Shelia Lathion began her 30-year career at Xerox as a customer service representative in the 1980s. Through experience, know-how and hard work, she worked her way through the ranks becoming a Project Manager in 2008 and a Strategic Project Program Manager in 2014. Unfortunately, Xerox began layoffs, and by late 2017 Shelia was one of the many employees affected. “We modernized and automated as much as we possibly could to reduce costs, but revenue wasn’t meeting the cost,” says Shelia. And so, for the first time in 30 years, Shelia began a job search.
Through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program offered at National Able Network, Shelia (along with some of her previous colleagues at Xerox) looked into revamping their job search skills and the opportunity to pursue their educational aspirations in hopes of finding the next step in their career journey. “A big draw for me was the education, and for a number of my colleagues as well. Additional credentials and education was an interest, some wanted to totally change their career path. Many were over the top excited because when one door closes, another really bright one opens. It’s been a positive thing.”
Shelia knew she wanted to continue her journey as a Project Manager – she had the work history and the experience, however, as she job searched she realized that many organizations preferred candidates who had a Project Management certification. Since the TAA program gave Shelia the opportunity to pursue her education, Shelia enrolled in a project management certification program. Shelia says, “The certification is about how are you are perceived by a potential employer…The program gave me the credential that prospective employers look to…it does the work for them. Employers know the work that goes into earning the credential, so they respect that.”
Shelia earned her certification! She’s currently working as the Project Manager at the American Association of Diabetes Educators as a Project Manager. Shelia provides this advice for others who may find themselves in a similar situation she was in not long ago: “It’s easy to fall into what you’ve always done, but it’s about what you want to do next. Have the courage and use the resources to find your true calling and what your true competencies are…Let yourself go through the cycles of grief, but don’t let yourself linger…have the experience but don’t let it define you.”