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May 13, 2015

Employment Boot Camp Gets Emotional

May_boot_campThe SAGEWorks May Boot Camp Team

Towards the end of the ten-day SAGEWorks employment boot camp, I joined the 20 participants so I could hear and share their stories. I was expecting everyone to tell me how they will now use LinkedIn or create a more strategic social media profile and personal brand. What I was surprised to hear was how angry one woman was with her former employer and colleagues—and the way that this group of boot campers created their own support system outside the classroom.

When Rosie O’Donnell (not her real name…maybe) told me how she was let go after more than 30 years with the same company, I suggested she reach out to her ex-colleagues for support and networking. Rosie wasn’t having it.

“They called me but I didn’t want to see them. I was let go. Who wants to sit around with a bunch of people who still have jobs at the place from where you were downsized?”

Rosie has a point. I was angry with my last employer--and I left on the best of terms. I think there are two main reasons for this. One, when we leave an organization, for whatever reason, it’s normal to rationalize the move by exaggerating all the negatives. The second reason, for me, is I love to create unnecessary drama.

Eventually, Rosie and I each got over our anger and realized many of our former colleagues are friends who want to help. Also, some of them are horrible people who should never again darken our doorsteps--but such is life.

Being unemployed is extremely difficult, not just financially but also emotionally, so it’s incredibly reassuring to be around others in a similar circumstance. Employment boot camp is not therapy; it’s a chance to learn proven methods for finding jobs but there is an unexpected and welcomed therapeutic quality.

Right now I am working for SAGEWorks but for most of 2014 I was unemployed, gay and over 40-years old, the SAGEWorks dream (spoiler alert: I’m still gay and over 40). Now I regret not taking a friend’s advice to attend the employment boot camp last year. Not only would I have had more emotional support, I’m confident I would have been offered a job much sooner. I simply was not putting into play all the job search and interview best practices taught at boot camp. My thinking was, I don’t need to go to a class for free, which is taught by experts, I’ll somehow figure it out on my own.

That thinking led to me living with my mother and drinking the same cup of tea for two months. Boot camp for two weeks or living with your mother for two months? I will say this if you choose not to take advantage of SAGEWorks programs, there are a lot of exciting story lines on The Young and the Restless right now.

-Jeff Stein, Communications Consultant, SAGEWorks

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