Hooked on a paycheck

Marilyn Melendez knew what it was like to grow up in a family dependent on welfare. "I said, I don't want to live like that," she said. "Trust me, since I got my first paycheck at age 14, I was hooked."

She's hooked on work, but can't find a job in her chosen field, which is health care administration. She likes the hospital atmosphere. "I love people and I love working in clinics," she said. She thinks that she's a good listener and that it's a skill that helps particularly in a health situation when people are under stress. "People tell me that I'm such a good listener. I should have been a therapist."

Marilyn Melendez

Melendez, of Bristol, has all the standard office skills, and one plus. She's a Ms. Fixit when it comes to computers, even though she hasn't had any formal training. "People have always had me fix their computers, even though I never went to school for it, but I always manage to fix them."

She left her favorite job ever, as an administrator for the Bucks County Health Department, to move with her husband to New Jersey. She loved that job, in part, because she made house calls with case workers and served as a translator. In New Jersey, she worked for a hospital as a medical secretary. Then her marriage broke up, so she returned to Bristol, but was unable to get a job in the health care field again. Instead, she worked as an administrative assistant for a heating and air-conditioning company, but was laid off in 2009 as the construction business began its downward slide. 

"I work independently," she said. "I like to come up with my own ideas on how to run an office." That held true even as temp worker. She landed a job as an administrative assistant in a small firm and developed a spreadsheet system to record the office's expenditures and link them to the purchase orders. She was sure that job would turn into a permanent job and her boss there is a reference, but the company laid off all its temp workers as business slowed. Her last temp job ended in May.

Melendez hopes she can land a job soon -- after regularly making car payments, she has fallen behind and she worries that her car will be repossessed. Soon she'll have to give up her apartment and move in with a sister.

Update: As of December 2011, Melendez is still looking for work. She lost her apartment.

  • Marilyn Melendez
  • Hometown: Bristol
  • Profession: Administrative assistant, medical secretary
  • Experience: Answered phones for various health offices, maintained patient confidentiality, transcribed morbidity and mortality reports as well as physician reports. Calculated payroll and distributed checks. Created spreadsheets to track patient care. Worked with vendors. Arranged meeting facilities, monitored projects. Proficient in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Fluent in Spanish.
    counselor for inner city youth.
  • Education: Pennco Tech, Bristol, honors diploma in medical secretary program
  • E-mail address: MarilynMelendez63@yahoo.com
  • Marilyn Melendez's resume

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The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or jvonbergen@phillynews.com.