Carlann Czecha, or “Carla” as she’s known, is a CRS/Job Coach in WOU’s Montgomery County, Maryland region who is retiring in late December 2019 after nearly twenty years in the industry. For this passionate person whose life until this point has been centered around work and family, retirement is bittersweet. On one hand, she’ll now have time to pursue an abundance of potential hobbies that have piqued her interest over the years. On the other hand, she’ll leave behind a career where she feels she found her niche, and more importantly, she’ll have to say goodbye to clients who have blossomed under her guidance.

We interviewed Carla to talk about where she has been and where she is going, and although a few tears were shed when reflecting over the past twenty years, she feels happily overwhelmed about how fortunate she is to start the next chapter.

How did you end up in this industry?

I was a training manager at a large bank and felt unfulfilled. When I found a position as a job coach, it was like the heavens opened up and an angelic choir started singing. Since then, I’ve been challenged, rewarded, and able to spend almost half my life in a field I’ve loved. It’s a blessing.

How did you end up at WOU?

When I lost my prior job coach position after 13 years due to a reduction in the workforce, I saw an ad for WOU on—of all places—Craigslist. I decided to go for it, and I’ve been here now for nearly seven years. This has been the best place I’ve ever worked. I work from my heart and my soul. It’s the place where I’ve received fair annual reviews. I’m trusted. I have autonomy. I have my dignity. I love everything about WOU.

When you look back, what was your biggest accomplishment?

Although growth is often slow and with baby steps, I can look back over the course of my time here and see remarkable growth and maturation in my clients. For example, one of my clients had to be directed to do anything and was very set on a routine. Since he’s been working in his job, I have seen him be proactive and change tasks without hesitation or prompting. He’s open to new ideas. He’s social and actually jokes with people. And I think, in part, I helped him get there. I made a difference in his life. And he and other clients certainly have made a difference in mine.

Has the job changed you?

Oh, for sure. I’ve become more patient. I’ve become more resourceful. When something isn’t working, I’m tasked with personally figuring out how to make it work.

What’s next for Carla?

First, I’d like to do more yoga, gardening, and camping. Also, I’d like to take beekeeping classes. I want to apprentice under a beekeeper and then get my own hives. Beyond that, I’d like to rediscover what makes me “me.” When you’re working, your energy goes into your job and your family. It’s time to figure out what makes me tick. Art? Book clubs? I don’t know, but I’m hoping to have the next 15-20 years to figure that out. 

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your career or your future?

Unless you’d like to hear me babble on for another half hour about happiness, joyfulness, and love, then I guess I’m done.

From all of us at Work Opportunities Unlimited, we wish you a happy, joyful, and fulfilling retirement, Carla!