Career Choices: The Exciting vs. the Rewarding

By Danielle Woodruffe

Danielle Woodruffe

Some of my former colleagues may be surprised to hear what I’m up to these days. I started my career in broadcast journalism as a television news reporter, and now I’m in the aging services field. How did this turn of events happen?

Yet this comes as no surprise to me. Each phase of my career has prepared me for the next step. My latest move into the role of Communications Manager at Parker feels like I’m at home and is opening my eyes to a new area of work where the vision and mission are not difficult to align with.

My time spent as a reporter was exciting and interesting. I was able to see life through the eyes of the unique people I interviewed. I saw two sides (and more) to every story and gained new knowledge on anything and everything: Red Tide, Hurricanes, how to make glass, teach your kids stranger danger, the legal system and local politics. Yet at times this career choice was discouraging. Many of the stories I covered broke my heart. After spending several years as a journalist, I decided to make the transition to public relations.

As a communications professional for the last twelve years, I’ve worked to elevate the public profiles of many clients: college professors, CEOs, sports figures and lawyers to name a few. Working in the media, has given me insight into what a good story looks like. You learn to have a “nose for news” and tell those stories to the media who are always looking for a good angle.

So what does an aging services organization in Piscataway, NJ offer for news? There are countless, touching stories happening at Parker on a daily basis. They are stories so engrained into the DNA of the people who provide care here that I don’t know if they always realize how amazing what they’re doing is. In just three short months I’ve seen aging in a way I never seen it before. I’ve seen it celebrated and treated with honor, dignity and respect.

Each day I witness a husband making the walk from his home in our assisted living to the nursing home next door where is wife lives.  He can still be close to her because Parker focuses on the different stages of aging and is meeting the needs of people aging at all different levels. I’ve seen nurses dancing with residents, recreation staff applying makeup that made all the difference in brightening one woman’s day, our personal trainers inspiring people to become stronger in their late 80s and push five minutes more on the stationary bicycle, and technology being mixed into all aspects of aging. Parker’s vision to Make Aging Part of Life is becoming clearer to me. It’s about celebrating who people are (and have been), their unique differences, and using this step in their life to fine tune that even more. It’s being #WithIt, as Parker has coined the term for people who are defying the stereotypes of aging.

When I left college I sought the “exciting” career. I wanted to make a difference, but the outcome often left me feeling short of that. Now being part of an organization that prides itself on enriching life for all means I finally get to make a difference and share the wonderful stories of my colleagues who do the same.

During my first week of work Parker employees were each asked to describe this company in one word. The word I chose was “welcoming”. Thank you for welcoming me. I look forward to the journey ahead.

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