Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means a reason for being. Learn how to apply it to your career journey.

July 2, 2021

Get to know Jen Hoffman, a service navigation coordinator at the San Diego Workforce Partnership. Here Jen tells us about herself, her work and what professional accomplishment she’s most proud of.

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What is a typical day like for you?

Though some might categorize me as a creature of habit, I like to reframe that language into thriving in controlled chaos. I wake up at the same time every day, albeit after hitting snooze a few times, with a grateful heart knowing my partner, Ashley, has already started boiling the water for my French press. I walk into our kitchen and grind my coffee (always a light roast from a local coffee shop). While my coffee steeps, I make the bed and change into my workout clothes. As I savor the life-giving energy of my first cup of joe, I check my work email and calendar to prepare for my workday. After that, I head downstairs into our garage where I work out, mostly calisthenics and weight training, while simultaneously doing a load of our laundry.

Much of my workday consists of supporting the resource room specialist team serve customers and the community in ways that are purposeful and meaningful. Being new to the Partnership and given the ever-changing nature needs of our customers, I find myself energized and engaged in meetings throughout the day and working on finding creative and adaptive ways to meet folks where there are on their career journey. It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of this work and collaborating with different teams and individuals throughout the Partnership.

After work, you will catch me doing one of three things: heading down to the beach to go surfing, riding my bike around Mission Bay or recording a conversation for my podcast. After my typical post-work activities, I wind down by reading a book and journaling while listening to vinyl records.

How has your work changed during the pandemic? 

Prior to working at the Partnership, I was an essential worker where 90% of my work week was providing direct services. Part of my role, even before the pandemic, was working as a San Diego Food Bank emergency food site for residents throughout the county of San Diego. Like many people throughout the world, in March 2020 my role quickly shifted. In the first three months of the pandemic, we distributed more food (in pounds) than we did in all of 2020. Since starting with the Partnership in February, every day I have an immense sense of gratitude to be able to work from home for both the safety of my partner and myself. I find my passion reenergized by finding new ways to serve and work with humans throughout San Diego.

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What professional moment or project are you most proud of?

A professional moment I am most proud of is giving a TEDx talk at Texas A&M. Ironically, the talk itself isn’t what I’m most proud of, it’s the shift and growth that transpired after giving that talk that I am most proud of. What I thought would be a milestone moment in my life became the seed birthing the roots of how I show up in the world, the ways in which I hold space for the people I work with and serve, and what I believe outside of the work I do, to be my purpose. The modality in which I do those things has shifted throughout the non-profit sector. However, it is foundational in the work I do today, the ways in which I engage with colleagues and partners and how I envision the quality of service we can provide at the Partnership.

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