Post-its Are a Luxury Here?

My journey to Stand Up Eight has been a rewarding yet challenging one.  It started with a big risk, veered briefly into outrageous terrain you’d have to see to believe, and ultimately led me to my dream job and endless stacks of Post-it Notes.

Let me explain…

I didn’t start my professional career as a social worker.  First, I was an educator, and I loved it, but I thought I could help more kiddos more effectively in social work.  So, I left my happy, little classroom one summer and never went back.  It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. 

Until,

I was hired by a child-placing agency with questionable business practices (that no longer exists within an hour of Austin), simply because it was the only agency that would even talk to the 30-something teacher without a bachelor’s in social work. 

My coworkers there were great, and I learned a lot about how to care for foster and adoptive families.  In fact, I still use most of what I gleaned back then today. 

But I also learned how to inhale lunch in 30 minutes at my desk in front of my computer within reach of my phone because my boss thought a lunch break was a perk. 

Her list of other perks?  I’m glad you asked.


Post-it Notes – If I needed such extravagances, I had to supply ‘em myself.

Long Hours – 60-hour work weeks were to be savored because it was a privilege to work with families whenever I could.  Now, I agree it’s a privilege to serve families, but seeing my husband and dog is also nice.

Days Off – We didn’t get any.  Christmas Eve?  A normal, 10-hour work day.  July 4?  12 hours, easy.  Vacation?  I’m still not sure there was such a thing if I wanted to have a job when I returned with my golden tan.

Heat – I’ve literally never been so cold in all my life.  No matter the season, the office was a brisk 60 degrees.  I’m talkin’ South Pole status with mittens and scarves.  Even during the scorchiest of Austin summers, I would drive home with no AC just so I could defrost.

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Health Insurance – Because who’s ever really gotten sick and “needed” affordable medical treatment?  “You’ll heal on your own” and “You’d never get sick if you drank more Pellegrino” were my boss’ mantras. 

A Salary – Every employee was a “contractor” who made less than a living wage because “real social workers” shouldn’t care about money.  Or paying the rent apparently.


After ten very long months, I escaped to a more reputable agency (where I one day became a director who supported such niceties as appropriate breaks and paid time off), and some of my precious foster and adoptive families followed me. 

But I’ll never forget that rookie year.

While leaving my classroom felt next to impossible (and in all honesty, regrettable for a time), I’m thankful I took the plunge into social work.  I wouldn’t be here at Stand Up Eight with all these glorious Post-it Notes otherwise.

Jen Reichert