Tag Archives: finding a job

Talking Proud…For Real!

As most of us born, raised and living in Western New York know we are a luck group of people despite the 50 years it has taken for the area to redefine itself from a rust-belt city into a new dynamic metropolis and region of the USA where young highly educated people want to go to live and thrive.  Katie Couric at Yahoo News has done a great job of capturing some of the cities rebirth in her series “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America.”  Ms Couric has certainly done the city proud…Thank you



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Meaning In Life

Erie County Home, Alden NY

Erie County Home, Alden NY

Yesterday was a remarkable day for me. In that day I was able to freely wander the rooms, offices, storerooms, hallways, coolers,  kitchens and so much more of a place and group of people who helped me grow and develop into who I am now. For 18 years, from 1977 to 1995, I worked at the Erie County Home in Alden, NY. I started there right after I graduated being pushed to a large degree by my Mother.

The push was firm but gentle. It was something I desperately needed at the time since I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I knew that I should continue my education but I was not a jock nor brain so the paths open for me were few. I was quite rebellious and swore I would not take the SAT or ACT college placement exams so I didn’t and went to the local community college after taking a year off. In that year I worked up from a cleaner to dishroom leader and then the shipper/receiver. That was back in the day when employers could offer tuition assistance and I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of it.

I finished up that degree in 1983 with an Associate in Business and a load of extra courses since I was searching. I did all my course work at night and after the first year I went full-time while working full-time. How I fit the studying and partying in I don’t know, but I did and I almost got a 4.0 for the five years and 96 credit hours. Much of that can be credited to the people I worked with (Jessie, Irene, Vicky, Karen, Sue, Marlene, Mike, Jimmy, Howie, Donny, Mary and so many more) and my managers especially Maureen Murray and Greg Hall. I’m not sure what they saw in me but they certainly gave me the opportunities and knowledge to succeed and I became Greg’s assistant manager of the dietary department.

The work was challenging everyday feeding 600-700 residents three meals a day on a tight budget. We also had the challenge of finding employees at the time and we worked with a number of handicapped individuals. It could get frustrating, but it meant a lot to us to try to work together, help each other out and do the best we could for the residents of the nursing home since meals had such meaning to their daily routine. It was also our challenge to fit into this facility being non-union, non-government employees. Then we were a contract company ‘stealing’ union jobs from their people. Add to this the fact that the staff of the department before we came was quite aloof and didn’t work with the rest of the departments in the facility.

It took about 8 years, but finally our team was able to be a true part of the facility. By that time I was also working on my Business degree. I finished that up and then in 1987 went on for my Masters. During that I also was wed and had two great children. I also did all that schooling without one student loan nor debt! Sadly I wasn’t home enough to see them grow in their early years and the marriage fell apart shortly after I graduated and the contract we had with the nursing home was lost in a bid. Tough changes, but perhaps they were changes I needed to move me forward and help me to recognize what was meaningful in my life. I created another job with my advisors consulting company that I loved and I was able to become a father to my children more than I had in the past.

Since I left in 1995 the nursing home has undergone many more changes. The company that beat us in the bid was thrown out after a few months and the company I had worked with was brought back in and are still the food service provider. The county government decided about 10 years ago that they wanted out of the hospital business and then a couple of years later the gave the nursing home to the private, for-profit company that was running the hospital. This company decided to bring the Nursing Facility closer to the hospital so they built a beautiful new facility for the residents. The transition was completed last month and now the facility is about to get ‘mothballed’. Before that they decided to hold an auction of the buildings contents.

I attended the auction and it was quite bittersweet. Not much had changed in the 18 years since I was there and yet much had changed.  In the halls I could still imagine dodging patients with large food carts. Often we helped them in their wheel chairs. Other time we joked around with them. I could hear Herbie Prior, a 80+ resident in his broken stroke speech calling ‘hey boy’ and saying ‘ah hell’ when he forgot something. Or there was ‘the professor’ who was confined to a wheel chair and sat at a table a bit like Steven Hawking unable to speak very well but in a crimped up way he held his pencil and paper and worked on mathematical computations all day. We taught Herbie Prior how to blow shot-guns with his pipe. We were in awe when we found out a resident of about 75 wasn’t BS’ing us about his playing harmonica with a pretty well-known musician in our area. It was amazing to see our resident, Grant Lee being picked up by John Valby to go to a bar, play and drink with “Dr Dirty”. He is even on some of Valby’s early albums.

Looking now at the time I see I have spent a bit of time on this and this is a good place to stop. I had intended on posting a beautiful poem I found on the wall of the ‘Homes’ library conference room but that will have to wait until tomorrow. For now I can go to bed and remember the day.  Reflecting on the memories I know I’ll look at my sleeping wife and daughter and sigh thinking how luck I am. That is what brings meaning to life or should I say that is where I’m putting meaning into my life? I feel it is a bit of both and even more that creates the meaning for my life…

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Career Talk

When I was younger, I dreamed about being a paleontologist. By the time the sixth grade career fair rolled around, however, I had decided to be a lawyer. By senior year in high school, I decided to be a teacher. Part of growing up is having different career aspirations. While many kids initially focus on very familiar professions, such as teachers or firefighters, part of helping them to grow is exposing them to different kinds of jobs that play on their strengths.

