The Accidental Tutor

So... after lo! these many years, I decided to go to college. When applying for financial aid, I checked the "Work-Study" box. Not for any particularly conscious reason, I'm just naturally predisposed to working. The educational bureaucracy being what it is, I wasn't actually approved for work study until midway through my first semester, when most of the work-study jobs on campus have already been fulfilled. There were a few still open; one was for a clerk (manage the sign-up sheet, help people with computers) at my school's Writing Center.

Perhaps just because the email I sent applying had complete sentences, the coordinator asked me if I could write and, if so, to send her a writing sample. For obvious reasons, I didn't want to send her anything from my other blog, but I had just completed an essay for my history class, so I sent her that. She had some reservations — I didn't have a degree, and I didn't have a lot of specific experience with academic writing — but she gave me an introductory college writing textbook, and, as soon as my background check was complete, she threw me into the pool as a writing tutor.

Who'd'a thunk it? I was a computer programmer for thirty years. Sure, I wrote proposals, documentation, user manuals, and other technical stuff, most of which nobody read. Now that I'm in school, I'm studying economics and political science; not only do I not have any sort of degree, I'm not even and English major. If you'd asked me the day before I was asked for my writing sample, I never would have even imagined myself being a writing tutor.

I had to learn a lot and learn it fast, but learning has never been a problem for me. And, after a year (!) tutoring English, I'm finding it's the most interesting and rewarding job I've ever had. And judging from the feedback I've received, I'm pretty good at it.

What's interesting about trying new things is not the new things you think you're trying, but all the other stuff that comes up "by accident" when you place yourself in an unfamiliar context and keep your eyes open. As Bokonon says, "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."