Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dreaming of greener "cube walls"

Over the past few months I've been questioning my current career path and looking into possible alternatives. Sometimes being a cubicle monkey feels like just the most depressing way to spend my career and I can't imagine doing it for the rest of my life. Others, especially when things are fairly busy around the office I feel like I could be totally content to continue a career here as a government employee.

One of the most appealing alternative careers I've been considering is a move to the National Park Service or something in the Bureau of Land Management as a Ranger. I always promised myself when I was younger I'd never work in a cubicle and that desire still glows deep in my heart. Everything about sitting couped up in front of a computer for 8+ hours a day goes against my grain and I don't believe there are many office jobs out there that would really leave me excited eager to go to work on a regular basis. A Ranger position on the otherhand has along with it's certain and serious downsides, all of the up sides I could ever want.

While I'll be the first to admit this is a total pipe dream, especially at this point in my life, with no relevant experience, a house I owe more on then is worth, next to zero in savings and no real easy way to go about getting certification for the type of work involved, it is still there. MY American dream if you will. (No, I know, it seems wrong that my american dream has nothing to do with making millions of dollars... crazy right?)

I've looked fairly extensively into what it would take to make this change and at this point it looks like sacrifice is the big winner. One thing I can and really ought to be doing anyway over the next few years is volunteering in the local parks. Whether it be clean up days, trail maintenance or some sort of awareness program this type of experience is a must is probably some of the easiest resume building I can do right now.

Maybe it's an omen or something; this morning I stumbled across a post on the site for Park Police Volunteers for the Montgomery County Park service. I know Maryland has a similar volunteer ranger program but it's apparently a fairly extensive process that is fairly hard to get in to. This opportunity on the other hand includes about 18 hours of classroom training, and a required 15 hours of field experience to become a certified Park Police Volunteer. After that there is a 15 hour quarterly time requirement including 8 hours of detail work which I take it is specified time for park events. The remainder is simply spent patrolling the park and trails, on bike while radioing issues and working as essentially an "informational" officer.

Sounds ideal to me; assuming I can pass their background check faster then the 3+ years I've been waiting on the one here from GSA. To be fair, OHR here at Labor lost my original paper work and only informed me a year + later when I called to find out about the progress...

Who knows, once I have a few years under my belt of this type of volunteer work I could actually get my butt in gear and head down to Southwestern Community College in North Carolina for a month and get my seasonal park ranger certification. It may be a pipe dream, but maybe it's a bit less potent then I thought...

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