Catching the Curveball – Mark’s Story

Image of Mark sitting on stairs

Sometimes life throws us curveballs and we are presented with two choices: we can miss the catch and let an opportunity fly by or we can reach for it, catch it, and complete the play.

Mark chose to catch his curveball and play the game.

Mark had a successful career counseling troubled youth, the homeless, people recovering from addictions, and those needing suicide intervention.  However, that curveball in life, aimed in his direction, delivered an unexpected health diagnosis, changing his lifelong career pursuits.  Mark tells us, “I was diagnosed with an illness that lead to my need to temporarily leave the work force and subsequently find employment in a new field. I was referred to [employU] through Vocational Rehab and have been fortunate enough to have [Florida Keys Employment Specialist,] Sheila handle my case.

Mark felt uncertain about what his future would hold. He lives in an area where the major industry is tourism, something he had minimal experience in. But with his years of compassionate work helping people in need, Mark was confident, if just given the chance, he would have much to offer an employer and their customers.  Working with his Employment Specialist (ES), Mark realized that all of those life-long acquired skills were transferable to any type of customer service in the tourism industry.

Mark and Sheila began writing his resume and preparing for upcoming interviews. “Sheila continued to actively pursue employment opportunities for me over the past month and routinely checked in with me not only to discuss employment related issues, but also my overall health and wellbeing during this pandemic,” Mark describes. In a few weeks, Mark had his first interview and was targeted to be hired! In his final hiring stages, at one of the Key’s premier resorts, another curveball was thrown to Mark, in fact it was thrown at the entire world, COVID-19.  Not only did the Keys resorts, retail, and recreational businesses shut down, the two highways entering the Florida Keys were closed to all tourism and visitors. It would seem that new employment was not likely. Mark explains, “These past couple of months have been challenging for our nation across the board due to the pandemic, and the shutdown of businesses, and the growing number of unemployed. I was certain that my opportunities for employment were nonexistent at this time.”  However, Mark and his Employment Specialist did not give up and their search continued.  The good news is, in spite of the pandemic, in May, Mark started a new customer service job at another popular Keys resort.  Mark shares, “I am happy to share with you that Sheila found a job for me which I recently began, and I can honestly say that the job seems well suited to my needs, as well as my personality. I cannot speak highly enough about the dedication Sheila demonstrated.”

One day during this journey Sheila and Mark, were discussing where he pictured himself.  Half-jokingly he replied, “Selling Keys’ T-shirts.”   Among many duties at his new job, Mark gets to sell Keys’ T-Shirts.

We can all learn three things from Mark and his journey: Always believe in yourself, always maintain hope, and never duck when the curveball is thrown your way.