Joanie Hess, Class of 1980
Joanie Hess has worked as the Administrative Coordinator to the Commissioner of the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVRD) for 34 years. “It has been a great career at SCVRD. The Agency truly makes a difference in a person’s life, and it has been rewarding to be part of that.” Joanie began as a VR Casework Assistant in a mental health facility, then she transferred to the Computer Training Program and discovered how SCVRD impacts its clients with training for work-related skills. She then accepted a job in the State Office and moved to Administrative Assistant for the Assistant Commissioner of Client Services, and finally to Administrative Coordinator, a position she has held since 2002.
Her love for her work grew as she witnessed people with disabilities gain independence through competitive employment, newly acquired adaptive skills and improved mobility. She fondly recalls several success stories of people who obtained their personal and professional goals. SCVRD prepares and assists eligible South Carolinians with disabilities to achieve and maintain competitive employment. They partner with businesses to complete outsourced work as training for SCVRD clients.
Joanie Hess credits Midlands Tech with preparing her for the world of work but says two special MTC instructors, Carol Nordquist and Beth Riddle, made the difference in her education. “They were just great instructors and went the extra mile to work with me,” states Joanie. “They take a personal interest in their students and want to prepare them for the work force.”
“I think I was made to be an assistant as my strengths are organizing and planning. I really do enjoy most aspects of my job and the position has definitely evolved through the years.” She is involved in planning more projects and special events than earlier in her career and feels that although her responsibilities have changed, perceptions about clerical work haven’t quite caught up. She credits talented supervisors with pushing her to grow professionally in many ways beyond typical clerical and/or administrative duties.
Joanie believes stress never stops in life or work. What’s important is learning how to handle the things that stress you. “Some days there are never enough hours, nor will you be able to get it all done, or please everyone,” Joanie points out, “you just have to do your best, as cliché as that sounds. You learn you cannot control it all.”
Joanie recommends administrative assistants “be adaptable, be loyal, try to stay one step ahead in planning, and always for me, greet everyone with kindness. Technology makes your work more efficient and easier, but technology has no personal touch and that is what, in my opinion, makes the difference,” states Joanie. As a person who likes to have fun and be on the move, Joanie stays physically active with walking, step aerobics, and Zumba! She enjoys relaxing at the beach, the lake, reading, doing yard work, and spending time with family and friends.