Opening Doors to Success Profile: Paul Power
For Paul Power persistence has paid off - big time.
The 27-year-old has been with the Department of Human Resources and Employment since 1998, moving easily up the ladder from Assistant to Acting Communications Director. But while Paul has managed to expand his resume in a pretty short period of time, the road to his current success has been anything but easy.
“It’s taken a lot for me to be where I am right now,” says Paul. “Seven years of post-secondary school, along with job hunting and then proving myself on a professional level have all been hard work.”
Not that Paul is afraid of hard work. In 1990, Paul began studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s and spent five years completing his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. In describing his years at MUN, Paul explains, “It was a real learning experience on an academic and social level. It took me a while to find my niche, which was English and writing. But it was also a time that placed me in a much larger environment and brought me in contact with so many different people and I made so many different friends. It really got me used to people meeting me for the first time and experiencing their reactions to my disability - not all good and not all bad.”
Paul has had a disability since birth. Avoiding a long diagnostic description that even Paul cannot remember, he describes his disability as a series of physical disabilities since birth resulting in him requiring leg braces and crutches. In addition, he is short in stature.
“It is, I guess, an extra hurdle or barrier you have to deal with along with all the other challenges of being a young person going through university and all the other experiences of adulthood. But I’ve lived with a disability all my life so it really isn’t anything extra to me, ”Paul philosophizes. “I mean, there are probably things that I may find a little more physically demanding, but I would never let anyone determine if I could or could not do something. All through school I did whatever my able-bodied peers were doing - there should not be a difference.”
This approach seems to have worked well for Paul. After completing his English Degree at MUN, Paul
packed up and moved to Toronto to work on his second degree in journalism.
“Toronto was a great experience,” Paul enthuses. “It was probably one of the best times of my life. It was great living in a big city, with a large circle of friends, getting professional experience on journalism assignments, running around the city, catching subways, pushing through the busy sidewalks and partying with my peers at all the spots. It was another world, a larger world opened up to me, and it really helped to build my self confidence.”
Paul obtained his Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism and managed to get his first job in Toronto at TVOntario. There he worked as an Associate Producer doing everything from research and script writing to on camera interviews and editing.
However, after a year working at TVOntario, Paul began to feel the need to come home. “I remember at the time I was working at TVOntario, my uncle, who was a great man and whom I really admired, passed away suddenly. I flew home to St. John’s for the funeral, but I was here for only a couple of days and I had to get back to work in Toronto,” Paul says quietly. “I began to realize that living away was keeping me at a distance from my family. It became really important to me to be back with them and have those family relationships on a day-to-day basis rather than seeing them a couple of times a year.”
Shortly after returning to Toronto, a call came from Opening Doors offering Paul a job back home with the provincial government.
“I had submitted my resume to the Opening Doors Program a couple of years before,” Paul remembers. “Despite the amount of time that had passed, they never forgot me. When this job came up in Communications with Human Resources and
Employment, my skills and qualifications fit really well with the criteria for the job.”
Paul was hired immediately after a brief telephone interview with the Communications Director at the
time and returned home to St. John’s two weeks later.
“I have to say, when I began the job I was quite nervous and like a fish out of water. I come from a creative writing and journalism background and government is quite different from what I had experienced professionally. All of a sudden I was writing formal speeches and news releases and
the like, but I also had to go through the whole bureaucratic approval process and being told what I could write and what I couldn’t write. At first, I have to say, I wasn’t completely happy.”
“At first there wasn’t really much freedom or variety in the job, probably just because I was new and inexperienced. But the longer I stayed with the department the more I learned and the more I could do. I started off as a writer but now I do graphic design, communication plans, promotional materials, and a lot of other creative stuff. It’s much more satisfying now to see a brochure or newsletter published and know that I did that. Plus I’ve worked with a lot of great and talented people who have taught me a lot,” smiles Paul.
Paul seems to know what he is talking about. After three and a half years with the Department of Human Resources and Employment, he has become a great asset.
Former Communications Director for Human Resources and Employment, Marcia Porter, says she would not have been able to get along without Paul when she was with the department. “He’s a really creative, intelligent, organized and talented guy,” enthuses Porter. “I rely on him a lot and if we didn’t have him here in the department I don’t think we would have been able to do everything we have done in the way of communications for the department.”
Marcia says Paul is not looked upon any differently because he came from Opening Doors.
“That’s not even an issue. Paul is here because of his capabilities and his talent. Actually, the department is very lucky and should be thanking Opening Doors for bringing Paul to their attention. It’s very rare to find someone so young, but yet already so professionally experienced and diverse in skills.”
And, for now, Paul is content in his position. “Right now I’m satisfied,” says Paul, “but I’m always looking for the next opportunity or challenge. Right now I’m getting used to being in the role of Communications Director. The promotion recently happened so along with that comes more responsibilities. Although, I think I’m up for the challenge.”
Originally published in 2002 by Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Employee Equity Program