Guest Blog: Diversity through experience

Blog post by Laura Gordon

Laura Gordon is the office manager at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. Previously, she worked in the insurance, staffing and manufacturing industries. Laura is a United States Navy veteran and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor’s of science in political science. She also serves as an executive board member of the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and co-chair of Annapolis Great Strides Walk. Laura walks for her son Austin at Team Feets.

When I consider diversity and how it applies to the workplace, one of my first thoughts is that you never know someone’s story.

I graduated from the Naval Academy in the class of ’90. Only 10 percent of my classmates were females. The Academy worked hard to treat us all—male or female—equally, for what we brought to the table, who could get the job done. As such, I never viewed myself as a trailblazer for other females, just as another midshipman.

I served aboard the USS Jason (AR-8), out of San Diego, California, in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. As a Surface Warfare Officer overseeing 50 people and multiple divisions, I learned not only leadership, organizational skills, and time management, but also how to get things done and effectively handle pressure.

These skills helped me even in my role as a stay-at-home parent with my two children, one with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The day my son Austin was diagnosed with CF was devastating. But I knew I could get through it, with my family. I had been challenged before.

As a parent to a child with CF, I have also seen the strength and resiliency my son has shown every day, facing the challenges he regularly overcomes. He continues to prove he is more than his diagnosis, that we are more than how we come across on paper.

My resume isn’t a traditional resume. I was job hopping, due to relocation for my husband’s career, and I have a gap in my resume, due to my time as a stay-at-home parent. I felt like my situation required an employer who was willing to look past my resume and see who I am as a person, what my strengths are.

I appreciate that the Maryland of Chamber gave me a chance. I learned in the Navy how to figure things out, get it done, make it happen, and I honed those skills during my years as a stay-at-home parent and volunteering with the CF Foundation. I often say, “the ship’s not burning, we aren’t sinking, it’s all right. We will figure it out.”

Christine Ross, our President & CEO, succinctly stated that I understand “what a real emergency is and how to handle the normal ups and downs of collegial interactions effectively, in a non-emotional way.” Essentially, I can handle pressure because my life experiences have taught me not to sweat the little stuff.

My story doesn’t translate onto my resume. My military experience and years as a stay-at-home parent don’t fit well on a resume, but the skills I have are relevant. It is important for employers to take the time to understand the applicant, read between the lines on the resume, and look at how those skills will translate into the office environment.

Learn how experiences like Laura’s translate in the workplace. Join the Maryland Chamber for MD Spotlight: Veterans in the Workplace on April 24, 2019 and hear from military personnel, employers, educational institutions and workforce development professionals on how veterans are an asset in the civilian workplace.

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