Julie Tarbunas had spent the past few years working outside of the field she earned her degree in and questioning . Burnt out at her unfulfilling job, and afraid of changing direction, Julie was frustrated and dissatisfied. She needed something else.

Julie eventually contacted West Michigan Works! thanks to a vague referral, starting her on a career-shifting journey she would later describe as “life changing.”

“When I called West Michigan Works!, I didn’t even know what to ask for,” she said. “My expectations were low.”

Shortly after her phone call, Julie received an email from Wave Burns, a Career Coach at the WMW! Westside Service Center. It took only a few sentences in Wave’s email for Julie’s career hopes to be revitalized. She knew Wave was intent on understanding her as an individual, not just her professional needs.

Wave began helping Julie in their first appointment together by following WMW!’s Career Point and Job Fit (JOFI) assessment models. After a few more sessions, Wave helped guide Julie towards becoming an MRI technician. However, unable to invest the money and the time, this path proved to be too challenging.

“I felt very lost and more confused than ever,” Julie said. “Wave kept assuring me that we would figure it out and not to lose hope.”

Wave’s devotion towards Julie’s career and personal development was inspirational. She was intent on “holding up the mirror” for Julie- a strategy where Julie was reminded of the skills and self-confidence she needed to progress. “Julie knew herself very well, she had the drive and determination to figure out what her career pathway would be,” Wave Burns said.

At their next appointment, Wave brought in Talent Development Specialist Rashawn Robinson. Together they discussed Julie’s path and challenges. They gathered expert resume, cover letter and interview materials to propel Julie forward. “We saw her potential, effort and light,” Wave said. “Rashawn and I wanted to see her succeed, be happy and content with her career.”

Wave Burns and Rashawn Robinson

“For most people, this would have been enough. But not for Wave & Rashawn,” Julie said. “They purposefully chose to go above and beyond to provide a personal human connection that I needed. I left after that meeting feeling like I could take on the world.”

Thanks to all their determination, Julie returned to her initial field of study, Interior Design, and was offered a position with West Michigan Office Interiors. She gave significant praise to Wave and Rashawn, saying the impact of their work could not be put into words.

“Being a Career Coach and a Talent Development Specialist is more than just helping people look for work,” Wave said. “It’s about building relationships, positive experiences and providing support. I try to treat people the way I would like to be treated in their situation, and Rashawn inspires people and helps bring a spark to people’s confidence.”