Let’s pretend we’re being introduced to each other quickly for the first time and you ask me, “What do you do for a living?”
I reply, “I am a Career Consultant.”
And you mirror back to me the awkward, unsettled look on my face that has accompanied my response. It’s because I am not a huge fan of these quick interactions. I’m not a fan because time is limited in them and my job title, as well as yours, doesn’t really capture what we DO for a living.
Or how well we do those things.
Or our accomplishments that we are most proud of, that may have nothing to do with our titles.
Instead of “I am a Career Consultant,” what I wish I had time to tell you is that I support individuals in breaking down what they may see as barriers to achieving their employment goals. That although employment IS the goal, I don’t get that jazzed about finding people jobs!
That I often breeze past the “what are your top job choices,” types of questions and instead dig into the more challenging “who are you,” types of questions and extensively explore why they are SO much more than their barriers and disabilities. That in doing so, I assist people with building capacities within themselves and within their communities for them to experience success that RADIATES far past employment! THAT gets me jazzed!
What I wish I had time to tell you is that I collaborate with employers who really want to rock the inclusive employment thing, but may have zero clue how to do that successfully. That we explore the tools and accommodations together that can be so seamlessly incorporated into their current processes, while also providing them with continuous support along this journey to inclusive awesomeness. That if by the end of this process I don’t feel like a full blown fan-girl for everyone involved in this process, that I don’t think I have done my part effectively. That this process doesn’t just equate to positive outcomes for the employee, but that it causes a ripple effect, from empowered employee, to rock star employer, to proud and inclusive staff, to inspired community and so on…
What I wish I had time to tell you is that I have to be real honest in saying that this job title came with a fairly subpar orientation and manual regarding how to carry it out and that I still don’t fully know the limitations of my role. But that it’s been oddly motivating. What I wish I had time to tell you is that what initially seemed like deficits were actually open doors, granting me the independence and empowerment to build a process, compile and seek out resources, develop connections with my peers and within our city, maybe let it get a bit messy at times, but grow confidence in my own abilities and help others to really shine!
What I wish I had time to tell you is that my team is lead by a crazy-inspiring being who sets very few limitations regarding the possibilities and potentials for our organization, our team, and ourselves…except don’t blow the professional development budget on testing the limits of the top button of my pants, aka buying allllll of the things edible! That he encourages and approves nearly every applicable opportunity for growth we express interest in. And that every time I hear him say “stay woke” or “GTS!” (Google that shit) in a conference or staff meeting, I am reminded that this organization, this team, lead by this individual…is exactly where I am supposed to be.
AND MY TEAM!!!
What I wish I had time to tell you is that even if I did have the time, I wouldn’t be able to come up with some all-encompassing verbal depiction of just how eclectic, fierce, compassionate, genuine and solid my team of bad-A advocacy ninjas are. That our strength resides not solely in where we are currently at in life, but of where we’ve all come from- a spectrum of compounding devastating to untouchably inspirational experiences AND in our unwavering drive to reach bigger and better places, taking those both dear to our hearts and unknown in our communities with us. What I wish I had time to tell you is that the support we give to one another, the teachings we gift each other, the grieving and slaying life we do together, the excessive calories we collectively crush, the adventures we embark on, the boundaries we playfully push with one another, the DIY skincare regimes we youthfully apply together and the straight up love that radiates throughout our stomping grounds and anywhere we are together, you will absolutely NOT, in this lifetime or another, find anywhere else. Period. (Experience full- body goose bumps with me, would ya!?)
And what I wish I had time to tell you is that what I experience in my office, with my team, in the work that I am able to do, is what I ultimately hope to capture and recreate for the individuals that I support. Through awareness, collaborative support and empowerment of employers, individuals, and other service providers, I work my inspired tail off in hopes that anyone I am so privileged to work with will feel all of that goodness that I feel every time I step foot into the CAES office.
What do you do for a living?
Wow, Ashton. What a beautifully expressed and deeply committed perspective on creating positive change and leading inclusion. Thanks for this.
I think I’ve read this about a half dozen times now, and every time I do I am reminded of just how great it is to be part of this group and do the work we do. Also, in all honesty you ought to wear stretchy pants when you come to work.