Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Thank Our City Workers!

Des Moines Public Schools had planned to use MLK day as a snow make up, but it was overturned by the school board based on good speaking and listening skills of many people.

MLKDr. King  would be proud of the process involving our community and his holiday!

I also think he would appreciate students being in the classroom on January 21 learning and growing! He obviously had a passion for education, as did his wife Coretta, and knew how important learning is at every age. I totally agree!

I have more to learn about MLK and how his life continues to evolve throughout communities across our country. 

Green garbage truckThankfully, every Tuesday morning the garbage in my hood gets picked up!

The evening before he was assassinated, MLK was prepared to lead a protest march to help support striking garbage workers.  He was just doing his job to help others do their job.

Thank you to the city garbage workers and thank you to the city street sweepers. I appreciate your work. Des Moines is a beautiful city filled with people who care about our community and I’m proud to live here.

Street sweeperI hear the sweeper on my street quite a few times throughout the year and rush to watch it pass by my house!

Thank you Dr. King for all you’ve done, especially for your call to service helping working people across the nation. I’m particularly fond of this quote:  

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King.

Be the best you can be at what you do as an attorney. Let me know if you’d like my help to help you help your client on a case involving work and disability!!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Creative Cover Letters Entice Your Reader

I decided from my last blog (so many choices!) to write about me looking for temporary work….

Last year, I applied for a temporary part-time academic counselor position at DMACC. The position was focused on young “at-risk” students. I share my cover letter (which wanted the applicant to address certain characteristics or skills in the cover letter). I added side comments and graphics to illustrate!:

November 25, 2014

DMACC Human Resources

2006 S. Ankeny Blvd., Building 1

Ankeny, IA 50023-8995

ATTN: Susan Bernard smbernard@dmacc.edu or 515-964-6487

Dear Susan:

I am hopeful my master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling will be put to good use at DMACC as the college’s newest part-time temporary career counselor. I am a DMACC graduate and if it weren’t for my experiences with many of the college’s instructors (for special reasons I recall Robin Orr; and many other great teachers!), and the time in class I spent learning on the Ankeny and Urban campus, I would have never gone on to get a bachelors, let alone a master’s degree!

HSDOI had the lovely label “high school dropout”

As a person with a colorful educational background, including being labeled a “high school dropout” I fully acknowledge the importance of a great community college. I value DMACC highly. This is where I found how much I love to learn, and better yet, I found out I wasn’t so dumb after all!

Happiness is Finding Out

 “Happiness is finding out you’re not so dumb after all.”

I love to help others, and people absorb information if it is presented in a number of different ways, in one sitting, or through several meetings and follow-through activities. My experience also tells me that as the “teacher” such knowledge has to be facilitated in a holistic manner, encompassing what the learner has offered about their background.

I’ve delivered presentations to many audiences, including youth at church, high school age learners, adults (colleagues, clients or potential customers), health-educational programs (smoking cessation, CPR/First Aid), including an entire room full of attorneys (for their continuing legal education needs). I see presentations as a way for me to become a better counselor. I re-learn the topic for the presentation, gather updated information, and focus on how to present in a creative way that makes sense for my audience.

The timing for your needs and the interest in this opportunity is coming at a great time for me. As this counselor position is temporary and part-time, it works well with my current work load as a self-employed person. I hope you read the answers to the supplemental questions I prepared for more information on the required and desirable qualifications you seek.

DiversityI believe diversity surrounds us, and without embracing this limitless concept we’d all be boring! I however do not know a second language, although I do know and utilize methods for taking notes, including Gregg shorthand and medical terminology shorthand, all in order to gather and absorb valuable data.

Thank you Susan. You can reach me at 515-282-7753 or vocresources@gmail.com. Please feel free to look at my LinkedIn page, and connect with me for more information. I also blog and maintain my own website at www.lcpresourcesplus.com  You can find a lot about me on these two platforms. Or better yet, call me soon and we can interview!

Sincerely,

Amy E. Botkin

BTW, I’ve followed up on my application with Susan four times since, and haven’t heard back….but I am persistent and I want to know the status of the application. I’ll keep trying…however now the timing may not be so perfect for me!

