If you were to look at Mike Amons’ career path, you would see the logical progression of how he became director of WOU’s Blackstone office. Always employed in education, he spent the year prior to joining WOU in a transitional classroom, teaching 18 to 21-year old students the life skills they would need to live independently. Frustrated by the lack of services to help those students once they aged out of his program, he went in search of a solution and wound up with a career at Work Opportunities.
However, if you were to examine the career path of Dave Nielson, you would likely scratch your head wondering how he ended up with the organization. A realtor with a background in writing and editing, the connection between his work history and a successful career with Work Opportunities is difficult to make. Sometimes, though, what is obvious to some is not obvious to others, and thankfully, Dave let Mike Amons’ vision and power of connectivity guide him to explore an opportunity with WOU where he has been for over a year.
Mike and Dave met four or six years ago—depending on who you ask—when Mike began dating Dave’s sister. Describing Dave as “one of my better friends in the world,” Mike says he and Dave spend a lot of time together even beyond family gatherings. Naturally, when you spend time together, you get to know each other, so when David mentioned he was thinking about looking for a job to supplement his realtor income, Mike suggested he consider a career as a job developer with WOU.
At the time, Dave didn’t really understand what Mike did for a living, much less what Work Opportunities was all about. Even after Mike described his position, the job developer’s role, and WOU’s mission, Dave still wasn’t entirely sure how his skills at selling homes would translate to helping someone find employment. However, he trusted Mike’s judgment enough to give it a whirl and explore opportunities with the organization.
Mike, on the other hand, knew the career would be a good fit for him. He says, “Dave naturally has a business developer’s personality. He’s outgoing and loves to network and make connections. Not only that, he cares about long-term goals, has a good grasp on understanding complicated systems, and drives hard for a favorable outcome.”
Dave met with Jenna Rebello from the Providence team and says, “Even though I was just meeting with her to learn more about the company, we had a good vibe and ended up talking for two and a half hours.” That good vibe turned into a job offer, and one year later, Dave is still enjoying his position with WOU.
Dave admits that there have been some growing pains along the way. He explains, “As a real estate agent who finds tenants for rental properties, I never had to teach a tenant how to live in an apartment. Teaching someone to do a job I’ve never had is challenging. Take something that many people would say seems simple or easy like bagging groceries or collecting carriages in a parking lot. There are many strategies to performing these jobs successfully that I had never thought about until I had to offer that kind of coaching.”
And the moment that Dave coached and assisted that client with those tasks was the exact time he realized the full scope of WOU’s mission and what his job was all about. That final piece of the puzzle changed the way he approached his job and made him recognize that he really did have the right skills to succeed.
This year will be an exciting one for the two friends. Dave and his wife are expecting their second child at the end of February, and Mike and Dave’s sister are getting married in October.
Despite their busy lives, Dave and Mike will continue to make time for each other and you can bet they’ll be talking shop at family gatherings, after their weekly racquetball games, and even at the office. “Just to be able to bounce stuff off each other and speak the same language is great,” Mike says. “It’s definitely brought us closer together, and I’m so happy that he found the same passion I have in the job.”