Before I start sharing my teacher stories and reflections, I should preface all of them with how I became a teacher in the first place. As long as I can remember, I never wanted to work in an office environment/cubicle farm. My plans after high school was to eventually become a high school history teacher. College came and my dreams ran wild. I wanted to become all kinds of things: Foreign Service, academic, hermit, etc. Becoming a public school teacher became too small of a dream to pursue and I brushed it aside.
I ended up in corporate because of student loans. After I paid off my loans, I thought I’d stay a while to save up some money. Somehow I got stuck and I decided to give corporate a try. I moved from being a copy editor to a project manager in the marketing department. At least in my company, it was a very easy job and there wasn’t really any room for advancement unless my immediate supervisor got fired.
*Impending Rant & I Apologize in Advance*
What got me sick and tired of the job was the people. I had to deal with people who had no clue how our processes work so they try to cut corners by escalating it to my supervisor whenever they didn’t get their way. Then comes my supervisor who blames me why I am not supporting those people wholeheartedly. I honestly believe he has absolutely no clue how to do my job nor does he know how the company’s marketing processes work. He has a tendency to want to argue for the sake of arguing, especially if you’re a male. I caught that early on. Instead of having him go off on me and trying to prove how I’m “wrong,” I’d just tell him I’m at fault and that it won’t happen again JUST so I can go back to work instead of having him harangue me and waste my time. One time I did that and he was completely caught off-guard. He probably had 100 different comebacks, expecting me to argue back, just to get him to say how I’m ultimately at fault. He also over promised the people in sales and this led to the team being overworked and under resourced. My repeated pleas for more resources and such fell on deaf ears. About a year of working with people and having a supervisor who does not support me, I just knew I had to quit.
One incident that completely solidified my resolve was when he was explaining how it’s cheaper for someone in India to purchase a TV made in China that is stored in a warehouse in the States than purchasing it from China. If you recall geography, China and India are next to each other. China and India are separated from the United States by the Pacific Ocean. Think about it. A TV is made in China and then shipped across the Pacific and stored in a warehouse in the US. Someone in India buys a TV from a company in the US. The company ships the TV out of their warehouse in the States across the Pacific and to India. That doesn’t really make a lot of sense unless you look into international trade laws and such. I made the comment, “That doesn’t look like it’s good for the environment.” My soon-to-be-ex-supervisor replied, “Look here. I’m here to sell TVs, not save the world.” I was already planning to leave, but that was the final push. This complete disregard for environmental and social responsibility was repulsive to me.
I put in a 3.5 weeks' notice. Not two weeks' notice, but 3.5 weeks! I knew my team was overworked and my departure would mean my workload would fall on them. I was hoping that by the time I left HR would at least started interviewing for my replacement. My last day was June 27, 2014. My replacement was hired in October 2014, at least 3 months after I quit.
Perhaps, I’m a quitter. I rather look at it that it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Corporate just isn’t my thing. And I’ll admit I’m a bit stubborn at times and my supervisor and I had a clash of personalities. Another thing he liked to do is tell me that I don’t know what is wrong with me, but he does. Really? I’m going to stop ranting about him and the company. I want to acknowledge that not all corporate jobs are bad and soul-sucking. It just simply didn't fit with my personality or interests. Nothing else.
Anyways, it was just a terrible experience, but I learned a lot about people and behavior. I wouldn’t say that the 2.5 years I spent there were wasted. I took the lessons learned from there and have since reflected and applied it in my life and my educational philosophy. I want to point out that my teammates were great. I still keep in touch with most of them. It’s the people I had to work with that made me upset and sad.
After quitting, I took some time off to think about what I want to do with my life. When I was back in corporate, I didn’t want to think. After spending a whole day in a cubicle, I just wanted to go home and do some mindless activity like watch TV. Now that I quit, I had all the time in the world to think. I’ve saved up money to sustain myself during this time. In hindsight, those savings supported me through grad school and my teacher education program.
I think it’s completely fine to not have life figured out after college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person holds at least 10 jobs before turning 40. 2/3s of them are held between ages 18-27.
After quitting, I took a CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course with the intention of going overseas to teach English language so I can travel the world. It was during that intensive 4-week course that exposed me to teaching. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll share about that experience later. It was the lessons I received there that set the foundations and gave me a smooth transition into my teacher ed program.
A few months later after some domestic traveling and lots of reflecting, I made the decision to re-pursue my high school dream of becoming a social science teacher instead of teaching English overseas. After seeing how people at my corporate job behaved and the apathy towards environmental and social concerns, it strengthened my resolve more than ever to become an educator. I want to educate our future.
I want to make a difference and an impact in our community. Our future needs to learn why we must come together as a community to work towards the common good. And social science education will be my weapon to pursue those wishes.
And again, it was those 2.5 years I spent in corporate that really influenced the kind of social science educator I am today. I feel the end result would've been different had I gone on to become a teacher right after undegrad.
I'm Jace, a high school social science teacher with a strong passion for social justice and public education issues. Current education interests are critical pedagogy, culturally relevant pedagogy, social-emotional learning, and blended learning. Outside of the classroom, I am a travel enthusiast who loves to learn about how different people & cultures interact with each other in our society.