After interviewing the founder and CEO of a small supplement company, I am even more unsure of which path to take. I still do not feel overtly motivated to complete a dietetic internship. The passion and drive are simply not here. But it seems all passion has left me. My only mission right now is finishing school. Getting out of the place that held me hostage for five long and undecided years. When asked about what I am passionate, I honestly do not know anymore. Sure, I have a few things about which I care enough to raise my hand and speak about in class, but I am having difficulty seeing those things pan out into a career-type job. A grownup job with benefits and room to excel. A job with promotions and paid time off. A job to bring meaning to my life and food to my table. In school, we are only taught to find a path, the sooner the better, and follow it to the end when we can pick the job behind door number three and start paying off our student loans. But what happens when I gets to my fifth year and my advisor tells me my GPA just is not good enough to get an internship without any advisory advice? What happens when the last five years only add up to a piece of paper and a lack of motivation for anything?
The next logical step seemed to be to move up from a hospital nutrition services aide to a nutrition services supervisor. More money and a full-time schedule make sense as a next base for which to run. The promotion, requiring a degree and some experience, only earns me a little more responsibility and a mere five dollars more an hour. And still I am starting to question my existence in the corporate hospital setting. Would I even make a difference once confined to an office in the basement, forced to listen to bad music and oversee cooks and NSAs with little to no nutrition education? Would I receive karmic retribution for feeding the sick and elderly sodium-laden processed and frozen foods?
I enjoy talking to the older patients, they usually pretend to enjoy it too. This realization lead me to apply to an assisted living facility. After receiving a lowball salary offer, I promptly turned around. Why is a degree required if I would be make the same or less than I am before graduation? Maybe the opportunity would have been an awesome experience and I would not have missed the money. Maybe I am missing out on something great, but maybe that offer was supposed to scare me away, to keep my eyes open for my true calling. I am still waiting.
My interviewee showed me not what job title I want but what passion for the job I need. I want to feel moved toward a cause, to feel I need to do something and I can make a difference. I fear remaining complacent in a hospital setting will not lead me to that catharsis. He taught me the risk in working for myself and working for a corporation is the same, it is just a matter of what I am willing to lose and if I want to seek the thrill of it all.
My next step involves a myriad of cliché attempts at self-discovery. I need to find about what I am passionate. I have work experience and nearly have a degree, logistically, I have the tools I need to get a job. Finding a job about which I can be passionate, however, is another thing all together. I need to network with other nutrition track deviators, other graduates who did not feel the need to become a registered dietitian, other graduates who despite a lack of adequate advisor guidance found a bountiful career path. Finding these references may take some time, but while I already have a job to pay my bills, I can afford to spend a little time searching them out. This brings up the challenge of not becoming complacent in my current position, not getting sick of the search and becoming a lifer. I need to stay focused on the bigger picture and be persistent in my search for passion and meaning in a career.
Wish me luck.