Saying Goodbye is not easy: Emily’s Reflections on her time at CES

Baby’s First Job

Passion Led Us Here

If you have met me or read my last blog post, you know that I consider myself an introvert (Go Team ISTJ!). My introversion let me stew in my comfort zone for a few years before I decided to branch out and get a little uncomfortable. While working at CES isn’t my first full-time, post-grad job, I will always remember this company as the first step out of my comfort zone, and consequently, the place where I flourished. If you didn’t already know, I am leaving CES in May to pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of North Georgia. As I reflect on the time I’ve spent working with Ann and Sally, I wanted to highlight a few quotes that define the last couple of years of my life.

I worked in the same place during undergraduate and graduate school, then again when I graduated with my MPH. The job had nothing to do with the degrees I was pursuing, but I was good at it and I enjoyed it. It took me a long time to understand that being good at something doesn’t mean that something is good for you. When I left that job, I had no plans for where I would go or what I would do; I just needed room to grow. Luckily, after a little bouncing around, I ended up here at CES. Ann and Sally both mentored and supported me, but allowed me room to grow into who I am now. I came to Ann with little to no evaluation experience, and she molded me into an evaluator I am proud to be. Taking a chance and stepping out of my comfort zone has led to an amazing experience that I would not trade for the world.

Not to be dramatic, but working at CES changed how I view the world. I never realized how narrow-minded I was when it came to serving others until I saw all the ways our clients serve their communities. Service is unlimited. To quote a blog I posted for MLK, Jr. day in 2018: “Something I recently discovered is that there isn’t one right way to make a difference. Whether you have mobilized people for a cause, mentored a young child, or given your time to a local non-profit organization, you are significant, and the impact you are having matters. One of my favorite things about working for CES is our tagline: Partnering for Social Change. Our clients are all working to better their communities, and I am so grateful to be a part of that process.” Ann, Sally, and every single one of our clients serve in unique ways, and seeing this has allowed me to accept the fact that my service doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s to be important.

Have you read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis? I might be the only millennial woman who hasn’t, but Ann keeps telling me I need to. I think the one thing that working at CES has taught me more than anything else is confidence. Ann is fearless. She’s strong, smart, and stands up for what she wants and believes. While I’ve known women like this throughout my life, Ann is the first one to truly invest in me personally, not just professionally. I will never forget my first employee review at CES (I was terrified, in case you were wondering). Ann told me to stick up for myself and not be afraid to say what I am thinking. Internally, I thought “well, I might as well tack on ‘learn to fly’ to the list of unrealistic expectations and just call this one a loss.” Lucky for me, Ann wasn’t going to let that happen. She allowed me to work independently but was there when I needed help. She affirmed that my voice was just as important as anyone else’s in the room. She made sure I had opportunities to strengthen my relationships with our clients and to network with others in the fields of public health and evaluation. She made me realize my self-worth.

As I enter a new field and end this chapter in my life, all I can do is think about how grateful I am that Ann and Sally took a chance on me, and how lucky the next girl will be.