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Seeking To Hire Hundreds Of Loan Officers, Mortgage Company Recruiting Teachers Looking For Career Change

CHICAGO (CBS) -- From a year of educating behind a screen to months bouncing between remote and virtual, the pandemic has sent teaching into a tumult. Now one Chicago company is offering a lifeboat to teachers drowning in despair.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains, as many students return to school, some of their teachers are not.

Dhaval Patel happens to be looking for teachers interested in swapping the classroom for a cubicle.

"Intellectually, let's be real. Teachers are ballers," said Patel, who is a senior vice president at Interfirst.

The Rosemont-based mortgage company is looking for 500 new loan officers, and wants to fill many of those positions with former educators. No lending experience is necessary – just the uncanny teacher skill of simplifying the complex.

"They're presenters. They're dealing with students. They're dealing with parents. So their ability to communicate at a high level or at a low level is very strong," Patel said of Interfirst's attraction to teachers.

He also appreciates an educator's work ethic, and level of care in their respective communities.

Patel is careful to say he's not trying to pull teachers away from the classroom, but offering an alternative if they're unhappy. Many are, according to a nationwide survey of teacher sentiment by the RAND Corporation, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank.

"Our study found that about a quarter of teachers were considering leaving their jobs," said Ashley Woo, who co-authored "Job-Related Stress Threatens Teacher Supply."

The assistant policy researcher said her numbers are from January and February 2021, when she and her team surveyed 1,000 teachers about working conditions. Back then, one in four educators was thinking about moving schools or quitting altogether by the end of the 2021 school year.

Another RAND study published on Monday found only about 6% of teachers wound up pulling the plug, which is on-par with pre-pandemic numbers.

Still, what looked like a more normal school year now seems a bit dicey thanks to the Delta variant. Could another year of COVID accelerate attrition?

"I do think that many of the stressors the teachers have identified will be present in this upcoming school year," said Woo, who shared that the "hybrid model" of both remote and in-classroom teaching was cited by teachers as the number one source of stress, followed by health concerns.

Meantime, former teacher turned loan officer Allison Memmo couldn't be happier with her new job: explaining the lending process over and over. Her education skills come in handy.

"I usually send a follow-up email to the person that actually has visual screenshots of like tables and charts and things to help break down the material for them, so they can understand the information," Memmo said.

She started at Interfirst almost a year ago.

"To me, doing that meant I can help people, and that was an important factor, and it also has really good rewards in terms of pay," she added about how she landed on lending while searching for a new career.

Full disclosure: Memmo left teaching in the early 2000s, but can understand why people in education may be looking for something new in the COVID climate.

Free lunch at least twice a week is another perk of the profession, though you'll still have to eat in a cafeteria.

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