Career Counseling

Creative Cover Letters Entice Your Reader

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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 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 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  You can find a lot about me on these two platforms. Or better yet, call me soon and we can interview!


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!

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Timing is Everything!


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

Author Specials

I’ve Served as a Guinea Pig. Wheek! Wheek!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

More on volunteering. As you will see, I have on my resume that I have experience as a guinea pig! Yes indeed, to help counseling practicum students (BTW: I’m currently available to help). I received free counseling sessions (!!!) while the student practiced. The sessions were videotaped and then viewed with the professor for a grade!


 This is Einstein. I preferred to call her Peggy!

Our beloved guinea pig died early in the spring 2013. She was a very nice pig. I miss her wheeks! ~ the loud noise from excitement! Wheek, Wheek! Peggy is also the name of the woman who gave us our new pet! Peggy the human (an Iowa State professor) and I connected via Craigs List (used it many times!) She was listing free guinea pigs, but the babies were all taken, so Arin and I got the momma!

Arin (my daughter, whose striped yellow shirt you see) named the pig Einstein, can you guess why? But, I preferred to call her Peggy.  So she has two names, like many a great pet! She lived for several years after her arrival to our home. Back to the post Amy:

When you’re looking for work or are changing jobs or even careers, consider your volunteer activities. If they’re not on your resume or professional profile, stop right now and describe them! You can incorporate those skills and abilities into your next position or you can enhance them now with your work! Wheek, Wheek!

There are so many more benefits than gaining valuable skills from volunteering. Take a look:

Benefits of Volunteering 

#1: Volunteering connects you to others

#2: Volunteering is good for your mind and body

#3: Volunteering can advance your career

#4: Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life!

 Wheek! Wheek! Wheek!

and then look at or download this 5 page attachment for more information! It’s titled: Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits ~ Helping Yourself While Helping Others.

Hope you have great volunteering experiences, with more in store for your future!


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


Happy Labor Day…Raise the Wage!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Today on The White House Blog there is a great post which is a copy of a message sent today by Labor Secretary Tom Perez and features his friend Ms.  Austraberta Rodriguez.

Mr. Perez writes “So today, if you’re ready for a country that does right by Austraberta and the nearly 28 million Americans who stand to benefit from a $10.10 minimum wage, then honor them by adding your name here

I sure did!

I just added my name to support raising the minimum wage. It was last raised to the existing $7.25 an hour on July 24, 2009 (our Iowa minimum wage rate that is, which is the same as the Federal minimum wage.) The time has come. Click here for more info about reasons to and reasons not to raise the wage.

I choked the other day seeing a loaf of bread for over $5! How much is that cheese? That much for butter!!  No way!!!!  Then all the other high food prices starting yelling at me. I had to run out of the grocery store!

Workers Need to Make More Bread!

How can people work and make ends meet at. It is hard to believe. My daughter questions why pay is low. She wants to move on in her life, but struggles with how she can do so. Plus recently her car died. Arin continues to work at Walgreen’s however she is in interviewing mode for another job that will pay more. (She may still continue to work at Walgreen’s.)

Click here Arin and and my readers for more information about Raising the National Minimum Wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

I’m into the Department of Labor lately! Here is another excellent link about

Books that Shaped Work in America

I read the summary of a book titled The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker written by Janet Groth and published in 2013. I am interested in reading this book as it brings back many, many memories of my days as a receptionist (teaching me incredibly valuable work skills.) I was paid temporary worker wage way back them, which commonly was more than the minimum. Which I would say 25-30 years ago I probably received like $5-6.


Hold Please!

I’m going to spend more time reviewing the content on this website! Very cool. The website also offers information on what each title in their growing collection of books has to do with the U.S. Department of labor.

“The Department of Labor touches almost every aspect of working in America”

Hope your Labor Day is happy and safe! Enjoy yourself!


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

Author Specials

January 2014 and Beyond…With No Wipeouts!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I hope you experienced a joyous and peaceful Holiday Season. Gains and losses experienced in 2013 turn the holidays into a happy and/or a sad time for many. I like to take it simple and slow, but that didn’t happen this year on Christmas Day, what a flurry of activity!  I remember when the focus was on the gift opener/gift giver, not everyone at once!

