A story you’re going to love…

It’s my privilege to share a good news story from time to time.  And today, I heard a good one, which my friend Kevin has agreed to share with you.  In his own words….

On the first of March, I signed a one-year lease to move into a one-bedroom apartment in Hyattsville for $909.00 a month, including $45.00 for utilities. I chose this particular apartment based on the income I was bringing in as a temporary employee for EEI Communications and working for the agency’s client, Seamon Corporation (formally B L Seamon), a company I had been with for nearly eight months. 

And then my contract ended. 

By the time I moved into my new apartment April 1, 2011, I only had three days remaining at Seamon Corporation with no immediate prospects lined up, not even a promise for future long-term assignments from EEI Communications.  So, I immediately decided to apply for unemployment benefits for the first time in my life.

While still unable to buy new furniture for my apartment and dreading the rent each month, I turned to my career counselor Anne S. Headley for advice, along with staying in touch with former colleagues from my previous assignment, including Michele Valentine, who had been my managing editor.  I also posted my resume on job sites including Monster, Careerbuilder, The Washington Post Jobs Section, and even Job Services on the Virginia Employment Commission’s (VEC) website. 

Realizing the difficulty I was having in finding work in my own field, I decided to apply for whatever job I could find as quickly as possible; so I turned to Craigslist where I soon found work as an administrative assistant for to a man named Daniel John, who needed assistance in composing and sending letters to U.S. Senators and Congressmen to have his aunt who was suffering from various health problems transported from India and to the United States. Mr. John paid me $10 an hour for two weeks to perform various tasks for him, which during my earlier stay here in this apartment came in handy when I combined his check to the last ones I had received from EEI Communications, including one for the last week of my 8-month assignment at Seamon Corporation, along with one for another short-term assignment at a corporate site in Bethesda, Maryland, also courtesy of EEI Communications. 

Further assignments at EEI Communications became few and far between, lasting less than one week and with even less money, so again I sought other alternatives. By that time, I was finally receiving calls from prospective employers for desired positions, including: Writer/Editor, Technical Editor, Program Manager, Freelance Writer, etc., most of whom had responded to my resume posted on Careerbuilder’s website, among others. Although I was thrilled to receive such attention from so many employers, I found myself more often than not being outdone by other candidates who were considered to be more qualified for those positions. 

While still desperate for steady income, I followed up on an ad in The Washington Post for a part-time Utility Mailer position for the same newspaper, which was a fancy title for a worker who collates newspaper inserts. Soon, I found myself working graveyard hours between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. wearing a smock and goggles for paid training. 

During the day, however, and thanks to my connection with Anne S. Headley, I was already working as a freelance reporter for an online newspaper called Patch.com on my first article after Shannon Hoffman, a College Park Patch editor, saw my resume posted online.

Finally, after nearly five months of collecting unemployment benefits, accepting sporadic assignments for less pay from EEI Communications, working nights collating newspaper inserts for Sunday’s The Washington Post, and doing clerical work for a neighbor, I finally found full-time work as a Copy Editor for a government agency called NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).  My resume was discovered online by a recruiter for a temporary agency called the VNS Group Inc., whose client was NIST. For the first time in five months of job-hunting, I felt alive because my credentials were both discovered and appreciated as the perfect fit. And to prove that I was worthy of the attention, I took NIST’s assessment test and passed it with remarkable results.

I’ve learned that it truly pays to explore all the alternates during challenging economic times, even if it means accepting positions that you may not want. I learned that networking is a lifelong process, and that absolutely nothing should be ruled out, as long as it pays the bills. Keeping those things in mind, I haven’t been late one time in paying my rent.

And now, I have officially accepted a full-time position that pays at least one dollar per hour more than the EEI Communications assignment I had lost just prior to moving into my current apartment. Talk about poetic justice! But, I didn’t achieve this goal without settling for less first or staying close to former colleagues and my beloved career counselor, Anne S. Headley. 

So it pays to be humble and assess your situation first, above all else. Not a sermon, just a thought.

Kevin Harris

Dear Kevin,

Thank you on behalf of those who are struggling.  Thanks for sharing those really painful steps during this difficult time.  You remind us that the monthly rent check is a challenge to be kept in mind at all times.  I think it is evident from your letter that you are a person with  good manners,  who understands that people who are recognized will remember you fondly for a long, long time.  I wish you the very best in the new position, and I’m glad you’re going to keep writing for patch.com. I hope you’ll write for this blog from time to time, especially about letting go of the anxiety of unemployment and enjoying a successful adjustment to the new job.

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