National Stuttering Association

Jaymie HorakHuman Resources Analyst

    Jaymie Horak

    San Diego, CA
    Human Resources Analyst
    Superior Court of California, County of San Diego

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    My primary responsibility is to assist with administering our health and wellness benefits to our 1,300 employees. This looks like phone calls, checking emails, building and running reports, leading new hire orientations, meetings with health and wellness carriers, and training co-workers. I am also assigned our largest recruitment for an operations position, so I review those applications and onboard new employees.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    The moments of misunderstanding. I answer the phone, stutter on my name, and the other person awkwardly laughs or asks me if I forgot my name. They’re minor infractions compared to the way my stutter used to limit me but staying positive in those moments is certainly a challenge. It is also difficult when I am learning something new, or doing something I haven’t done before, because I get nervous that my stuttering will make it seem like I lack confidence or knowledge.

    How supported at work do you feel by your co-workers, supervisor(s) and the company itself?
    I feel very supported. I was very lucky to have an incredible first supervisor when I was in Payroll, and when I mentioned my stuttering to her, she told me that she supported me and that if I ever needed her help, she’d take care of anyone who was rude to me. She enabled me to sit at the front desk, and answer telephone calls regularly. Before this experience, I was too terrified to answer the phone. I no longer experience fear picking up the ringing phone at work. (A true miracle.) My supervisors since have also made it clear that they are impressed with my work ethic and intelligence, and that they would stand behind me if anyone used my stuttering to try to tease me.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    I think stuttering helps people actually feel more comfortable around me. Perhaps not in the initial moment, but once they realize what is going on. There is a vulnerability that exists that makes the other person realize they don’t need to be perfect when they communicate with me. Working in HR has the ability to seem very intimidating, especially when I am recruiting new hires for their first job. But my stutter seems to give them (a potentially false) sense of comfortability and security, which I think is helpful.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    Disclose, disclose, disclose. When you are able to disclose your stutter with confidence, the other person has no choice (unless they’re a huge jerk) to accept your stutter and realize it has nothing to do with your intelligence, proficiency, or confidence. The more we are comfortable with our own stuttering, the more others will be. People can catch onto our emotions and internal stress. They can also catch onto our confidence and peace of mind.