Mom and Dad had the family for Christmas Day at their home this year. I keep a journal and blogging also helps me remember! I did really well blogging last year, however taking a year long course takes a toll on the time available to write (and do a lot of other things as well). Anyway, here’s what transpired last year.

What will 2014 Bring?

I am ready to enter into round 3 (out of 4) of my educational program through GWU next week. My next course will be Law and the Rehabilitation Consultant. It will be interesting. I hope to visit Washington DC to culminate my program AND most importantly to visit with my niece Taylor Prochnow.

Taylor made an Iowa trip over the holidays from her home in Arlington, Virgina, to visit her loud and obnoxious family (that’s us). 

Me and T

Me and T skating at the Brenton Plaza (no wipe outs!)

Taylor  graduated from the University of Miami and moved North to work in international relations. She works for a think tank in DC….more to come on her career some day. I am very proud of our beautiful Taylor Marie!

I hope your January is peaceful and the months to come bring what you foresee in your career. I’m excited about my career, especially preparing life care plans, and in planning my work flow. To help, I’m using the services of our local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for free, confidential and customized advice! I recommend if you have a small business, or want to start one, to do the same. Here’s more information on the SBDC.

And back to the wiping out possibility. I didn’t wipe out during this ice skating experience. But boy did I start slow and clunky (ice skating is not walking dummy…it’s more of a gliding motion.) I was getting into it!

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Follow what you enjoy in your new year and you will see success if you never give up!

But then again, a wipe out (AKA a mistake or an error) will happen and my mindset is that you learn from your mistakes.

Happy New Year! Be Safe, Make Good Choices, and Be Creative!

One choice you can make right now is to contact me to discuss a legal case that I can help with. I’m here to help you help your clients with litigated cases involving work and disability. 


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





Job Placement

Can You Make Money? Save Money? Solve Problems? Yes! Then You’re Hired!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When I stay out of town or I can tell in a second if the water I’m showering in or drinking is hard. Hard water feels different (icky) and tastes different (ucky). When the quality of your water is soft, the soap you use in your bathtub, shower, sink, washing machine, dishwasher, and on your skin is incredibly efficient.  Your body, dishes, clothes become much cleaner than if hard water were used.

And the taste is so much more crisp, clear and clean and drinkable!

In my mind, soft water is essential

In the past, I’ve blogged about my dad and his career at Culligan Soft Water. Yes, I grew up around soft water, so that may be why I love it so much. And yes, I realize there are benefits of hard water as well (like watering houseplants!). That’s beyond the scope of this blog!   However, within the scope of this writing is the fact that….

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I am fascinated by the work people do!

I invite you to read a nice short story about Emmett Culligan’s day once long ago when he was not at work.  Sounds like something I would find myself doing (striking up a conversation with a worker…and then getting fascinated about his work….and losing track of what I was doing to begin with!). The maintenance worker came up with a brilliant idea that accomplished the three goals employers look for when hiring:

A person who can help to make money

In this situation, the worker clearly was a valuable team member to keep the hospital filled with patients.

A person who can help to save money 

The worker’s idea saved on supplies, in this example, the use of soap to wash hospital linens.

A person who can help solve problems

 The worker’s idea prevented scaling in the boilers by removing the hardness from the water.

This holds true to this this day. Employers look to hire a person who can help them either make money, save money, and/or solve problems. And Mr. Culligan ended up doing just that!. By hiring many people who helped him in each of these areas, which lead to a successful business.  On one day in the 1950’s that included hiring my dad! Here’s a funny blog about how to use the office water cooler (according to cats.)

Want to tell a potential employer how you can do these things? Here’s another blog post on interviewing skills! I loved to share stories about success at work! Leave me a comment with one of yours! Or call me at 515-778-0634 and let’s talk! 


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


Career Counseling

My Mom’s Jobs…From Typing Cookbooks to Court Clerk to Pool Manager….and more

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In June, I wrote about my dad Richard Prochnow and his work. Now on to my mom!

During the years all five of us were at home in the 70s, going to school every weekday, my mom worked out of the basement. Ann typed recipes for cookbooks. Using a manual typewriter, she typed up the ingredients and instructions for recipes submitted by cooks from all over the country. Often the information provided was scribbled on slips of paper. Dad served as the initial proof reader. After the pages containing the recipes were ready to be published, that is typed error free and in specific format, mom drove them to the cookbook place on Siloam Road.

