Summary: Never give up on your hopes and dreams. This is how one PA CareerLink student at Springhouse persevered and earned her Project Management Professional certification.

“Hope.”

That’s how Anita said she felt when she finally started to hear ‘yeses’ in her life, after years of hearing too many ‘nos.’ Too many end-of-contract dates. Too many hiring freezes. Too many layoff notices.

Anita, like many others, found her career on the short end of recessions, budget cuts, and merger downsizes. To pay her bills, she’d take temp jobs, but they never included employee benefits and they always ended. Even when she proved her value to a company, the temp jobs filled short-term needs with no long-range headcount.

In her lifetime, she has worked in food science, research and development, quality assurance, event management, project planning, procurement, executive administration, private music tutoring, and more. Her resume now documents a vast number of arbitrary experiences, but, she fears, it is misread as “job-hopping.”

The emotional toll

“I am more than what people see on my resume,” Anita explained. Her first layoff during a major recession started the cycles of temp and casual work. With every short-term job, she applied her natural talents: complex problem-solving, creative thinking, quick learning, project planning, self-initiative, and more. But, she added, “I didn’t have anything [such as titles, formal job responsibilities, or certifications] that showed my capabilities.” Financial challenges prevented her from accepting registration to a highly coveted MBA program. She couldn’t afford to pursue Project Management Institute‘s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. She applied for scholarships, but they aren’t intended for mid-career adults. And employment agencies and hiring companies don’t invest in professional development for temp employees.

With the news of one more impending layoff after nearly two years of temp work, she felt depressed. Even when her supervisors saw her value, the recruiters did not look beyond her resume, and she couldn’t secure a full-time role. “I tried every which way my entire life. I’ve done everything I could possibly do and more.” She felt, “The world doesn’t seem to need or want me. The world doesn’t see my value. I guess I don’t.”

Internal drive

But after the last layoff, Anita set out to give it just one more try – to show that she was more than qualified and competent to handle a significant role with the potential for much more.

That’s when Anita’s luck changed. She was invited by chance on a business trip with senior meeting planners, which led her to sign up for a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP)* course. Then, she reconnected with PA CareerLink® – as she had after every layoff – but this time she was approved for the PMP certification program. Anita was excited that this could be a pathway to earning her PMP. Hope.

When Anita interviewed for Springhouse’s Project Management for Professionals Program, she found an advocate in Adrienne Cooper, Vice President of Education. And she liked the structure of Springhouse’s certification curriculum too. Hope.

Adrienne saw her potential and agreed the project management certification was the right path and achievable. More hope.

And, even when she faced unforeseeable setbacks caused by the pandemic shutting down PMI’s certification testing center for 10 months, Anita persevered. Those setbacks turned into wins.

  • When the exam content and curriculum changed significantly, Adrienne invited her to re-take the PMI Authorized PMP Exam Prep course with the new materials. Win.
  • When her required hours of project management experience to qualify for the PMP expired during the pandemic, a mentor encouraged her to resubmit her PMI application for reconsideration. PMI approved her. Win.
  • When she had study questions or was lacking confidence, Springhouse instructor Kevin Kovalic went beyond the classroom to give her feedback. He reassured her of her readiness. Win.

All the big and small ‘yeses’ along her PMP journey gave Anita confidence to keep going.

“The PMP … I got it!” she stated proudly, “and I’m really appreciative of all that.”

Going beyond

Since starting down this path, Anita didn’t stop with the PMP. She achieved her CIS (Certified Incentive Specialist), CITP (Certified Incentive Travel Professional), Tourism and Hospitality Management Certificate, CVENT Event Professional Certification. And she continues to grow and take on additional challenges. She has become a PMP mentor to other study group members to help them pass the exam.

Now, she is more hopeful than ever that having a PMP on her resume will quantify her full capabilities and open more doors. She believes that adding that high-achieving certification to her experience and natural skills will demonstrate her value to any employer.

Getting the PMP became more than just getting a certificate; it became a life goal regardless of whether she got a job because of it.

She explained, “It became a meaningful and validating goal to myself that brought me out of self-doubt and self-loathing. It validated what I knew all along about myself. As much as we want to think we can be strong, it does take reaching certain achievements that we do have some control over. It does take having supportive people in your life who believe in you, even when you do not know how to make things happen.”

As far as Anita’s hopes when she finds a permanent job, “I’ve accepted where I am. Therefore, I can be more selective. This is what I want in my life, and I’m going to get a job that fits into the life that I want.”


*Certification References

The following certifications mentioned in this article are not part of the Springhouse curriculum: CMP, MBA. CTSM, CIS, CITP, Tourism and Hospitality Management Certificate, and CVENT Event Professional Certification

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