“I wasn’t exactly ready to commit to the full classroom teaching experience. I wanted to dip my toes in slowly and see if working with kids – and all kinds of students, really – was something I could do in the long term. Contracting as a tutor, even with all the crazy hours and nutty parents, was exactly what I needed to hone my interests and launch my career right after college.”
When she graduated from college, Mariam, like most of her millennial peers, wasn’t actually sure what she wanted to do with her newly minted education. “I knew I wanted to do something useful. Beyond that I had no idea.” Tutoring provided a natural transition into the working world that could pay the bills and supplement her expenses while she looked for a more permanent position. Tutoring – and the improvised teaching skills she had to learn along with every new student she was assigned – became a quick passion. Mariam quickly realized that her job was to patch up knowledge gaps where formal institutions had been unable to help students. She was immediately exposed to the disparities in educational systems for ESL, low income, and disabled kids, as well as children who struggled to grasp concepts for the myriad of reasons that it might be difficult to do so.
Tutoring is a vastly different form of mentorship.
According to Helmy, “Tutoring helped me truly understand and appreciate the challenges and creative thinking that teachers have to engage in every day to interact with their classrooms as a whole, while continuing to inspire the attention and commitment of single students to their individual educations.”
Helmy says that “Tutoring made me realize how much help these teachers would need if we wanted to continue to expand and democratize education, both in the United States and on a larger global scale.” She muses, however, that “I was lucky enough to have a home with my parents after college, but the clock was ticking on health insurance, and I needed to start saving, and enter the credit cycle and build up my score. I needed to start my life.”
While she promptly realized that teaching was not a path she wished to pursue, tutoring and its particular set of challenges allowed her to delve into the world of education research, a field in which she received a masters’ degree two years after finishing her undergraduate career. That research pushed Mariam towards a career focused on making the world a more diverse and inclusive place. Naturally, this lead her to Oxygen.
Oxygen is a huge push for diversity and inclusion.
“We’re making it so that a third of the workforce can have the same financial opportunities as the rest of their non-contractor peers.”
She goes on to say, “Freelancing as a tutor helped me figure out what I wanted. The field of education is built on fundamental principles of integrity and dedication to fairness and equality that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. These are values that are necessary especially when considering cultures of learning, but are actually extremely important in whatever field you end up in. I owe my personal instillment of these core aspects to my time in tutoring. Technically I taught, but really I was the one learning. ” She says, “A masters’ degree, four jobs, and three years later, I don’t know where my life would be if I hadn’t had that experience.”