Mom was paid by the page

In the late 70s, mom secured a position as clerk of court with the local magistrate’s office. She was responsible to keep track of the charges and the outcome of the court hearings involving smaller crimes (traffic violators, disturbing the peace, minor assaults, public intox, peeing in public, etc.)

Mom describes this job as keeping the records on “little” criminals

Also during this time frame mom worked part-time as a pool manager for the newly built indoor swimming facility at Ellsworth Community College.  She describes how she cleaned the pool with a vacuum. She checked the chlorine and pH levels of the water in the pool and in the sauna, mixing and adding chemicals as needed. She also scheduled lifeguards and kept on eye on them!

Mom got in the pool every Saturday morning!

There’s more to come, but I can certainly tell so far how I’m attracted to clerical work (I have always loved to type), the legal system and swimming!

Let me know if you’d like me to review your work history! I’d love to!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * * 515-282-7753


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


Career Counseling

Graduations, Birthdays, Holidays, Weddings, and Career Counseling, Oh My!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Originally Published on: May 28, 2012

This is such a busy time of the year for everyone! Yesterday my family celebrated Jacob’s high school graduation. It was a very nice ceremony held at the Knapp Center on Drake’s campus. So much diversity at North High!  So many happy families! And the band and chorus were fantastic!

A Happy Grad

I’m looking at some of Jake’s school paperwork, which includes his report card and transcript. Wow! That’s a lot of work!  Jake did really well in Aquarium Science, Psychology, and Economics.  Okay, being a vocational counselor that I am, I honestly can’t figure out where those three courses could tie together.  Let me think…..

One Spoiled Clown Fish

Career counseling the owner of a clown fish who spent too much on the aquarium set up. Sure.

That aside, where can Jake find a like he likes that includes fish, studying the mind and behavior of said fish, and using goods and resources efficiently?

How about animal caretaker? Where can a position like this be found in Jake’s labor market? What are some titles of a job like this? What are some of the employers in the market who hire for jobs likes this? What are the physical requirements of a job like this? Can a job potentially be accommodated if need be? How much does the work pay? What does the future look like for this job? ….. on and on Me and My Questions! 

I’d have to do a labor market survey, question workers in the field, look up statistics and perform other research related to accommodations and more. Sounds fun to me! Oh, and then write a report about my findings, results and recommendations for Jake (if that’s really what he wanted to do for work at this time in his life.) 

And next up, my beautiful daughter Arin is celebrating a big day today!  Happy Birthday Sweet 16!  She’s been car shopping!

Nice Ride, and I just noticed Texas Plates!

Happy Memorial Day.  Have a great day and be safe! I have some weddings to go to next month!  I love going to weddings…free food!

What have you been up to? Would you like my help in helping your client with their vocational future? Contact me to discuss your case! Thank you for reading my blog!


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

Author Specials

Creatively Looking at Creativity! And Gaining Valuable Skills to Boot!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Originally Published on: May 21, 2012

I’d like to take a creative look at creativity. Have you ever created anything new that added value and a way to gain valuable skills?  Sure you have!

Drawing pictures, writing for a magazine (I’m a freelance writer for Women’s Edition), garden or silk flower arranging, painting an old milk can, sewing a bunch of buttons on your jeans, knitting a really long chain out of yarn, crocheting a baby blanket, baking secret cupcakes, sculpting your hair, story-telling in the dark, cracking jokes before breakfast, rebuilding an old tractor engine, building a swing out of an old tire, designing a user friendly website, starting a small business in your basement, singing a self-written song, designing a voice activated door opener (I so want to do this!), creating a mural with sidewalk chalk in your driveway, mowing strange shapes into your lawn, and on and on and on……is simply put, a fun way to learn and gain valuable skills.

 There is so much going on in your mind when you’re creating!

I believe it is important to ask my clients about their hobbies and interests.  The wonderful attributes of a person’s inner workings help me to identify their transferable skills beyond the basic ones found from their work background.

