May 8, 2021

GETTING OUT THE PARACHUTE!

It wasn’t easy trying to find a new job—especially for single mothers with young children.  The interviewers seemed to stumble when imagining the difficulties and cost of moving our family to another state.  Somehow I don’t imagine they had the same concerns when hiring men.  After all, if they were married, their wives would look after the children or find suitable child care.  

In this photo, we were visiting Mother in Athens for a week one summer.  I brought along my portable electric typewriter and was updating my resume.  I decided to look for jobs in the Knoxville area.  George Eaves was home that week and offered to go with me to Knoxville one day to scout out some job opportunities.  It was always challenging to create new versions of my CV that would seem tailored to specific locations or jobs.  Sitting at Mother’s table after breakfast with Heather, Patrick and great-nephew Robert laughing at my typing and offering suggestions for what I should say was hilarious. 

During a five-year period I interviewed for various jobs in Knoxville, Nashville, Greensboro, NC, and Gainesville, GA.  Some of the opportunities or communities were options I couldn’t imagine accepting.  Others were promising but timing or salary offers didn’t make them feasible.  And always there was that sinking feeling when I tried to imagine taking two young children to a mew town where we had no friends or family.  

Later I discovered What Color Is Your Parachute? by Dick Bolles—and went to a weekend workshop he taught in Atlanta.  So many of the things he talked about helped make much more sense of the process of job hunting!  Like many women at the time, I wasn’t at all clear about what kind of job I actually wanted.  His exercises helped me define what factors were personally most important to me, and to define my “transferrable skills” that would be useful at work.  I also resonated with his vision of lifelong learning and doing informational interviews—just talking to people about their jobs, learning what they liked and disliked, how they found their jobs, and getting ideas from them about other people to interview.

Because of that weekend in Atlanta, I was able to recognize the kind of job I really wanted—right under my nose at Providence Hospital, where I was already working!  As my family responsibilities changed over the years, I transitioned to jobs that were a better fit with those.  And then in 2001, my circumstances and opportunities came together in ways that were surprising and wonderful—and I moved to Nashville for a job I really enjoyed in the heart of downtown.  But first, there were those mornings at the typewriter—and dreaming of something new.

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