Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a teacher. Growing up I’d set up a classroom in my bedroom and give my younger sister and cousins “homework” (i.e. make them write their names 30 times). I started babysitting early on, took an early childhood elective in high school instead of art, home-ec, or business, and didn’t consider anything other than education when it came time to choose a college major.
I started my career in education during my second year of college (after working at a sandwich shop since junior year of high school). I worked in 3 different child care centers in the following six years, and, in two of of those centers my role wasn’t much more than a babysitter. Those centers made me seriously consider changing my major. I wanted to teach, not just supervise. I wanted to be around people that actually cared about how these kids learned and developed, not just about getting paid and going home. I wanted to work with young children, but I felt stuck. As hard as I tried to implement what I was learning in college, it was clear to me that things weren’t changing there anytime soon. I felt a little guilty about leaving, but also felt that I needed to.
I spent almost 3 years at the third center, a birth through 4k center with after school care for older kids. It was a beautiful place with multiple buildings, playgrounds, a science, art, and gym center, and an outdoor classroom. It had a huge amount of teaching resources and the focus was on the learning, development, and happiness of the children. I got along pretty well with my coworkers and had my own classroom of 3 and 4 year olds. I loved working with the kids (minus temper tantrums) and was able to actually teach- what I had wanted to do my entire life. It was a great feeling to think I was making a difference in the lives of these kids.
But nowhere is perfect, and like so many teachers, loaded with a class of 20 or more, with assessments, lesson plans, low pay, conferences, parent interactions, behavioral issues, etc, I started to burn out. During my time at the childcare centers, my partner (a brilliant computer engineer, though I may be bias) had worked very hard, built connections, founded a software development company, and was working remotely from our home. The idea of changing careers seemed a little scary, but working remotely and being at home with him sounded fantastic. I started looking for remote positions in a variety of fields and applied for a few, but nothing came of it.
In September of last year, my partner and I went to Boston and I got to meet his business partner and his business partner’s wife (who also does work for the company). We talked about future plans and the topic arose of hiring me within a year or so. I loved the thought, but it didn’t seem certain, more like a dream. A few months later, I was told that the goal was to have me on board April 1.
My last couple of months at the childcare center were bittersweet, and I teared up on my last day. I really did love the kids, and felt guilty about leaving the center. But I was relieved to have found a way out and was thrilled to be able to work for my partner and his company from home.
I thought that the transition would be difficult, but working in customer support is a lot like being a preschool teacher. There are a lot of “Whys”, explaining and simplifying, the occasional tantrum, and that awesome moment when they “get it”. I spent the majority of my life focused on being a teacher, only recently realizing that there are multiple ways to do that. It’s been an amazing 7 months and I feel like I finally “get it”. :)