Sunday, April 22, 2007

Baby Laughs and Mommy Fears

When I tell people I'm looking for a job, they seem to give me a look that says "what kind of mother are you?" They say, "well, you must be enjoying staying home with the baby though." Then I sort of get to feeling bad. I get so worried about finding a job so we can keep paying the bills, and on top of that, worrying about whether I'm doing the right thing going back to school. With all this worrying going on, I'm not really appreciating the time I'm off.

When I really look at it though, I'm very lucky. I get to see daily milestones. Last Thursday, he laughed. That was great. I've never heard such an awkward funny sound. The more he laughed, the more we laughed, and that got him going harder. He ended up with hiccups. It was his grandpa that got him laughing, of course. Friday, he laughed again, at my sister. My husband and I are going to be the last ones to make him laugh, I'm sure. He smiled at us last too... after the ceiling fan, the door, the cat, and everyone else but us. That's ok, he just knows he doesn't need to do anything special to impress us.

I had an interview at a cell phone store last Wednesday, to be a greeter. "Hello, welcome, what can we do for you today? Please have a seat, someone will be with you shortly." That's all I need to learn how to say as a greeter. Sounds like the job for me, after the last one I had. I felt like the interview went horribly, but I guess the recruiter told my friend that works there that they were impressed with me. I'm not putting too much hope in that, but we'll see what happens. I never heard back about the receptionist job at the hospital that I interviewed for. I can understand not hearing back about every job you apply for, but if you get as far as an interview, it seems like they should at least call to let you know you didn't get the job.

I called the 3 area hospitals on Friday to ask them a couple questions about their hiring practices for RN's (one of my Dislocated Workers Program tasks). I found out that they all hire new grads, although not necessarily at clinics. They all offer health/dental benefits among other various 401k kind of stuff. One starts new nurses at $22/hr, one starts at $20.69, and one "didn't feel comfortable discussing that sort of information over the phone-but generally nurses in town make somewhere between $19.75 and $32/hr." That's quite a spread... you would think with the nursing shortage, and hospitals fighting for nurses, the recruiters would be a little more friendly. I'll remember this when I'm ready to find a job.

I'm trying to stay confident and positive about this new career path, but it's pretty scary at times too. I came across this blog and it nearly made me change my mind altogether. I guess after the CNA class this summer, I'll have a better idea of my abilities and the job ahead of me, and if I'm not cut out for it, I'll figure something else out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dislocated Workers Program

So, it turns out there’s something called the “Dislocated Workers Program,” in which the government pays for you to go back to school if you are “dislocated.” Dislocated is an interesting way to put it, but in any event, I applied for the program and was accepted! Like all government programs, there are several rules and hoops to jump through, I suppose in the hopes that you get lost in all the paperwork, and they don’t have to actually pony up the cash.

So, the rules are basically that you need to be moving into a career path that you can actually get a job in. For instance, they would not have paid for me to get my English degree. Nursing is in high demand, so it’s on their approved list. You have to maintain a “C” average while you are in the program. You have to check in with your counselor once a month to tell them how things are going. Sounds like being on parole. You have to attend one workshop per month on ridiculous things like “how to write a resume.” Ok, that’s a useful skill I guess, but still.

The hoops to jump through are: I have to complete their mock application to prove to them I know how to fill out a job application. I have to research the field that I want to go into, and answer questions about it, like a book report in days of old. I have to contact 3 employers and ask them how much they would pay me and what kind of benefits they would give me if I was a nurse. I have to apply for FAFSA. I have to turn in an example of a cover letter I’ve written. I have to take a reading and math test. I’ve already turned in the required copy of my resume, work search record, self assessment questionnaire, skills match questionnaire, job interest inventory, letter of termination from my last employer, and all my legal documents that prove I’m me.

For doing all this, they’ll cover my school costs. I was hoping at least they would pay for the CNA class, but they said they would pay for all the classes all the way through the RN program except for the 2 prerequisite classes I have left to take (Anatomy & Physiology and Microbiology). Wow! That was the best news I’d heard in a month of unemployment! Until she told me they would also pay for all my books, my physical, my shoes, my uniforms, my stethoscope and all those other necessary supplies, my liability insurance, and even mileage to and from school and daycare if I’m a full time student! Ok, now THAT was the best news I’d heard in a month.

I would be foolish not to take advantage of this. I’m pretty excited, but worried that maybe I won’t be able to go to school, take care of the baby (currently sleeping in his swing), and work enough to contribute enough to pay the bills. I’m certainly going to give it a try though.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Back to School I Go...

Now suddenly found with a lot of extra brain space that was previously reserved for all the crap I had to get done at work, I’ve had to start considering the future. What’s best for not only me, but the family. I came back to the idea of going back to school for nursing.

People say that I’ll get burned out, that it’s such a hard job, that it isn’t a good idea… maybe they’re right, but maybe they’re not, and how will I know if I don’t try? I applied for the community college’s RN program back in 2000 I think it was, and was actually accepted. I had applied to the nearby university’s bachelor’s degree program in nursing at the same time and was turned down. I ended up going to neither. I don’t remember why I didn’t go to the community college program, why I chose to go after a bachelor’s degree in English of all things instead.

I guess for some reason I felt the need to obtain a degree, and I didn’t want to settle for some community college certificate program. Well, there’s stupid pride for you. So, I got my degree, and had every intention in the world of becoming a technical writer, a novelist, or an editor, but here I am… 4 years later, having been a graphic design artist and accountant in the meanwhile, never becoming anything I intended. I learned graphic design and accounting, and have to admit, I became pretty good at both of them. Now, of course, I have no formal training to back up either of these professions, and I was fired a month ago from the job that gave me the chance to do both. I’ve spent so much time away from working toward the technical writer, novelist, editor career options, it would be very difficult to try to get that going now. I could go get a job doing accounts payable or something like it somewhere, but I don’t know that I want to. I’ll do what I need to do, but maybe try to pursue something I think I want to do.

So, the firing… 5 of us lost our jobs that day for reasons no one can really agree on. We were told our jobs no longer exist, but I find it hard to believe they no longer need someone to pay the bills or answer the phones. I alternate between depression and anger about it all. I really loved that job, the people I worked with, and believed in the place itself. I’m depressed because it was all taken away in the course of a 5 minute meeting. I’m angry for the same reason.

So, in trying to look on the bright side, for my dark cloud’s silver lining, I’ve come up with the following: I still have the people I worked with. They’re my family. If anything, this whole experience has brought us closer, and given us reason to find other things in common besides work. I don’t have to worry anymore about the financial situation of the business, whether or not we can meet payroll, or any of the other things that kept me up at night. I’m not my boss who came to this town for some unknown reason, leaving his family behind with no intention of moving them here, firing people who loved their jobs without caring about the people themselves, having nothing but work and money. I’m not the board president who doesn’t want to live in her former mayor husband’s shadow, so decides she needs to create a name for herself by ruining organizations all over town. I’m not the director of development who rose up from being a receptionist to where she is today by kissing everyone’s asses, by turning people away by bullying them, by not giving a care about anyone but people who could advance her agenda. I have a husband who loves me, who is my true soul mate. I have a new son who has grown out of his colic phase, and started smiling at us. I have friends that care about me. I have a really good life. Maybe this whole job thing is really an opportunity of some kind.

So, I just registered for a CNA class. I’m trying to get unemployment to pay for it through their dislocated workers program. After 6 weeks, I’ll be qualified to clean up patient’s poop for $9/hour, but maybe it will eventually lead to something more.