Image result for time cartoon

Timing is Everything!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

A Success Story About A Veteran I Was Proud To Help

Following through with my last post on honesty, here’s the success story I mentioned:

During the placement process, I assess the client on his or her take of honesty at work using interview techniques, a self-report scale, and ensuing discussion. I’ve heard great stories.  I remember one client, a veteran I helped ~10 years ago when I had a contract to provide vocational services to VA Voc Rehab. The veteran (served in Nam) wanted a more suited job using his many transferable skills.

One day, while he was at work cleaning the men’s restroom at the I35 rest area near Osceola, the veteran found a wallet filled with cash. He called his supervisor who drove to the rest areas to retrieve the wallet, and it was returned to it’s owner.

Lost Wallet, Honest Worker

What makes this story even more honest is the veteran was being paid ~$6.00 an hour to clean the rest area (all areas and facilities inside and outside). The wallet he found was filled with enough money to have paid his wages for nearly 2½ weeks of work (cleaning disgusting toilets, working out in the cold, being treated like poopy by people who just want to get in and get out…) And he returned it all. All.

References are Golden Nuggets!

To help with placement to a better job for the veteran, the supervisor, following my request and with my help wrote a superb reference letter. The letter helped with the success of this veteran securing his new job. He was hired at Homemakers Furniture where he made use of his transferable skills (one was leather upholstery) and excellent work references along with the help of the VA’s hiring incentive program.  Nice work! I love this success story!

Back to me for a bit. A story of mine about honesty ranks up there too and simply put, that’s what a morally and ethically sound person does! I’ve returned found cell phones, various personal items, coats, neighbor’s mail, and money. Yes, money, in fact thousands of dollars.

Find cash on the sidewalk down the street! Get shortchanged? Too much change? Overpaid? Underpaid? What do you do?! A money dilemma!

Okay, here’s why I’ve literally returned thousands of dollars. As an independent contractor I more often than should happen experience  a long, long wait to get paid for my work. Not fun and not fair.  In fact, not that long ago I waited months to get paid, and then I received three checks in three separate envelopes for one invoice. Of course I returned the duplicate checks!

check

It literally added up to over $6,000!

Since 1999 when I started my business, I’ve been overpaid probably about six times. I couldn’t tell you why, but I return the checks…and pay postage doing so. And since 1999 I’ve been NOT paid once. I still remember it. It was for my hard work performed on a complex case. My final invoice totaled ~$500 and for some horrible reason the insurance company didn’t pay me. Ironic the [workers’ comp] case ended up being a NON permanent total disability. Needless to say, I won’t accept assignments from that representative any longer. Okay, I’ll stop…but could write a lot about unethical people!

I’ve written papers on my work and ethics. Please visit my LinkedIn Page to read the papers or call me at 515-282-7753 and I’ll send you copies.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Be Honest, Save A Purse!

Recently, I freaked out…..the adrenalin spiked quickly the moment I fully realized it was gone. This was a wild mind body stressful experience!  You know what I mean (I hope, if not, and you don’t carry a purse, well, read no further..!) Ever lost your wallet? Anything realllly important?

You look everywhere, and then your brain remembers. I made a call. Yes! Gateway Market Café found a black purse. Four hours earlier, we had been out and about….in the bitter cold….and stopped to get some soup, sat down to wait, but then decided to change the food order to go. Guess who left something important behind?

Good Thing It's Not a Coach!
Good Thing It’s Not a Coach!

Good Thing It’s Not a Coach!

Bottom line for this blog besides keeping track of your things is that I truly believe people want to be honest. A pleasant employee of Gateway Market (I love the place!) answered the phone after only a couple rings, and after confirming and racing back, the nice guy with the long pony was quick to return it to me. Silly me [bonk self on side of head, harder….] But Whewwwwwww.

I did the same thing a few days earlier at the Botanical Gardens…left my purse at the top of the steps overlooking the beauty of the conservatory. There’s a better reason for my forgetfulness that time and it has to do with the excitement during this picture.

2014-12-27 14
2014-12-27 14

Part of My Fam! Randy, me, ArinJune, Nick, Taylor, and Derek! 

I ran right back up the steps to retrieve it…..and it was gone! OMG.  I ran back down the stairs (thank goodness I do step aerobics!) and searched for my family, who had gone on to view more beautiful plants.

