Since I graduated from my Masters program in 2012, I have had the worst time with getting a job. In school, I had an amazing two year assistantship where I discovered what it was like to be a part of an office. I formed relationships, was able to recognize strengths in others, and I was given the opportunity to create and improve programs and was trusted to do a good job. I got to spend a lot of time interacting with students in different capacities. My job had a ton of variety. I loved this office because we really did the whole, “work hard, play hard” thing. I laughed so hard most days. I got to be silly and serious all in the same day.
I moved from Fort Collins back to Denver right after school. Denver is my home and is where I feel the most comfortable. Denver is also a VERY DIFFICULT place to get a job in my field. Between May 2012 and August 2013, I did not have a solid full time job. I spent days job searching and networking. Honestly, looking for a job was my full time job.
I worked part time in higher education as part of a team developing a program to support first year students. I loved the job, but it was only part time and short term. I took another job as a peer mentor working alongside individuals who were struggling with mental health difficulties. I thought the job was going to be a great place to use my skills as a counselor and as a person with a mental health diagnosis. That job turned out to be miserable for so many reasons. I created a great program for clients to grow confidence at a local recreation center pool. I had the support from the recreation center, my clients were excited, and I couldn’t wait for it to be a success. Unfortunately, when it came down to it, all of my work was a waste. My employer didn’t follow through, and after a lot of hard work and energy, my program fell through the cracks. I lost confidence in creating a program and saw it fail because of a lack of support. That job did not last long.
The first full time job I was hired for was following a year of making it to final interviews for 12 different jobs at the institution. I was finally hired after “lucky number 13.” Most people I have told were shocked that I kept going back for more. Whether it was determination, stubbornness, belief in the organization, or faith in myself, I finally got a job. After I started the job, I knew I hadn’t gotten any of the other positions because this job hadn’t been created and it had my name all over it. I had a “hybrid” position where I was involved in creating and implementing three different programs. I spent my days interacting with so many people in the campus community and in my own office. I felt like I had endless amounts of creative freedom because I was building my own job. My position had not existed before and it was up to me to shape it. I loved the culture of my office because we supported each other, liked each other, and knew how to have a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I decided to leave this job after I went through my treatment for cancer.
In January 2017, after a long, similar job search, I returned to work and did not have success with the first two jobs. Knowing I had to find some way to support myself, I finally landed my current job. I have only been there since July, but I already know that I am in love with it! I am able to work on multiple projects, spend a lot of time interacting with clients, and I have such a supportive office team. I am valued and my fun, silly ways are accepted and appreciated. I have one coworker who always starts the day by saying, ‘welcome home”.
My successful jobs have always had a few things in common; I was given creative freedom, my ideas were valued, coworkers were supportive, hard working, and humorous, and I could be myself without apologizing. I have also enjoyed the variety in my work. I have been able to work on program development and spend a lot of time with clients in a number of settings. In hindsight, I see what has worked in the past and is working now, and I know what I must have from a work environment. It is so important to me that I have been able to solidify the common threads in my most successful work environments. I would recommend anyone take the time and explore this for themselves.
This video is a TedTalk given by one of my favorite supervisors. He helped me to develop my professional identity and was an excellent role model. Please take the time to see what he has to say about the key to a successful workplace. He has taken the time to consider what he values in a career and has created an amazing business sharing that with others. This is Paul Osincup. I am honored to have spent a few years working with him.