August 2015 - Shelby Kennedy started her first (her words) “big girl job” in February of 2015 as an assistant production editor at Rowman & Littlefield
in Lanham, Maryland. When asked about this position she explained: “I make books!” Working in the company’s academic division, Shelby used specialized software to edit and format manuscripts.
After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 2011, Shelby struggled to find gainful employment. Despite a college degree and a part-time work history that included working as an office assistant, tutor, and sales clerk, she was not able to find a full-time job. “When I contacted DORS I felt like I had hit a bit of a low point in my life. I'd graduated from college…and [was] searching for about three years. Nothing really seemed to be panning out.”
Shelby began working with DORS vocational rehabilitation counselor Seth Masley in October of 2014. They developed her employment plan, which included a referral to DORS business relations specialist Nancy Forsythe.
Shelby describes her work with Nancy: “Once I met Nancy, I felt like all the pieces fell into place. We met several times to polish my resume and talk about job opportunities. [She arranged for me] to attend a Diversity and Inclusion event. Attending this event reminded me that I could do this. It was the first time in a very long time that I really felt like I was on my way to something great.”
Seth agrees that Shelby’s partnership with Nancy was key to her job search success. “Nancy coached her on how to interview; she speaks well and writes well, but Nancy taught her how to ‘own the room’ on an interview.”
Shelby’s disability is Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles that control facial expression and eye movement, and can include bone irregularities in the hands.
Shelby: “My face is paralyzed, so I can’t smile, so I wanted to disclose this affect at my interview. Nancy said ‘That’s fine, but spend a minute on it and move on.’ She helped me feel good about all these fears about my ability to get a job. She believed that I could do it.”
Nancy had recently met the human resources manager at Rowman & Littlefield and encouraged Shelby to submit her résumé. Shelby was prepared: “I felt extremely ready for that interview. I know it was Nancy's coaching that helped me land the job.”
Nancy thinks Shelby landed the job on her own merits. “Shelby is one of the most dynamic, talented people I know. She wrote the single best cover letter I have ever read. It perfectly balanced hard information on her background, skills, etc., with wit, charm and personality. In fact, this combination is what has made Shelby so remarkably successful in her job search.”
Shelby enjoyed working at Rowman & Littlefield: “This is a truly amazing company, I can’t say enough about them.” However, she continued to pursue her dream of a job with the federal government and that dream recently came true. She was hired by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
as an Operations Specialist in the Medicare and Medicaid Services division.
Seth is not surprised. “The thing that sticks out most in my mind about working with Shelby was her personality. She was so enthusiastic and determined to get a job that suited her education and drive, I knew that it was only a matter of time, and a bit of work…before she succeeded in getting what she wanted.”
Shelby encourages others job seekers with disabilities to consider DORS. “DORS is a positive place to be! I feel indebted to Seth and all the people that've helped me get to where I am right now. It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that without Seth and Nancy I would literally not be employed today. It was their guidance and encouragement that helped me to stay focused, set goals, and make connections that ultimately landed me my dream job.”