- Mollie Breese, 29, is a content manager for an ed-tech company and is based in Kodiak, Alaska.
- She quit her job as a teacher last year because she constantly felt exhausted and powerless.
- Now as a remote worker, Breese says she’s never felt happier or more fulfilled from her work.
If you’d told me a year ago that I’d soon be working remotely while living in Alaska and making my highest salary ever, I probably would’ve laughed. Or cried. It was a dream that at the time I thought was entirely out of reach.
A year ago, I was a high-school teacher in southwest Florida, and I hated my job. After college, I was drawn to teaching for the same reason as many others — for the vision of making a difference. I had dreams of inspiring young learners and encouraging the next generation of independent thinkers and writers.
Unfortunately, this vision is a far cry from the brutal reality of current-day teaching.
I accepted my first teaching job in 2017 and moved up to the high-school level in 2019
I’d gone into teaching starry-eyed and eager, but the low-pay, bureaucratic red tape, and grueling hours made me quickly disillusioned. Add COVID-19 to the mix, and I was in a full mental crisis.
I was constantly being told to “do more with less” as teaching supplies like pencils, books, and computers were few and far between, much less professional development or mental-health support.
As I struggled to deliver meaningful instruction to my classes of in-person and remote students, I went home each day exhausted, depressed, and mentally drained. My students weren’t learning, I felt like I was failing, and I felt powerless to help any of us succeed.
By April 2021, I’d come to the realization that after three years, teaching was no longer right for me
That May, I gave notice to my school that I would not be returning in the fall and started taking steps to reevaluate my career and my life priorities.
To start, I created a list of requirements that needed to be met in my next career path.
As a passionate traveler, I knew I wanted a remote job. Teaching had kept me in one area, but a remote job offered the opportunity to explore my love of travel while still having a career.
In May 2021, I started to aggressively apply for remote jobs. From the start, even when I met the “required skills” section of a job post, I fell short of requirements like “five years of experience ” or “four to five portfolio samples needed.”
I knew that I’d have to put in extra work to market myself better
A friend and I got together and decided to create our own travel website, a platform where we could create content about traveling that would also double as an online writing portfolio. I spent hours researching SEO, Google Analytics, marketing programs, and content creation. I beefed up my LinkedIn and focused on highlighting transferable skills on my resume.
Once I’d gathered my arsenal of resources, I made a strategy for my remote job search. My background is in English literature, I’m a strong writer and researcher, and I still enjoyed education and wanted to remain in that industry. Through this breakdown, I discovered education technology.
Ed-tech bridges the gap between education and software. These companies need former teachers to drive content creation and research — and many of their jobs are remote. I started applying to ed-tech jobs and soon got several interviews.
In the interviews, my travel website was the main topic of conversation. By taking the time to build up my online presence, I’d demonstrated that my teaching skills were transferable.
In June 2021, I was offered a position as a content manager at a growing ed-tech company. When my offer letter came in, the salary was $20,000 more than I’d made as a teacher. It was also more than many of my former teacher colleagues made after more than 10 years in education.
The position was 100% remote, had unlimited PTO, benefits, and a flexible work schedule. It was the perfect fit, and I accepted.
Since making the leap to ed-tech, I’ve been happier, more fulfilled, and more productive than I ever was as a teacher
As a teacher, I had very little control over my schedule, my day, or even when I could take a bathroom break. My school determined how many students were in my classroom, my state determined the curriculum I taught, and my district determined if my salary would increase (most years, it didn’t).
Now, as a remote worker, I get to decide how I spend my day and what takes priority.
As a teacher, I was used to helping others before myself. Now, I finally have time to invest in myself and my skills. Remote working means I get to focus on what helps me — whether that means spending an extra few minutes enjoying my coffee in the morning or having the freedom to attend a webinar in the middle of the day. I’ve found that these little acts of independence and autonomy have greatly improved my happiness and sense of fulfillment.
By the end of the summer of 2021, my fiancé also quit his physical therapist job at a traditional clinic and became a travel physical therapist. We spent six months traveling Costa Rica and the United States, and in November we moved to Kodiak, Alaska, after my fiancé accepted a short-term contract with a local clinic.
My weekends are now spent photographing bears and climbing mountains instead of grading papers, answering parent emails, and stressing about the upcoming week.
Remote work isn’t for everyone, and changing careers can be tough. But despite the challenges, my decision to quit led me to a balanced life that I only ever dreamed of before. I couldn’t be happier.
Mollie Breese is a digital content manager, educator, and freelance writer. A lover of hiking, kayaking, and travel, she enjoys sharing her adventures with her readers on her website skipthesuitcase.com. Connect with her on Twitter.