A Burn Survivor’s Résumé and Career Experience

Contact me at: christopherfitts@yahoo.com

This is my résumé, but unlike the usual fare this one is very candid. Often when accomplishments are put to paper there can be the appearance that everything fell right into place and that each notch was positive advancement forward on the career ladder. This is usually not the case for most people, and I am no exception. However, everything I’ve done has added to my character and depth of knowledge. Also, I’ve held some very long term goals, which over time ocassionally reach a mile stone; when this happens I realize I’m still on a path that advances me closer to my goal horizon. So, anyway, the landscape this résumé illustrates of my life’s journey is broad and scattered, but a scatter-line pattern forms reaching to my goal objectives. This is a personal validation for me because feedback is so important in every aspect of life. I’m not advocating my method, but what I am saying is do what works for you and if you don’t like the results of your journey then make different decisions. We all make horrible and brilliant decisions.

Education:

Juris Doctor, The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, IL, 2005 [law degree]
MS, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 1994 [library and information science (MLS)]
BA, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, 1992 [economic geography and GIS]

n/a, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL 1990
n/a, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 1986 to 1989 [cognitive anthropology]
n/a, Santa Fe Community College, Gainesville, FL 1986
n/a, University of South Florida, Tampa, 1985
n/a, Indian River Community College, Vero Beach, FL, 1985 [dual enrollment while in high school]

Work Place:

Current: Florida licensed practicing attorney (estate planning: revocable trusts, living will, wills, pour over will, power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, healthcare proxy, asset protection, etc.). I am not a burn injury lawyer, however, I have handled a case, and being a burn injury survivor myself I have extensive personal experience due to my own burn injuries and decades of living with those scars…most lawyers do not have personal experience with the daily ramifications of being burned. I have experience with criminal law defense.

ChrisFittsLaw.com
5 years Freelance work (Legal work; Estate, Small Business, Asset Management, and Privacy Strategist; Business Process Analysis; and Information Technology)
2 years Director of Information Systems, USO, Washington, DC
6 years Divisional LAN Manager, Acosta Sales and Marketing, Chicago, IL
2 years EPA UST Docket Manager (Librarian), Washington, DC
2 years Subway Sandwich Restaurant, Tampa and Vero Beach, FL
4 years Contract/Temp Services (census, library, pc support, landfill recycling tech, records management)
4 years fishhouse and dock labor, bait fishing (pogies, aka Atlantic Menhaden) and trapping (mainly pigfish and the occasional crab) on the Indian River Lagoon (wikipedia entry for Indian River Lagoon)
1 year Horse Farm Ranch Laborer
6 months Genetics Lab Technician
2 years Volunteer Candystriper at Indian River Community Hospital
4 years seasonal ditchdigger (during hurricane season)
1 Summer operating a lawn service (my labor managed to destroy at least one sprinkler head per lawn serviced)

Other various work experience:

Door to Door Solicitation seeking donations for public interest group FPIRG (Florida Public Interest Research Group) — I quit after one day of canvasing in the Doctors Lake area south of Jacksonville, FL. Their tactics were too aggressive for my taste. I never got paid, but it was an interesting and long day, especially since we had taken a bus from Gainesville to Jacksonville early in the morning and back that night. Note: They do good work.

Moved cars from mainland warehouses to snow-birds’ barrier island homes. I drove a lot of great cars that summer. My favorite was a palm-green convertible 1970 mint condition Oldsmobile Cutlass 442. There were many others, but this one was just a thrill to drive.

I did the camera work in this My Scarlet Life promo music video. I’m credited at the end of the video. In all I did stills and video for five of their concert performances. I loved every second I spent with them on the road and in Chicago.

Presentations and Publications:

Presented USO’s Information Systems Initiative at the 1996 World Leadership Conference at Bolling Air Force Base.

Software Piracy, Team USO (circ. 900), May 1996

Bad Ass Dogs Don’t Do Ballet, Library of Congress Call Number: PS3556.I819 B3 1994 (mature adult subject matter) — The full text and other poetry can be found at Stormgrove Press. The follow up book, Acid Fingers, is also available.

Protecting and Managing Your Digital Persona, 2004, JMLS class paper (topic: intellectual property and privacy)

Lectures: Online Privacy; Internet Resources for Business Research; Document Retention Policies; Entity Structuring; and Corporate Formalities. (Dates span 2007-2008.)

Real Attorneys are not Burn Survivors

Almost expelled from courtroom before my case was called because I didn’t look like an attorney.

