Shannon McLaughlin – West Gardiner

Shannon with President of UMA Glenn Cummings and WWC Executive Director Gilda Nardone

(Story edited from Shannon’s remarks at an October, 2014 WWC luncheon.)

In early March 2013, I abruptly found myself laid off. My husband was also out of work at that time. Nonetheless, I was confident that, with17 years of management experience, I would readily find an equivalent job. Confidence soon evaporated as I learned that most such jobs required a bachelor’s degree. What to do? I could take an unsatisfying job or return to school to complete my degree. With my family’s support, I chose school, enrolling full-time in UMA’s Business Administration program.

At school orientation in June 2013, I learned about Career Planning (CP) online, a free class offered by Women, Work and Community (WWC). After talking with a WWC staff person, both my husband and I decided to enroll. The timing was perfect! The course offered a guided exploration of careers. I learned how to describe my skills to fit potential jobs and from that to prepare a resume. Our instructor provided regular support via email, online discussions and hosted conference calls. I could relate to what other participants were going through, and felt connected. Weekly assignments helped me dig in. By applying the tools provided in this class I felt empowered to go out and sell myself to a prospective employer.

In the end, the CP class validated my choice of Business as the right major. And for my husband, this course confirmed his decision to focus his job search on the field of IT. In fact, part way through the CP course my husband was offered a contracting job in IT. This turned into a permanent position that fall.

For me, the opportunity for self-analysis and reflection offered by the class led to the decision to move away from the retail and banking sectors where I had worked. Through UMA, I found an internship in business operations with Workplace Health at MaineGeneral in Augusta. Without CP I would not have imagined that I could translate my skills into something in the health care field. My newfound knowledge gave me the confidence to apply for this terrific opportunity.

I began my internship with Workplace Health in late August, and in February applied for and was hired as the full-time practice coordinator for Workplace Health and MaineGeneral. While learning and growing in this wonderful new profession, I am continuing to work on my degree. MaineGeneral’s tuition reimbursement benefit, coupled with the wide availability of online course offerings at UMA, is enabling me to stay enrolled as a 3/4-time student while working full time. I am on track to meet a new goal: to graduate in June, 2016 (UMA) as my son graduates (high school)!

Today I find myself using all the same core skills and abilities in a new field of work. I have found work where I can contribute-where my talent and perspective are respected. I know that Career Planning played a vital role in my finding this wonderful new career. Thank you, Women, Work and Community! You have created a wonderful, valuable program.