Written in December 2016:
What is it really like to work at a seniors’ community? Let me tell you.
I’ve had a lot of dream careers over my years, from lawyer to doctor to investment banker to CFO – you get the idea – I wanted to have that lucrative career that many of us dream of. I had never thought that I would one day be working for a retirement community. I want to share with you the story of how I started working for a large senior living community in Surrey, British Columbia, and the impact this opportunity has had on my life.
I first got the job through the Co-op program of SFU – a great opportunity for students to get work experience in the ‘real world’. I applied to a few places in my first couple of weeks, Elim being one of them. The posting was for an Operations Coordinator. Really I didn’t know much of what this entailed but I gave it a shot. I had interviews with the HR manager and my current manager, the Director of Community Care. I was impressed by the facilities and the vision they had. To be honest, I didn’t think they were as large as they were, and they were growing even more (hence, the new job position). To fast forward a bit, I have now been working for this organization for over a year and have learned more than I ever imagined I would. I’ve reconstructed billing processes and created brand new operations. I’ve worked directly with the Director of Finance during the company-wide budget process for 2017. I oversee the admissions and discharges for residents into Assisted Living. I’ve submitted financial reports for Assisted Living and Residential Care to Fraser Health. I’ve created brand new reporting documents. I’ve coordinated an event with over 100-guests (a lot harder than I expected). I’ve written contracts for service providers. I’ve utilized technology systems to better serve our residents. With Elim’s continued growth, I am perhaps most excited for the projects that lie ahead as well.
Elim gave me the opportunity to recognize my true values. Honestly, I can’t even succinctly tell you what my values and goals were before I came to Elim; as a twenty year-old, I would have probably said something like ‘success’. But I can look anyone in the eye now and tell them what’s important to me and what I want to do with my life. It has nothing to do with having a million dollars in my bank account before I’m 40. It has nothing to do with owning a 10,000 square foot home. It has nothing to do with owning a Ferrari. My time with Elim has abolished all the superficial metrics that people use to give their life meaning. I want to positively affect as many lives as possible now. I want to help people see the good in themselves, make people smile and laugh as much as possible, be the voice for those that struggle to find their own or don’t have one at all, and give more than I take in this world. In fact, Elim is a large part of the reason I started to write for others to read. Elim’s mission is “to provide seniors, living in a Christian community, with an enriched quality of life,” and while this mission is specific to a generation, the underlying principle is not. Working for an organization with a mission that aligns with my own has been an invaluable experience. They’ve given me the confidence and vision I need to outline what I want to do with my life.
I guess a big reason for writing this post is to show other business students that maybe they are narrowing their sights for job opportunities a little too much. Get creative with what you’re looking for. Apply for a job that you know very little of. Look into industries that you never even thought of working in. And I can’t stress this enough but don’t back down from an opening because you don’t fit the requirements. Take a chance, you have nothing to lose. You never know what you’ll learn or what type of impact a company will have on your life. We’re not just talking about your future career here, we’re talking about your life. At the moment, I don’t want to limit myself to the future jobs I could have during my career. I don’t want to say I will not work for ‘x’ and I will not do ‘y’. All I know is I want to do work that means something to someone. I want to do work that helps me carry out my vision and goals. I want to know I’m doing work and making an impact that I can be proud of.
The truth is that Elim has changed the metric I use to measure my life’s meaning. And if I were to be honest, this is just the beginning – I know where I want to be when I am a parent and nearing a retirement. I know what I want to feel when I’m on my deathbed, looking back on my life as I reach the inevitable ending to my story. I want to know that I’ve changed as many lives as I possibly could with the time I had. If I can honestly tell myself that I’ve positively impacted the lives of those around me, I will have lived an immense life. Until then, I don’t know what the future holds for me but I know wherever I go and wherever I am, I will carry the values that Elim has helped me realize.