Coming back better than ever

Sometimes life throws you a curveball.  And sometimes it throws you right off your feet.

For Rachel, it started when the family moved to northwestern Pennsylvania for her husband’s job.  She had been working as an auditor but couldn’t find similar work in their new community.  “That kind of career path just didn’t exist,” she said.  So, like many people, she took what jobs she could find in order to pay the bills.  Then her husband’s company downsized.  After retraining, he was offered a position in western Maryland.

Unfortunately, auditing work was still hard to find.  A three-hour commute to Baltimore or D.C. was not realistic with two young kids at home, especially without the support of friends or family nearby.  After a long search, Rachel found work at an accounting firm.  It was not a great fit, but she was making do…until she was diagnosed with cancer.  For a full year she focused on beating the disease; then it was back to the job search.

She had briefly connected with the Western Maryland Consortium before her cancer diagnosis, and this time she returned to make full use of their services.  An opportunity to take an accounting and bookkeeping class, paid for by the Consortium, marked a turning point for Rachel.  The class was confirmation of the knowledge she already had, a reminder of things she needed to learn, and a confidence-builder.  “It gave me the confidence to know that I really was good at what I did,” she recalled.  “It was something that I needed desperately after literally being flat on my back with everything that had happened.”

Still, she found it hard to get interviews, primarily because her work history included gaps in employment and jobs for outside her intended field.  “You start to think that there’s something wrong with you,” she explained.  But her case manager worked with her to downplay problem areas.  Almost as soon as they were done revising her resume, an auditing position for which she had previously applied without results was re-posted.  This time, she got the job.  “I’m very, very grateful,” she stated.

Rachel explained that while it was still up to her to do what was needed in her job search, the Consortium offered more resources, as well as people who cared about her.  “The hole was just so deep, I didn’t have any idea how to climb out of it,” she explained.  The Consortium “made such a difference.  I just thank God that they were there when I needed them.  They’re a wonderful service.  I wish more people could make use of them.”