June 16, 2008
Career coach's favorite play: the switcheroo
SARA GETTYS / YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC
YAKIMA – Freud asked only half the question.
It's not just "What do women want?"
No, it's broader than that.
"What does everyone want?" is more to the point, says Marilyn Tellez, a Yakima career coach.
In her view, the universal quest is to find a fulfilling role in life. And for many people, that role is centered on a job.
After a long career helping dislocated workers and providing employment advice, Tellez, 82, now works as an employment counselor, or coach, from her Yakima home.
She's the only Yakima career counselor listed in the resource section in the latest edition of "What Color Is Your Parachute?" by Richard Bolles, a book many consider the career bible.
Tellez, who has a master's degree in human development and administration, concentrates on helping people reach their potential through employment.
"My expertise is seeing the possibilities in people that they don't see themselves," she explains.
That's what happened when Lynne Dolph of Yakima sought help from Tellez about a year ago. A high-school science, math and art teacher for more than 12 years, Dolph wanted to switch careers.
"I enjoyed the subjects and the kids, but I was feeling pretty acutely that I wanted to get out of the classroom," Dolph says.
Tellez helped her organize the process of moving from full-time employment to part-time teaching for an online high school.
"She's a fantastic listener and was a sounding board for me while we identified my strengths," says the 48-year-old Dolph.
Dolph's goal was to spend more time with her first love, painting. Now she does.
One of her acrylics won an award in a Larson Art Gallery show; soon she had sold her first painting.
Dolph characterizes the transition to pursuing her avocation as "kind of scary, but it's been absolutely wonderful spending time on my painting."
Tellez notes, "I don't take credit for the sale of her painting, but I do take credit for the fact that she acted on her passion."
Naturally, fear is a common reaction to switching careers, Tellez acknowledges. That emotion is particularly strong among baby boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, a group she finds fascinating.
She recently presented a forum at the Yakima Unitarian Universalist Church on what the baby-boomer generation hopes to gain from the workplace.
According to Tellez, here's what most boomers want:
• To be listened to, taken seriously and given a fair chance.
• To feel useful. They may not gauge their usefulness solely by the amount of money they make.
• To continue working as long as feasible; many see themselves as energetic and robust.
• To have the chance to try new kinds of work, whether it's a vacation-type internship, sabbatical or simply new duties in the same job.
• To be considered youthful. The specter of age discrimination is scary for many people, especially if they're trying to change jobs, but Tellez maintains that it's important not to give up.
"I like working with people over 40 who want to make changes," she says. "I challenge people to find out who they are."
Recently, Tellez has delved into helping people find "green" careers, or those considered environmentally friendly, or making their present jobs more green.
"I have an interest in making the world a better place to live in," she explains.
Tellez says she decided to change her own working world when she was employed in an office in Northern California in the 1990s. Bilingual, she had worked as an English-as-asecond-language teacher, an instructor of aspiring teachers and a house parent in a group home for teens.
But she hadn't really settled down.
"I had wandered and squandered and gone pillar to post, and then I had an epiphany."
Moving back to Yakima eight years ago – she had lived here in the 1980s – she began counseling dislocated workers.
Bill Kirby was one. He came to her after losing his job in a tire store. After Tellez helped him get computer training, Kirby landed a job at the Employment Security Department, where he's a work-source specialist.
"Marilyn was absolutely helpful," he says. "She spurred me on."
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