20-Something Question: Education or Climb the Ladder in My Post Divorce World?

Q. I just turned 26.  As of last month, I’m also divorced. I am intelligent and talented but when I got married I was regrettably also very naive. My ex was incredibly threatened by me intellectually and bullied and discouraged me from completing my education. At this point I have completed one year of college. I count myself very fortunate that despite these odds I found my way to a very good job/career path in a field that I was very interested in.

I am desperately trying to figure out what to do with myself. I have discovered that this career focus is not what I want after all but I’m scared to leave the financial security. I have no financial support whatsoever. I take care of myself. If money were no object I would enroll in school full time, study abroad and finish my degree. But money is an object.

My other thought is to move back to my home state, try to find a new job and work on completing my degree on a part time basis. Or I could just stay here, be financially stable and continue my ladder climbing efforts – after all, my current job isn’t at all a bad one.  I don’t know what to do and I would love the advice of a 40 something.

A. Why is it either or? Why don’t you keep the job and go to college at night. There’s no reason to quit and move if you don’t know what you want to do yet. You have a job now where you’re financially stable. Why not stay with a good job where you are and go to school there. Dabble around a little bit to see what you are passionate about. You have more choices when you have an income. – 40-something, entrepreneur, married, NYC


A. Take a few night classes. You only have a year of school under your belt which is probably more general basic studies. So try some night classes to explore. Or study online. You are still super young and have lots of time to figure it out. – 40-something, Marketing/ PR, Chicago


A. Divorce is difficult of course. You may feel you need to start over and it is a good time to reinvent and get into yourself.  But since you have no financial support, I wouldn’t move unless you have a job in your hometown. I think they say moving, looking for a job and divorce are three of the most stressful things – so try to limit it and focus on getting into you. – 40-something, technology, business development, NYC


A. If you do move, seek a job that will give you the freedom to go to school. If you don’t move, make sure you check out all the resources at your current job. Are there opportunities for any work / study programs? Can you seek financial aid? If you don’t think your current job offers the path you want, see if there are other opportunities to change your  ”ladder”. Often times we overlook other departments or areas that may be more related to our interests.

If you can continue to learn there and get more education, you will open up new opportunities without losing your income. Ask for a mentor at work. It can’t hurt to show your eagerness to learn and achieve more for yourself and the company. Always frame it in terms of how it will help achieve the company’s goals.

You can also start networking in your community in areas of interest.  Check out networking communities in your career area from meet-ups to formal organizations. It’s a great way to meet new people as well. – 40-something, marketing, Columbus, OH



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