The Road Back To Work: Casaundra Bronner

Casaundra Bronner, 40, of Hazelwood, Mo., has been unemployed since March 2010.
Whitney Curtis for NPR

Hired: March 28, 2011, after a year unemployed

Position: Marketing for an event planning firm

Resumes sent out since job loss: More than 200

Age: 40

Education: Bachelor's degree, working toward a master's degree

When not searching for jobs, I enjoy... Live music, concerts, sports, hanging out with my kids and traveling.

Until March 2010, Casaundra Bronner, 40, worked for one of the largest employers in St. Louis: Anheuser-Busch.

Bronner had been there for 11 years, working her way up to a marketing manager job.

"My last position, I really enjoyed it," says Bronner. She was among hundreds laid off after Anheuser-Busch was acquired by InBev, the Belgian brewing giant. "It was like a rug taken from under me."

Bronner never thought it would take so long to find a new job. Her search had spanned more than a year when she finally landed a job at an event planning company through a state workforce development program.

While she was unemployed, Bronner's mother suggest that she start a business selling cupcakes. She's now doing that on the side and sometimes her boss sends business to her for the events they coordinate.

The job pays about half of what she was making before, which means she is still catching up on her bills. All the uncertainty and financial strain has been tough for Bronner — a single mother with two daughters in elementary school.

"It's difficult because I'm what they have," she says. Her daughters ask why she can't buy them the things she used to be able to.

Although Bronner enjoys her current job, she is now looking for a position that pays more and offers health insurance. Her boss told her it would be too expensive to offer health coverage for employees. So, even though Bronner is back to full time, she remains uninsured.

"I'm borderline high blood pressure. Both of my parents have diabetes and high blood pressure so it's you know really important I try to stay as healthy as possible."

Audio Diary

The six people in our series The Road Back To Work are chronicling the ups and downs of their job searches by keeping audio diaries this year. Updates will be posted here regularly.

Audio diary, Aug. 31, 2011: "I’d like to get on a plan and go somewhere."

Audio diary, March 28, 2011: "I'm getting ready to start my first day at work."

Audio diary, March 2, 2011: "The one-year anniversary of me becoming unemployed."

Audio diary, Feb. 5, 2011: "I haven’t been excited about anything in a long time, a really long time."

Audio diary, Jan. 23, 2011: "I just got home from church."

Audio diaries, Jan. 6 and 7, 2011: "I'm going to sell, sell, sell myself…"

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