Act 3 - Reskilling

Reskilling for a new career and my experiences so far.

Act 3 - Reskilling
The view outside my window at the Shenandoah Art Destination in July. Watercolor on paper.

Those of us in Adult Education have heard the 70:20:10 Model of Learning Development.

  • 70% On-the-job
  • 20% Social
  • 10% Formal

As I begin my career change journey, I find myself instinctively following this plan.

In this instance, I'm using the 10% "formal" as part of my exploration process.

Is this class interesting enough for me to want to use what I'm learning here 40+ hours per week?

Do I want to make a living at this?

I'm finding it challenging to separate my interests from my resume.

Staring at interest survey results and job postings that look interesting, I find myself having the usual monologue.

They want a different degree.

I don't have experience with that.

Looks like I'd need another cert.

There's no way they'd bring me in for an interview, nevermind hiring me.

The usual yada yada that keeps me from applying for jobs that I would enjoy.

When I let the yada yada win - I find myself regretting every career decision I've ever made and every job I've ever had.

That's dumb.

The best way I've found to quiet the yada yada is to focus on filling the gaps.

In today's information environment, one of the fastest ways to start filling gaps is to find and take free training.

The local library and city / county government workforce development centers are a great resource for accessing free training.

  • Many library systems provide free access to LinkedIn Learning. If your library system doesn't - a nearby system likely does and might allow you to get a library card and access.
  • Many city and county governments also provide free access to LinkedIn Learning and other quality online job training portals through their workforce development center or employment center. Your tax dollars pay for this. Take advantage!
  • Local and state workforce development centers also provide job training - especially in computer skills, but also in other industries. Everyone I have encountered has been happy to share what is available and how to enroll.

The other benefit to free, formal online training is that it allows me to see whether I am interested in the topic enough to use it.

The interest inventory I took through the Virginia Workforce Commission recommended Data Science as one option.

It looked like a path worth exploring more deeply. I could use Data Science skills in multiple contexts. The courses would help me maintain my PMP cert and the training will help me get back up to speed with the professional environment I left when I got sick.

LinkedIn Learning has a current Data Science and Statistics curriculum. Seemed like a solid first step to refamiliarize myself with the technology space and see whether Data Science would be a good fit.

30+ hours and more than a few curse words later, I came to the following conclusion: Data Science, for me, is best used as a means to another end, not the end itself.

I continue to remind myself that I have a great opportunity to reinvent myself and my career.

I also remind myself that this IS my retirement. With the current state of medicine, my probability of seeing 60 is not as high as I'd like.

Because this is my "retirement," I need look forward to work and enjoy my daily activities. Ideally, the work I do and the places I do it provides energy, not just drains it.

It's important to me that while I am in decent enough health, I get a chance to get out and about, see different environments, work with friendly people and embed exercise within the work I do during this early phase of my move into Act 3.

During my Act 1 (student and stagehand) and the transition into Act 2 (Instructional Technology grad student and library worker) - my jobs encouraged me to move around. That stopped when I left grad school the second time and moved into more corporate roles.

The last 5 years in particular have been sedentary, screen-focused, and isolating.

I'm tired of staring at the same 4 walls, the same damn screen, and it being 70 degrees and artificially lit year-round.

I am painfully aware that I will have to do that again - and not by choice.

Now is my last chance to get out and about, explore the world, use my hands, and get some sensory variety.

The desk job will always be there for me.

After the Data Science courses, and reflecting on how I responded to the material, I decided to explore other options.

What can I do that will allow me to:

  • Move around.
  • Work in interesting environments.
  • Collaborate with friendly people.
  • Learn something new.
  • Allow me to evolve into a desk role when my health fails again.

I'm keeping my options open, but I'm finding myself focusing on the following:

  • Museums. I have an MA in History. Those skills are in dusty boxes in my brain that I haven't opened since the mid 90s. I also have a passing familiarity with creating environments through my stagecraft years. My Instructional Technology background might also be useful for creating exhibits. The big gaps I need to fill are in working with objects and artifacts, the terminology of Museum Science, and never having worked in a Museum.
  • Public Lands. This would get me outside. It seems I can evolve my role into the interpretive and educational realms as my health declines. I am also finding cartography and mapping fascinating. Other than interpretive work through my years as an educator, and a stint doing tours and tastings at a winery at the turn of the 21st century, I have next to no background in this field.
  • Public Archaeology. I didn't even know this was a field. Public Archaeology seems to combine Museum Science, Archaeology, and History. I've been volunteering recently with my local Archaeology Commission a couple hours per week. It has been fun so far. I'll talk about my experience more next week.

The cool thing about this time is that I can stay open and continue exploring anything that looks interesting.

For formal training, I have the following on my schedule for the rest of 2023:

  • First Aid and CPR Certification. The course is low-cost enough that I can pay for it myself. I think we all could use basic First Aid and CPR - even they are skills I hope I never have to use. First Aid and CPR Certification is also required for many Public Lands jobs such as Park Ranger. Good to get this out of the way while I have time and some energy.
  • GIS courses. The GIS courses are for getting training in something I can use for a desk job. I like maps and am fascinated with cartography and geography. Technology for a purpose.
  • Sharpening my Excel skills via LinkedIn and Microsoft. I can use Excel, but I've never been particularly brilliant at it. Time to git gud.

We'll see if anything else surfaces over the next few months as I continue this retraining effort.

I'm working with my Ticket to Work case manager and have just submitted paperwork to see if I'm eligible for the WIOA program.

WIOA is designed to help those on public assistance or affected by mass layoffs reskill and find work. They have training dollars available. If they find I am eligible and they are willing to subsidize my re-education, I may go to the local community college for the GIS courses. Otherwise, I'm probably doing the GIS courses through UC Davis' Coursera program.

Meanwhile, I've started volunteering to fill in some of my larger experience gaps and see whether it is work I enjoy doing. More on that next week.