by Kimberly Mitchell
From the Editor: The Louisiana Center for the Blind has recently established a customer-service training program similar to the one that has been so effective at the Colorado Center for the Blind. The first student enrolled in the program is Kim Mitchell. She recently wrote about herself and her growing expectations for herself as a result of the training she is receiving. Kim demonstrates again what good training and high expectations can do for people. We thought her words might encourage other people. This is what she says:
I have many reasons for wanting to be in the customer service program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. First, I love to work with and be around other people. Second, I want to better myself. My current plans are to find a customer-service job in the Shreveport area for about two years and then relocate to Detroit, Michigan. I hope to find a job that I love and that I am really good at. Beyond these things, I have a one-year-old little girl, and I don't plan to live with my mother for the rest of my life. I am in this program to gain independence, self-confidence, and freedom. Although I have successfully completed my O & M training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, my road to freedom and independence is not yet finished. I will be fully independent when I am in my own home, making my own money, and paying my own bills.
One of the hardest things for me right now is missing my little girl. For the last year I have been home with her every day. Now the closest I can get to her is a phone call. Hearing her cry and being unable to do anything about it hurts so much! However, I hang on to the idea that, once I complete my training, life will be much better for both of us.
While I am in the program, I will also learn some other important things that I really need to know. These include computer skills, dealing with different types of people, conducting myself in a successful interview, and working confidently with others in a business setting. I believe that the relationship between coworkers is just as important as job performance.
I have often wondered what it would be like to be one of the people assisting me on the phone. Now I will find out. I will also learn the patience, accuracy, and dedication needed to fulfill the duties required in this line of work.
I know I still have a long way to go on my life's journey, but this step is the first I will take. My outlook on the entire situation is, "A little preparation now will lead to a lot of success." At my weakest moments, when I am second-guessing my decision, if I just keep that thought in mind, I believe I will be able to complete my training successfully.
When I learned that I would be the first and for a while the only student in this program, I started wondering if coming would still be a good idea. As I sat and thought about it, I decided that being the only student had its advantages. Not only would I be the first student and graduate of the Louisiana Center for the Blind Career Center, but I would also have all the attention of the staff, which is a very good thing. After all, being a pioneer can be exciting. We live in a country full of job opportunities, and I am fully prepared, ready, and willing to do whatever it takes to snatch one of them for myself.
Another reason why I am in the customer service program is that I do not intend to receive Social Security for the rest of my life. I want my daughter and me to have the best we can in life, and Social Security does not offer that. It might satisfy some people, but I say, "Why settle for less when you can have more?" When I consider how little money Social Security really provides, I know I want more for myself. When I think about the skills and abilities I am developing and about how much money there is out there in the business world just waiting to be made, I can't help wanting to be successful.
Many people have asked why I chose customer service. My response would have to be that I love working with and being around other people. This makes customer service the right line of work for me.
I strongly encourage anyone interested in customer service to consider a program like the one at the Louisiana Center for the Blind Career Center. You will find that it will be time well spent, and you will know that you are doing your part to become a member of America's working class. I know that for a blind person some things do not come easily. However, my view is that my struggles make my accomplishments just that much more special. One of the greatest feelings for me is going to be when I successfully hold down a job and receive my first paycheck. That is when I am going to be able to stand proudly and say I am free, independent, and self-confident.