Teaching Keeps This Career Changer “In the Moment”

Meghan Oliver didn’t always want to be a teacher. But her passion for wildlife and experience working with wild birds and recommending books to children helped her realize that teaching was a perfect fit.

Her career path, she said, has been “anything but linear.”

When Meghan graduated from college with the dream of pursuing journalism, “The field started to change,” she recalled. “Newspaper jobs were hard to come by, things went online.” And, she added, sitting at a desk all day was mentally painful.

During her time as a journalist, though, she met many people who were extremely happy in their work. They seemed to be able to be completely engaged and in the moment at work, something she struggled with. Engaged and in the moment was what she wanted from her career. “That was important,” she said.

Since her passion was wildlife, at 31 she took an internship at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) — “A long-standing dream of mine — where I’d patch up injured birds and send them back home.”

She hoped this type of work would be the engaging, immersive work she was looking for. “So I packed up my tiny car, left behind the confines of city life, and headed north to Vermont.”

It was through this experience at VINS that she realized daily work can be something she was completely engaged in, and not just something to do while she was thinking, what’s next?

After five years of patching up injured birds, Meghan accepted a position at Northern Woodlands magazine, where she worked as an editor, and eventually moved on to a management position at the Norwich Bookstore.This work provided lots of interactions with children. She loved hearing what books kids were reading in school or at home, and what they were interested in so she could help them find the next perfect book. Once again, “I had that feeling of being present and engaged,” she said.  “Teaching hadn’t been on my radar, but I started thinking about it more.”

Meghan knew that UVEI was tailored to career changers, “and I wanted to be in the classroom.”  During her year-long internship, she discovered that the classroom was where she was supposed to be.

“Teaching is stressful and there’s a lot to do, and you do spend time at the computer,” she said with a resigned sigh. “And it’s exhausting.” But, she mused, she’d rather be exhausted from putting energy into being in the moment with children all day, than being bored to death at a desk.

We think so, too, Meghan.