Anna Gainer

Anna GainerMajor: Biblical and Theological Studies, Psychology Minor
Hometown: Boone, Iowa

Describe your current job role:

I currently work for a non-profit called Youth Standing Strong that provides youth and their families with just about every form of assistance someone could think of. They provide everything from medical services, to drug and alcohol rehab, to a runaway shelter. I am a Youth Recovery Specialist at the boy’s rehab house. I work with boys between the ages of 13 and 18 who are either court placed or parent placed to have 3 to 4 months of rehab. My job is to run the daily activities of the house with other staff, and to lead the boys in skill groups that are a part of their recovery plan. I am also assigned to one or two of the clients at a time to meet with one-on-one each week to do additional mentoring with them beyond what is possible during the busy daily schedule.

What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current job role?

I did not have very much professional experience in this job field before I entered it. My job before was a nurse's aide at a hospital, as well as on-campus jobs during the school year at PBA. Most of the experience in the field of my current job came from volunteer work at the women’s shelter in my home town, as well as personal experience that I gained from growing up in a family that took care of a few foster children in our home.

What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?

I wish I would have known two things. First, I wish I would have known that a college degree does not stand on its own in the working world, especially in social services work. They want to see experience alongside a degree. If I would have known this, then I would have spent more time seeking out volunteer opportunities in my field as well as internships. Second, I wish someone would have told me that even if I don’t seem to be qualified for a job according to what the application says, I should apply anyway. The job I have right now I almost didn’t apply for because I didn’t have the kind of experience they said they were looking for. My husband encouraged me to apply anyway and I’m so grateful he pushed me to go for it! Always put in an application because you never know what could happen!

"PBA provided every service a young professional could ask for."

How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?

My professors at PBA always looked for excellence. When I did a good job, they would pull me aside and encourage me to do a great job. They pointed out gifts and talents that I have that I never realized before, then gave me the needed shove and encouragement to strain and grow myself. That mindset has led me to reach for things I never would have before, such as applying to grad school and taking on aspects of my job I did not feel ready for. In addition to this, PBA also provided every service a young professional could ask for. Whenever I had questions about ANYTHING, there was someone who could sit down with me and answer my questions. Whether it was a professor, my Residence Director, my Advisor, or the mailroom staff, I have yet to run across a PBA staff member that is unwilling to help in any way they can. I have a special thankfulness for Career Development who continued to assist me even after I graduated! I would not have been accepted into grad school or gotten my current job without them.

What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?

Don’t be afraid to start out in a lower position than you have envisioned for yourself. In most jobs you have to work your way up. In my job, they are already wanting to start training me to be in a higher position. If you work hard, you can move up pretty quickly. In addition, the people who do the best work in their fields are the ones who spent a large amount of time at the bottom of their company or organization. If I jumped straight into a “higher” position at my job, then I would have missed all of the experience and wisdom that comes from working every day with 15 high school boys in rehab. You may even find that you enjoy the beginning job so much that you don’t want to leave it!

Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? If so, what impact has that had on you?

No I have not.

Spotlight posted in November 2017.