Unemployment: The tide has turned

I began my volunteer position as a patient navigator at the hospital this past week.  As I was introduced to the medical staff as a new volunteer, I mostly kept my composure as I met again the doctors, nurses and staff who had provided direct care to Stephen during his illness a year ago.

My first day as a volunteer was my first day of work after more than a year of unemployment.  I felt like a professional again wearing a suit and official hospital ID badge.  The employees seemed happy to have the extra help.  I have no medical office experience but I am learning their computer applications very quickly.  I have been told that I am doing a good job and that is important for me.  I will be working three days a week at the hospital and am looking forward to my next day of volunteer work.

I received a call this week for an interview for a retail position.  I interviewed with the department manager at the store on Friday evening.  I explained that I had not worked in a retail position since I was 16 years old but knew that I could handle the position.  When the manager told me that she expected to interview others for the position, I thought the interview was ended.  She then asked if I would be willing to meet with the store manager. After meeting with the store manager, both managers consulted for a few minutes while I waited (it seemed like hours) and I wondered why I was waiting.  The department manager returned and offered me the part-time position. I was stunned that this happened so quickly.  And I was stunned that I finally found a job.

The store is willing to work around the hours I work at the hospital.  I’m happy about that. I don’t want to give up my work at the hospital.  The retail position is only a part-time position and I don’t know if I can pay the bills with part-time hours but I am hopeful that I can get additional hours as time goes on.  I look forward to beginning my new position in the next couple of weeks after my pre-employment screening is complete.

The first person I called after I left the store was the friend who gave me the lead to contact a recruiter for the company.  I feel that I got this position not only because of my work experience but also because I was referred by a recruiter.

When I woke up on Saturday, I realized that I don’t have to spend my days sifting through job listings and applying for jobs.  Job hunting had become my full time job.  Soon I will be able to file my job search records and unsubscribe from the many email job alerts I receive each day.  Perhaps I’ll have more time to write blog posts.

I realized after working at the hospital this week that I really want to work.  A year of unemployment has changed my perceptions on employment and unemployment.  I’m happy to have a job even though I will still have to deal with the issue of having no health insurance.  I also know that no job is secure and that I may be in this position again in the future.

In the meantime, I feel lucky.  It’s not easy to find a job these days.



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15 Responses to Unemployment: The tide has turned

  1. weggieboy says:

    Small steps, but I hope they lead to what you are looking for! I think the self-respect and confidence these jobs encourage in you will help, too.

    • Natasha says:

      Yes, they are small steps and I’m still trying to figure out what I should be doing. Having one or two opportunities will clear my head so that I can move in some direction.

  2. Well done and good luck with your future career. When looking to employ somebody, I would always look favourably on somebody who has spent their unemployment working voluntarily, rather than one who has been sitting around looking for a position.

    Here in the UK, the healthcare science job market is very difficult and of the people who volunteer in the lab, it is very easy to see which ones will go far and those that are simply wasting time.

    • Natasha says:

      Thank you. I agree that my mention of my volunteer work probably helped me in the interview although I discussed it so that I could find a position that wouldn’t conflict with my work at the hospital.

      I believe the U.K. job market in general is worse than the situation here in the U.S. I found it difficult to find an admin position in the healthcare industry as I have no medical office experience. Working as a volunteer at the hospital will give me that experience – and I’m doing something of interest to me.

  3. smilingbug says:

    Congratulations on these accomplishments. I relate to what you wrote about your views on unemployment vs employment because I have been in that position, too. When I’ve thought about it, I thought it was silly to say that our sense of purpose rests on a job but at the same time it makes sense that usefulness makes us content. Your volunteer position sounds wonderful. Good luck at the retail job! I hope you will share how it is going.

    • Natasha says:

      Thank you. You’re right that our purpose shouldn’t be dependent on employment. How will I feel when I retire many years from now? But the threat of not being able to pay my bills and the constant bashing of the unemployed – I’m certainly not lazy – has not been a positive experience. Although I am making a transition back to employment, I will still write about employment and unemployment.

      • smilingbug says:

        Yes, there are so many facets to this topic. I am my own worst critic and have been hard on myself while unemployed but you’re so right about the financial and societal impacts. Thanks for writing about things that make me reflect on life. I’m looking forward to more posts from you. Thanks, Natasha.

  4. Salaam says:

    Good luck.

  5. Dan McGaffin says:

    Congratulations on both! As far as the part-time job goes, sometimes you just have to get your foot in the door for more work to come your way.

  6. Congratulations! It’s no small thing, a part-time job. The volunteer work means a lot as well because it reminds you that you are capable. Sometimes when you haven’t worked in ages it’s easy to focus on what you can’t manage to accomplish. The longer that drags on, the tougher it can be to remember your strengths. I know how that goes. I wish you tons of luck in both endeavors!

    • Natasha says:

      Thank you. Yes, the part-time job feels like a great accomplishment. I was so surprised to have both the job and the volunteer position happen in the same week.

  7. Congratulations–on both the retail job and the hospital volunteer assignment. Where ever one works — at home searching for a job and tending to yourself and your home, or out in the world earning a paycheck or simple appreciation — the work makes us feel good. Not better, just good. Enjoy.

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