For 11 ½ years, Charmaine Hileman would jump into her car every work day to drive two hours round trip from Quarryville to her place of employment in Wilmington, Del. with one of the oldest industrial chemical companies in the United States.
Charmaine didn’t mind the commute because it allowed her to raise her two children in a quiet small town while working for a giant in the biotech industry, a job she assumed was secure.
“I thought I was going to stay with the company for the rest of my career,” Charmaine said.
That was until the company merged with another industrial giant in 2015. The merger and subsequent restructuring lead to the elimination of the division where Charmaine and over 200 other employees worked.
The cold and detached manner in which she was laid off and the loss of a career she loved was devastating.
“It hit me hard; I didn’t know it was going to hit me that hard,” she said. “I was the primary wage earner for my family, and it was such a loss to lose my job. In the first few months, I had to force myself to go out of the house. My kids were at school, and my husband was at work, and I was at home by myself. My whole purpose for getting up in the morning was gone.”
Charmaine found herself in an unexpected place – missing a career she loved and at a loss for what was next. The one place outside of her home where she found solace and to be around others was the public library. It was there that she learned about New Choices.
During an intake session with Tricia Nabors, Executive Director of New Choices, Charmaine handed over a folder stuffed with papers from her termination – paperwork she couldn’t bring herself to read because it still caused her pain. After talking to Tricia, she enrolled in the program she expected to be about the “nuts and bolts” of resume writing and interviewing skills.
When her session began a month later, Charmaine quickly learned that for the next two weeks it was going to involve a lot more than just honing her job-seeking skills. She was about to dive deep into personal development and learn things about herself that could be holding her back from moving forward.
At first, this self-described introvert turned inward and kept quiet. And then, in week two, Charmaine experienced a moment she wasn’t expecting while learning about the four major personality types. She discovered that she possessed a passive aggressive personality trait, and it shook her to the core.
“That’s when it hit me because I always thought of myself as a passive person, and I came to learn that I was a passive aggressive person and I didn’t like that very much. I was distraught and went to the bathroom and cried. That was the turning point for me to realize, ‘OK, that’s what you are, but you don’t have to be that way anymore, and you can work towards being an assertive person.’”
One year later, Charmaine said she feels more confident in herself, thanks to the skills she developed through the New Choices program. She feels more attuned to her needs and can redirect herself when she begins to fall back on old thinking patterns. And the program also lead her to reexamine her career path and to reassess her priorities.
“I didn’t necessarily have to stay in the biotech industry, there are other things I want to do,” she said. “And I realized I want to stay close to home to be there for my family. I have a new outlook now.”
Charmaine recently earned a certificate in phlebotomy and has a longer range goal to be an echocardiogram technician (ultrasound of the heart).