8. What If I Can't Find Work

Too often we are scared,
scared of what we might not be able to do,
scared of what people might think if we tried,
we let our fears stand in the way of our hopes.
Why? There’s really no time to be afraid.
You having nothing to lose and everything to gain.


The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

While you are honing your skills, you may have to be resourceful in stringing together multiple jobs. This is not entirely a bad or desperate situation as it offers you the chance to try out different skills and find out what you like doing. When I first got started by taking care of the condominium association’s garden beds, many people frequently walked by and asked if I was available to take on garden work. Another time, I was paid by a neighbor to weed their garden and get their townhouse ready for sale.

Since the garden shop I started working at was unable to initially give me full-time hours, the manager was good about being flexible enough with my hours so I could work part-time with a local landscaper. I started work at 7 am and worked till noon gardening. Then I took a quick shower, a power nap, had lunch then cycled quickly to work in the garden shop from around 1 in the afternoon till 7 pm.

So I ended up working a 12 hour day with a one hour lunch by stringing together two part-time jobs. But these 12 hour days seemed like heaven. Compared to my other job where I sometimes left at 11 pm, this seemed like a luxury. At the end of the day, I slept well, I had no worries or concerns to bring home. Although I even worked a full day on the weekend, I found it necessary to preserve my marriage and my own sanity by giving myself at least one day off on the weekend. Here I was working more hours than ever only now it did not feel like work.

You will always be in demand if you are dedicated to continuously improving yourself by increasing your technical knowledge on skills like pruning and plant care, reading and learning about plants, staying up-to-date on the latest plant introductions and continuing to work in your own garden. Aside from those individuals who consciously obtain a horticulture or landscape degree right out of high school, there are even fewer mature individuals who make the commitment to join the horticulture field, mid-career.

It is precisely this maturity and experience that are hard to find and compelling to any future employer. If you walked in the door with the right attitude, you would be easily hired especially if you have any supervisory or management experience. Competition for limited jobs come in the form of recent college graduates, high school students temping, immigrants and other hourly employees with limited education.

The most important thing is to put yourself out there and be resourceful in this untraditional career path. None of the jobs I ended up obtaining ever appeared as jobs I applied for in the newspaper or in online job searches. You will find that one thing will lead to another and that only comes from jumping in.

Excerpt from the forthcoming book Getting Dirty. If you would like me to let you know when the book becomes available, just send your e-mail to adriennejenkins@verizon.net.

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