Paying One’s Dues

I often contemplate my purpose and objective as a graduate student. Entering the program last August, I came to Ohio University after failing to secure a teaching position. I don’t believe I was a bad teacher, in fact I think I was a good teacher. The reason why I gave up was due to a serious lack of teaching positions in western New York.  So I began looking for graduate programs throughout the country. At the request of a friend, I applied to Ohio University and after my first visit, I knew it was the school for me.

Admittedly, I did not fully understand what public administration was when I applied. However, the career skills and the job opportunities advertised on the website seemed more promising than continuing with an education-related major. As I began graduate work, I noticed that the students seemed to have very unrealistic expectations of their career options after graduation. Though I probably sound like a jaded ex-teacher, I like to think I’m pragmatic. To put it simply, students today don’t want to pay their dues anymore.

Prior to entering Ohio University, I substitute-taught for a year. Though this work was not fun and I dreaded each assignment, I appreciated the time I spent in the classroom. I viewed each day as a challenge, and though I was not the full-time teacher, I was paying my dues and building a network. Today, graduates of public administration programs cannot expect to rise immediately to the ranks of executive management. Like teachers, fresh graduates have to start on the lowest rungs. Only through hard work and dedication can anyone expect to rise. Understandably, some rise faster than others, and that can be partially attributed to good timing or “luck.”

All graduate students need to understand the importance and rigor of paying one’s dues. Jobs will not be easy, and the work may not be desired, but if there is a possibility of advancement, it is best to stay on course. Though I dropped out of the teaching race, I am still certified in both New York and Pennsylvania. I like to have options, and as long as I am working within the field of education, I will be satisfied with my career. I don’t know what the future will bring after graduation, but this time I know I will be ready to pay my dues.


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