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Finding a job in a weak economy

Updated on May 15, 2012

Stenography

I don’t know about you, but finding a job has been a real challenge for me. Perhaps it is the city I live in and perhaps it is simply a depressed economy, but it has been a frustrating and often futile exercise.

To fill you in: I went back to studying in my 40s, after my husband passed away suddenly – which was the biggest shock of my life! I had completed all courses required of me to enter the field of study I thought would be my final career path. I had chosen Court Reporting because it forms part of a prestigious and professional business environment. Jobs are available and one has to be hard-working and dedicated and with the necessary skill set to capture the spoken word and reproduce it faithfully in a quick turnaround time - and one can make a very good living. The average court reporter earns an average of around $60,000 a year. One can choose to become an official court reporter, freelancer or captioner – either live or offline. In this field one can also become a transcriber otherwise known as a scopist.

The task is a difficult one. Using machine shorthand (stenography) one must reach speeds of over 180 wpm in Literary, 200 wpm in Jury Charge and over 225 wpm in Testimony with 98% accuracy. To cut a long story short, I got halfway through the course and faced a medical crisis which changed everything. I thought that I was about to meet my Maker, but I’m still here to tell the tale.


Court Reporting - Del Mar College

Ultrasound

I went back to my studies and tried to continue with stenography but found that I needed to make a change. I switched majors and began studying in earnest for a career in Ultrasound. This meant that I needed to study Algebra and Physics, subjects which I had previously not been keen on pursuing. I began with elementary Algebra and proceeded to complete college level Algebra and I also passed Physics. I am extremely proud of the fact that I scored straight A’s, partly because failure was not an option and because I had the most outstanding Math teacher that I have ever seen. She was my saving grace and I will be eternally grateful to her for her expert teaching ability. Physics was another matter, but I finally found the help I needed and flew through it.

I completed the core curriculum and was accepted for either the general ultrasound program or for the study of Echocardiography - Cardiac Ultrasound. I chose the latter and underwent 18 months of grueling training, which included clinicals. It is not easy being the oldest student in the group, particularly when the group is small and the youngest student is 21. Being an “outsider” from another country and of a different culture also hampered my progress. All I could do was grit my teeth and bear it, so I did. I completed my degree as an Honors student and with straight A’s. I then sat the national registry and earned my credentials, putting the letters RDCS (Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer) behind my name.

Example of imaging of the heart with Ultrasound

How to gain experience?

I was ready to go and I found a part-time position at a local hospital. The department was busy and understaffed and as a newly qualified sonographer, I required some guidance and mentoring. The long and short of it was that the department needed someone with experience and so I began my search. I looked in all 50 United States and even further afield. The message was the same: hospitals and cardiology groups wanted someone with 1-2 years of experience. I was in the classic Catch 22 situation. How was one to get experience without getting a job? Eventually my search ended with a group “somewhere” in Canada (location to be disclosed at a later date) snapping me up. Things move more slowly with government, though, so I am waiting for paperwork to be approved. In the meantime, needing to earn dollars, I investigated the Temporary job market. I am sure that in a bigger city, there would be far more on offer, but in a city of approximately 350,000 strong population, businesses here are looking for temp. to perm. employees. So, here I am, a thoroughly educated and mature woman, scratching around to find work that will keep bread on the table and keep the wolf from the door.

L.K. Jordan & Associates

Staffing Agency
Staffing Agency | Source

Sitting for a new Model House

I completed a one-week assignment and have just accepted a weekend assignment to house sit for new homes on show. The house I am currently sitting in is a beautiful double-storey home. It has won The Energy Star Leadership in Housing Award, which means that it is 20%-30% more energy efficient than many other new homes and far more efficient than older homes. Walls and attic have insulation that reduces energy use and increases home comfort. Windows have better technology which keeps the heat out during summer and keeps the home warmer during winter. Fortified construction and sealed ducts reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen and noise which in turn reduces utility bills and maintenance and improves comfort and air quality. Indeed as I sit and type this, while waiting for prospective buyers to arrive, I am cool and comfortable beneath a fan, neither overheating nor getting chilled, and looking out through lovely windows to a garden which has been graced with plants which attract hummingbirds and butterflies – and to my sheer delight, I have seen both! If one sits patiently enough, one can spot a variety of birds that live in this area, and I just saw a Mockingbird running across the mowed lawn, with its wings lifted, flashing its white wing-patches, and watched it snag a worm.

Beautifully staged brand new home for Mother's Day?