During a recent pre-trial court appearance for a felony case I had signed in on the docket sheet with my client’s name and case number, and then waited for the prosecutors to arrive. There were many defense attorneys and nearly all of us each wanted to speak with a prosecutor about our respective case. I finished talking with the prosecutor and had taken a seat on the attorney bench. As is customary, defense attorneys will talk with the prosecutors their case before the judge enters the courtroom, and will continue to speak with the prosecutors while court is in session and while attorneys are being called up before the presiding judge to discuss their case or cases. I knew there where about two cases with two different attorneys before my case would be called. I remembered something I want to run by the prosecutor. I got up from the attorney bench, and stood just behind another attorney already talking with a prosecutor, and they continued to talk for some time. I knew my case was close to being called, and just as the judge called my case I was approached by a deputy. What the deputy was telling me was difficult for me to understand while I was concentrating on what the judge was saying. Plus, I was practicing how to great the judge as I do every time before I get called to the podium–It has not been easy for me to say “Good Morning your Honor.” And that is not out of disrespect, it’s from I cannot remember what to say. Literally, I have to think of what I’m going to say on the fly. Anyway, my mind was trying to stay out of the quagmire of overthinking, and the deputy was telling me I needed to leave the attorney area, that it is for attorneys, and go wait outside the courtroom. I didn’t comprehend at first what he was saying or doing. The deputy was continuing to approach and was between the judge and I when the judge called the case again. I had to step to the side to see the judge around the deputy, which alarmed the deputy who put his hand on his firearm. The deputy was about two feet in front of me when I said, “I’m being called by the Judge. I need to answer the Judge.” The deputy backed off, and the Judge asked if everything was okay. I said, “Yes.” I hadn’t realized how quiet the courtroom and gallery had become, and everyone that I could see was looking at me, which included the prosecutors and defense attorneys, and clerks. I couldn’t see the people in the gallery behind me. Afterwards my client asked me what that was about. I said I had no idea, but of course I did; I just didn’t want to say what I thought. It all happened so fast.

I have no idea what the deputy was thinking. That’s the problem. I had already been signed in and interacting with other attorneys for nearly twenty minutes. I was one of the last attorney to be called up, so I’d been there for what seemed a long time. There were a lot of people in the gallery, but as is the case, most hadn’t dressed in a suit. I could come up with a lot of excuses for the deputy, and to be fair their job is not easy, but neither is my job. I was representing a client charged with a felony. A felony means by definition if convicted my client would be looking at more than a year in jail. That’s a lot of stress for my client and me; especially when I believe all the evidence points to  not guilty of the crime charged. And, fortunately, the state did eventually drop the charges. However, my client already had spent time in jail, lost time from work, and almost $1,000 paid out for bond and other associated expenses, which my client will never recover. I’m sure the deputy was not thinking about any of this: why would he? The deputy is there to maintain procedure, peace and decorum. I witnesses a deputy expel a person from the gallery for getting the attention of another person be poking the person with his baseball cap (which was not on his head as that would been totally improper). The deputy was really upset. Another attorney and I thought there was a fight in the gallery based on the reaction by the deputy. I know what happened because the deputy explained to the judge’s assistant how rude the guy was and how he thought he’d get away with that sort of behavior in his courtroom. I didn’t see it, and the details are incomplete, so my deference is to believe the deputy took the proper course of action. Deputies deal with all sorts of antics all day long, but in that same line of thought, they deal with all sort of attorneys all day long every day, and I’m pretty sure a reasonable person in a courthouse would err on the side that I’m an attorney–I’m wearing the Attorney Uniform.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time. I was dressed in a suit, the Attorney Uniform. I had on a tie and shoes. I had an iPhone, iPad, and a client file . Perhaps not the best suit, an IZOD suit (pants and jacket of the same fabric), but my tie was Nordstrom’s, and my shirt Ralph Lauren (and the collar button was actually fastened containing by 18 1/2 inch neck–damn scar tissue), which isn’t too shabby. All in all, several hundred dollars of clothing.

I suppose it really doesn’t matter how I dress, I’m going to look like a someone of interest. I should be happy that I got out of that situation without some unwanted holes in my suit.

It does make me question how effective I can be for my clients in the courtroom. So far no damage, but that may not alway be the case.

Trials and Tribulations with Job Interviews and Finding Work

Experiences with employment job interviews gone wrong and other situations: 

Be sure to look at my career page for the results of my successful job interviews. I’ve been to a lot of job interviews, and the following interview stories are the ones that stand out the most to me. But one thing is for sure, and that is it is not easy to determine the foundation of discrimination. Some appear obvious (per se) and others perhaps being burned was a factor but then maybe not. However, as a burn survivor one always has to prove themselves because there is always doubt, and people are not very good at concealing their doubt.

2007 – Clearwater – I was contacted by a recruiter for an overnight IT position at Home Shopping Network. I cleared all the initial hurdles and the next step was to set the time for the in-person interview with HSN’s human resources department. The recruiter called me several times before the call to make sure I was near the phone, and after several hours of delays from HSN the call never came. The next day the recruiter investigated and said they HSN wouldn’t give any details but that they were no longer interested. I checked my stats for this web site and during the time I was expecting the phone call from HSN they had visited this web site. Just makes one wonder what they were thinking.

