For the Love of Books: One Woman’s Triumphant Return to the Workforce

Anyone who has embarked on a job search in the years following the “Great Recession” can likely relate to the frustration that comes along with the daunting and often lengthy process of looking for employment. This can be particularly stressful for those who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time. This was very much the case for Teresa, who came into CIP’s Supported Employment Program after six years out of the workplace. Armed with two degrees, one in Early Elementary Education and  one in Medicine Technology, and a resume which includes experience at Borders Books, two libraries in Minneapolis, and as a volunteer teacher of English and Math to non-English speakers. Teresa was extremely hirable, but had become fed up with the application/interview process. Like many job-seekers, Teresa was having difficulty getting motivated to put in the hours needed to find employment on her own.

So together with the added support of her Employment Consultant, Emily, Teresa revved up to begin the job search again. In customized employment, informational Interviews are often the first step toward finding the right fit for the job seeker. During this process, Teresa and Emily explored the gamut of options in an effort to find the perfect fit for Teresa’s diverse experience and interests. They two left few options unexplored, and after visiting locally owned craft stores, the Star Tribune, multiple doggie-day cares, after school and nanny programs, and even a salt cave, it was an afternoon spent volunteering at a Scholastic Book Fair that made it clear; Teresa’s strongest theme was books.

Teresa’s passion for book selling was clear from the onset. Acting on this discovery, Teresa and Emily attended Informational Interviews at Itaska Books, and at Magers & Quinn, a locally owned bookstore in Uptown. Both were hugely successful. At Itaska, Teresa and the owner discussed bookbinding and the smell of new books. Their obvious passion about books enabled Teresa and the proprietor to talk about the different books they were reading, had read, or wanted to read. At Magers and Quinn, a similar relationship formed, and Teresa and the manager at the time, Jay, hit it off right away, discussing books, history and religion at their first meeting.

While both booksellers seemed like they’d be perfect for Teresa, neither location was hiring at the time. Teresa continued her search, applying at over ten different bookstores across the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, all the while knowing that Magers & Quinn was her first choice. Despite their breakthroughs, a setback presented itself in the form of an email saying that Jay had resigned from Magers & Quinn, which caused worry that the positive connection made there was lost. Though they were excited to hear Jay was opening a restaurant, Teresa was still without employment.

Roughly a month after Jay had left Magers and Quinn, an email came through to Emily,“I was given Teresa’s application from Jay, he said he was very impressed with her. Would she come in for an interview?” The new store manager had heard about Teresa from Jay, and Teresa had been given a great reference. The interview was set up immediately. People who use CIP’s services often request the support of an Employment Consultant in situations where a formal interview is requested. When Teresa went into Magers and Quinn for her interview, she did not even want Emily to join her; “I’ve got this.” She said.

Her interview was a success, but initially the bookstore was unsure how best to fit Teresa into the positions they presently offered there. After a few months, the managers realized that Teresa’s skills at organizing the shelves and paying great attention to detail, were best suited for an Auditor position. Teresa now works as their unofficial Auditor, and helps out on Saturdays to tidy up the shelves and gather information on the number of copies of books available. Now the managers are better prepared for the annual audit, rather than running themselves ragged getting ready the month beforehand.

We hope that by sharing Teresa’s story it will provide other job-seekers reassurance and inspiration for their own job search. Whether you are re-entering the workforce after a period of absence, or just starting out on your career path, it’s helpful to remember the right job is out there and patience, dedication and creative thinking will make all the difference in finding it.

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One comment

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