Thursday, August 23, 2012, 8:00 am Pacific, 8:00 am Mountain, 10:00 am Central, 11:00 am EST, 12:00 pm Atlantic, 5:00 pm Zurich, 6:00 pm Istanbul, Dubai 8:00 pm
Creating a Fulfilling, Service-Oriented Career through "Bricolage"
Unlike many workers, Cheryl Martin has been in the same career since she ran away from home at the age of 18. Starting off as a certified nursing assistant at a local community skilled nursing facility, she had to build her career on her own. Cheryl earned a college degree in her 30s, experienced a variety of eldercare positions, and is now Executive Director of an assisted living community. Cheryl is what the French (and Mark Savickas) would call a "bricoleur," a woman who has made "creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose)."
Having worked with seniors her entire work career, beginning at the age of 18, Cheryl Martin became a certified nursing assistant at a local community skilled nursing facility in Modesto, CA. One year later, she began doing home care and loved that. After 14 years of home care, she went back to the skilled nursing setting, where she developed clerical skills and learned more about the medical side of providing care. Over time, she climbed the ladder, taking on more administrative tasks and continually learning.
AgeSong at Lakeside Park
468 Perkins Street
Oakland, California 94610
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This is Dr. Sally Gelardin with Careerwell Tele-Interviews. Cheryl Martin, our speaker today, exemplifies "bricolage," a French word for "hardware store." In career development terms, as coined by career leader Mark Savickas, it means "building a life from the ground up." Having worked with seniors her entire work career, beginning at the age of 18, Cheryl became a certified nursing assistant at a local community skilled nursing facility in Modesto, CA. One year later, she began doing home care and loved that. After 14 years of home care, she went back to the skilled nursing setting, where she developed clerical skills and learned more about the medical side of providing care. Over time, she climbed the ladder, taking on more administrative tasks and continually learning. In this interview, we shall more clearly understand what "career bricolage" means and how Cheryl built her life from the ground up.
- How did you get into the eldercare business in the first place?
When I was 18 year old, I had a daughter and I needed to find a career from the ground up. My maternal grandmother was always there for me. She was the stable force in our family. She valued education and encouraged me to get my CNA.
- What gave you the confidence to move from CNA to management positions? I worked as a CNA for 15 years. I put off getting an education until I was 34. I learned to turn on a computer and took an office and computer course at the local adult education center and found I like that. A unit secretary position became available. I worked hard at it educating myself.
- Do you influence your children? I was a working mother, as a home health aide. I took my daughter to work so she would be comfortable and respect people with disabilities. My daughter now works in the same field as I do.
- What did you need the college degree for in your work? I moved to doing staffing administration when my supervisor said she could do her work better if I could do run the desk. The job that I hated the most helped me move forward in my career, opening the door for me in assisted living. In three months I was promotoed to be director of that division. You are never too old to go back to school. The last year in my program I became the General Manager of my organization.
- How did you grow in confidence? I was laid off when my company was bought out be a large corproation. I got another job in a larger community, where I was promoted to be the director of the department. When I applied to an executive management role, the owner said I needed a two-year degree and three years of experience. I went online to do two years of study. I didn't party. I did my studies and maintained very good grades all the way through. Five months into the program I was ready to dropped out. The chef of the program told me not to drop out of school. My degree is in business education with a minor in health care management.
- What do you learn from your residents? It's not all about the money, which can be helpful so you can pay your bills. The passion is also important. A friend who had MS taught me that when she could no longer do things, she could ask for help with grace. I learn values from the seniors that I care for. Elders often like touch. They need someone who will hold their hand. If you look pass the exterior, you will find something beautiful inside. If people are combative, they are uncomfortable in their own skin. Our job is to find out what they are agitated about and maintain a sense of calm. They can't move at our speed, so we have to learn how to slow down and move at their speed and provide them with as much independence as possible.
- Do you have any concluding thoughts/tips to share? I encourage people to go back to school and get that education, especially girls. I believe we should embrace jobs, even those we don't like, because we can learn something that could be helpful for a future job. You need to have fun with your work. For example, scheduling can become boring, so we sang the schedule as a song; ie, working Monday, off Tuesday (Cheryl recited these words in a singsong voice). Embrace every task you do.