Find Work: Later CAN be better.
Sometimes “no” is the right answer to a job offer, even when you are a recent graduate living states away from family. A graduate of NYU’s Masters of Social Work program, Leigh was offered the position of Family Assessor Social Worker. Ultimately, Leigh declined the position because she knew that the fit was not right for her.
Innately sweet and raised by a mother who fostered several children, Leigh was able to decline the offer and remain on good terms with her would-be employer. The hiring manager expressed her gratitude and encouraged Leigh to apply in the future for positions that might be a better fit.
Find Work – Making Connections
Following graduation, Leigh and her boyfriend evaluated where they wanted to find work and live, settling on Charlotte, North Carolina. Upon hearing about Leigh’s move, her Aunt Joan asked her friend Nancy (who was from Charlotte) if she had any ideas for Leigh’s job search. “I liked Leigh right away and was flattered that of all the places she could have picked to live, she chose my hometown”, said Nancy.
When Nancy was 40 and had three young children, one of whom was disabled, she lost her husband. Nancy understood all too well what it was like to need work and had been fortunate enough to turn her volunteer service into employment working in social services.
Decades later and remarried, Nancy found herself in a position to help others. Seeing a spark in Leigh, she introduced Leigh to the agency that placed her son in his residential home and also introduced Leigh to her daughter who worked for a different social service agency.
With Nancy’s recommendation, Leigh met with the agency and began working with them on a part-time basis. Leigh continued to keep in touch, frequently emailing Nancy with updates as the months went by.
During this difficult time she remembered, “When I was in graduate school, I joked around about how I wasn’t concerned about getting a job, because really… who wants to work in Child Welfare? After I graduated and turned down the Family Assessor position, I assured myself there would be more options. Time went on and I started to re-think the position I turned down, but my awesome support system kept helping me remember the reasons I turned it down. I remained cautiously optimistic that something would come around soon. I had struggles working in a part-time job that didn’t require a college education, but I knew I would reach my goal soon, as long as I kept working towards it.”
In late February, many months after moving to Charlotte and after regularly checking several websites for new job postings, Leigh’s wish list job of a Foster Care Social Worker surfaced. She applied the week the job was posted, interviewed, was offered the position soon after the interview, and started on April 15.
Find Work – Lessons Learned
Leigh says, “My best advice is to surround yourself with people who believe in you and even if you’re feeling down on your luck, you have to remember to keep working hard and your time will come.”
Broadcast your job needs to your family. Say yes to help. Trust your gut enough to say no to the wrong job, even if it means sacrifice. Keep all your patrons informed along the way. Don’t wait for companies to notify you of jobs—even those that try to hire you and say they still want you. Assume they won’t make the first move and proactively follow their websites. Pounce immediately when the job is posted and call in your network to vouch for you.
P.S. Last names have been omitted due to the sensitive nature of Leigh’s work and to respect the privacy of Nancy’s special-needs son.