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I can’t take all the credit. This pandemic made my transition extra interesting. Did I want to quit my job during a pandemic? Not particularly. However, it was worth it. #YOLO. Sorry, I had to. This is where my story begins with a pandemic, an opportunity, and my ideal dream job.
Grab your wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen, we’re going on a Ranger-guided tour!
Caution: Opportunities Can Lead to Some Discomfort
It’s all fun and games until someone quits. I was contentish with my job as an Assistant Librarian at the local high school. Fun fact: you need a master’s degree to be an official librarian. Fun fact #2: I don’t have a Masters in Library Science. Yes, that is a thing. My coworkers are funny and its pretty great sassing teenagers because they make it so easy! But, I was unable to use my savvy skill set. I am trained as an environmental educator and interpreter. My passion is more like an obsession with the natural world.
I tried and to reach out to the science teachers but in case you didn’t know, teachers are overworked and underpaid. Was I surprised I didn’t hear back from any of them? No. They have so much going on in their classroom, especially now, that I would rather not be contacted than feel like a burden. Instead, I was left with the discomfort of being “unchallenged”.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.Fred Devito
When Life Gives You
Well, I am not a big fan of feeling unfulfilled. I used that energy towards different endeavors like blogging and searching for a more fulfilling career path. That is how I found an opening as a Park Ranger. I applied through USAJobs which I am well versed with. If you are unfamiliar with the federal hiring process, it feels a lot like turning a three-page resume into twelve because that is exactly what is entailed. After the typical round of interviews, and by typical I mean the new Coronavirus way of phone calls, emails, and awkward silences, I was hired. Yay!
In It to Win It
Thanks to a baller resume that included experience as a Park Ranger at Yellowstone, Craters of the Moon, and Pompeys Pillar, I was welcomed by the Forest Service. Nothing says, “I love nature” like working for a branch of the federal government that begins with the word forest. Then comes the endorphins and all the happy feelings. Up next, the complicated feelings of – Did I just quit my job during a pandemic? Why yes, that just happened.
Falling Back on Nature
As much as it saddens me to leave my funny coworkers and sassy teens, my heart has always led me to nature. Nature has been my salve when I am sad, the balm to my blues, and the tree-song in my heart. Not too long ago, I cried as I was hiking into the backcountry. I was overwhelmed by the views, smells, and feelings that came as a direct result of being in nature. It was unadulterated happiness. It’s my life, my love, my world. Not surprisingly as a Park Ranger, I use my savvy set of skills to impart, with excessive amounts of enthusiasm, the importance of protecting our public lands. As a Park Ranger, I am actively protecting the most sacred part of my happiness. After that awkward moment of oversharing, are you surprised I left my library position?
Quitting Doesn’t Make You a Quitter
I am still in the process of transitioning from the library to the Forest Service because of a delayed background check. Another win for Coronavirus! Delays aside, it has been a long process to a permanent Park Ranger position. The back story is that I have a college degree in informal education which is a more traditional route to Rangerhood. However, many Park Rangers are anything but traditional with backgrounds as biologists, teachers, and writers. I enjoyed the college route because I had so much fun doing unconventional classes like learning how to climb a tree, spelunking in caves, and canyoneering in Zion. Did it involved work too? Of course, degrees don’t certify themselves! But I embraced the many opportunities along the test-taking way!
Plus, I had to gain a lot of professional experience like hiking trails or kayaking rivers. Okay, I may be gushing about how much fun this career path has been. Has it been hard? Of course! You have to tactfully handle people who are directing all their ugly feelings at you for things you have no control over. Not to mention budget cuts and the spotty track record of fulltime federal employment.
Dream. Live. Be.
There have been other challenges along the way. Plus, there has been a lot of adapting to situations that were less than ideal and far removed from the Ranger world. However, it was because I had to adapt and take on a variety of unconventional positions which seemed to showcase my strong candidate skills. Many of the places I have previously resided were not dictated by my career but by Mr. BuLL’s which translated into making the best of what I could find. The irony lays in the fact that those positions made me a better candidate in ways I couldn’t foresee.
Working outside my field, supercharged my grit to keep working towards finding permanent employment at a place where my values and passions are met every day at the door. I also picked up valuable skills like teaching art and science to underserved youth and developing quality educational programs based on STEAM topics. Funny, isn’t it? It’s not the situations that define our experience, it’s our view of the situations that define us.
What are lessons have you learned from unexpected circumstances?
You got this, BuLL Crew!