Second Shift: Finding career fulfillment by working overtime

Rachel McSween
Rachel McSween, 28, may be busy, but she’s passionate about all her jobs.
Credit: Rachel Neville (l) and Barry McDaniel (r)

We all know living in the city is expensive. So how do people do it? Our series, Second Shift, features people working more than one job to make it work, while still finding time to have fun. Want to be featured? Email

Name: Rachel McSween
Age: 28
Residency: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Roommates: 0
Number of jobs: 3

What’s your primary job?

I teach special education, kindergarten through fifth grade, literacy through performing arts. I take what they are learning and pull things from the curriculum that I can adapt into performing arts. I was actually doing something completely different before I started teaching in September. I was dancing full-time professionally.

Are you still dancing when you aren’t teaching?

Yes, it’s really important to me. I traveled to Los Angeles during Christmas break when I had two weeks off of school for a series of modern dance performances and I performed with that same company in January here in New York. I’m doing a project with a choreographer I used to work with in April. … Also, for my second job, I teach contemporary dance on Sundays. I teach three different classes to teenagers, which all last an hour and a half. My third job is teaching Pilates at the gym. I used to have a permanent class there, but now I’m just a sub and teach on Saturdays when I can.

Do you work those extra jobs for money or because you’re passionate about dance?

A bit of both. I don’t necessarily need the money, but it’s nice. I’d probably still do it anyway because I love doing it. It’s my outlet. Teaching special ed can be stressful because a lot of the kids are in foster homes or not in the best home situations. It’s very draining because you have to be on top of everything at any moment.

And you’re also working on your masters? When do you have time? 

It happens! My master’s is in special education, so it’s directly related to my job, which helps. The classes are just two nights a week.

Do you still have time to go out with your friends?

I do! During the week it’s too hard, but I go out on Friday and Saturday nights. Sometimes I’ll go out on Sunday nights too because I teach in the city, so I can meet up with a friend after my dance classes.

Are you happy with your lifestyle or is there anything you want to change?

I think my life is amazing! It’s so awesome to be able to do all the things I’m passionate about. It may sound like a lot, but if I was only doing one thing, I wouldn’t feel fulfilled.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence


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