Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Don't Expect Help from Jailed Partner

Q. I'm a young unwed mother with a three-year-old daughter. Her father is in jail and my parents lost their jobs and moved to another state. We are living on welfare and food stamps. I had to quit my part-time waitress job when my boyfriend left because he was the babysitter. My sister, who is a junior in college, found out I can get a grant to go back to school, so I applied and I'm planning to start taking a course in court-reporting this fall. Once I start working, I hope to go on to get a criminal justice degree. My family isn't encouraging me, or helping, because they feel I am not realistic. How can I convince them I am?

Ans. It's a hard sell, considering your background. As Dr. Phil says, "Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior." And there doesn't seem to be much in your history to predict the future you describe. But you can change everyone's mind by accomplishing your plan step by step. Be warned that court reporting is very difficult course, as is the actual work. It requires a keen mind, dexterity, and a lot of study and practice. You're going to need even more baby-sitters as a student than you did as a part-time waitress to accomplish all that.

Neat Desk Indicates Neat Mind

Stay Pleasant with Mean Callers