Supporting job seekers as they pursue their “American Dream”
By: Sarah Jackson, Case Management Intern
I can remember from an early age being asked what I dreamed of being when I grew up. The answers changed through the years from teacher to air force pilot to published author. As a “millennial”, my view of the “American Dream” is to integrate my passion with my career. I don’t want “just a job.” I want to find work complimentary to my unique gifts and skills. The way I look at work differs from my grandparents’ point of view and even my parents showing how the “American Dream” is continuously evolving with each generation.
Through my education and community, I have been encouraged to consider the following questions:
What is my gift set? What is my passion? What kind of job utilizes my gift set? What kind of work allows me to thrive?
Here at Daily Work, we serve a variety of clients from immigrants to individuals with a criminal background to individuals struggling with mental health. Each job seeker is facing different challenges and defines the “American Dream” in a unique way.
How do we prepare our job seekers for the nuances of the American work force, such as the importance of networking and the confidence to autonomously problem solve no matter the position level? How do we encourage our job seekers to reflect on their gift set and what they desire in not just a job but a career? And the BIG question is, as a support system and community for our job seekers, how does Daily Work encourage dreaming when our American society does not necessarily promote or support growth for certain populations?
Our job seekers face a multitude of barriers in their pursuit to work that I never had to think about as a white, middle class American citizen. Privilege was embedded within my life through my opportunity to go to school and find work. Opportunity allowed me to struggle and still continue to pursue my dreams. Our job seekers often experience discrimination among employers because of the color of their skin, their criminal history, struggles with mental health, and status as an immigrant. They do not necessarily have the “luxury” to struggle without it being detrimental to their job prospects.
Because job opportunities can be scarce, Daily Work job seekers are often motivated by necessity and survival. Our job seekers often dare not dream about the intersection of their passions and gifts. The very questions that drive my career goals are often the questions that many of our job seekers do not feel they have the freedom or time to consider. Questions not discussed often enough with our job seekers include;
What is your dream job? What would you do if you could do anything? What do you hope to find in your work?
Encouraging dreaming among our jobseekers is two-fold. It is crucial to find the balance between obtaining adequate work for our job seekers, which helps them provide day to day, while also encouraging them to reflect on their gift-set and what they hope for in a career. Supporting our job seekers in their quest of their definition of the “American Dream” is central to the Daily Work philosophy. Two key values here at Daily work include dignity of the human person and a person-centered mentality. As an organization we hope to surround our job seekers with empowering voices against the many injustices and stigmas saying, “You can’t.” While we hope to say, “You are worthy of quality work. You have a gift-set and something to contribute.”
And why is it important to encourage our job seekers to find their “American Dream” in the first place? Gloria Steinem, an American feminist, journalist and activist states, “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
Dreaming fosters creative and new ideas, ideas that can help people brainstorm, problem-solve, grow, and rise above. Encouraging our job seekers to dream helps each person plan for their future. And when there is planning for a future goal there is hope that the goal can be achieved.