Monday, January 3, 2011

The job search

I am currently looking for a job. I knew that was part of leaving Kentucky, I knew that I would have to find a new job in the Northwest. I even knew that the job market wasn’t great. What I forgot to calculate into the equation is that I am over educated with a degree that can’t get you a job in any field.

My training is in Exercise Physiology and Health Promotion. I chose the field because I like the approach of the discipline. Instead of specializing in part of the body, Exercise Science looks at the body as a whole. The medical world is getting more and more specialized; you have a doctor for your feet, another for your ear nose and throat, and another for your endocrine system, etc. The field of exercise science is one of the few that still looks at a body as a whole. It looks at the endocrine, renal, and thermal regulatory responses to exercise (and at rest, and fasting, and after eating, and in a diseased state, etc).

Most people, when they think of exercise science, first think of either sports or personal training. I didn’t go into the field for either reason. I am in exercise science because I like the broad base that it gives me to help people achieve health. In my studies, I branched out a little to look at overall health through the lens of civil engineering, public policy, and public health. I wanted to understand why people make the decisions that they do, and what can be done in the planning, design or prevention realm to help people be healthier.

So here I am, I have a master’s degree and have finished all but my dissertation in exercise science. While working on my PhD, I was also working toward a minor in public health. I have a very good understanding of how the body works and how to make it healthy. I have some background in public policy and civil engineering and I have a little exposure to the public process to make changes.

When I think philosophically about education, I feel that I have been very well educated and should be a top candidate for a large variety of needed positions.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. As I look at job announcements, the positions that interest me. The positions that I feel I would be really good at all require a nursing, dietetics or public health degree. I have quite a bit of education in all of those fields, but the letters that I have behind my name are BS, MS, and ABD. I don’t have an RN, RD or MPH, so I therefore don’t qualify for the jobs that interest me.

When applying for a job, they have a list of ‘required qualifications’ and if you don’t have those, they won’t consider you further. I think that there should be a way for me to submit my qualifications that would magnify my different perspective. I think that I have the experience and expertise to do well at a large variety of jobs, but my education hasn’t provided me what I need to get the jobs. I don’t have the right letters behind my name.

As I look at options, I wonder. Would it be more productive to go back to school and get an MPH, RN or PT degree? After 8 and a half years of formal education, returning to school isn’t overly appealing, but I fear that those 8.5 years have been a total waste, so a few more years might actually qualify me to get a job. The ultimate frustration is that I feel qualified to do a whole lot. I even feel qualified to do a whole lot that is greatly needed in our society, yet I don’t qualify for the available jobs.


Gail said...

You are infinitely talented and bring a wealth of skills, knowledge and perspective to the table. I'll be keeping you in my prayers as your quest continues... we miss you here.

Brian, Piper, Eli, and McKenzie Cleary said...

Glad to hear you made it out there.

Emily A. W. said...

I sympathize with your plight. I have been thinking about going back to school as well. Sociology isn't very marketable.

BSTURM said...

Hi Garrett, Sorry I didn't get to say goodbye before you left Lexington. I did stop by your office several times but missed you. Re the job search, I feel you'll find something you're interested in but in this economic climate it may take longer than you'd like. But be sure to do something on your job search each and every day. We'll miss you here in Lexington. Bill Sturm (

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