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Don’t worry, it’s been confirmed I’m supposed to go into social services

August 5, 2011

6. The first time I’ve taken a test to tell me what career I should go into.
I should start this blog by saying that the career choice that was best for me was Social Services. I know. It’s a pretty big shocker. I wasn’t too surprised. Some of the other options were craft maker…or something along these lines. I assured Emily Rice-Townsend that if the test had actually asked me to make a craft, then it surely would not have suggested I become a craft maker.
I should probably explain why I took this test. Throughout the summer, I’ve been working on a Community Resource Guide for Educational Attainment and Job Development. I’ve been compiling information about financial aid applications, scholarship options, colleges in the Adams County area, growing careers, and specific places within Gettysburg where people with these careers would work. Part of this task included going to Careerlink and speaking with a few of the employees about the services they offer. One of their services is a career test that assesses your interests with your abilities to give you jobs that would be good for you. When I met with Alan Dudley and Brenda Meals (two employees), they told me that I could come back anytime and take the test so that I could accurately tell people about it.
Therefore, Emily and I ventured into Adams County’s Careerlink and tried to see what careers we were meant to pursue. We were put in a computer lab and told to follow the instructions, answer all the questions and come out when we were done so that we could meet with one of the case managers. The test was probably typical (I wouldn’t know because I’ve never taken one before). It took about an hour and included a lot of math problems, vocabulary words, shape matching, etc. I found the whole thing pretty fun but at the same time was a little frightened that it was going to tell me I should’ve gone into medicine or something.
When we met with Brenda Meals (a case manager) she told us that her casework currently includes 250 clients. That means she is currently working with 250 different people to find jobs based on their interests, education, abilities, previous work experience, etc. And she is not the only case manager in the office. I was baffled when I found out she had such a large caseload and I wondered how she manages to provide help to that many people in the course of one week. However, I was more baffled by the number of people out of work, desperate to find ways to get a job even if means starting over in a completely new career.
And I guess that’s really the point of the Community Resource Guide I’ve been working on. I grew up knowing that in order to get a job and support myself, I needed to go to college so that I could get a good job. Getting out of high school and starting to work immediately was never a long term option. I realize now that not everyone grows up with these values. There are a lot of things that are more important than going to college for a family in the midst of a crisis situation. And a lot of times, people don’t have the option of going to college right after high school.
But what does a person do when she’s been working on off for 10 years and is now unable to find a job that pays a high enough salary to support her family? Or what about the person that’s been working in the same place for years but hates his job and has to work more than 40 hours a week to make enough money to pay the bills?
The answer is that they need to return to college, to get some more training, take some certification classes. It’s a long term investment but really the only way to increase your salary, or move up. You would think the fact that college is so important to success in American society would make education more affordable. Unfortunately that’s not the case. of course, there are options that are more affordable than others but college is still really expensive and very time consuming.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I understand how hard it is for people to return to college, especially if they’ve been away from it for so long and are currently working full time jobs. For people living in poverty, it’s even harder to think about the long term benefits of a college education. As the summer wraps up, I leave hoping that the research I’ve done helps people (really anybody) just a little to realize the options they have to better their situation.
I really want to believe that some college education or training program can level the playing field for people living in poverty. I want to believe that an education helps take away some of the barriers that people face when trying to better their situation. I hope that the work I’ve done helps at least one person realize their potential.

Tomorrow is the last day of work. I’ll probably blog again tomorrow night to wrap everything up. I really can’t believe that the summer is almost over.

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