"I lost my job..."
To whom it may concern,
I have gotten a job offer from a prestigious university and now I am moving back to the city I call home, with self-‐confidence, a healthy state of mind and a new perspective on life and career, none of which I had two years ago when I first met Phyllis. Nothing could have been possible, without Phyllis’s assistance.
Two years ago, when I was teaching a foreign language as a lecturer of 16 years at a large and famous urban university, I was suddenly notified that my contract would be terminated in a year without any formal review. They said it was due to “collegiality issues.” I knew it was concerned with my supervisor who didn’t like me personally, but I didn’t expect such unfair termination could happen to me. I felt my future had shattered. I was devastated by this decision, filled with anger. Then, a former colleague of mine referred me to Phyllis.
I didn’t know what to expect from a career counselor until I met Phyllis. From the first meeting, her practical advice and care in every aspect were so apparent and to the point. She introduced me to an educational lawyer if I chose to legally deal with the case, as well as to some counselors to cope with my anger. She also let me borrow some of her books; one to deal with bullying in the workplace and the other to prepare for my forthcoming journey. She listened to me (even though I have a foreign accent), sympathizing with me, respecting my thoughts, and gave me the information and advice that I exactly wanted. I was amazed at how resourceful she was, and at the same time I was very glad that there was somebody on my side and that my journey was not going to be a lonely one. I thought every minute of the counseling was worth more than the fee I paid for it.
My journey was not easy. I still had to work at that hostile workplace and I was also filing a grievance. At the same time, I had to start looking for a job. When one looks for a full-‐time position in academia s/he usually applies for positions nationwide. It is almost impossible to get a position where you want to live. But I had my partner working locally, and staying in the same area was the first priority I set. Therefore, I was ready to change my career path, but I had no idea how to do it. Phyllis respected my priority, and she gave me some homework assignments to self-‐assess my interests, values and skills, brainstorming my possible alternative career paths. She encouraged me to connect with people and get information from them. Thanks to this process, I was able to realize that the right kind of work for me is exactly what I have been doing, which lies in the educational field related to my language. I finally saw the need to shift my priority, and I started applying for positions nationwide.
In the middle of this turmoil, I was diagnosed with early stage of breast cancer. I was physically and emotionally overwhelmed, dealing with surgeries and treatments on top of everything else. Once again Phyllis was on my side. She informed me of possible discrimination by potential employers against cancer patients, which I was totally unaware of. She also provided me with the information about health insurance in case of unemployment, not to mention the fact that she gave me constant emotional support and encouragement.
A year after the worst day of my life, I accepted a one-‐year position from a university 850 miles away. I had feared that none of the schools would be interested in me, so I was relieved that I got the job. But I was worried that my relationship would be in jeopardy. Phyllis told me that there are people who pursue distant relationships as a result of their career choice but who are making it work. As it tuned out, my partner kept giving me continual support on the phone and we survived, just like the people Phyllis mentioned. I had to start looking for a job once again as it was a one-‐year position, but I was more comfortable prioritizing to look for the kind of job I enjoy and am good at, rather than constraining my choice due to its location.
Luckily enough, I got an offer from an institution located in the area where I wanted to be, and I am moving back there to put my career and personal life together, with a whole new attitude. I could never imagine such a day would come when I first started working with Phyllis. All I know is that I would not be in this place without Phyllis’s help. There are a number of times I had to seek for her help via phone or email, such as when I had a problem choosing my reference people, when I needed to negotiate interview dates, when I had to make a decision to accept/reject offers, etc.. She made herself available every time. She was right behind me to support me, giving me precise and practical advice.
I cannot thank Phyllis enough for what I have learned in the past two years. She encouraged me to take a second look at my assumptions and make my path clear, while respecting my decisions and priorities.
I know that Phyllis will be there when you are lost in career directions. I am very lucky to have met you, Phyllis. Thank you.
(Written anonymously because of the situation)