“Your life should be about finding the intersection of the world’s greatest need & your greatest passion.” ~Unknown
Thinking back to my childhood, I was always passionate about looking for jobs. I remember being in the 2nd grade and sitting next to my dad while he read the newspaper. I’d sit there for hours looking at the ‘Help Wanted’ ads because they were easy to read, and I wanted to go to work like my parents. I wanted to make money so I could buy all the toys I dreamed of having without needing to put the burden on my parents. The search was the most fun part for me as I was determined to find a company that would hire a 7-year old. I never found one, but that’s only where my passion for career searching began.
As I got older, that passion only got stronger. I started working my first part time job in the 7th grade as an Office Assistant at my school’s Church Rectory. By the time I got to High School I left the rectory position, and tried on a few other jobs in search of a position that I would truly enjoy. I worked as a telemarketer trying to sell cell phones to random people whose names the company would literally pull from a phone book… Super shady, now that I think of it! I next took another telemarketing gig where I had to convince people to refinance their mortgages. I have to laugh at that position, because I had no idea what I was trying to convince people to do, but I did quite well at it. The idea of being stuck at a phone all day, dialing off a call sheet, didn’t really appeal to me though, so I didn’t keep that position very long. Next up, I worked for Jersey City in their Neighborhood Improvement Division. The position paid me well, but the job entailed walking around the city wearing a bright vest, with a garbage bag and broom in hand, cleaning the streets. Don’t get me wrong, I worked with some cool people, but I couldn’t help feeling like I should be doing more. It was time for me to find a new gig. I accepted a position with Kids R’ Us next and that would be the last job I’d have while in High School. I really liked that job because I worked in the Shoe Department, and would often laugh about the fact that I could relate to Al Bundy from “Married With Children”.
By the time I got to college, I had a ton of work experience and had pretty much embraced being a ‘job-hopper’. I didn’t understand the concept of “having a career” yet. I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed for open positions and most of all receiving offers of employment. The idea that I was being selected for a job over hundreds of other applicants was always something that made me feel great, and would often lead me to search for the next great position. It’s funny, because I had no worries at that age, so receiving a rejection letter/email after an interview didn’t phase me the way it might affect me today. The stakes weren’t as high, and I didn’t have nearly the same types of bills. My focus was to take jobs that offered to help pay my tuition. I started with Bank of America and worked there long enough to get the maximum dollar amount they were willing to pay me in tuition reimbursement in a calendar year. I couldn’t picture myself with a career in banking, so once I got the reimbursement checks, I didn’t have much of an incentive to stay beyond that. One of my regular Bank of America customers would often tell me that I had a lot of potential and offered to pass my resume on to his former employer: State Farm Insurance Company. I agreed to take him up on that offer, and it turned out to be a great decision.
State Farm would eventually help me define my passion further. I was contacted for an interview as a Claims Manager (or something along those lines), but when I got to the interview, I was informed that it was a Full Time position. I explained to the woman interviewing me that I was only looking for a part-time position, and as luck would have it, they had an opening for a Part Time Human Resources Assistant in their office. I remember interviewing with a few different people that day, and less than a week later I was offered the job. As the HR Assistant, I worked 3 days a week, would scan resumes and contact applicants to schedule preliminary interviews. I would also schedule new hires for their New Hire Orientation. I really loved that position! This was when my passion really begun to take shape: I loved playing a role in helping others find employment. Though I loved the position, I was often late for work and my performance suffered because I chose to pledge a fraternity the semester after I started working there. A few of the people I worked with knew I was pledging and were sympathetic, but I got the sense that one of them, my boss, wasn’t very happy. In addition, I think she suspected me of sharing copies of the pre-employment quizzes with members of the frat I was pledging. Let me take this opportunity to say without any hesitation or concern, that I never did that. What I did do, was schedule interviews for my frat brothers when their resumes were included in my daily batch, to ensure they had an opportunity to earn the position and sell themselves. Some of my frat brothers took full advantage of the opportunity and showed why they were amazing candidates, and others bombed the interviews and awarded me the luxury of sending them rejection letters. Nevertheless, my constant lateness, and my suspicion that my boss thought I was giving away test answers led me to resign from State Farm and focus on getting my school grades up. I had people at the company that would give me a great reference and I was still technically a “carefree” college student, so I didn’t have any second thoughts about moving on. Overall the experience was amazing!
