Putting experience to work

Marsha Shaw recently landed a job as an employer and payroll reporting analyst with the Massachusetts State Retirement Board. Her responsibilities include processing pension plan enrollments for new state employees and assisting retired employees with inquiries about their pension benefits.

It’s a career move Marsha had long sought but that always seemed just out of reach—until she found Career Collaborative.

“What’s so helpful about going to Career Collaborative is that people would encourage me and say, ‘The right job is out there, the right job is out there,’” said Marsha.

Marsha previously worked as a sales clerk at Macy’s. Although her job wasn’t bad, she found the work “wanting for more.” With degrees in accounting and economics, plus nine years of experience working for the government’s pension system in her native Jamaica, Marsha was overqualified for the work she was doing.

“I just really wanted something that would challenge me,” Marsha recalled. “And I wanted to continue what I was doing back home. That was important for me as well.”

Marsha learned about Career Collaborative from a Macy’s co-worker who told her the organization had helped her land a job at a bank. She enrolled in our Job Readiness and Job Search Course and soon started to see a path to getting her career back on track.

She found the practice job interviews in the course particularly helpful. While Marsha had received help with résumé and cover letter writing in the past, she had never before practiced for an interview. She credited the course teacher with preparing her to draw not just from her work experience in answering interview questions, but to emphasize her relevant personality traits as well.

“She helped us to find our strengths,” Marsha said. “If we had a weakness, she helped us find a way to make it into a positive rather than a negative thing.”

Marsha first came to Career Collaborative in 2016. She acknowledged that the length of time it took her to land her current job was frustrating at times. She remained in contact with Career Collaborative throughout her search, receiving coaching and encouragement to keep going and consulting with staff about the latest job prospects and leads to come across their desks.

Ultimately, Marsha said she worked through her frustration by being patient, persistent, and maintaining her faith in God. “The thing is, you can't stop looking because if you stop applying for jobs, you won't get one,” she said. “One person may find it in three months, another person may find it in two years, but the thing is that you just have to be persistent and just keep applying. You never know.”

Today, Marsha is relieved and happy to have finally landed a job that she enjoys, challenges her, and puts her previous government experience and education to good use.

She said that before she came to the United States, she was told that she would probalby have to return to school because “the degree I earned in my country may not get me the desired job I want since a degree from an American school may be more preferable.”

As her job search grew longer, Marsha fretted that she wouldn’t be able to get a good job unless she returned to school and updated her degree.

“But my experience back home and my degree I earned back home is really what got me this job,” said Marsha. “So my advice to others who come here from another country is, don’t necessarily believe the myths that people tell you, just go out and try for the job you want. Just try and see for your own self because when you go and listen to other people you may just hold yourself back.”