Growing up in England, Tim never really liked school. At the age of 16, he chose not to go on to college and instead started working. He washed dishes and worked for local fast food restaurants, until his mother helped him get a job at a national company in town. After working there, Tim realized he enjoyed sales roles and continued to seek those positions out until he went back to school. Tim told clients, "Figure out how risk-tolerant you are and seize opportunities when they present themselves." While bartending, a friend of Tim's told him of an opportunity running art auctions for cruise ships out of Florida. The next Monday, Tim moved out to the U.S and began working for art galleries and cruise ships. "I got this opportunity through a friend in a bar, and it changed my life," Tim said. Tim met his wife and they continued to travel and work until settling in Baltimore. In a new place, with no job, Tim looked up the Fortune 500's list of top companies to work for and found one near his home. He began volunteering until a permanent position became available. On the weekends, Tim traveled to DC to photograph weddings with a guy who worked for the Baltimore Business Journal. He soon transitioned to a role in sales there and is working at the BBJ now. Tim urged clients to "look at work life as an extension of your personal life. If you like people, get a job working with people, not in a cubicle behind a computer; your work life is a part of who you are."
Terri's first work experience was a job at McDonalds which her mother got her at the age of 16. From a small, rural community in Harford County, Terri learned the importance of hard work and seizing opportunities, as well as the value of education. Despite growing up in this tight-knight community, Terri loved variety and being in different situations. She worked jobs in a number of communities and after attending law school, held various positions in the nonprofit and public sector, learning the mechanics of how communities work. Terri worked in a number of Governor's offices, including the office of children, where she learned about healthcare issues affecting communities. When her entire department was disbanded, Terri went back to her law school and taught, having stayed in contact with many of her academic and professional contacts since graduating. Terri is now at the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, building partnerships with a number of community resources present throughout Maryland. She urged clients to look at the pivotal moments in their lives and to seize opportunities.
Anika works for a mental health services nonprofit, but didn't always know that was what she wanted to do. Anika's parents believed that a job was for the purpose of putting food on the table and paying bills. However, they always wanted the next step for their children. Anika and her siblings started working odd jobs, babysitting, doing yard work, delivering papers, from the age of 14. Unsure of what she wanted to do for her career, but passionate about working with children, Anika went on to study education in college. She worked her way through school, doing odd jobs at schools, churches, and nannying, until she was able to start as a substittue teacher. She found however, that she wasn't excited about teaching. Anika knew that to be a good teacher, she needed to be passionate and so she ended up moving to India to teach english and resource management instead. "During that time I made a lot of connections. Anytime I worked for someone, I always asked for a letter of recommendation or a reference. Whatever job I was given I tried to not only meet, but exceed expectations." When she came back from India, Anika had compiled a great stack of character and professional references which came in handy as she moved through her career and desired to work in the nonprofit sector. After more schooling, an unpaid internship, and many hours of volunteer work, Anika finally obtained her dream job working where she is now, doing community development at Empowering Minds Resouce center. She told clients: "don't let where you're coming from define you. Your passion should define you. Chase what you are excited about."
Rhapsody works for a global investment management firm. She spoke to clients about the importance of confidence, especially in the interview. Rhapsody didn't envision herself working in finance; she liked writing and tried the advertising field, but realized it wasn't for her. While taking time off to raise her children, Rhapsody picked up volunteer work and got into grant writing. Keeping her resume active showed employers, when she was ready to re-enter the workforce, that she had kept her skills current during her gap in employment. "I was always my own self-advocate," she said. "Be confident and energetic and ready to tell interviewers your story." Rhapsody let employers know she took a maternity leave but that she went back to school and is proud of that. She told clients not to hold back showcasing recent educational accomplishments. "Explain your background to interviewers and put forth that effort to show enthusiasm. Be memorable."
All of our guests stressed the importance of volunteering during your unemployment and speaking candidly and directly about your background to employers in the interview. They also reminded clients that getting out and meeting people is the best way to find a job; employers see so many resumes. Lastly, they urged clients not to be discouraged by lack of education; life experiences can make you a really valuable employee!