How Cultural Differences Can Kill Opportunities

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I have learned many life lessons in my several decades of life. One lesson is that despite lots of research and networking, what may look good on paper doesn’t account for everything.

I have always cherished my opportunities for travel and experience in different parts of the country. I have lived in two states in northeast, the midwest, the Southwest and presently have one foot simultaneously in Connecticut and South Carolina.

When you compare the two states, day-to-day life, values, and culture, they couldn’t be more different. When you look at it holistically, that’s the beauty of it, I can experience the best of both worlds. But, there are those things that are not on the glossy brochures that mention the pristine beaches and tourists attractions of the Carolinas, the intangibles.

I learn as I go, trial and error, in other words, The Yankee in the South. As I committed and invested in the Myrtle Beach area several years ago, I was, and remain, determined to roll with the many punches that have come my way such as, differences in language and dialect, climate, productivity, work ethic, embracing others, in conducting business as opposed to the amount of time spent in pleasurable pursuits; differences in politics, in progressivism versus conservatism.

As a property owner in both states, and several trips back and forth over the years, I can appreciate the differences when I lived in Kansas, Phoenix, Arizona, Massachusetts, Connecticut and South Carolina. We all have different standards depending upon our personal values, growing up experiences and preferences. However, I think business has to be taken seriously, no matter where you live, otherwise, how can people, residents and locations progress with a good quality of life if everything is loosey goosey?

If you are retired or on vacation, the attitude of “you’re at the beach; You can, or don’t need to” is just fine in those situations. Your time is your own when you’re retired or on vacation, so who cares? But, in other situations, not so!   

Don’t get me wrong, we all have flaws, including yours truly.  But, when you’re trying to conduct business, to make a real contribution, to contribute to an economy as a taxpayer and one who is invested in the community from afar, to try improve your station in life and develop new relationships, hoping for mutual cooperation, such cultural mores get in the way with devastating consequences!

I don’t choose to malign any person, business or industry specifically, as it does no one any favors. But, suffice it to say that in several cities in the South, I have encountered very lax business procedures and professionalism with real estate agents, property managers, home remodelers, news media, law enforcement, universities, human resources, county government, etc. In practical terms, often that includes lack of timeliness, undependability, no follow-up or common courtesy, and a lack of respect and opportunity.  These are standards that are commonplace in the Northeast. Yes, this is different for this Connecticut Yankee and I have gotten as used to it as I can, trying to go with the flow when I can in my preparations for permanency in the South.

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On the Road to “Not Just a Job Versus Career”

I have been blessed to have college and advanced University degrees and major careers from which to draw my life experience and mold my thinking.  In 1981, a devastating family homicide changed much of my primary focus along with managing successful careers.

Since that time my work as a crime victim advocate, although volunteer in nature, would have gleaned a good living in the work world if I had encountered the right opportunity and lack of possible discrimination due to my disability in Connecticut along with life timing.

I have always wanted the “dream career” “in victim services. For years, I have worked and helped countless others, honed my skills and talents, given back to so many others, asking for nothing in return, and given the opportunity to share my knowledge and talents in ever-increasing circles, seeking diverse opportunities.

For me, as a single person, not necessarily confined to my home state, without a spouse, children, or other people responsibilities, moving to the South affords me a more healthy environment conducive to someone with spastic cerebral palsy.  Also, with a professional job, the opportunity to foster new long-lasting relationships at work and connections to the community. In fact, I have earned the respect of peers nationwide and deserve to contribute my knowledge and experience to a paid position as a crime victim advocate. This differs vastly from a job that you get to sustain yourself, or to pay the bills, that may be interchangeable with another for a couple of dollars more.

A Dream Unrealized –

A little over two years ago, through some contacts in law enforcement, I learned of the potential dream job that I sought not far from my residence in Myrtle Beach. I was enthused at the prospect of the possibility. I meticulously revised my credentials, tried to keep in contact with the person who was in charge of the position through my contact who became my mentor, and who was very encouraging and kind to me. He also wrote a wonderful professional reference for me and served as my main cheerleader.

