Archive for the ‘Specialized Careers’ Category

Suggestion for a good read

November 17, 2014

In this premature onset of winter, don’t you long to hunker down under a quilt, hot chocolate in one hand and a good book in the other?

I can’t help you with finding the best hot drink, but I can suggest a book that I read through in one setting.  That was partly because I know the author, partly because the topic is near and dear to me.

The book is Going to Church: it’s not what you think by Susan Mann Flanders.  Susan is recently retired from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, where she served various functions in churches of all sizes: seminarian, associate rector, interim, and ultimately rector.

I grew up in a time when women clergy in the Episcopal Church were unheard of.  The question never came up.  Never in my experience.

Things changed drastically in the 1970s, and now the sight of a woman in a clerical collar looks downright normal to me.  But I don’t want to take it for granted, because I still rejoice in opportunities for people to use their gifts as they deem appropriate, unencumbered by stereotypes and rubrics of yesteryear.

Susan is such a person.  In this book, you can learn of her struggles and triumphs as her career has unfolded.  She has shared of her life and her emerging theology in honesty, which is a great model for those of us who would rather present ourselves to the world as people who have their act together.

If you know people who are “spiritual but not religious” or who have walked away from their Christian tradition because it doesn’t work any more, consider steering them toward this little book.  The appendix alone that contains a sermon on Abraham and Isaac is worth the read.

About that federal job …

August 4, 2014

I just discovered a wonderful resource for those of you who are seeking federal employment.  You already know it is a daunting task.  So you will welcome yet another source of information and inspiration.

Do you know Karol Taylor and her work?  Karol is one of the nation’s experts in this subject, having worked in career development from within a government agency for many years.  Now, in what we laughingly call retirement, she has published two books (Guide to America’s Federal Jobs and Find Your Federal Job Fit, both published by Jist) , teaches, coaches, and speaks on the topic.  She writes and tells it like it is.

She is also a blogger, sharing her subject in bite-sized chunks.  Job seekers, you should follow this:  You won’t be sorry.

Start by checking out the distinction between being eligible for the job and being qualified.  Who knew?

Shameless plug for art

January 27, 2014

Readers of this blog know that I don’t often plug a commercial product.  In fact, I can’t remember doing so, unless it is my own book or other career products.

Here’s an exception.  My very talented brother, Pete Simcox, has opened a shop on Etsy for his paintings, and I’m inviting you to visit the online gallery and take a look.

You can go to and search for SimcoxFineArt.  If large-scale landscapes or bold abstracts interest you, you will love his works.  Yes, I’m prejudiced, and yes, I’m hoping you will help spread the word of this talented guy and his paintings.

Pete, thanks for sharing with the world.  Here’s a salute to the family member who got ALL the artistic ability. You’re a role model for other retirees, who now have the opportunity to go back to previously-undeveloped passions and skills.

It’s here!

December 12, 2013

You’ve heard it from me and (I hope) from school.  This is it – the week of code.

The tech giants (every company you can name in the field) have banded together to sponsor a unique program called Hour of Code.  Whether preschoolers, students at all levels, or just plain people of all ages and experience (or not), it is time to head for and start exploring.

I’ve just been cruising through the site.  Animated holiday e-cards!  Getting your friends to be robots and follow your program directions!  Designing a game and then playing it!

This is fantastic.  So creative.  And if you can accomplish one of the projects, you can print yourself a certificate of completion.

I could go on and on, but my card isn’t quite finished.  Must figure out how to drag the squirrel onto the Christmas tree.  Cute!

While the young folks are coding – er – having fun, remind them occasionally of the job opportunities that are out there for programmers.  They just might thank you for this someday.

Are you registered?

November 17, 2013

I am!  I’ve only a vague idea of what is going to happen during Computer Science Education Week (starting Dec. 9), but I’ve registered to participate.

Have you heard about this world-wide phenomenon called The Hour of Code?  It is an education effort designed primarily for students (but they are letting the rest of us tag along), developed and presented by the captains of the computer world – I mean the real giants in the field.  Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, etc etc. are concerned about the lack of competent programmers being trained right now, so they are planning to enlighten us and demystify the programming process a bit.

During Computer Science Education week, this special tutorial called Hour of Code will be offered to schools, communities, day care centers, families, workplaces, and anyone who wants to learn.  I suggest you register now, so that you will receive emails about upcoming events.

The March on Washington – reflections

August 26, 2013

Fifty years ago this week, I was a sulky, brooding college student vacationing at home in Florida, watching the coverage of the March on Washington.  Tampa seemed so far removed from the action, and I longed to be somewhere more – well, stimulating.   The reflecting pool!  Crowds!  Rhetoric!  Causes to pursue!

