I started working at the local hospital in May 2015 and have recently grown increasingly dissatisfied with my position. Several of my coworkers did things to make work difficult on the rest of us, I got stuck working every other weekend (I agreed to it, but it got tiring after a while), I unwillingly got stuck working both Christmas and New Year’s weekends, and I was given just enough hours to stay right under the level of receiving benefits. Outside my department there were no issues, and I enjoyed the job itself, but unfortunately the environment inside my department made it hard to sustain that enjoyment.
When I returned to college in August, my adviser encouraged me to consider the practicum course, in which you work 8-10 hours a week in a mental health setting and can earn 3 credit hours for basically just chatting with classmates about what you’ve learned. She didn’t have any connections in my state, however, and the connection I had was struggling to think of something they could legally allow me to do. My adviser did mention that a paying job could be used for the practicum, and in mid-November I submitted an application to work as a Residential Technician in the local residential facility for dual-diagnosis. It wasn’t ideal, as it would make me have to quit DBT group and choose a new facility for any future inpatient care, but I was desperate to move on to the field I’ve chosen.
I heard nothing about that position. My job became more unpleasant. I wanted to actively search for a job, but winter had begun and I decided to wait for spring so I wouldn’t be learning a new job while having to drive to another state on icy roads. Then I got a surprising e-mail.
A few days before Christmas, a lady from a different branch of the same organization said that she had seen my resume and wanted to know if I was available for a position she had open. Let’s call this lady Tilly. The position was also for a Residential Technician, but in apartment buildings for people with mild-to-moderate chronic mental illnesses. She said the clients are mostly independent, but need some assistance to stay that way.
I had seen this job listing on the website and not even considered it, because it’s a 40-minute drive instead of the 10-minute drive I have now. I was really excited that someone would approach me for a job instead of the other way around, so I scheduled a time to drive out there for an interview. Tilly and a male coworker conducted the interview and it seemed to go really well. I asked a lot of questions. Then I told them I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue it further and would have to call in a day or two once I made a decision.
I had expressed a preference for days or evenings, then discovered that the clients need to be driven places, such as banks and grocery stores, every day. I’m not very comfortable with driving in general, less so in unfamiliar places, even less so with passengers, and absolutely not at all with a large vehicle. I went home prepared to call the next day and say I wasn’t interested. Then I remembered one more question I forgot to ask, so I e-mailed Tilly again.
Her response requested that I consider night shift, in which driving would be limited to emergencies, and they would allow me to do homework in my down time. She went over all the reasons she thought this would be a great opportunity for me. I immediately raced over to see Glenda and we did a pros & cons sheet, which was pretty strongly in favor of the new job. So the next day I dropped by the main center next door to the hospital and filled out paperwork for the background checks.
I got a call from Tilly the next day asking me if I could think of anything at all that I hadn’t mentioned that would show I’m a good candidate for the job, as the HR department had told her I wasn’t qualified. I couldn’t think of much, and hung up the phone in tears. I had gotten my hopes up, and there was clearly no way I’d get the job if I didn’t meet the qualifications. Then I didn’t hear anything. I was just about to contact Tilly and ask if there was anything else I could do to help the process, but I happened to mention the silence to Sierra and Rochelle after DBT group and Rochelle told me to hang in there because they were trying to work it out.
I got the job offer by e-mail that evening. The qualifications in the job description they sent do not match the listing on the website, in ways that make it so I qualify. I accepted the job immediately, turned in my two weeks notice on that Thursday. My official end date was supposed to be January 26th, but my last scheduled day was the 19th and they made it clear they wouldn’t be calling me in to cover if anyone got sick in that final week.
Orientation for the new job is scheduled for January 31st, with me starting training on February 1st. I’ll do a couple of days on day shift, one on nights, then back to days for a day so the supervisor can assess whether I need additional training days. Yesterday I got another e-mail asking if I can attend the monthly RT meeting on the 26th. I won’t get paid since it’s before my orientation, but I’ll get the opportunity to meet my coworkers, including the ones I’ll rarely see. It would be great to meet people in a less stressful setting than training, so I agreed to go.
I’m excited, yes, and also a little terrified. This will be my first job where making a mistake could have serious consequences. Sadie said something that sounded harsh but I really needed to hear: “Sometimes clients commit suicide. If you can’t accept that you can’t work in this field.” I guess I won’t know if I can accept until it actually happens, at which point either I’ll cope or I’ll end up quitting my job and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.