Q: I graduated in May with a political science major and am wondering what to do next. My plan was to apply to law school, but with so much student debt already incurred I am having second thoughts. I am currently working at a bank as a teller, but this is not the career I wish to pursue. With the current recession and unemployment rate I am terrified that I will be a bank teller forever. Any suggestions? — Lauren, Racine, Wis.
A: You are smart to consider your finances when making a decision about law school. However, if you’re sure you want to be a lawyer, I believe that where there’s a will there’s a way. Start researching scholarships, financial aid packages and part-time programs (which allow you to continue working) as ways to lessen the financial burden. Law can be a very lucrative career, so it’s OK to take on some debt to finance your education. However, if you are not sure you really want to be a lawyer, don’t apply until you’ve made up your mind.
Regarding your fear of becoming a bank teller forever, that is entirely up to you. If you are securely employed in that position right now, my best advice is to make the best of it, learn as much as you can in that position and network with your colleagues to help build your connections and your access to future opportunities.
In this tough job market, I wouldn’t recommend giving up a decent job. (Of course, if being a bank teller is sucking the life out of you, then you need to make a change, even if it means working in a pleasant retail environment or a coffee shop.)
Whether you keep your bank teller job for the short-term or not, it’s important to keep researching and networking in the industry in which you’d like to work. If it’s law, then subscribe to law journals, read legal blogs, attend networking events and professional association meetings for lawyers and ask everyone you know to introduce you to attorneys who would be willing to provide you with some advice and guidance.
Just because you’re not working or studying full-time in a field does not mean you can’t be part of it. Every action you take and connection you make now will help you position yourself for a career move when the economy turns around.
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