There she was, the woman with the two little girls who had taken the pictures from my phone. Ahh, there’s the fam too, and one of my lovely children had my phone. Phone and purse saved! Geez, don’t mess with a 51 year old!

Saving what you found and returning it to its rightful owners is right. Be Honest. It’s also a good idea to play more Lumosity brain training games!?!

During a vocational evaluation to help with the placement process, I assess the individual on his or her take of honesty at work. Stay tuned for a sharing success story about job placement!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

 

Congratulations to my Beautiful Daughter….She Starts a New Job Today!

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Arin was in interviewing mode. She found success! Today she starts her training at the Des Moines Public Library. My daughter, a librarian aide! I love it. She is so excited! It’s a part-time position, which the library does for all aides, that pays pretty good! She will continue at Walgreen’s as well, so will be working plenty of hours. Do you remember what job(s) you had at age 18? Click here for my earlier work history.

AJ the L

Arin the Aide To the Rescue!

I have blogged about Arin in the past and my grandma’s love for reading. Reading helps in lots of ways; one being that your vocabulary will become larger and more sophisticated. I remember one of my professors at Drake University (Dr. Bob Stensrud!) said something along the lines that a strong vocabulary is a sign of high intelligence. I’m sure there’s plenty of variances on that statement from people much smarter than me, but I agree that intelligence drives the need to acquire the vocabulary in the first place.

On Saturday, Randy and I took a road trip. When we realized from listening on the radio that the Cyclones just might win, we decided we needed to watch the second half! We found a nice place in Oxford, Iowa and stopped on in. There were some buddies hanging out at the bar and one was kinda making me sick. He was a “chain swearer”. You’ve heard one. F this and F that in almost every sentence. And when watching college football on a big screen tv, you can imagine what I heard. Yuck!  I will admit I heard myself say “Poopy” over and over towards the end of the ISU game….

I thought hummmm is my theory that people who swear excessively have low vocabulary levels and corresponding low intelligence? I don’t know, but there are studies out there I’m sure. I do pay attention when interviewing evaluees about their use of profanity and will report on it (while also offering counseling “advice”) as it certainly affects one’s view of professionalism in the workplace.

Profanity BoyPeople Swear, and Unfortunately I Am One of Em

But I don’t want to and I do notice it when I swear and chastise myself! And I try to stop hubby too. And Arin. And Jake. And Nick….and on and on! When my mom swears (not often) I sure take note! Woah!

I cringe when I hear a person swear in professional environments (and on the playing field…and  especially in front of children). I certainly hope Arin doesn’t let a big “F-bomb” out when she is at work at the DMPL (frown upon for sure!) She won’t! [I’m making her read this post…]

Back to the point of this blog and successful interviewing. The keys to a successful interview are preparation and practice. Let me know how I could help and download this tip sheet titled on Interviewing.

P.S. Don’t swear during an interview! Use the best communication skills you have!

P.S.S. My grandma Jean’s favorite “bad” word was “Horrors!”

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

Never Underestimate the Power of Volunteering!

I want to reflect upon my volunteering experience … and engage you in thinking of your own. Does volunteering pique a developing interest? What specifically do you, or have you done to volunteer? Did the time fly when you were engaging in the experience? What were you responsible for in the role?

Even if it’s low key, your contribution and what you gain from any volunteering experience is of value.

Job Placement Network

For three years, back in 2006 – 2008, I chaired the Job Placement Network group. So, my interest was (and remains so) networking! My role to serve as the leader of this diverse group of community service providers offered me the opportunity to expand upon my existing skill set.

I tasked myself to administrate to the non-profit’s mission, organize meetings, market to employers, design and deliver materials and resources, recruit members, communicate ideas and detailed information, and most importantly network, network, network! And have fun!

Your network can grow as much as your mind can think. And there is no limit to your thoughts!

Currently, the networking group has not been engaged, although I’m sure hopeful in the future with new leadership, JPN can really make a splash in the future of our community!

Here’s a quick slide show about JPN designed in 2008.

If you are interested, (how about you, you wonderful Drake student?) please contact me for more information.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce

 

 

 

Whistle While You Work…or Grunt and Groan!

It really does help to make noise while you’re working. I often work in complete silence. But when I whistle or listen to music, it does seem as though the work goes more smoothly. I have no idea why. I guess the Dwarfs did.