2006 – Clearwater – Interviewed for an IT position servicing corporate and home-user clients for an outsourcing company. Everything went fine until the two interviewers kept questioning my ability to interact with clients. They were concerned about my “people skills.” It was odd that they seemed to not understand the details and duties of prior positions I’d held during my career, which were all “people skill” based work. I explained my experience with customer service and how I learned from working at Subway that quality work and good people skills are what customers want. The customers at Subway didn’t care that my hands were scarred and deformed; they wanted well-made sandwiches, and that is what I delivered. I explained that during lunch time groups of people would come in and wait and let others ahead inline so that I would be the one to prepare their orders. That is still to this day some of the most validating experiences I have ever had in my life. The IT outsourcing firm guys didn’t get it. They never called me back.

1998 – Chicago – I was called for an interview at Harpo Industries for a network/computer support position. The interview went very well, and I was upfront about attending law school. They called me back with the comment that Oprah said I appeared qualified but that she had reservations about my ability to meet the demands of Harpo while attending law school. The job was a 24/7-work-environment with late nights staying until after the rating came out, and traveling to Michigan when required. I think I would have performed exceedingly well at the job as it was close to school and my home. Anyway, as it turned out I took a job in the suburbs that had its fair share of long days. I’d like to note that I believe Harpo’s concerns where sincere and had nothing to do with me being burned; however, they didn’t feel I could do both a full-time job and attend law school at night, which is the exact environment in which I thrive and excel. [This interview highlights one of those circumstances that first appears to be burn related but actually is based on something totally unrelated to burns.] — I’d like to commend Oprah on the stance she has stated about personally endorsing Obama and the non-personal operations of her business activities.

1998 — Lakeland — Marriott Timeshare

Another job candidate and I performed a working-interview for a week with the company. The company stated they would select at the end of the week which one of us they would hire on full time. Friday afternoon they let me know they had selected the other guy. I was surprised because the guy really hadn’t done any work all week. I received a call the following Wednesday asking if I would take the job as the other guy was a poor decision because he didn’t now what he was doing and couldn’t do the work. Perhaps I had held my cool too much the previous Friday, but I had explained in defense for the job without trying to sound like a poor loser that their chosen candidate hadn’t done any work all week.

Before the awarding of my college degree —

1991 – Tampa – Answered a help wanted ad placed in the newspaper. I was invited to interview with RPS (since acquired by FedEx). Upon arrival I discovered it was a group style interview. We all did the usual paperwork, and then were given a tour of the package sorting facility, and then brought back to the interview/conference room. There were about eight of us interviewing, and each was called up to the table at the front of the room to speak with the interviewers. When I was called I walked up and before I got the table the man seated at the center spoke to me. He said “why are you here; it is obvious you’ve never done a hard days work in your life, rich boy.” I never made it all the way to the table. I made a civil comment and left. I was little shocked at the comment, but it wasn’t the first time I’d experienced such reactions. The one thing that always baffles me is why so many people think I’m rich, unless they think I received huge sums of money from some burn settlement, which is of course no true. I received no money, and we never sued or tried to recover in any other method for my burn injuries.

1991 – Tampa – Interviewed with Steak and Ale for kitchen help/dishwasher. Sat down with the manager and was asked about my experience. I told him I was the manager at Subway down the street. He said come back after you get some real restaurant experience. I coyly asked for some suggestions, and he said, “Try McDonald’s.” Since then I’ve always fondly referred to “Steak and Ale” as “Shit and Piss.”

1989 – Gainesville – Tried to join the U.S. Army Reserve. I did the initial interview, and then sat for the ASVAB test (I scored very well). Afterwards I heard back from the the recruiter with news that they were having trouble getting all my medical records from Shands. I spoke with the recruiter one more time, and then nothing ever materialized. I could have pursued it but I wasn’t 100 percent sure about joining from the start, and of course the recruiters may have sensed my reluctance as well. Later I worked at the Washington Navy Yard naval base while at USO, which afforded the opportunity to serve in a civilian capacity.

1986 – Gainesville – Applied in-person at a Subway across town seeking a night-manager. I road my bicycle across town to interview. The owner liked my previous experience as a Subway night-manager in Vero Beach, but then said a car was required because otherwise I’d not be able to get to work. I said I road my bike to the interview and I use my bicycle to get around town quite effectively. He said a bike is not reliable, and that he was sorry he couldn’t offer me the job.

1986 thru 1988 – Gainesville – The Sovereign Restaurant, dish washer position. I was told they’d get back to me, which they didn’t. They did have excellent grouper oscar though. There were a dozen or so restaurants I applied for advertised positions, and not one of them every offered a  job position. I never applied to a waiter or front room position (though I had experience working such positions).