Thursday, September 11, 2014

One Happy Thing #4: A Happy Announcement!

No, I am not pregnant...but I am using One Happy Thing to make a happy announcement! Since this process, along with moving, has consumed me the past three months, I would like to share how this happy announcement came to be...

I am gainfully employed, y'all!!!

I can't tell you how good it feel to type those words. One of the hardest parts of moving to Florida was leaving the job and coworkers I loved. So my top priority here, besides getting settled in and building community, has been to find my professional place in Jacksonville. Let me tell you, it has NOT been a pleasant process. In my opinion, job searching is one of the most discouraging experiences an adult has to endure.

As you probably know, I worked for Texas Tech University for four years. While higher education was overall a very good industry to me, I decided moving to Florida gave me the perfect opportunity to take my career in a new direction. Jacksonville is saturated with healthcare opportunities, so I began looking for a position which would allow me to work closely with patients and their families. I feel empathy is my greatest strength, and I feel the most fulfilled when I am helping people through difficult times. 

Little did I know healthcare is a BEAST to break into. Most positions require certifications I just do not have. The positions I did qualify for ignored me because I did not have substantial healthcare experience. That is the paradox of job searching: most companies want you to have experience, but they are not willing to give you the chance to earn it.

Before we moved to Jacksonville, I actually got an interview in the physician recruitment department of a local hospital. I was very excited for the opportunity to work with physician families. Unfortunately, once we arrived, I got a call the day before the interview letting me know they filled the position due to unforeseen circumstances. Basically, I didn't get here fast enough.

My next interview occurred with a recruitment firm. I killed it on the first interview, but my second interview tanked with the head of recruitment. I could tell the interviewer was not impressed with me, so I asked if they had any reservations about my qualifications. The interviewer said the fact I had worked in a government job for the past four years was not a good thing, because government jobs were easy. Yes...dealing with continuous budget cuts and intense pressure to recruit and retain students was DEFINITELY a cake walk. Can you sense my sarcasm here? Not a very encouraging experience.

Despite that incredible UNkindness, there were still people during the job search who showed me kindness. A lady from my Sunday School used her connections to get me an interview for a case manager position, which involved dealing with insurance companies and discharge planning for elder people in short-term recovery. I wasn't too keen on dealing with insurance companies, but I know that is a huge part of healthcare, so I felt prepared to do the job well.

For the first time, this interviewer complimented my resume, saying what I had accomplished so far was very impressive. Even though it was only government work ; ) I ultimately did not get the position, but I still remember this series of interviews with fondness because everyone was so kind to me.

With the job search at a stand still, I decided to take a step back and reevaluate my strategy. Jacksonville may be a much bigger place than where I came from, but the job market relies heavily on networking. Not once did I get an interview without someone from the inside helping me. Jared, my mom and my good friend Gracie all encouraged me to return to my roots and look into volunteer work. Not only would it give me something productive to do during the day, but I would get some more experience. Plus, I love it!

 Tune in tomorrow to hear the rest of the story!