Our monthly “Quick Chats” with SAGE participants offer a first-person perspective on our community. This month, we spoke with Sheila Slaughter, a 51-year-old bisexual New Jersey resident and participant in our SAGEWorks employment program. Because workforce discrimination can begin as early as the 40’s, SAGEWorks serves participants who are aged 45 and up. Sheila is a recent graduate of our two-week SAGEWorks Boot Camp program, an intensive training course that provides skills needed for job placement. She spoke with us about her personal philosophies, creative projects, and what SAGEWorks has meant to her.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Sheila! How did you first become aware of SAGE?
I found out about SAGE as part of my job search process.
And what kind of work are you looking for?
My career has been predominantly in the nonprofit sector. I’m an office manager and have worked with runaway homeless youth, substance abuse prevention, and other kinds of organizations. I enjoy diverse work experiences and I think support work really lends itself to a lot of different environments.
How long have you been in that field?
All my life! It kind of found me. I was a runaway homeless youth and the Educational Alliance's Youth Board Program had an 18-month residence for young women. The Director took me under her wing and got me my first office job. That was in 1981.
What else do you do? Any hobbies or creative pursuits?
I’m a blogger! I blog at bohemianwomanrising.com
I love the title!
Thank you! If you look up “bohemian”, it means people who challenge spurious social constructs. We ask “Why do we dress girls in pink and boys in blue?” for example. My blog celebrates women’s intellectual history, health and wellness, and spirituality / spiritual sovereignty (as opposed to religion).
So when you found SAGEWorks, you were on a job hunt…
I still am! LOL!
And what’s your dream job?
Working with elderly people or youth—I need to be around people. I think both elderly people and youth are marginalized. If you’re not working our society doesn’t see value in you, because you’re not making money and contributing to the economic infrastructure.
So you are pursuing work that addresses that.
Yes, work that helps others feel empowered. My ideal job would in some way bring the two groups together. There’s much we could learn from each other. If that were to happen I think quality of life would improve, and hopefully preconceived biases diminished.
Do you have a guiding philosophy about work?
Just keep moving forward—it doesn’t matter if it’s a baby step or a giant leap—just keep moving in the right direction. Mostly, we tend to identify ourselves through our work, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that defines us.
I agree! So, what was the most important thing you took away from the SAGEWorks Boot Camp?
Camraderie. It was encouraging to be around other 40-plusers. When you’re in our age group and looking for a job, it can be isolating. So the support group and connection to a cohort was important. The facilitator, Howard Leifman was highly knowledgeable. He imparted great information. Michele and Zoraida [SAGEWorks Staff members] were awesome too! The program was a welcome relief from the angst of the job search.
Anything else you want to add?
I’d like to thank the SAGEWorks team yet again! 40-plusers entering the job market can encounter culture shock—so much has changed. SAGEWorks helps to ease the transition.
-- Posted by Kira Garcia