Finding the Right Job Often Takes Time, Willingness to Try New Tasks and Networking

/ July 11, 2017

By Janet Shouse


This week’s blog post features a young woman who has the opportunity to tell hundreds of Nashville visitors each year about the history and the people of the Grand Ole Opry. Her story was part of 2016 Expect Employment: The Employment First Task Report to The Governor. I asked her to share a little of her story and her employment history with our readers.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself—how old are you, where did you go to school, what you’re passionate about.

A: My name is Clancey Hopper. I am 28 years old. I am originally from Kentucky.

I moved to Tennessee with my family in 2013.

I went to school from kindergarten through my freshman year of high school in Kentucky, then my family moved to Florida for my dad’s job. I completed three years of high school, followed by a one-year infant and toddler education certification at Northwest Florida State College. I plan to start on my associate’s degree soon, and then pursue a degree in psychology.

Q: Tell us your job history—where you’ve worked, what you did there, how you got started working.

About the Author

Janet smiling

Janet Shouse is a parent of a young adult with autism, and she is passionate about inclusion, employment of people with disabilities, medical issues related to developmental disabilities, supports and services, public policy, legislative initiatives, advocacy, and the intersection of faith and disability. She wears many hats at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, including one as a disability employment specialist for TennesseeWorks.

Our hope is that this weekly blog will offer information you want to know, so if you have a question you want answered about employment for people with disabilities or other mysteries of the world of work, please email me at

A: Some of my jobs I have had were volunteer jobs. I volunteered at a local nursing home in Kentucky. I would help with the activities, such as helping residents play Bingo. I volunteered at the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge in Destin, FL. I would clean up after the animals and help feed them. I would also answer the phone and notify staff when a new animal was coming in. I also volunteered at my church. I helped with Vacation Bible School and in the nursery.

I think the first paying job I have had was at Goodwill. I worked in the computer training center as an office assistant. I answered the phone, faxed information, took calls and messages, and sometimes helped lead computer classes.

The second paying job I had was at a hospital, which did not last long because it was complicated. I was a health information tech, and basically what I did was add information to individuals’ medical records, such as discharge notes.

The third job was a busser at Elgin Air Force Base. I cleaned tables, took trays to the kitchen, and every now and again cleaned the dishes at the dishwasher.

Another job I’ve had was as a food line server at Vanderbilt, where I served food on a hot food line. I would clean the line and replenish food.

I was in Project Opportunity (a 10-month internship program at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital now called Project SEARCH) from August 2013-May 2014.

Q: How did you find your current job?

A: My current job is at the Grand Ole Opry, where I am a tour guide. I take groups of 30 people or less on a backstage tour. I found my current job at the Grand Ole Opry by forming a friendship with Pete Fisher, who used to be the general manager of the Grand Ole Opry.

Q: How did you know when was the right time to look for your next job?

A: I know it’s time for me to look for a new job if I am not growing as a person, and if God opens a door for a new job. For now, I am satisfied where I am.

Q: What did you learn on your first job that helped you in your next job? Were there skills you got that transferred to your next job?

A: What I learned from my first job is that it is important to be willing to stretch yourself and learn new things. The skills I took with me to my second job were phone and people skills.

Q: What about your new job makes it a better fit for you?

My new job is better for me because I love people and music, and I don’t have to be exposed to germs (as I was in the hospital.)

Q: For you personally, what do you see as the benefits of working?

A: The benefits of working, I think, include self-satisfaction. It’s nice to see your own money that you’ve earned.

Q: What the hardest part of working for you?

A: The hardest part of working for me is my health—sometimes I can’t work because I get migraines.

Q: Do you have any advice for a young person with a disability who might be thinking of trying to get a job?

A: The advice I have for anyone with a disability wanting a job is to be willing to give work a try! It will change your life in many positive ways. I am wanting to start my own business, and I am very excited for what the future looks like for me.

My many thanks to Clancey for sharing her experiences in the world of work and giving us a true insider’s look at the benefits and challenges of finding that right job!

As always, if you have comments or questions, please email me at

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