Maybe the sound helps distract the mind from trying too hard and prevents mental overload.

As I’ve written about in the past, mom and dad raised 5 kids. Us children are all only 13-15 months apart. Think about how much hard work Ann & Dick had in order to get us all out of the nest!

Here’s a great little YouTube Video of what it may have been like from the 5 babies viewpoint! The momma bird is hard at work and the song Whistle While Your Work is playing to help her!

Thanks for feeding us! 

 I completed my second week of boot camp (six more weeks to go …) and will say Linda Ross, our trainer is an excellent coach and instructor. She encourages us to do our best and to MAKE A LOT of NOISE when we exercise.

 It helps when you grunt and groan while you work out!

As I continue my journey in life, I find how important it is to work hard at whatever is at hand. Life isn’t easy. Whether it is mentally or physically, there is always more to learn and to improve upon. So, make noise! Be alive! Whistle, grunt and groan at work!

Don’t wish it were easier. Wish you were better.”
― Jim Rohn

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

Hermey’s Career from the Production Line to Dentistry….Follow Your Heart

Are you being productive at work because you enjoy what you do? If so congratulations! You experience coherence between your work and your personality.

I wrote awhile back about my son starting a job at Wells Fargo as a collector. He is doing very well there, and recently moved up into a team leadership role. Good work Nick. I am very proud of you! Nick is able to become successful because of coherence.

Hermey and Rudolph

Hermey and Rudolph (did you know the movie originally aired in 1964?)

Perhaps you have a bit of the character Hermey (or my son, or even me!?) in you? Are you happy at work and therefore productive because your work and your personality just click? Or is it the opposite?

People are happiest when they are put in jobs that match their personality. Rewarding work improves your success rate. Personality can be a big factor in determining the success in any particular field. Equally important, when you work in an environment that supports you, you act and even feel more effective!

One day at work in the toy factory, Hermey was going to get written up by the head elf because he hadn’t finishing painting the toys. ‘What’s eating you, boy?’ the Head Elf asked. Hermey simply wasn’t happy with his work and didn’t like to make toys.

Hermey

Hermey is Very Good with His Hands!

When asked what he wanted to do, Hermey replied, ‘Well, sir, someday, I’d like to be a… a dentist.’ He continued to explain how there was a need for a dentist and he had been studying….’It’s fascinating; you’ve no idea. Molars and bicuspids and incisors…’ It helps to be fascinated by your work. Skills and natural talent make your career a perfect fit!

Hermey had keen insight into what made himself click, and most likely, unless the Island of Misfits or The North Pole had Internet access, he knew this without taking an online personality inventory. If you click to the left you’ll go to a previous post from me [and on me!] on personality.

Upon gaining experience, with fixing dolls’ teeth and later extracting the abdominal snowman’s teeth, his career really took off!

Ab snowmanHe really wasn’t mean at all!

The abdominal snowman was in pain and needed help. Thank you Hermey for your talent, ability and confidence to help him.

I have written two articles on dentists over the last couple of months for Women’s Edition – here’s one. This dentist loves his work!

AuraFollow your Heart!

I am naturally drawn to my work. I love my work and am passionate about my career! I become energized and engaged by what I do for a living!  I hope you do too!

Here’s a great article about Why Loving Your Work Matters. It describes 5 big ways that having energizing work benefits both your life and the world around you:

You have more energy to put into ~

~ your work

~ your relationships

~ making a difference

~enjoying life

~ overcoming challenges

I hope you have a fantastic week! May May Bloom!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

 

March is Women’s History Month…Thanks Good Boys!

March is Women’s History Month. The theme this year is women in science, mathematics, technology and engineering.  My husband thinks he is his school historian, so here’s his take….and my additions.

It took women more than 72 years of arduous struggle to win the vote (called woman suffrage) from the Seneca Falls Convention on women’s rights, held in 1848, to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.

Seneca Falls Women!

Victory was never assured until the final moment, when Tennessee became the last state to ratify the amendment ~ by a single vote! In the intervening years, the drive for women’s voting rights encompassed the lives of several generations of women.

A man in Tennessee and women from all over

It appeared that the amendment might fail by one vote in the Tennessee house, but twenty-four-year-old Harry Burns surprised observers by casting the deciding vote for ratification. At the time of his vote, Burns had in his pocket a letter he had received from his mother urging him, “Don’t forget to be a good boy” and “vote for suffrage.”  