For younger children, career exposure may simply mean bringing up different careers as you encounter them. On a car ride listening to the radio you might mention all the different jobs that are involved in radio broadcasting: DJs, sound board operators, advertisers, marketers, directors…the list goes on. Include kids in conversations you have with friends and family about their careers. You should also talk to your child about what your career entails. Capitalize on bring your child to work day and let your child experience what a day in your shoes is like. If your child has a specific passion, like dinosaurs or trains, talk to them about specific career options that capitalize on these interests. At this point, however, you should make it clear that part of school is getting to try out a lot of different subject areas to learn about what kinds of thing interest your child. While it may seem nice to tell your kid that he would make a great counselor because he listens so well, you shouldn’t try to pigeonhole your children into one career path.

Bringing your baby to work might be a little excessive, however. (Image Credit:http://dadomatic.com/bring-your-work-to-kids-day/)

As kids get older, however, career exposure can become more focused. Encourage your high-schooler to try an internship in a field he or she might be interested in pursuing, or volunteering in a similar area. A lot of businesses are very accommodating when it comes to having a high school student shadow one of their employees for a day to see what the job actually entails. If your child is really struggling with what to do after high school, encourage him to ask the guidance  office if they offer any career-oriented quizzes that can help guide your child towards something he may enjoy doing.

If your child decides to go to college without a specific career path in mind, don’t push her to make  decision right away. It’s better to spend the first year taking courses in a variety of subjects than to be in courses you hate. I had a friend my freshman year who had been told by her father that she was going to be an economics major even though she wanted to be a theater major. After failing a few of her first-year courses in economics and having a blow-out fight with her dad over summer break, she came back in the fall as a theater arts major, with a minor in economics. Every parent has dreams for their child, but pushing too hard can put a real strain on your relationship.

Although college-age kids may not want as much support or advice from parents, there are still resources you can encourage them to consult. Nearly all colleges and universities offer a career services center that offers free support to students in everything from finding internships and writing resumes to finding jobs. Encourage your child to be proactive from his first year and complete as many internships as possible. These real-world working experiences can not only help point your child in the direction he wants to go in, but it can also help boost a post-grad resume significantly.

What are other tips you have for helping your child pursue a career?


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When I Grow Up

When I was little, I dreamed about becoming a paleontologist. Maybe it stemmed from the fact that my dad and I would pore over scientific books about dinosaurs before bed, or the fact that we volunteered at the local science museum. Whatever the cause, I wanted to be a paleontologist before I had ever studied science in school. Of course, time passes, and dreams change. I began to imagine being a lawyer, a psychiatrist, a high-school teacher, or a college professor. I enjoyed school, but as I got older it became clear that my talents lay outside of math and science, and the old dream of being a paleontologist died entirely.

After graduating high school, I went on to get a BA in English. The four years I spent on my undergraduate degree were relatively focused. I was going to be a high-school English teacher. Maybe it lacked passion or imagination, but I was relatively certain of my path. Student teaching opened my eyes to the fact that I was not cut out to be a full-time teacher in the traditional sense. I enjoyed working with students in smaller groups, but working with twenty-five students felt more like being a ringmaster at an out-of-control circus than a professional.

With the loss of my high-school teaching dream, I grew listless. I had no sense of direction. So I went to graduate school. For me, this was the biggest mistake I could have made. For some people, graduate school can provide direction. For others, it can just be a way to distract yourself from the larger issues at hand.

This crisis of what to do for a living can strike anyone at any time. Here are a few tips that I’m planning to use as I begin to seek out my own “when I grow up” dreams again, and hopefully they’ll prove useful for both of us!

Playing dress-up is fun, but will it really help you figure out what you want to be? Maybe! (Image Credit:http://www.zazzle.ca/playing_dress_up_poster-228885864439817171)

Try It Out

So you think you want to be a journalist? Try writing for your school newspaper! Want to be a lawyer? Spend a day in a law firm shadowing a lawyer! The point is, everyone has an idea of what doing a certain job would be like. The reality of that job can often be quite different than you imagined. Whether you spend a day following someone in the career that appeals to you or you try something similar to that career, it can only help you make a better educated decision. Even if you have no idea of what you want to do, get out there and try different things! Find careers that you think match up with your strengths and interests, and figure out a way to learn more about them. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. For those who are in college, you can take this to the next level with an internship. The people I knew in college who did the most internships seemed to have the best idea of what they wanted to do. So take advantage and do as many as possible!

Ask Around

Throughout my entire life I’ve had people telling me that I should be a lawyer. Maybe they thought it would suit my sometimes contrary personality, or maybe it was because of my love of talking. Either way, I’m starting to think that maybe they had a point. Think about the things that people say you’re good at, or would be good at, and try them! Sometimes, it takes an outsider’s perspective to show you something new about yourself. If you’re at a total loss, ask friends, family, or teachers what they think you should do. You don’t have to take their advice, but it might give you some good ideas!

Get Experience

So you don’t know what you want your perfect career to be? Don’t let that stop you from taking different jobs while you’re figuring it out! Take jobs that sound cool to you, and that will give you skills to put on your resume. If you love traveling, why not try working at a hotel or campground? You’ll get to meet lots of tourists while beefing up your communication skills and knowledge of the travel industry. If you think you want to start your own business, find a small local business and get a feel for the day-to-day running of a business.

What are some other tips you have for figuring out what kind of career would best suit someone?


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