This house is beautiful and has been marvelously staged. It has been filled with furniture and looks lived in. If I were in a position to buy a house, I would be extremely tempted to buy this one, as is. I do hope the remainder of this weekend will be as pleasant as it is now. I am foregoing Mother’s Day, as my son is half a world away and I will have to visit my mother-in-law when I have completed this job on Sunday at 6 p.m. I take comfort in the fact that I am earning some money to pay my bills and hope that my next assignment comes along quickly enough while I fill in my time before I make the move to Canada – a land I have not previously visited.

Perhaps I should sum this all up by saying that despite one's education, training and experience, in order to remain up-to-date and employable, I think it's important to remain flexible about what jobs to accept in order to survive. Remember that there is supply and demand and each experience is useful in that it teaches us something one way or another. The attitude we bring to each situation is what is important and the experience we take away with us only serves to give us more insight and ability. Life, itself, is a school of sorts and many of use have earned our QBE: Qualified By Experience!

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    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Reagu - perhaps I used the wrong terminology. These are show houses and people are coming to view! :) I guess the term isn't actually house sitting, but I'm not sure what to call it...

    • reagu profile image

      reagu 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      House sitting. That sounds interesting. I didn't think people got paid for that. When I was young, my uncle and next door neighbors just asked me to check in on their home and water the yard. But I didn't stay in the house.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      KDuBarry, you're such a love! I agree that determination takes one far and one must never give up. I think you've done a lot and I'm convinced that you will go very far yourself, you have such a great attitude. :) Thanks so much for your comments and votes - they are much appreciated.

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      Age absolutely does not matter when it comes to finding jobs/careers anymore. What really matters is this: perseverance and dedication. If you are dedicated to find a job and you won't give up, you will find one with great benefits in the end :) I remember, prior to high school, my mom and dad would talk about how the economy is going and I figured, "Just in case of anything..." So I went to a Technical school for culinary arts. Ever since 2009, I've always had a job because I was determined to do so. Just because i'm 20 now does not mean anything; it is only a number. Keep holding strong, Sue! I voted this one up, it was definitely a great read!

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Absolutely, Emilybee... sometimes one job can lead to another, even if it wasn't what we were hoping for in the beginning. No experience is ever wasted, and at some point, one has to keep the wolf from the door! Keep on keeping on! :)

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      Hi Suelynn, I'm looking for a Communications job, focus on writing, but at this point would settle for even an administrative job. It's sometimes hard to not give up but all we can do is keep chugging along and keep giving it our best shot :)

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Omigosh, Emilybee! I do understand - it's nerve-wracking. Best of luck to you and NEVER GIVE UP!

      Thanks for reading this hub and for your comments...

      What job are you looking for?

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      I hear you! My story is similar...kind of. I graduated college 2 years ago and am yet to find a job in my field. And interviews are stressful! Three interviews this week and I just want a job already. Best of luck to you!!

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      MelChi... I think I've proved that it's never too late. Don't give up on your dreams, my friend. :))))

      Clairemy, thank you so much for saying - you're so sweet. Wow, NORWAY, how exciting! :) I wish you all the success in the world... sounds like we will both have similar adventures going from a hot climate to a really cold one! I have always wanted to see the fjords, but have never been able to afjord it! HAHA! :)

      Travel safe and best of luck.

    • clairemy profile image

      Claire 5 years ago

      Suelynn, you are an inspiration!!!! But a job will come, believe me. I am leaving for Norway on Tuesday, after months of searching. Oneday I will go home to my beloved Egypt, but for now ,like you I must work to keep the "wolf" from the door.

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      I never became a professional Interior Decorator. I studied very young, and I did a few odd jobs for friends and colleagues, and offered advice where ever I could. It's still a dream job, and one door that's still just a crack open :)

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      BJC, your comment made my day! I couldn't agree more, just getting worn down with waiting to start the next big adventure... Thanks so much for your kind comments!

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 5 years ago from Florida

      Keep on keepin' on. You're an inspiration! I graduated college in my late 40's and it was one of the best things I ever did. Age is a number and we have to be persistent. Great hub.

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thanks so much for saying, MelChi. There are days when all one can do is take a step at a time. We need to keep moving forward. I do try to focus on the beautiful things in life as it makes a huge difference. Nature is the ultimate healer. Thank you for your kind comments and wonderful wishes, they are greatly appreciated. :)

      Did you finally become an Interior Decorator?

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Suelynn, you are so courageous and determined! Even with everything you've been through, and circumstances - you keep going. That is truly inspirational my friend!

      I can relate to the catch 22 situation - when I first left school all I wanted to do was be an Interior Decorator, and companies were only interested in hiring someone with experience.

      Wishing you luck, strength and perseverance until you're working in your dream job and the one you've worked so hard at training for! :)