Perseverance – so many times I have talked to employers about the inherent strengths of candidates with disabilities and this is something I always talk about. Every employer looks for team members that have the ability to overcome obstacles and find new pathways to success. This is a part of the lived experience for many people with disabilities. Whether it is more tactical considerations or overcoming ableist thinking, people with disabilities consistently have to be perseverant.
This is why I am so proud of Jodi and everything she has accomplished throughout her life. As somebody who has lost someone very close to me in a sudden and tragic way, I can honestly say that it was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
So many people look at a person’s resume and see gaps in their work history and immediately dismiss them as a viable candidate. When we do this, without first seeking to understand, we miss out on hiring wonderful and impactful people like Jodi. Yet, Jodi is someone who is going to apply this same sense of determination and perseverance that she has demonstrated throughout her life to her job. This is the kind of employee companies need if they are going to grow and thrive.
I spent most of my pre-parenthood life striving to advance my career. The desire to go back to school and complete my bachelor’s degree was always on my mind. I fantasized about power suits, comfortable heels, and excelling in the technology field. My dad had been a business analyst and was part of a team at IBM that had designed the first ATM.
Getting married at 23 years old and having my first child at 25 kept me busy, although the desire to go back to school tugged continuously at my heart. Due to losing my husband and my second son in a tragedy, I became a full-time single mom at the youthful age of 30. I would be raising my first-born son all on my own while navigating through my depression. I was single, raising a diabetic child full time and working full time. It was during this transition that I went bravely back to school part-time. I took one class at a time, in the evening hours and I was even able to bring my son to class. I had him coloring in the corner of the classroom, while I dove into my studies. Eventually I was able to attend full time with online classes. My goal was a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I would often find myself up at 3 am doing homework. Although the hours were an adjustment, I thrived in learning everything about technology that I could! Eventually my son started to study my programming classes and had created a basic Java program. I was a proud individual and a proud mom! Many years later, I graduated with my Computer Science degree and my son had entered high school. I had received a few promotions after receiving my degree and I had done it all while being a single mom, working full time and going to school. My career continued to excel, my son had graduated from High School and had enrolled in a computer science degree at a local college.
On April 17th, 2013, my life came crashing down. I came home to find my son had passed away. It had only been 18 years earlier that I had lost my husband and my second born son in a tragedy. The loss of my first-born son, along with never getting over the loss of my husband and second born son, put a great burden on my heart. I had never returned to “normal” even after losing my husband and my second born son. This event took me so far down mentally that I was unable to function in even the most basic tasks. I tried to work. I thought work would help me get through another traumatic event, but I was wrong. I got fired from one job after another. After 5 years, and many hospital stays, I eventually went on disability. The PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety, and nightmares kept me bed bound for any time that I was not in therapy. My weight plummeted down to 86 lbs.
After 10 years of intense therapy and over 22 medication changes, I took my first step back to the work environment by signing up for the ticket to work program. I reached out to Bender during a virtual job event and for the first time in many years, I felt encouraged. They took the time to get to know me. They listened to me when I talked about my ideal position and some of the companies I would be interested in working for. They did more than share my resume. They were in direct communication with hiring managers, so my application was not treated as another name without a face. They advocated for me and highlighted my talents. They took the time to provide interviewing coaching and even after getting my ideal job, they continued to support me with weekly check-ins and monthly best practice calls.
My connection with Bender provides a solid foundation for my mental well-being, thus allowing me to thrive in my new position. Although I may never be the individual I was before the traumatic events, physical health, a sense of purpose, feeling connected with Bender Consulting Services, and feeling safe and supported all played a key role in my success of my new position. With Bender’s complete faith in me, I am back to working as a Business Analyst, and after 6 months with the company, I have been offered a full-time permanent position. I am grateful to everyone at Bender Consulting Services.
Want to explore how the workplace mentoring program that Jodi talks about makes a difference in the success of disability hiring programs? Contact us today.