Career testing

It seems like a good idea to reassess my career options right now, so in the interest of this goal, I went down to local workforce development center today to take a test called CareerScope. The job center was busy with people on computers looking for employment and people getting help writing resumes. I went to inquire about the test at the desk and was directed to an ancient desktop system. I had my doubts about the test based on the dated user interface, which reminded me of an Atari video game.

The test itself was divided into two major parts. The first part surveyed my interests. The second part measured my competency in several areas. After nearly an hour of testing, I was done. The printer spat out 17 pages of detailed analysis for my reading enjoyment. The good news is that there were no major surprises. I'm not harboring some incredible aptitude of which I'm not aware (although I was a bit confounded at my interest rating in the "science" category).

I also found out about http://online.onetcenter.org/. This site is a good source of information about jobs, including projected future growth in the field and salary ranges.


March Fools' Day?

I was laid off on March 11, two days after my birthday. I had been working for the same company for 14 years so this caused various reactions of shock among my family members when I gave them the news.

I am very close to my grandparents, so I wanted them to hear the news from me. My grandmother believes people should never stop learning. From the time I was a little girl, I admired her my professional savvy. She has a master’s degree in library science and she reads the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Meanwhile, my grandfather has the kindest heart of anyone I know. He owned his own business for several years and he is a great believer in customer service and doing the right thing for his clients.

My grandpa answered the phone when I called that day. I took a deep breath and parroted the news to Grandpa. He was incredulous. “I can’t believe that, Jill. What a mistake on their part!” When I got to the part of about my termination date being April 3, Grandpa misheard me. “April 1? Jill, is this an April Fools’ Joke?” he said. I recognized the tone in his voice. “Believe me, I am not joking, Grandpa!”

This would have just been one more odd conversation in an already strange day were it not for what happened a week later. I stopped by my grandparents' house to say hi and we ended up talking about how things were going. Grandpa cleared his throat and said, “I may have reacted badly to your news. This will turn out to be a great thing for you. And as quickly as you lost your job, that's as quickly as things can turn around.” On those days when I start to wonder where I am going, I remember this.



I am a voracious reader. [Isn't voracious a nice word? I'm savoring this opportunity to use it in a sentence.] Right now, I am reading Coop, a new book by Michael Perry, author of Population:485 and Truck. The tagline for Coop is "A year of poultry, pigs, and parenting" and it's a collection of the author's memories of being raised on a farm skillfully interwoven with his current attempts to raise chickens and children.

What I like best about Perry's style is that his descriptions are just detailed enough that the reader gets a complete picture without feeling overloaded by similes. Often, I find myself admiring a turn of phrase and wondering "how'd he do that?" The book is filled with little moments and delicious bits of ironic humor.

When I was a kid, my dad caught me skipping ahead and reading the last chapter in one of my Nancy Drew books. I wanted to know how it ended. My father told me that was a bad habit to develop because it ruined the story. Since then, I have followed his advice for the most part and it has served me well. With Perry's books, it's all about the journey. Chronological time doesn't seem to be a factor here. He moves back and forth between generations and stories, but somehow makes it all work. The author strikes me as a down-to-earth, solid midwesterner and that appeals to me too.

I've not finished the book yet, but I'm enjoying the ride. For more about Michael Perry, visit http://www.sneezingcow.com/.


Starting over

Seven weeks ago, I was doing field research for my company. On a Wednesday afternoon, I was working on writing my report when I received a call to come to the conference room. It seems unreal to me now, but I had no idea what was going to happen. "Your position has been eliminated," I was told. After the ten minute meeting (which felt like an hour), I turned in my badge and went home. It was official. I joined the multitude of people who have lost their jobs due to the poor economy in the United States. I learned later that we are called displaced workers.

There are many feelings that a person goes through during this process (that's a whole other post), but one of the decisions I've made is that I'm going to write about it. So, here goes nothing... :)