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Posts Tagged ‘career’

“I want to talk to you about your job …” So began a phone call from my Superintendent a couple of weeks ago. The call came late on a Friday afternoon, shortly after we had interviewed for the other 80% technologist position that would be at the K-3 school. The candidate the selection committee had selected was dynamite – friendly, visionary, knowledgeable, with some specific experience that was right in line with district goals. She’d be a great asset to the developing technology team and would be a great fit at that grade level. I was looking forward to working with her and was delighted to later learn she said, “Yes.” (BTW, she starts September 27.)

After having been back at work just a short time, my heart skipped a beat at the Super’s words. My response of, “Oh???” was followed with a, “Oh, your job’s not in jeopardy. I’d like to ask you if you’d consider going full-time.”

I was pleased to hear that my skills and talents would bring good value to the district. I told my boss that I would have to talk with my husband and pray about whether this was the right move for me. The 80% would have given me one day off per week with Bob.

When he arrived home that afternoon, I told him about my phone call. His response was quick. He looked me squarely in the eye and said, “Are you having a good time doing what you are doing?” My eyes immediately filled with happy tears as I replied, “You know I am.” “Well, then,” he said. “There’s your answer.”

I emailed the Super on Sunday after I felt absolutely sure this was what I was to do and realized that the offer could not be finalized till it went before the School Committee the way the move from 60% to 80% had. So that meant sitting tight till Tuesday, September 21, when hiring the new 80% technologist and moving my position to 100% would be on the agenda. I opted to attend the meeting so I could hear any of the discussion and was dumbfounded when the proposal was tabled for Executive Session. OMG, what’s happening?

Although I opted not to stay till the end of the evening, as there were other items that needed to be discussed in Executive Session that might take an extensive period of time, I was delighted to learn the following afternoon that the proposal had passed with no issue.

So, after two years, I have been returned to a full-time teaching position very much like the one I left. But there’s one more piece. My old contract called for 10 extra days every summer to work on reimaging computers and taking care of things that cannot happen during the school year. The new contract calls for 20.

Go figger …. While my story is nothing like the experiences of Job in the Old Testament, like him, I have been restored to more than I had at the beginning.

God’s always full of surprises.

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I’m very blessed to have a husband who loves me enough to confront me. After word about my upcoming return to the Kittery, Maine, school system as a 60% 7-12 Technology Integrator for MLTI was revealed in last Sunday’s paper, I got asked lots of questions. My husband was in earshot as I told the back story. This happened repeatedly as I saw folks after church and at an afternoon concert, all of whom had either seen the article or noticed my updates on LinkedIn and FaceBook.

Monday morning, he asked me if I were grateful to be going back to work. “Of course,” I replied. “Well, you don’t sound it,” was his response. I was dumbfounded.  He continued, “You sound as if getting called back to Kittery is somehow not good enough.” As we talked further, he replayed how I had sounded the previous day. I realized that I had not sounded grateful and was downplaying the successful end of my journey.

With tears now coming down my face, I told him I felt that all my hard work with informational interviews, follow-up phone calls, opportunity on national TV with CBS, professional evaluation of my resume, networking, dozens and dozens and dozens of applications, a bunch of interviews (and later rejections), probably a half-dozen newspaper articles in two different local papers, facilitating an employment support group … and here I was. The ONLY reason I was not still in the job search game was because a position had been created in my former district for which I had recall rights. All my work was for naught … Heck, even Harry Smith had told me, “I’d hire you in a minute,” after my first interview on the Early Show. And 18 months after that experience, the BEST I could do was a contractual call back.

I AM A FAILURE!

That was the root of it! That’s what had been making me sound ungrateful as I told people the latest chapter in my story.

I AM A FAILURE!

By now, of course, I was blathering and my nose was running. I realized that lack of self-esteem was sneaking up behind me and wrapping me with a 2×4, coloring everything that had gone on in my life with the color of failure, taking the beautiful rainbow of new experiences and new friends and making it fade to black.

Bob kindly (yet most strongly) put his hands on my shoulders and reminded me that I was far from a failure. I had taken many risks through my two years of unemployment, there had to be a reason that CBS picked me to follow, I stepped out of my comfort zone repeatedly in going to networking meetings, I had been interviewed a bunch of times and the reasons I was not hired had nothing to do with my capabilities, I started Seacoast Peers for Careers and had helped many other folks, I would be filling a real void in teacher support that had exists for 24 months

He further reminded me that not only was I going to be working back in education (my first love), I would be back again in MLTI, that I had tried my wings teaching Communications for CoLead at UNH and brought a social media component to the curriculum. AND, as time had gone one, I had indicated that part-time employment in something I loved would be the best that could happen.

And it had …

I heard his words and started to laugh through my tears. I didn’t completely believe it yet but did acknowledge how happy I would have been if one of my colleagues from Peers for Careers had had a similar experience in returning to work. Why was it less for me?

