Everyone’s job search story is different, but each individual story can inspire and empower others who are on their own unique path. We love to hear how our readers have found rewarding careers in Portland, and we want to share these stories with you to inspire you in your job search and to help us all better understand the local job market!
Meet Julie Magers, a Family Support Specialist who credits a strong network and ongoing efforts to stay connected to industry leaders as keys for finding her dream job.
What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?
I work at OHSU’s Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry as their one and only Family Support Specialist. In fact, I am one of two total employees filling this role in the entire University!
In this role, I am developing strategies to enhance and elevate the inclusion of Family and Young Adult Support Specialists across Oregon, specifically in two programs: the Emergency Department Diversion (EDD) Pilot Program and the Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA). People in these positions have lived experiences with navigating the systems of care that serve youth living with mental health conditions and/or developmental or intellectual disabilities. We help by walking beside the family, sharing what we have learned through experience, providing emotional and educational support, and helping them learn to advocate for their needs to be met. We also help to “translate” the communication among families, youth and their health/education/insurance providers in order to promote collaborative approaches to serving the child and family’s needs.
How long did it take you to find this job?
I was searching for this particular role for about eight months.
How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?
Because this is a somewhat newly emerging workforce, my best tactics and strategies to find this position included networking, serving in volunteer roles on advisory councils, researching the agencies and organizations that hire Family, Young Adult, and Peer Support Specialists, and being ready to submit my application as soon as the most favorable position was announced.
What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?
I had been working as a Family Support Specialist at a local non-profit with a focus on mental health and developed one of the field operations for the EDD Pilot Program in that county. I was very interested in serving in a role to improve the support, training and inclusion of this workforce in all of the program sites across the state, but that position didn’t really exist. I think the most difficult part of this journey was being patient and waiting for the systems serving children and families to create the position. To overcome that challenge, I remained “plugged into” the work in any way possible and stayed in touch with industry leaders in the field.
What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?
Do what you have to do to have the income you need to pay your bills, while simultaneously pursuing your dream job!
Why do you love your job?
I have the honor to walk beside families who are in crisis with their children, spun around in a system of care (our mental health system) that does not readily guide them in getting their children access to critically needed care. When I was in a similar situation, I had a mentor who helped me learn how these systems work so that I could make them work for my daughter – now I get to pay it forward and share that knowledge with others.
I also have the privilege to work with mental health service providers and bridge the communication with their clients, promoting family and youth driven care. Everyone wins when all parties are able to collaborate for the best possible outcomes for children and youth experiencing emotional and behavioral health-related challenges.