Real-life connections in a new career – Hometown Focus



With so many people making career changes in our community and with the Iron

Range Job Fair coming up on April 21, I thought I would share my own experience with the current job market and offer what I hope is some helpful advice to potential job seekers.

From my observation, a number of current job seekers are looking for remote work, which is exactly what I gave up eight months ago when I made a career change from Social Security disability representative to employment counselor for Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA). This was a great decision as it was always too easy to justify catching up on work instead of enjoying family time, working on home projects, or attending social events as my office was just a few steps away and accessible 24/7.

My new position allows me to meet directly with the people I’m helping, co-workers, and colleagues from other agencies. I’ve been able to join committees, boards, and volunteer time to projects. I bring this up because it did not seem possible eight months ago. After working remotely for a decade, I had forgotten how valuable a real-life social network can be.

People provide opportunities and so it makes sense that we might dedicate some of our time to establishing and building relationships. I’ve found people generally want to help other people so when I mentioned to a few friends and acquaintances that I was looking for a new career they were eager to see if they could help connect me with the opportunity I was looking for. I will say it worked out well as I was hired before I could even finish the obligations with my previous employer.

Having those real social connections also gives us a sense of accountability whether we realize it or not. Have you ever frantically cleaned before someone comes to visit you? Or maybe a friend offered an opportunity and you felt obligated to at least check out the possibility? I think having these connections helps keep a healthy sense of drive so that we might keep moving forward.

At AEOA I am able to help members of our community who have lost their job through no fault of their own, or have had a loss of income due to separation, divorce, loss of public assistance, a death or a disability of a spouse or partner, or people receiving public assistance who are wanting to become self-sufficient. If you find yourself in one of these circumstances, I encourage you to reach out to our agency and see if you qualify for any of our programs or support services.

Finally, if you are an employer, job seeker, or student I would like to invite you to stop by the AEOA booth at the Iron Range Job Fair on April 21 and say hello. I enjoy meeting people and helping them connect to others in the community who offer opportunities and solutions, and I know that there are many others attending who feel the same way.

Travis Scofield lives in Hibbing and is an employment counselor with AEOA.