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Finding a job in a weak economy

Updated on May 15, 2012


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


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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