Signed, Your Mother

So thank you Harry and Randy for our vote and for this blog. You are both good boys! Randy, I hope your students enjoy learning more. Keep me posted on your subjects for the class you are teaching. Very interesting!

BTW, do you or your mother excel in science, mathematics, technology or engineering? Or your daughter? Does she? Even if they have just an interest in these areas, encourage the women in your life to learn more.

My daughter Arin is taking precalculus

Arin was chosen to participate in the Career Advantage program between her high school and Des Moines Area Community College. She’s taking a precalculus course. What’s even better, she gets 5.00 CEUs of college credit, and she’s “only” a high school junior!

You go Sweetie!

And thank you  Carrie Chapman Catt – one of Iowa State’s most distinguished alumni. I need to remember to thank you each time I cast a ballot. Here’s a link for more information on Mrs. Catt.

Carrie Chapman Catt Center

The  Cat Center at ISU

For a great resource on women in history, visit the Plaza  of Heroines 

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.

Randy and Abe’s Work…Pretty Impressive!

Okay, even more about Randy. He’s starting to get a bigger head. But he’s still not reading my blogs unless I remind him….what about you my reader, sign up for my posts and they will be emailed to you. : )

Randy has taught the wonderful and well-behaved youth in our community (hee hee) for over 20 years as a teacher for the Des Moines Public School District. He teaches at Casady Alternative Center. The goal is for the students to earn enough credits to either return to their original high school on time to graduate, or to graduate from Casady. Either way, it takes a lot of effort on the kids parts….oh yea and Randy and his fellow teacher pals to accomplish this goal.

At times in all our jobs we must work with, coordinate with, consult with, etc., and/or try to encourage, motivate, teach etc.,…..people who seem to not really care about a project, the subject matter, finding a job, caring for their own bodies, any goals…..on and on and on. You get my point. How do we continue to take pride in our work when it would be easier to throw in the towel?

It goes back to sustaining the pride you take in your work ethic.

And it helps to add humor into your approach with people who may be difficult to work with.  Randy has been known to dress up as characters when he taught a history lesson (a subject often known to be of boring material to youngens…some youngens…not you Taylor Prochnow!)

For example, he has dressed as Mark Twain to teach about (ahh, I don’t really know); and as Abe Lincoln (to teach about Abe Lincoln I guess.) He’ll have to fill the parenthesis in later….and in consideration that he is not at work today because of President’s Day, we’ll see if I can track him down.

Abe

I also need to track down a picture of Randy dressed as Abe

His favorite president I do believe is Abe Lincoln (or is it Richard Nixon?). Randy tends to have an interest in most presidents and really has a good grasp on what they accomplished, or didn’t, during their terms.  I think he likes Jimmy Carter too (I do.)

I often hung out with Abe and his son Tad during my lunch break when I worked for the state.

Okay, to the point of this blog about work ethic. I am pretty certain Abe had a fantastic work ethic and took great pride in his work.  I take great pride in my work and so does Randy. I hope you do too!

Recall from my previous blog that I believe you get your work ethic from your parents. Yet, what about the person who didn’t have great role models yet still exhibit qualities and traits of a hard worker/a person with good work ethic. Here’s an article that will help you grasp the concept of taking pride in your work from the get go.

I’ve found that it can be easy to exceed the expectations of others simply by being someone who is reliable, on-time, diligent and professional. I think these are all hallmarks of people with a strong work ethic.

Here’s some questions to ask and answer yourself about your work ethic:

Attendance ~ Are you dependable, stable and willing to take responsibility for your actions?

Reliability ~ Are you hard working and conscientious about the quality of your work?

Rules of Compliance ~ Are you likely to obey company policies and procedures?

Trustworthiness ~ Do you feel you are trustworthy and trusting of others?

I hope you feel good about answering these questions. When I interview people and find they have a good work ethic (and I often do…it runs deep here in good ole’ Iowa), I know that the person has what employers look for when they hire.

I found a couple shots of Randy and his buddy Abe (know where this is located?)

Good Friends
Good Friends
He Kissed Me Back!
He Kissed Me Back!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce