Understanding the Value of Support
Terry grew up in Winthrop Minnesota and graduated from high school without a clear focus of what she wanted to do. The message from her parents was to “get a good job.” Her sister had a good job at 3M in New Ulm and Terry followed in her footsteps. A Human Resource Manager there told her about the college program available through 3M. If you picked a major that was something that could be of interest to the company they would pay the tuition. Industrial Relations, now called Human Resources, was an approved major and MSU Extended campus classes were conveniently offered in New Ulm, so she began.
Life was good; she loved the manual labor needed at her job and also the academic challenges that came with college and she knew that sometime down the road she would have a job helping people. Then she met John, the man she later married, and moved to Fairmont to be closer to him.
Terry’s career path took a turn in Fairmont when she looked for employment where she could help people and continue to work on her degree. She knew she wasn’t clerical material so she looked for more interaction. She found work at REM. In 1992 she graduated from college but there were few companies in the area that had HR departments. Terry was also aware that there were few women in HR at the time and any openings that she saw were looking for people with experience.
She worked an assortment of jobs that weren’t necessarily long term; one that she really loved was a position with Healthy Families through Martin and Faribault Human Services. She actually worked there at two different times, the first time there was a budget cut and she was bumped for a more senior employee. Sometime later it became available again and Terry returned to it.
While she was working at Healthy Families, she saw the LWPC flyer on an Over 50 group. The thought of “planning for the last 1/3 of her life” appealed to Terry and she signed up. She really enjoyed the workshop and especially the support and camaraderie of the other women in the workshop. She thought that there were a lot of neat exercises and discussions and she recommended it to friends and family. Sometime later the grant for Healthy Families was cut and once again Terry found herself without a job.
This was especially difficult because she had really loved working with the young mothers in the program. She suggested attending the Personal Growth and Career Development workshop to a co-worker who had also felt the budget cut and they decided to take it together. It’s hard to start over again especially when you really liked the job that you had.
There is advice that says “We’re not designed for isolation, especially when handling a challenging life transition. Join or gather a group for mutual support….” The topics were interesting and thought provoking and again the support and the camaraderie of other women who were also going though their own difficult situation really stood out. Terry said that she left every week feeling good, much of it due to the support of other women.
When she found a part-time job at the Mankato Workforce Center working for Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC) as a Vocational Advisor for the Dislocated Worker program, she was very excited. She absolutely loved it but the commute to and from Fairmont was very long.
One day she saw that MVAC had posted a job opening for a new position as Head Start Site Manager for Martin and Faribault County, a position she now holds. She is working full-time at a job where she is helping people and using the skills that she has developed. Life-Work Planning Center helped in making the transition and finding support.
– Christine Olson, Peer Counselor