In addition, in order to build a rapport and to demonstrate my sincere interest in the position and the community, I spent time crafting ideas for community outreach and to solve problems and shared them with the Administrator of the position several months prior.

Months went by with no contact and no word. I believe that is the nature of contact in the South. I was patient.  And then, suddenly last summer, something was happening. I was asked to re-submit my credentials. At last there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The position posted was affiliated with a government agency, an entity I know a lot about.

Much time and consideration was spent to complete the application properly. So that I was not unfairly disadvantaged due to my fine motor coordination problems when it comes to the online application processes, I sought the help of an ADA Coordinator in the HR Department after getting documentation sent from my Primary Care Physician. I admit that this person and the HR Department was helpful with the process, answering all of my questions. (Such roles are mandated by law.)

As an example of my motivation, I spent over 7 hours on a Sunday trying to summarize 37 years of victim advocacy experience into a 1.5 page application, nearly impossible, as well as the accompanying detailed resume. When I was in South Carolina in the fall, I offered to meet with staff in person should they have any questions, as well as drive the commuting route by myself to give me more information about the experience.

The position officially closed in mid November 2018. The holidays came and went.  Four months passed. In the meantime, I called the HR Department to inquire about a possible timeline. They would divulge NO information whatsoever, even though I lived several states away and wanted to prepare for the opportunity to interview, at my own expense, of course. I also asked my mentor to check to see if he could locate a timeline for the position when the new year arrived.

Four months passed and then the incredible news,  that they gave the position to someone local. No phone call, no post card, no form letter, absolutely no acknowledgement of me as probably the strongest, best, but perhaps overqualified candidate, who purposefully demanded no specific salary to be as amenable as possible.

I was shocked, in utter disbelief, that I would be treated so unprofessional in such a high level, administrative position with no professional courtesy at all.  But then, this is the South. I don’t care! This is unconscionable behavior for an Administrator, for an ADA Coordinator, for a Director of Human Resources, to totally  ignore a highly qualified applicant who put so much effort into the process and is unforgivable by any standard, in my opinion.

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Realities-

I have come to the sad realization from my own experiences and consulting with others who have lived there for years, that despite all of my involvement with crime victims in the South, in the area where I will reside, the culture is extremely insular, and the powers that be sometimes don’t take kindly to Yankees, even when you are a taxpayer and have proven your value to them in many ways over the years, contributing to the local economy,  proposing other positions for elder care, devising a detailed proposal to deal with tourism crime at the request of the former Police Chief, doing many, many podcasts showcasing South Carolina.

I came across a similar position today, but alas, it closed a month ago, another missed opportunity that would have probably faded to black as I’m from the Northeast regardless of what I do.

As the Northeast becomes more and more unaffordable for our residents, as more and more Yankees move to many Southeast destinations, it makes so much sense that they would now, more than ever, embrace our talents and work ethic. I, for one, am willing to acclimate to South Carolina’s cultural standards. But, so too, you should meet us halfway if we are to support your growing economy. It’s only fair!

My Request to You

I want to recapture my passion and motivation versus my grief of what was lost.

Therefore, given my track record, my experience, my work record and desire to continue my mission in the name of my father’s memory,  I’m asking that my friends, colleagues and mentors in the South, please help me in the future to convince your colleagues that I am very worthy of employment consideration in the Myrtle Beach area in the near future. Whatever it takes, I’m asking. I’m ready, willing and able.

In an effort to console myself on February 13th – I wrote the following-

Good Evening! Coming to terms- This can apply to everyone, in so many situations – When we suffer losses, setbacks, when you put your faith in people and organizations, do everything right, follow all the rules, give 120 percent, display your willingness, your talents and your dedication and still they ignore you like you don’t exist, then what?

I have to believe that I am a far better person with much to offer so many others, without them! They never deserved me in the first place! Enough said!

To learn more about my innovative ideas and work, I invite you to read my previous blog on the subject:

Ladyjustice: Leader for Change for Crime Victims and Innovating

 


Donna R. Gore

If  you need assistance with writing a professional Victim Impact Statement, please refer to the Victim Impact Statement FAQ’s on this site.

To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com

 

  

 

 

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