Better luck this time? Fort Worth woman hopes Obama can help dad find a job

04/25/2014 4:40 PM

04/25/2014 11:45 PM

Maybe the White House will be more successful this time in helping an unemployed dad find a new job.

Jennifer Wedel sure hopes so.

Two years ago, her husband, Darin — a semiconductor engineer who had been laid off from his job at Texas Instruments — found himself in the national spotlight after President Barack Obama asked to see his résumé.

White House staffers spruced up the document, but that didn’t help him land a job.

Months later, after his name and plight slipped out of the headlines, Darin Wedel found a temporary job in the medical field that became permanent.

Now, days after a 10-year-old girl visiting the White House handed first lady Michelle Obama her unemployed father’s résumé, Wedel offered encouragement to the girl and her family.

“My heart goes out to the family,” said the 31-year-old Fort Worth mother of two. “They believe [the White House] can help them. We thought so too.

“It didn’t happen that way for us, but it may for them,” she said. “And she gave it to Michelle, who may have more power of persuasiveness than her husband.”

Two years ago, Jennifer Wedel was one of five people picked to participate in a live video chat with the president through the “hangout” feature on Google Plus, the search engine’s social networking site.

When it was her turn, she asked why the government issues and extends H-1B visas to foreign workers when highly skilled Americans like her husband can’t find full-time work.

Her husband had lost his job as a semiconductor engineer at Texas Instruments about three years before.

Obama was intrigued by the situation and asked for Darin Wedel’s résumé, prompting recruiters, headhunters, out-of-town and out-of-state companies — and the news media — to contact the family.

‘So hopeful’

“I was so hopeful,” Jennifer Wedel said. “We were very excited. We thought if anybody could get us help, he could. We were sure this was the answer to our prayers.”

Darin Wedel’s résumé was quickly delivered to the White House and top officials there contacted the family the next week. They gave pointers on how to beef up the résumé and talked about the need to remove bullets from the document.

Darin Wedel, now 42, made all the recommended changes and continued sending out copies of his résumé.

Unfortunately, many of the calls that came in were from out-of-state companies as well as companies throughout Texas. Darin’s work choices were limited to North Texas because of a custody agreement for one of his two daughters that prevents him from moving away.

Darin Wedel emailed White House officials a few weeks later to see if there were any other job leads. He never got a response.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t come through and we were disappointed,” Jennifer Wedel said. “At the same time, we were grateful for the experience. It’s not every day the president asks you to send in your résumé.”

New job

So Jennifer Wedel, who had been a stay at home mom, continued to work full-time to help with the family’s finances.

She and her family continued to have hope and faith in God, as well as the belief that their lives would get better.

Then in May of 2012, Darin Wedel was hired for a temporary job that five months later turned into a permanent job. He did have to switch to the medical field, though.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” his wife said. “The president didn’t impact this. By the time he was contacted by the company, he wasn’t hearing anything any more from the White House or from recruiters.”

Now that her husband has been working full-time for nearly two years, Jennifer Wedel said she has been able to switch to part-time hours and begin taking classes to become a paramedic, possibly by the end of 2015.

Life has changed in the Wedel house.

“We don’t worry about bills like we did before,” she said. “But we are a little more frugal and we save more.”

‘Everything happens for a reason’

On Thursday, 10-year-old Charlotte Bell attended a question and answer session with first lady Michelle Obama at the White House, as part of the annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

Bell said her father has been out of work for three years and handed his résumé to the first lady.

“Oh my goodness,” Mrs. Obama said.

At the end of the event, the first lady gave Bell a hug and took the résumé with her when she left the room.

The Associated Press reported that Bell’s mother is an executive branch employee who didn’t want to be identified and her father, who worked with the Obama campaign in 2012, has been trying to find a policy job for more than two years. He recently began looking for a job within the Obama administration.

Wedel said she hopes Bell’s father will find a job soon. But she doesn’t know if the White House can help.

“I don’t want to give [Bell] a negative outlook on the government at all,” she said. “But I don’t want their hope to be displaced in something that … isn’t going to pan out.”

Wedel said it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and belief that a job might be just around the corner.

“I wish the president could have gotten us a job,” she said. “He’s the president and you’d think if anybody could get you a job, he could. But if he was able to, and the word had gotten out, the White House would be flooded with requests.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

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