Probably one of the greatest parts of getting my Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling was meeting the friends I have now. Three girls and myself still keep in touch on a regular basis. We try and meet for dinner or lunch about once a month. Sometimes it is easier than others to juggle our busy schedules. And what do we talk about when we get together? Inevitably the conversation turns to our careers. Of the four of us, I stayed on to get my Ph.D., one got a job as a State Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, one works at an alternative school as a kind of case manager/intervener of crisis, and one is currently in the process of finding a field related job.
When we talk about the rest of our cohort, we wonder how “useful” our degree really is. We all struggled findings jobs in our field and many in our cohort have simply found jobs completely unrelated. Admittedly many of us were a little unsure of what we were getting ourselves into when we started our Masters degrees but it is truly difficult when we wonder if we made the right decisions. I would never trade my degree for anything but I completely understand the feelings of my friends. Especially in these very difficult economic times, we want to know having spent two years on a degree that we are somehow MORE marketable, MORE valuable but perhaps we aren’t. As money gets siphoned, divided, rerouted, and diminished, how do we work to ensure that our field does not become irrelevant, ignored, or unappreciated? Is it our responsibility to become advocates not only for our own careers but also for the field as a whole? And if we are, where do we start?
Jessica Diaz is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, a third-year doctoral student, and a student representative on ACA’s Governing Council.