My son Jake, who graduates on Sunday from high school, has always loved to draw. Yes, he’s gotten into a bit of trouble at school for choosing to draw rather than do his school work. Oh well. His mind (and hands) simply love to draw. And I find him to be quite talented! Here’s a sample:


From a vocational perspective, I’ve told Jake I believe he would excel at work that uses Computer Aided Design. And I recommend he check out colleges that offer CAD (read DMACC!)

I’m fascinated by the work of a CAD Designer. CAD ~ Computer Aided Design has revolutionized how people draw and design things.  Speed, efficiency, communication, and revisions are performed very quickly. People are using CAD to draw virtually anything in 3D, and there are many software products available, and more to come I’m sure.

CAD is used to create machines, products, components, floor plans, animation, special effects, advertising, technical manuals, and on and on once again. And even mammography (but it still squeezes the heck out of you.) I think it’s cool that trucking companies use CAD to load their trailers efficiently. I’d like to use it to organize my freezer.

However, I think CAD projects still need to be in tune with the human emotional content seen in hand drawings.  Here’s another sample of Jake’s drawings:

Link from Legend of Zelda

Jacob will come home from school and show me his latest creations. He doesn’t leave home without a sketch pad! I wonder if he realizes how much he’s really using geometry, spatial relations, visual acuity, fine motor skills, eye-hand connection, attention to detail, and many a good pencil eraser (which crumbles all over the place!) to practice and refine his drawing methodology.  And just as important, he exhibits patience and stamina throughout the process!

Jacob can draw anything he’s observed. And he can draw from memory.  For Mother’s Day, he and Arin designed a card for me.  Jacob was in charge of the artwork, Arin the writing.  I loved it!  Using his skill set, Jacob drew each of our pets from memory.  He added each of their unique personalities with a twist of the pencil.  Jake sees contour, edges, sizes, angles, lines, proportions, shading, shades, gestures, color, patterns, textures……and is able to recreate images to a T. Or better yet, he creates his own images into whatever letter he chooses!

Ram Head (a re-creation from a framed print I’ve had since the 60s)

Jacob has many transferable skills (as do most of my placement clients and for that matter most any person who has a solid work history)!   Transferable skills are accomplishments and understandings an individual has developed in various situations that can be used in many other situations.  Very simply explained, transferable skills are those versatile skills that you can apply and make use of in many situations and roles.

In a future blog, I’ll write about transferable skills.  In the meantime, tell me how you were creative today.  What’d you do?  What are your interests and hobbies? And tell me, would you like me to help you help your client with their vocational future? I’m here to help attorneys help their clients. Contact me today!


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





Career Counseling

Childhood Interests Can Help You Find the Right Career

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Take a little time to think about your early interests in life while watching this eye opening You Tube video ~ Childhood Interests Can Help You Find the Right Career which portrays a powerful connection between childhood interests and your career.


The first business I started in my youth was a baby sitting service (not just being a sitter, it was a service)!  I recruited help from my neighborhood friends and we worked as a team to provide “having fun while caring for your children” services to customers.  We called our team “The Sheiks” but I can’t remember why we used that name. Could be because we played a lot of dress up and had a lot of shows, mostly in the street for all to come and watch us perform!

Basically, I have been an entrepreneur ever since!

Let me know how I might help you or your client find the right career.



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





Vocational Research Assignments & Staffing Placements

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Vocational Resources, Plus consults on workers’ compensation, personal injury and disability cases by providing qualitative research services and consultation as well as direct service provision. Due to the nature of return-to-work, each vocational assignment is situational and individualized. The goal is to provide a clear and concise picture of the employment options currently available to the evaluee or client.Related imageResearch is based on a wide range of criteria and utilizes solid methodology and fact gathering techniques. Accurate and objective reporting details up-to-date information to define and enhance the direction of the case.

Assignments vary greatly, and include differences in level of education, skills, abilities, aptitudes, socio-economic factors, physical limitations and an assortment of employability factors.

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Vocational Resources, Plus has performed indepth research on many vocations and identified various factors that have helped to prioritize issues for the case at hand.

For a listing of vocations, please click on the link on my website. Also, as a matter of fact, I’ve also placed hundreds of workers throughout Des Moines. Here’s my client roster list from my days as a marketing representative for a staffing company:

Client Reference List



















And now old piece of paper, you’ve been recycled! Please let me know what I could do to help you help your clients!



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