Thursday, January 30, 2014

Guest Blogger: Penny Loker

Continuing our series on work and career, today's post is from guest blogger, Penny Loker. Penny is a woman with a facial difference trying to make the world a better place. She's from Kitchener Ontario Canada and loves knitting, reading, and her dogs. Check out her blog here:

When CCA (Children’s Craniofacial Association) asked me to contribute to their blog I was honored and I readily agreed. I hope that my experiences may inspire others to be their true self in all of their life adventures.

I would love to say that my facial difference didn't matter in applying for a job, or that I never let it be a barrier in applying to certain companies, but I would be lying. I had great anxiety when applying for jobs or when I had job interviews. I don’t think of myself as being any different but I know that society does and that when looking for employment I had to be ready for rejection and to accept that that rejection may be tied to me looking different. I made it a point not to apply for many retail positions since I knew that most companies have a “look” and that I would never fit in with that vision.

I have been fully employed for about 14 years between two big Canadian companies. My first real full time job was at a coffee shop called Tim Horton’s.  Working there I never felt my facial difference mattered. My employer and co-workers always treated me as me with respect and dignity. It was with that job I was able gain confidence and grow my leadership skills which have become invaluable.

My current position is in a call center with one of Canada’s biggest telecommunication companies Rogers Communications. I have worked for Rogers for a little over 8 years.  When I first applied I assumed and honestly didn't believe I would be hired as I felt my facial difference and the speech issues that come with that difference would prevent people from understanding me when speaking over the phone. I am happy to say I was wrong in my assumption.  Over my 8 years, I have held many roles and I am currently an Escalation Advisor, meaning I take calls as a manager and work with customers when they are at their most frustrated or concerned and work with them to resolve their issues.

Although my facial difference doesn't impact my job as much as I thought it would, as I get older and my facial difference causes more physical pain, I look to move within Rogers to other positions that would not require me to be on the phones speaking as much as I do now.  I recently enjoyed a temporary assignment in a position where I got to chat with our customers online via our company website instead of speaking with them over the phone.  I continue to look for ways to grow and develop so that I can transition to other roles.
Source: Michelleleh via PhotoYOLO

This new path on my employment journey is the only time where I feel that I may be slighted or over looked for positions of authority even though I have produced strong results and had positive reviews.  That being said, it is hard to say whether this is truly the case or just my own insecurities coming to the surface.

In the future, I would love to work in Rogers Social Media department and be a more visual role model in continuing to help customers and evolve our business. What’s great about Rogers is that they pride themselves on being named one of Canada’s 50 most diverse employers. We have many people in my location who not only have physical differences but are also legally blind.  I love working in such a diverse work environment and am sure that my future with the company will be a successful one.

Having a facial difference shouldn't limit anyone from applying and succeeding, but I know that as long as society continues to promote inequality it will always be in the back of mind of any person with a facial difference.  I hope that young adults today know that their best option to succeed is education.  Work towards goals and never be afraid to apply to jobs you don’t think in a million years you would be hired for. Don’t feel that you have to mention before an interview that you have a facial difference (unless there is a specific reason to do so). Be yourself!  A potential employer is looking for personality and skill set.  Skills can be taught but if you don’t have the right attitude that will become your biggest barrier…not your facial difference.

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