I'm twice retired! Worked 25 yrs as a police officer and 10 as an employment counselor. I also started a small freelance business working for attorneys - you just never know how one opportunity will lead to the next!
Kim's career stories
In layperson terms, what do you actually do at work?
I help attorneys.
I request records from various agencies to aid in the investigation of cases. This is everything from traffic stops to police shootings. I review the records, including dashcam video, give the attorney a synopsis of what I found, and my opinion of the case. Being a former police officer gives me a unique perspective.
When did you get your first Big Break? How did you get it? How did it go?
My first Big Break was an Internship in College. My professor had chosen me for this position, working with one of the top-rated investigative reporters in our city, working on THE story of the year.
I made a dumb mistake on my first assignment. I felt really stupid. After a short time, I came to the conclusion that I was "too good" to be being used as a "go-for," and resented having to pay for parking when I was a Volunteer, so I quit. Biggest mistake of my life! There is so much I could have learned!
When you were a student, did you do anything outside of school to build skills or get knowledge that has helped your career?
Yes! I worked in retail jobs, doing customer service work. While most people look at that is "non'professional" work, it really helped me to develop strong customer service skills that I have been able to use in my professional positions.
How did you pick your career? Did you know all along?
I honestly had no idea what I would do when I grew up! I went to college, majoring in Sociology. Why Sociology? Because it was what was recommended at the time for people who wanted a career training seeing-eye dogs! I had read this in a book, and, even though all the schools for training seeing-eye dogs were in cities I did not want to live in, I still pursued this degree. This is where I learned to truly think analytically, and to write. It was a good background for so many things that I would later do. While in school, I was working at the airport. When a vacancy came open in the police department, I decided to apply. I stayed there 25 years. In retrospect, I should have gone to law school. But, at the time, I did not realize that I was in fact "smart." However, I enjoyed my time as a police officer, and, using knowledge I learned in school, was able to make many contributions by working on special projects.
What is the one piece of career advice you wish someone gave you when you were younger?
I wish I had been told to not be afraid of failure. It is only by taking risks that we can grow. Staying in my "comfort zone" was easy, and safe, but there is so much more I could have done had I only been willing to take the chance.
Did anyone ever oppose your career plans when you were young or push you in a direction you did not want to go?
No. In fact, they neither supported nor opposed me, as far as my actual choices were concerned. I was very fortunate in that regard. The only time I recall my family trying to control my life choices had to do with my wedding plans, because in my Mom's family, the mother always planned the daughter's wedding. I explained to them that it was going to be done the way my spouse and I wanted, and if they did not approve, we did not want their financial support. Sometimes this is difficult to do. I have met many people whose parents were paying for their education, and therefore trying to dictate their choice of classes. Doing things the way you want to do them can mean a loss of financial support, or worse. It is a difficult choice.
How did you start building your network?
I am not a very outgoing person, and Networking comes difficult to me. I first started to grow my Network by forcing myself to get involved in things, and joining groups I was interested in. I was very fortunate to have a co-worker who helped to pave the way for me. He recognized the potential contributions I could make. He asked me to work with him to try to pass certain proposals that would improve the professionalism of the police department we worked for. At first, I did mostly research and writing, but as time went on, our efforts expanded, and I found myself meeting with other labor leaders throughout the city and state, elected officials, and upper-level management. It was not something I actively set out to accomplish, it just sort of happened. I think the first step was to get involved!
What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome to get to where you are now professionally? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenges I have had to face are mostly emotional/psychological. I was at my first job for 25 years, and, the last two years were bad. I was stabbed in the back by people who had been my friends. I was very hurt. When I started my next job, I did not want to trust anyone. Because I had filed a lawsuit against my previous employer, my lawyer had wanted me to see a counselor. She helped me through the transition to the new job and my brother's death, which both happened at the same time. I still see her from time to time. It is helpful to have someone who you can share your hopes and fears with, who is non-judgmental, and will help you to see things from perspectives you may not have considered. It does not mean there is something "Wrong" with you just because you seek help to deal with life's problems.
What is it like when your job gets tough?
The part of my job that is "tough" is the emotional challenges of helping people through difficult times. We are simply supposed to be helping people write better resumes, find job leads, and answer interview questions. Sounds simple enough, right? But too many times they come in with raw emotions, having been wrongfully terminated from jobs, or worse. I had one man who, the minute he told his wife he had lost his job, she filed for divorce. We are not professionally trained to help people with these life situations. There are other social services we can refer them to, but when someone has a breakdown sitting at your desk, you need to do more than give them a phone number. We need for our customers to be "job-ready." If they go into an interview, and are asked "why did you get fired from your last job?" we need them to be able to answer that question without falling apart. We do the best we can, and, because we have all had life experiences, it helps us to help them. But it is not easy, and is very emotionally draining.
Context: I want to become a funeral director. College: I am not sure. Other Education: Community College, license. Activities: I like to be of service to others. Job Experience: I have worked in higher education federal administering grants for 10 years. Soft Skills: Data management, writing. Hard Skills: Bachelor Degree in Management, Master Degree in Public Administration. Other: Exploring a career change. #health #embalming #funeral