3 honor societies. Suffice to say I did not think I would have a hard time finding a teaching position, but I had spoken too soon. In 2009 when I graduated with my BM the teaching field had sunk to an all-time low. Furthermore, as a music educator I had even fewer positions to apply for as most schools usually only had one to two music educators.
That summer I applied to what must have been about 80 music teaching positions and I kid you not, I received 2 calls for interviews. It’s hard to not think of yourself as a failure when the education you worked so hard to achieve, at such a high academic level, does not seem to be benefiting you at all. I began to question the amount of time I had spent on my education at TCNJ. I saw my fellow classmates obtaining jobs and wondered what I had one wrong. I felt like I had let my parents down as they had supported my education and here I was unable to find a position in the field.
In the end the only position I was offered was a part time, one day a week K-6 general music teaching position at a local school district by home. So there I was a 22 year old young professional teaching only one day a week. In that first few months since I had so much spare time I began to think of going back for my masters sooner than I had originally intended. So how did I fall into student affairs? By chance. I ended up going for my masters in counseling in student affairs in higher education, because others had told me I was a “good listener”, at Montclair State and my fieldwork for that masters brought me to Bergen Community College. I started off as a career counselor who by luck ended up assisting the now Dean of Judicial Affairs and Student Life.
That’s when and where I fell in love with student conduct, and honestly student life. I never knew such offices even existed on campus. I thought that graduation was just a thing that happened but now as I meet with students who may be suspended or assist in graduation ceremonies I see the work that goes into such offices. The experience is overwhelming at times. But I always think back to the fact that had I not gotten that full time teaching job I would not be where I am today. Sometimes the things that we think are supposed to happen are actually completely the opposite of what path we are supposed to be on. Situations of failure bring about opportunities for change. When I believed I had failed at teaching because I could not get a full time teaching career I went right back to the drawing board and suddenly the drawing board changed. These days, although I love working with children, I do not know how I would go back to teaching K-12.