My own route to Washington took up much of my senior year in college.  A test for a government agency, an interview, an onsite visit for more tests and interviews, a lot of angst, and then the job was mine.   A job offer never sounded so sweet.

I pined for a life in the Washington metro area from watching the march coverage on TV, and I’ve never changed my opinion.  It’s an exciting place to live and to work.  I hope I have contributed to the dream of Dr. King by being a career counselor and teacher to hundreds of people seeking information, guidance, and encouragement to follow their passion.

What memories!

An Unexpected Gift

February 1, 2013

Yesterday, I received something so surprising, so delightful, that I have been smiling ever since.

A client from a few years back (4 years? 5 years?) wrote to touch base.  Wanted to let me know what is happening with her and to inquire how I am.

Well, I’m fine, thank you.  As I have shared before, this is a year of moving into retirement / refocus.  I’m concentrating on the clients I already have and on a renewed focus on several writing projects.

But way more interesting is how she, the former client, is faring.  And the answer is – great!  I remember her so well.  A young graduate in a branch of performing arts, stuck between part-time work and that huge question of should I give it up and get a steady job?  

As I recall, she embarked on a program of simply touching base with the good people of her academic world and letting them know she was in the area.  And it worked.

A former teacher, now located in a new university, let her know that there was an administrative job available in an arts department.  Which she applied for.  And she got.  Etc.

Fast forward in time: she is completing a Master’s degree, still works at the university, still delighted to be working in her creative field in any capacity at all.  Her personal life has also blossomed.

If you are reading this and grumbling that some people have all the luck, I beg to differ.  She has worked at it.  Stayed in touch, accepted work that was not 100% what she wanted to do, remembered to say thank you to all along the way.

Barbara, you’ll go far.  Keep doing what you are doing.  Keep in touch.

Passion as career indicator

May 23, 2012

I’ve learned to ask clients what they care about.  What they really, really care about.

What would you make a speech about?

What influences your vote?

How would you change the world?

And everyone has an answer.  Education, kids, alternative medicine, the elderly, solar power – these are a few of the answers I’ve heard recently.  These passions just may be a clue in determining an exciting career or life design for you.

One such person was Rachel Carson, born May 27, 1907.  Trained as a biologist, she was an employee of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries.  You have to wonder what that was like, in the era when women were secretaries.

Carson started documenting the damage done to the environment by synthetic pesticides and published her runaway best-seller, Silent Spring, in 1962.

I can remember reading the book as a college student and being horrified.  It was my first inkling that our individual actions had dire consequences for Mother Earth.  (How naive that sentence looks today!)

Anyway, Carson changed the world by raising our awareness.  DDT was banned and the Environmental Protection Agency was founded.

So this May 27, give a thought to Rachel Carson on her 105th birthday.  And then think about your pet passion and consider changing the world.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Carson.  And thank you.

Here’s to you, Studs Terkel

May 15, 2012

Workers of the world, let’s stop to pay tribute to Studs Terkel, born May 16, 1912.  A journalist by training, his great achievement was interviews of workers in many fields and what they liked/didn’t like about their jobs.  Not scientific, not empirically tested, yet this classic, Working, still produces nods of recognition when the reader finds an area of common interest.

Thanks for producing this honest, intense look at workers, Studs.  As you celebrate your hundredth birthday in the next life wherever you are, you might be interested to know that many individuals and organizations struggle to do what you did – describe the world of work.  Today, you would love to browse the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, doubtless looking for anecdotes to enliven the statistical content.

It’s Official!

May 10, 2012

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been approved for recertification by the National Board of Certified Counselors for a five-year period.

So yes, I can keep those initials after my name:  NCC (Nationally Certified Counselor), NCCC (Nationally Certified Career Counselor).

It’s challenging to get the credential in the first place, and then it’s somewhat challenging to keep it.

To keep the right to use those initials, one must complete a number of hours of continuing education within the five year period and also adhere to the ethical standards of the organization and the profession.

Actually, I love doing those things.  Going to conferences and one-day workshops or doing self-study programs are fun and always enlightening to me.  There is so much to be learned, especially given the information and technology that swirl about us.

Ethics?  There’s no other way to be.  Keeping confidential what clients share, keeping records, and recognizing limitations add up to being a decent human being, I hope.  It’s a commitment I take seriously. The great counselors with whom I’ve worked tend to view their field as a spiritual calling, which is of course totally compatible with ethical standards.

So I’m proud of my affiliation with NBCC and proud to show off those initials for another five years.

Meanwhile, if you are searching for a counselor in a number of specialty areas, don’t forget to consult for names of members in your area.