By K. Hecht, A. Hosack & P. Berman
If only I could do more to help Claire? She is feeling so hopeless because there are no advertisements in the newspaper for Dental Hygienists.
Mrs. Carson knew that Claire could figure out how to get a job on her own. But, that first job search was a complex process and she hated to see Claire so down after she had worked so hard in school. Claire was also taking it so personally. Rather than just realizing there weren’t job listings now, and everyone in school was in the same boat, Claire felt only she couldn’t get a job because she didn’t really deserve one.
It isn’t easy to walk the line between helping someone develop independence as an adult and providing appropriate support for tough things like a job search. Claire walked out of the bathroom and up the stairs. Her eyes were so red- she must have been crying again. That decided it. Mrs. Carson would put on her advocate hat and call up the Dental Hygienist school and got some advice. The receptionist was friendly but not helpful. She said that local dentists would often put their job advertisements in the school bulletin; unfortunately, there were no new advertisements at this time.
Should she stop? No way. She was already involved and unsuccessful. She might as well try something else – maybe she could be involved and successful this time. She brainstormed how she could advocate for Claire. Twenty-minutes later, she had an idea. She would call Shelly, that young woman she had tried to get Claire to make friends with last year. Was calling Shelly, a young woman Claire had shown no interest in for more than a year, crossing the line into interference? Or, since Shelly was a Dental Hygienist, was it being a good advocate?
Do I still have Shelly’s phone number somewhere? Where is it, I must find it!
“Yes! Here it is!” She didn’t realize it but Mrs. Carson said this out loud. Mr. Carson was walking by and asked her what she was doing. “I don’t know if this is interfering or not, but I am going to call that friendly woman Shelly who helped Claire apply to school. I know it’s been a long time, but she was so nice; it’s worth a try. I will wait until Claire is at work at the drug store. She won’t have to know anything about it if Shelly doesn’t want to help her.
Claire came home that night to find Shelly and her daughter playing games with Davy in the living room. Claire was delighted to see Shelly, she liked her so much but had been afraid to call her. These words burst out of her mouth the moment their eyes met; Shelly began to laugh.
“Why are you laughing?” Claire said, suddenly looking and sounding very serious.
“I thought you didn’t call because you didn’t like me and it made me feel bad,” Shelly said, hugging her knees as she sat on the floor.
“Of course, I liked you it was just…”
“You were afraid to call. Why?”
“It’s hard to explain but I always expect people to say no to me. If I had called you, and you said no, then …”
“Don’t worry about it,” Shelly said, “I understand you got a great score on your hygienist exam!” Claire turned red with embarrassment. “What’s the blush for? You deserve to feel proud; you gotten points more points than I did! That test was hard. Mrs. Carson told me you have started your job search. I have written some stuff down for you to help. The first is this website:
I found my current job at it. It’s designed to alert you to jobs in your area or a few hours away if you are willing to travel. Don’t feel bad if at first you only get a temporary job. That happens a lot. I started by going to work someplace for a day, when the regular hygienist was sick, or for a couple months if someone was out on pregnancy leave. Every time I went anywhere, I looked at it carefully to see if it was the kind of place, I might feel comfortable working. At my favorite temp job, in a small three- person office, I got a call, a year later, asking me to fill a permanent job; they had really liked my work but just hadn’t had a position to offer me until then.”
If I hadn’t gotten a job my first few months, I would have given up. Shelly is so brave. I hope I can be like her.
“Another thing to do is go to this other site:
This site will help you develop an on-line resume that dentists and other employers can look at. If they like your resume, they call you for an interview.
“Wouldn’t it be scary to have a job for just a day? You would never learn where everything was?”
“Well, that’s true, “Shelly said. “But, I liked doing the temporary jobs because it gave me practice talking to dentists and so I had more confidence in myself. It also helped me figure out I wouldn’t want to work at a big office. There are more people to be friends with but that seems to come with more drama- more fights between the staff; I hated that.”
Shelly noticed that Claire was sweating and asked if she would like help getting on the websites and looking around.