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What we did

Return to school

In my case, the answer was to return to school (which I am currently doing) to get a master's degree in occupational therapy. My undergraduate degree in psychology did not prepare me for the career that I wanted. I also suggest the following:

Realize the value of the learning opportunities from your current occupation. In my case, I worked as a direct care aide to individuals with profound mental and physical disabilities. I learned numerous things that will prove valuable in my future occupation. I will have more insight and compassion into the needs of my future patients and hence be of better service due to my experience as a direct care worker. Also, take advantage of inservice and special training that might be offered by your workplace.

Maintain your work ethic. In one temporary job I had shortly after I graduated from college, I actually cried as I left for work, as I felt I had "been there and done that." But I worked hard at that job and people noticed and complimented my work.

Let your supervisors know if you are trying to go back to school. Hopefully, supervisors can help those trying to take classes by being supportive of scheduling adjustments. Be willing to be flexible. Co-workers can help with switching schedules.

Stay positive. Remember the good changes and improvements you have made. Don't get discouraged. In my case, I could do nothing to change my mediocre undergraduate grades. Those were engraved in stone. But I could feel pleased about my subsequent good grades in prerequisite course work I took to enter my current academic program.

Ask for help through prayer and priesthood blessings to get you through the tough times. Remember to thank Heavenly Father.

Remember, you will still age regardless of whether or not you go back to school. If it is right for you, go!

-- Juanita Verma, St. Augustine, Fla.

LDS employment aids

Take advantage of the LDS Employment Services, if they are available in your area. Your ward employment specialist will assist you in filling out an Employment Needs and Resources Analysis form and giving you access to job lists posted in your area. The employment form is sent to a stake employment group and to the LDS Employment Center where further resources become available. Training videos and workbooks can be obtained in your ward. -- Marilyn Ellis, Westminster, Colo.

Networking

From my missionary experiences serving at LDS Employment Resources, I know there can be several reasons for being underemployed. I also know there are ways to resolve the problem. For example:

A Spanish-speaking man came to Utah from South America. He'd had a successful accounting business there. He's now working as a hospital custodian, but he's taking classes at a community college to improve his English and get the training necessary to become certified in accounting here in the United States.

A woman, widowed with three children, had not worked since she was in high school. She entered the Deseret Industries training program and learned retailing skills like stocking, pricing, customer service and cashiering. She was then able to find a position with a local department store.

Also, some people graduate from college and then are frustrated because they can't immediately find a job that matches their training. I have two suggestions:

Do serious research about a field of work before deciding on a major. Getting a degree in a subject just because you like it doesn't guarantee it will pay off.

Check out the job market for your skills and training by reading current studies done by state employment services or chambers of commerce or national surveys. This can really help you know what and where jobs are. The U.S. Department of Labor's book, Occupational Outlook Handbook, available at most public libraries, covers this and also suggests related fields of work to consider.

However, the best resource of all for the unemployed or the underemployed is networking -- talking to others who may know of a job possibility or may know someone the job hunter can contact for ideas. -- Catherine R. Slaughter, Bountiful, Utah

Personal attributes

There are certain attributes one must live by for successful employment. I suppose if there is one attribute that must be obvious to a prospective employer, in order for him/her to feel good about employing you, is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a contagious faith. Whiners just don't exhibit enthusiasm. Workers in an enterprise are a little like partners in a marriage; each is responsible for his or her own happiness. Your spouse cannot make you happy, and the same thing is true of a boss. He/she cannot make you happy.

Another attribute I mention is a good work ethic. It was not idle chatter when the Brethren told us to re-enthrone work as the ruling principle in our lives. -- Elder Roger Nuttall, Church Educational System missionary, Greensboro, N.C.