Yet again, the specter of lack of self-esteem was right there to come and take my joy.

Does it ever stop? Do we always second guess ourselves and think less of ourselves than we really are?

Fortunately, I have Bob to challenge me to get past those feelings.

Fortunately, also counteracting those failure feelings were some great comments I received on LinkedIn and FaceBook and from those who had written me after getting their own jobs, some of which I share with you here:

  • “Congratulations! I was so happy to see that you just accepted a new position as I was looking over my LinkedIn updates. I really enjoyed attending the Seacoast Worker meetings last summer/fall and really appreciated all the support and help the group offered during my job search. Congratulations again – the Kittery School Department is so lucky to have you!” – K.

  • “Just saw your update on LinkedIn..glad to hear you’re back doing what you like to do. Best of luck.” – M.

  • “And, most importantly, thanks for everything.  Your group (and the other I attended) was awesome and helped a great deal.  Not only did I get some technical help (resumes, interviewing, etc.) but, more importantly, it was a huge emotional and mental lift for me.  Again, thanks for everything.  Please know that you have helped a lot of people with this.” – E.

  • “Just got around to checking out the front page of Foster’s!! You’ve become a favorite spokesperson for unemployment concerns.” – M.

  • “I think it’s vital for people to be in the group atmosphere where they can find people in the same position as themselves. You can only get the kind of support you need from people who are walking in your shoes. … You do such a wonderful job leading SPFC Diana. … I wish nothing but the best for everyone and hope GOD’S plan shows itself for everyone soon.” – T.

  • “CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You are an inspiration to all of us, and you have really demonstrated how to get back into the workforce successfully! You deserve this and I wish you every success in your new position. 60% is a lot better than 0%!” – K.

When I started this journey, I knew that sharing my story was part of the process. I guess that’s just the teacher in me, knowing how much we learn through each other, especially when those experiences are similar to our own. My story is in so many ways the story of many living the life of the unemployed. The details may be different, but the emotions are the same.

I know my work of sharing is not yet done. How it will continue remains to be seen.

As I was writing this post, I took a moment to go to dictionary.com:

Failure is an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success; a nonperformance of something due, required, or expected while success is the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors, a successful performance or achievement.

Hmmm, don’t that beat all? I guess, I’M A SUCCESS after all.

In overcoming fear and sharing our stories with others,

we find the truth about who we really are—

and discover that we’re not alone.
~ Lisa Hammond

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It’s official!

Labor Day 2010 will find me engulfed in beginning a new school year and a new job.

I have a 60% position back in Kittery, Maine, as a 7-12 Technology Integrator for MLTI (Maine Learning Technology Initiative) one-to-one laptop program starting August 30.

The light at the end of the tunnel is no longer an on-coming train!

Wish me luck.

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I was on retreat a couple of weeks ago. Some of us have shared this experience together for over 25 years with each year being different and yet always filled with wonder.

This year’s theme was “Called to the Soul,” based somewhat on Marjorie Bankson’s book of the same name. Four important questions were our topic:

  • Who am I?
  • What is my work?
  • What is my gift?
  • What is my legacy?

. . . profound questions that can be asked at any stage of life … and ones I have asked myself over the last two years.

We would spend the weekend exploring The Invitation, The Journey, and The Destination through answering questions, discussing the effect of five Biblical and historical women on their time and culture, charting our own sense of call through our lives, morning meditation and yoga, and culminating, as always, with a worship experience on Sunday.

Saturday after lunch there would be a couple hours of unscheduled time to read, walk, take a nap, sign up for a private healing touch or spiritual direction session or join a group for discussion about career anchors.

I wasn’t exactly sure why I offered to do a session on career anchors that I had learned about a year ago at the NH Women’s Leadership Summit and had recently used with Seacoast Peers for Careers. Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors Self-Assessment questions are designed to help participants identify their career values and think about what they really want out of a career. Your Career Anchor represents your unique combination of perceived career competence, motives, and values. As far as I knew, I was the only one looking for a job.

At the Summit, I had been fascinated by the 3-question exercise we had done with a group of about 12 women who did not know each other: What gets you up in the morning, being the first one. As we shared our responses, it was amazing how we were able to associate them with the eight categories Schein lists; such as, Technical/Functional Competence, Entrepreneurial Creativity, and Service/Dedication to a Cause. There was no surprise when the other participants said that “service” was vital to my inner core.

Fast-forward a year as seven of the 20 women on retreat joined me outside on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. While we may be spiritual sisters, there is much we don’t know about each other. There was lots of good discussion, lots of laughs, and a few surprises as we shared our answers. For example, one of our women has started her own at-home craft business. Well, the assumption would be that “entrepreneurship” would have been the inner core value. However, her attention to detail, perseverance, and perfectionism fall under “technical competency” instead. We learned a lot about each other and ourselves through the sharing. The commentary continued on and off during the evening with some of the other women wishing they had joined us.

I guess my service to others continues …

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