Sophia and I left Saipan in 1995 and I didn't work again until 1999. I was busy being a stay-at-home mom and when Sophia went off to preschool, a full-time student. I finally completed my Bachelor's degree, not in business or nursing or elementary education (all of which I had pursued at one time), but in history, my favorite subject. 19th and 20th Century European History to be exact.
Program Support Clerk, Patient Financial Services and Secretary to the Chief of Staff, Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), North Chicago, Illinois
We moved to Great Lakes in 1999 and with Sophia off to kindergarten, I found a job at the VAMC in the Patient Financial Services department. It was pretty dull as I spent my whole day calling veterans to remind them of their upcoming appointments as an excuse to update their records. I don't think they do this anymore; I can certainly see that they might encounter resistance at asking for so much information over the phone. You just can't be too careful these days. I worked in this department for a year when I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper for the position of Secretary to the Chief of Staff. Because it would mean jumping up two pay grades, I had to apply as if I was outside the VA system. The position had been posted internally but there had not been any successful candidates. I interviewed for the job and was hired. I didn't realize at the time that this position made me number three in the secretarial hierarchy on the executive floor but it didn't change the way I worked or the way I interacted with people. There was a lot of politics on the executive floor but I stayed away from that and earned the respect of those who worked above and below me. I loved my boss; the Chief of Staff was an amazing man and I was very sorry to leave when my parents decided to move to Illinois to stay with us. I got a lot of kudos for giving up my job to take care of my elderly parents although it was something I really wanted to do and since my Mum died shortly thereafter, it was a blessing that I got the opportunity to spend that time with them.
Administrative Assistant, First Command Financial Planning, Virginia Beach, Virginia
We moved to Virginia in 2003 and I started work in 2004 as the Administrative Assistant to one of the financial planning agents. I worked here about six months and although I liked my boss, I didn't care for the work. I didn't feel that they had given me adequate training to be dealing with transactions involving people's money and I just never felt connected. It really was a cutthroat business, all about the commissions, and I was glad when I decided to leave.
That was my last paid job. I've done a lot of volunteer work between then and now but never felt the need or desire to go back to work. I did look, briefly, when we moved to Virginia after leaving Rhode Island in 2012, but the electronic age has run right over me and being able to put 100% into a job just wasn't possible when I had Sophia's senior year and college admission process to oversee. I enjoyed volunteering, as it was something I could do for a few hours while Vic was at work and Sophia was at school. Working full-time would have been impossible with the schedules we kept.
My favorite? I'd have to say working for the Chief of Staff at the VAMC. We had a lot of good laughs in our office while getting the work done and I have nothing but the fondest memories of that time.