20something profile: Nina
Right after I graduated from DePaul University with a BA in psychology in 2009, I went immediately into graduate school. I started in an Industrial Organizational psychology program (hated it) but then transferred into a MS in Mental Health Counseling program the following semester. This was January 2010.
I graduated with my master’s September 2012. During my time in grad school, however, I moved from Chicago back to Minnesota, where I grew up, and moved in with my parents and sister. This is very atypical in comparison with most of my peers, but economically it made the most sense for me. This decision was also very culturally appropriate and acceptable given my Persian background.
The other choice I made that was unlike my peers was that while in graduate school, I chose to nanny rather than seek full or part-time employment from an “established company” because, frankly, I made more money as a nanny and worked fewer hours.
Today, although I’ve completed my degree, I am still employed part-time as a nanny. I always planned on taking time off after school to travel and relax but have extended that time due to my sister’s cancer diagnoses. Because she also has Down Syndrome, it was very important that I was able to be present for her and my family (not to mention for my own mental-health). Now, I plan to take the counseling licensing exam in May and spend much of my time currently studying for that.
Many people ridicule my decision to continue working as a nanny and to not move in the direction of my career (i.e. counseling full-time). But, I’m finding that the more I expose myself to the different avenues of the helping field, the more I want to explore multiple avenues. For instance, in the time I’ve had off, I’ve realized that my blog brings me great joy, and I’m able to help people reflect on their lives in ways similar to counseling.
My blog allows me to reach people and make a difference without needing to work 9-5 or meet in a professional setting. Most importantly, blogging makes me happy. So, I’m now in the process of moving my blog to a self-hosted platform and hopefully transitioning into an online self-help/lifestyle business that in time will afford me with an additional, solid income.
No, I’m not making a lot of money right now (although I’ve saved a lot more than many of my peers), and no, I’m not following the typically American ideals on what it means to have a career, but it’s the right path for me.
When I think about my future, the first thing I want is happiness. Sadly, many of my peers are not happy working 9-5, and that life of 9-5 is not something I ever aspire to have. I want flexibility in my work and life. I want to have time to read books, to see friends and to travel. My passion is making a difference in the lives of people I meet, not working.
In the next ten years I hope to have a thriving online blogging/workshop business, a private practice, and some published work under my belt. I will most likely seek my doctorate in psychology in that time frame as well. Furthermore, I plan to be making 6 figures. It’ll take hard work, but it’s nowhere near impossible.
There are many people that criticize my choices and think I’m making a bad decision taking a path outside the norm, but I disagree. I simply view my options differently. Given this tough economic time, to me, this is the best time for “20 Somethings” to follow their dreams and take some risks.