I realized after leaving the State Farm position, that I didn’t particularly care for being a broke college student and I took a position with Citibank shortly thereafter. I figured I might as well capitalize on the opportunity to get another tuition reimbursement check from a bank, so I worked there long enough to get the $2500 towards my education and once that was acquired, I left Citi and concentrated on finishing my Bachelors Degree.
After graduating from College, I begun working full time as a Management Trainee with Enterprise Rent-A-Car (ERAC). At the time, Enterprise had an awesome Employee Referral program that rewarded employees with cash every time someone they referred to the company accepted a Full Time employment offer. The way the referral program was structured, employees would get $1500 for the first referral hire, $2000 for the second referral hire, and it capped at $2500 for the third referral hire. I saw this as an opportunity to give myself a $6000 raise if I simply did what I loved doing: helping people secure employment. I referred a ton of people, but didn’t spend as much time as I should have prepping them for their interviews. As a result, only one of my friends got hired, and I was awarded my $1500 prize. This was another time in my life where my passion began to reveal itself to me. I loved playing an instrumental role in helping others take a step forward in their career. My friend was able to leave her job at Circuit City, and officially start in the Management Trainee program at Enterprise. Some of you may think that working for ERAC isn’t much of an improvement, but almost anyone whose had the privilege of working for Enterprise will be able to talk about the wealth of knowledge and structured training you benefit from as an employee. This newly developed passion of mine led me to get promoted to a Recruiting Administrator, and a little over a year later, I received another promotion to become a Regional Recruiting Supervisor.
As a Recruiting Supervisor, I interviewed hundreds of college graduates and spent time participating in Career Services events at Pace University, Baruch College, St. Francis, and several other colleges in New York City. Once again, my passion developed further, and I felt like I was onto something. I couldn’t believe how many college graduates had such poor interviewing skills and it made me want to help them get better. It was frustrating to think that so many of them might miss out on amazing career opportunities because they didn’t know how to properly sell themselves. I was hooked!
After a few years at Enterprise, I decided to move on when I was offered a position as a Director of Career Services at a college in New York City. This was the opportunity I had dreamed of! I loved worked with college students and the position allowed me to have an impact on thousands of people. I spent a little over a year in that role, until I was offered another Career Services Director position at a larger college located in New Hampshire. The position gave me the chance to manage multiple campuses, thereby allowing me to have a greater impact on a larger number of people; I jumped on the opportunity and moved to Manchester, NH.
After 3 years in Manchester, I started to get the itch again. Though I had worked with thousands of college students, and led a team of employees who shared my passion of helping graduates get hired, I wanted more. I couldn’t help but think about the people that weren’t students at the colleges I worked for. Who was helping them get jobs? How were they developing the skills that could lead them to an offer of employment? I decided to move back to New York and accept a position with a non-profit called Fedcap that managed a vocational rehabilitation program for the City of New York. You might be thinking to yourself, “what’s Vocational Rehabilitation”? It’s basically a process that helps people overcome any barriers that might be standing in their way of becoming employed. In this role, I work with Public Assistance Recipients, all of whom have a limitation or disability, and my team works hard to help them get employed, and stay employed. This is my passion.. Helping individuals realize the amazing potential they have, and guiding them towards getting hired in a position that might change their lives and create newfound opportunities.
So why the blog???
Well, I want to continue to expand my reach… Every step in my career has shaped the next.. State Farm helped me realize that I love giving people the opportunity to become employed. Enterprise showed me that too, on a grander scale. Working in Higher Education made me aware of my ability to help others, and helped me recognize that I had a voice that others could benefit from. And working for Fedcap has given me the ability to share my knowledge with thousands of New Yorkers. I want to be able to help more people. I want to be able to show people how to learn from every employment opportunity that rejects them, and to fully understand the transferrable skills they gain from each company they work for. There are over 8 million people living in New York City… Over 300 million people in the United States… And over 7 billion people in the world today (2015). If this blog can help 1 more person to get hired, or 1% of either of the populations I’ve listed, it will be well worth my time.
My mission is to help people overcome the obstacles standing in the way of their becoming employed. I am driven to help them transform their effort into positive results. I encourage anyone who took the time to read this, to share their experience when searching for a career and talk about the obstacles that stood in your way. You may or may not be able to relate to my story, but I encourage you to share this blog with anyone who might benefit from it.
I am still faced with job and career seekers daily, and I still see and hear mistakes being made. This blog will allow me to address some of those mistakes and provide additional insight into why they are mistakes, and how they can be avoided. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you!
Until next time….
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