a master’s in…nutrition?

It’s no secret that I’m not thrilled with my “career,” if you can call it that. I graduated with an arguably archaic degree (English/Publishing Studies) in a bad economic time in the American job market (2010). Since that time, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it is that I want to do with my life and where I want to end up. The Chicago suburbs aren’t doing it for me. I envy people that have the money and skillset to uproot their lives to live in more desirable locations. Doctors, lawyers, and professors–and anyone with similarly competitive careers–have little comparative difficulty relocating if they so desire. Me? I work in advertising sales support. Previously, I worked as a writer/editor for a publishing company that was, and still is, teetering on inevitable closure. I don’t have a large, nor desirable, skillset, which makes job-hunting exceptionally difficult. I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing…but what is it that I want to do?

If I find something related to my current job, I can take advantage of a $4,000-per-year tuition reimbursement. For this reason, I humored the idea of obtaining an MBA for a while. I did some research and looked into a few programs. It seemed like the next logical step, but my heart’s not in it. I don’t aspire to be somebody’s business manager. Financially speaking, if I opted for that route, I could eventually climb the corporate ladder, but my boss’s job isn’t the job I see myself with. If that’s not my eventual goal, then I’ve decided I must be wasting my time. Working for a healthcare company has gotten me interested in the field, though. Not doing what I’m doing now, of course, but the healthcare field is burgeoning. It’s a good, safe place to be. Of course, I’m not going to be a doctor. I faint at the slightest sight of blood. But with healthcare career options bouncing around in my head, and my recent lifestyle change to a vegan diet, I’ve been led down a path that sounds interesting, fulfilling, and promising–and very, very challenging: nutrition.

I’m currently looking at an MS program in nutrition. It’s an online degree at a state school. It seemed feasible until I saw the pre-reqs: organic chemistry, calculus, microbiology, and more. Shit. My math/science requirements for my BA looked like this: basic biology, basic physics, basic math, fin. In order to even qualify for a degree in nutrition, I’d have to first satisfy the prerequisite courses. This not only means time, but it also means money. Besides which, it means a complete assault on the brain. I know very little about math and science, and I have no doubt that if I were truly committed, that I could surely learn–but while holding down a full-time job which requires an hour commute in each direction each day, could I possibly find the time to stay on top of my schoolwork, my job, and not completely upset my natural rhythm of life? I don’t know. And it’s discouraging, because I think I might have found something I could really enjoy.

One school nearby (private=big bucks) offers a Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis in nutrition. This sounds even more ideal, but again, the time and cost outweigh my desire to embark on the change. The amount of student loans I’d have to take out…and the complete uncertainty of whether or not I’d a) finish the degree or b) find meaningful work in the field completely frightens me away from even trying.

I daydream sometimes of quitting my job, packing up, and just driving. Figuring it out when I get there. This is a fantasy that has no roots in reality. I couldn’t possibly do that. I don’t have the funds saved. I don’t have the wherewithal.

I guess what I’m asking is: how did you happen upon your choice of career, the place you decided to settle? Was it an easy decision or a decision rife with strife? These are big-girl decisions I have to make on my own, and it’s terrifying. I don’t want to wake up in 20 years still here, still with this job, wondering “what if?”

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4 thoughts on “a master’s in…nutrition?

  1. toxicvegan says:

    I am also toying with a nutrition degree – it’s a massive time and financial commitment though!! Good luck with thinking it all through πŸ™‚

  2. Melissa says:

    I don’t want this to sound mean, but it kinda seems like a LOT of blog people are either getting into the nutrition or personal trainer route… and it kinda seems like most of them haven’t thought it out/want to show off. I admit, I’ve definitely thought of being a nutritionist, but considering I just graduated from grad school with crazy debt AND just started a new job, it would be absolutely insane to start up another, completely different grad degree and take out more loans.

    What I’m trying to say is: look into Public Health and Nutrition a LOT before deciding to jump into it. See if you can shadow a nutritionist or public health specialist in your area (if it’s even possible to take a day off work– I know I couldn’t.) Really put in some commitment to see if it’s something you’d be able to do every day, see what the pay is, see where in the US most nutritionists or public health specialists are located– for example, demand for nutritionists might be highest in Kansas, but would you really want to move there? (Or insert another state you’d prefer not to live).

    You seem like the type of person who would do this anyway, and in no way am I equating you with those other bloggers who are just doing it because it seems “fun” or “cool.” You seem to be approaching this in a really thoughtful way.

    The biggest thing to me seems like you don’t like your job– and that’s a HUGE reason to switch careers. If you are thinking about your job as if you couldn’t/wouldn’t like to see yourself working there in 20 years, that’s a bad sign. Are you still in touch with your former university? The career center there could help you take an employment-like test that describes occupations most suited to your personality (and yes, Nutritionist is on there– I got it in my top 20). That might be an avenue to explore as well!

    This reply is too long so I’ll save how I fell into my degree for another time, haha.

    • Thanks! I totally, 100% agree with everything you wrote here. It seems like a great field to be in but the fact that I’d have to spend even more time (and lots of money) just meeting the undergrad prereqs (see: molecular biology, o-chem, calculus…), I doubt I would actually go through with it. In an ideal world I’d have the time and money to do whatever my little heart desired, but this is real life and I don’t see it happening, at least not right now. So now the goal is find something feasible that I won’t hate doing for the rest of my life. I need to get crackin’!

  3. Melissa says:

    Have you looked into medical writing or marketing? There are a few health-related companies in the area whose marketing or communications department would be happy to have you for your degree and experience, assuming that you have an interest in writing or editing. I work for a health corporation in the northern suburbs, but there are similar companies not too far from where I think you are. I’ll check out our job postings tomorrow and let you know if there is anything that fits based on what I know about you πŸ™‚ contact me if you want to know more!

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