supposed to, part 2

[legacy post from blogspot]

It’s been almost a year since my last post, and it is certainly time for an update. At last check, if all you know is my blog at least, I was hurtling headlong into the school year as a 4th grade teacher. Quick recap…. I committed during the fall semester to stay the length of the school year if needed. In November, the teacher formalized her leave for the whole school year, and the kids were notified that I would be there all year. On New Year’s Day (shortly before school resumed from winter break), the teacher passed away from various health complications. Most of the kids were not shaken too badly, as they had not even really known her other than a brief moment the week before school had started. The other teachers were impacted quite a bit, especially those that had taught with her for as long as 14 years. In fact, one of the other teachers on the 4th grade team had been her cooperating teacher. Two of these teachers had the task of going through years of materials in her filing cabinets and closets, and had to give away or throw away mountains of books, workbooks, borders, posters, toys, craft supplies, and various other knickknacks.

Fast forward to about April. I found out that the gifted ed position at this school that I had hoped I could fill upon the past teacher’s retirement was in fact going to be filled internally by reallocating an existing teacher’s assignment. Just like that, my bubble popped. Let me explain that – I had this idea in my head, for some fairly good reasons, that I would transition into full-time/ contracted teaching after doing an all-year long-term assignment like that. Two things prevented it from happening. 1. I still had not completed the coursework required to renew my teaching license, which would have qualified me to accept a position even if I wasn’t fully licensed yet to do gifted. 2. The cessation of a certain chunk of state funding created a gap that most school districts addressed my tightening their outside hiring – this hit especially hard this year.

So, it would seem I really did miss the boat by not having my license in place over a year ago. If I had, I might have simply requested a transfer to this other position. Instead, I ended the school year with absolutely no idea what I was going to do the following year, let alone during the summer.

Jump to Memorial Day, having lunch at my in-laws’. One of my father-in-law’s many charms (bless his heart), is that he is never intimidated to speak his mind. In a moment with the gals in the other room, he kind of laid into me and said some things that, while they stung at the time, really lit a fire under me to seriously evaluate my direction. I really didn’t want to hear someone say, “It’s time you considered whether you’re supposed to be a teacher.” But after stewing until the next day, I plunged into Careerbuilder and started sending my resume to a number of job listings. I tried to focus on positions my “other” degree in psychology might qualify me for, but many of them were looking for a licensed social worker. For whatever reason, I also submitted my information to several listings for marketing and sales jobs that said no sales experience was required. What the heck, I figured.

The next week, I had FIVE interviews for these sales and marketing jobs. Most were very cursory and almost seemed like a waste of time. One was even a “group” interview. Weird. But in one interview with a multistate regional manager for a health insurance sales company, something sparked my imagination. I distinctly remember her banging her hand (with an enormous diamond ring she had won by producing over $1 million in business) on the table and saying, “Oh, Andrew, you guys deserve better than that!” I had just told her what Rene does for her job. Now, Rene loves her work, and I have loved teaching, but something about her statement, along with my father-in-law’s, just got stuck in my craw. By the end of the second week in June, I had signed a contract with that company, and spent from then until the last full week in June studying for and taking the licensing test so I could sell life and health insurance in Kansas and Missouri.

The week leading up to July 4 was our mission trip, and the following week was my three-day, very intensive training, primarily on product knowledge, but also a tiny bit on sales skills. After that came a week of essentially telemarketing. I had a large stack of names and numbers provided to me, but mostly of folks who weren’t the least interested. Many were wrong or disconnected numbers, and most just never answered. Now, I realize that any sales job will involve “cold-calling,” but there was just something off about the whole thing. I didn’t realize how much it bothered me for almost two weeks.

Camp was the last full week of July. It was fantastic. Our speaker is a personal friend of several of the middle school pastors that were there, the programming was the best it’s ever been, and I had an amazing group of boys to connect with. The day I dragged my tired self back home, Rene showed me a printout she had made from the Better Business Bureau website showing an unsatisfactory rating for my company, based on failure to address the underlying issues in numerous complaints. I had been wrestling in the background of my mind for many days already, and this seemed to confirm that this just wasn’t the right situation.

That following Monday, I canceled my contract. Fortunately, since I had not submitted any business for them, I did not have to deal with any kind of financial detritus that might have been an issue if I had been paid. Briefly – all commissions are advanced to agents, and if those customers cancel, the agent could actually owe the company instead of the other way around. So, it was back to the drawing board. I called back one of my other interviewers, this one with Farmers Insurance. I moved a little more deliberately toward a decision on this one. But, about a month later, here I am having earned a second set of licenses to sell property and casualty insurance as well (i.e. home, renters, auto, etc.). The training is much more in depth, and I am so much more comfortable with building a business the right way within this opportunity.

That’s all I can say for right now. Tempus Fugit – time flies! The clock is bearing down on me and I need to run. Hoping I can post some additional thoughts on where I’m at in this journey. Thanks for reading.

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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