Editor’s note: Below is an inspiring guest article from Alexa Vega, outlining how she is able to balance three jobs and school work.
As every teen knows, it's hard to decide on a major that you think you will inevitably have for the rest of your life. In reality, demands in the workforce are always changing so we know that everyone changes their career goals, and people usually never stick with their first choice.
It is a lot of pressure on a high school senior or college freshman to make such a life-changing decision, and sometimes decisions are made on a whim, under pressure or by persuasion from a parent. So if you feel like you're the only one, you're not. I was in the same position and I had many bumps along the way that blew me in many different directions, but the end result was an eye-opening change for the best.
Straight out of high school, I went onto college. I went in as undecided because I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. As if that wasn't enough, a few weeks into my freshman year, my mom fell unexpectedly ill and ended up in the hospital. I was devastated but found the strength within me and still continued to carry on at school, trying to hold myself together and get through it, even when the thought of my mom in the hospital was constantly in the back of my mind.
A few months later in October, my mom passed away. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through. I lost my best friend, my number one fan and my biggest supporter. Those months were so tough, but I continued through school the best I could, as I knew that is what she would want from me. I fell behind in school work, had to drop a class, which caused me to lose funding from my school because I no longer had enough credits to support the grant that was helping me pay for college. I had to take off the following semester, but then had to drop out of school due to the financial burden. When that all happened, I was in a fog and didn't know where I would end up, until my aunt pick me up off the ground and changed my life from that point forward.
My aunt, who was my saving grace, offered me a life-changing decision that I could never be thankful enough for. She offered, with extreme generosity, for me to come and live with her. She told me how she would help me get back on track, and that she has a few things she would like me to look into job-wise. Her neighbor works for a company that promotes the good health and well-being of elderly residents in nursing homes, by teaching exercise classes that benefit them greatly by focusing on movements that work around arthritis. This helps them regain their strength to be able to do the little things that you and I may take for granted, things like buttoning your shirt, tying your shoe or opening a jar. I decided to go for it. After all, you never know what can happen until you try.
I moved and took the job with her neighbor. After teaching the first class, and seeing the smiles it brought to the residents' faces and how they came up to me and told me they really enjoyed the class and were very grateful to have me as their teacher, that's when it really struck me. This is what I want to do. The fact that I have the ability to help people is what I want to do. Seeing them smile melted my heart, and I will never forget the time an older man came up to me to give me a hug, and said, “Thank you,” while smiling from ear to ear. That was it, my mind was made up. I wanted to go into occupational and physical therapy so that I could continue to make people feel better, and help them just by having them do simple exercises that would benefit them.
I researched the major and its requirements, and my mind was made up. I then started taking classes at the local college, to get myself back on track and keep up with credits. Currently, I still work for the company, but I have also branched off and gotten a server job at Red Robin, and also have gotten a job with a temp agency. Through the agency, they placed me in a temporary position at the Public Defender's Office. There, I help them with small tasks like filing, organizing and computer-oriented needs. It fits perfectly into my schedule with school and my other jobs. The most rewarding part is all of it will look impressive on a resume.
Even though the courthouse job was assigned to me as a six-week position, at the end of the six weeks my supervisor at the courthouse called up my agency asking if they could extend my position because they really loved having me there to help them, and that I was a pleasure to work with. I can proudly say my six-week position turned into a yearly position and I couldn't be happier. Even though I haven't finished college yet, I already have much experience on my resume for future employers to look over and see everything I have accomplished, even before graduating college.
That is what you need to do, and this is my advice to you. You need to get yourself out there no matter what it takes. You will be rewarded immensely in the end and be so glad that you worked hard during school. If you go and apply for a job that you have been dreaming of getting and working so hard for, and the employer has one application next to yours in comparison, what do you think will look better? Somebody who didn’t research what they wanted to do in college? Or, someone who worked extremely hard by using their abilities and skills to the best of their knowledge, and held different jobs, in different areas, all with multiple skill levels and task demands?
They say everything happens for a reason, and that there is always a rainbow after the rain. I strongly believe in those two sayings and I'm extremely grateful for where I am in my life right now. I highly encourage students everywhere to put themselves out there, show people what they can do, and gain as much outside experience as possible. Doing so could push you in a direction for a possible career, and open up many doors for you with miles of opportunity. Don't think it is too much work to hold a job in college and work at the same time. I currently work three jobs and hold a 3.8 GPA.
Push yourself. Listen to your heart and follow it. You will thank yourself in the long run and be a standout to future employers. You can do anything you set your mind to, trust me on that. When everything seems like it will never fall into place for you, something will come along when you least expect it, and you will be ever grateful as I am today.