Landed a New Job Working With Animals Thanks to Help From Neighbors

Courtesy Peggy Schunk
Peer support can be invaluable for a job search. While any job seeker must own their individual search, feedback and lead sharing can help. Since Neighbors-helping-Neighbors launched three years ago, 379 members have landed jobs. Their success serves as a terrific motivator to others, so I'm happy to share their stories with you.

Here, in her own words, is Peggy Schunk from Hawthorne, N.J.:

As a public relations expert, I keep abreast of local and national news. I read about John Fugazzie's efforts with Neighbors-helping-Neighbors USA and joined the Hawthorne meetings. I worked in healthcare for 15 years on the human side and now work in healthcare in the animal world.

In retrospect, I wish I had joined NhN about a year earlier than I did. With experience in community and public relations, it was a twist to be on the receiving end of needing help instead of being a guiding force. I was welcomed by genuinely concerned neighbors, eager to share their compassion and wisdom gleamed from life and career experiences.

The group, following the wonderful model created by John, helped me stay focused in a positive mindset. Breaking away from job applications and individual efforts to attend meetings kept me from operating in a vacuum.

I urge all job seekers not to operate in a silo. Seek career-minded individuals to keep you professionally alert. It is meaningful to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own, whether it is for an interview or a landing.

I appreciated the encouragement I received all through the process. I made friendships I hope endure. I recently landed and I know that my fellow members will be proud for me. I hope to pay it forward and stay involved. The workplace today is constantly evolving and NhN provides tools and resources to remain relevant, qualified and optimistic.

I participated in Skillup America, a pilot online-educational program that I hope is the first of many such opportunities. I am also grateful to John for his tireless role as an advocate for all of those seeking their next job. John's efforts benefit all those who work hard at improving their lives. He shares our trials and tribulations with leaders, including our President of the United States, who can make a difference with a genuine heart.

Given time, John's willpower surely will make a place nationwide where we can all support each other on the road to achievement. Ultimately, this is a recipe for a better America.

How I Got My Job

The keys to landing work included a combination of persistence, resilience and a dedicated consistency in effort. I promised myself that I would work as hard for myself, if not harder, than I had for all of my previous employers and those became words to live up to. I organized my days purposefully so that even percentages of time were devoted to job applications, career fairs and interviews, networking, volunteering and continuing education. I created a working LinkedIn profile.

I asked myself to consider what gaps my resume might contain and sought to gain experience in those areas. For example, during my search I worked for a boutique agency, for an industry outside of healthcare, and consulted. I allowed myself to think outside the box and try new experiences. I obtained a mini-MBA in Digital Marketing from Rutgers to keep my skills relevant and marketable. I joined a medical reserve corps and became CERT and CART certified to give back to my community.

Phyllis Bottome once said, "There are two ways of meeting difficulties: You alter the difficulties or you alter yourself to meet them," and our former First Lady and Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton was correct when she famously said "It takes a village." Both were great inspiration to press on to greater achievements.

The skills I am using today were transferable skills I have used throughout my career. One enters healthcare because one wants to make a difference. I seek to deliver compassion in my work. You must be able to deliver an excellence in quality care and put the patient's best interests and needs above your own. It is a profound honor to be a part of a healing environment. The miracles outweigh the heartbreaks in my memory.

> Find a job in the healthcare industry

I have witnessed milestone moments on-camera and off. Currently, I am working at Hillsdale Animal Hospital, where Kenneth D. Fischer, DVM, practices acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal and nutritional medicine for dogs and cats. I responded to a newspaper advertisement after conducting online research about the practice and sent a cover letter with my c.v.

During interviews, I shared a genuine desire to bring further value and benefits to the practice than what the advertised position sought. That resonated. I am delighted for the opportunity to combine my love for animals, healthcare, people, and public relations in an ethical and meaningful way with caring colleagues whom I learn from daily.

The journey to get to this place was not for the faint of heart. I attended multiple job fairs, applied to hundreds of jobs and had several interviews at companies across the spectrum nationwide. More than once, I beat out hundreds of applicants, got my hopes up and learned I was not the final candidate. I was glad for the encouragement my NhN members gave me.

My best advice for job seekers is:
  • Remain true to yourself with a targeted search.
  • Be authentically helpful to everyone you meet.
  • Show your gratitude every chance you get, especially to those who support you.
  • Be willing to make sacrifices in order to create a life that includes the things you excel at in a way that may have been previously unimagined.

Like a Lotus flower, rise from unfavorable circumstances to show your beauty and your heart because the world needs your goodness, now, more than ever and because you have it to give. I have seen it time and time again.

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