Perfection, Jan Swift says, got her hired by the former Kansas East Conference 45 years ago.
It was March 1976, and Paul Henson — the then-Kansas East treasurer — contacted Kaw Area Vocational Technical School (now Washburn Tech) to see if any business students could be hired as an accounts receivable specialist.
“Four of us applied, I think,” Swift recalled. “The only reason I was offered the position is that back then, we didn’t have computers and you had to type up your resume. Our teacher was so strict that if you made one little mistake you couldn’t use white-out, you had to start all over. I was the only one of the four that didn’t have a mistake on my resume.”
For the past four-and-a-half decades, Swift’s resume has been pretty sparse. Since she walked in the door of Kansas East on March 26, 1976, the conference has changed names to the Great Plains and her job changed from accounts receivable to accounts payable.
But her smiling face and warm personality have been a constant.
“She’s like the sweetest person ever,” said Niki Buesing, conference controller and assistant treasurer. “She’s always willing to do whatever it takes to get things done.”
Swift also wants us to be honest: It’s not really her 45th anniversary, since she took time off when her children — Kara Linser, now 38 and an accountant; and Chad, 36, a firefighter — were born, and she came back part-time at the suggestion of Henson, her boss until 2008.
The 63-year-old is married to Lon, a construction company founder, and they will celebrate their 41st anniversary in June.
As accounts payable specialist, Swift helps process payments on accounts, including conference staff credit cards, as well as banking and “assist Niki with whatever she wants,” with Buesing as her boss.
“It just really varies, and I think that’s why I’ve stayed so long in my job,” she said. “Sometimes I get tired of doing accounts payable, but all the other little things I do helps mix it up and makes it more interesting.”
Swift says she’s never even considered looking for another job.
“I’m enough of an introvert that the thought of going out on a job hunt kind of scares me,” she said.
Buesing said Swift’s caring spirit wins over co-workers and customers.
“She’s so genuine, and you can see it with those she talks with. People enjoy having a conversation with her because she’s a great listener,” Buesing said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s someone she’s working with or someone she’s just met or someone she’s talking to on the phone, she’s just like that always. So that’s definitely who she is.”
Swift said she’s felt the same caring from her co-workers, especially in 2002 and 2012, when she had separate battles with breast cancer.
She’s still grateful for Kansas East staff who brought her goodie bags with treats, hand lotion and books for her as she headed to chemotherapy, and for Marie Pearce, then the administrative assistant for the Topeka District, who would walk with her daily while Swift built up her strength.
“People really went out of their way, and I appreciate it,” she said.
Swift said she has no plans of reaching a 50th anniversary – she plans to retire in June 2024, when she’ll be 66 ½ and eligible for Social Security.
She looks forward to “playing in the dirt and pretend I have a green thumb,” as well as continuing her hobbies of painting rooms in houses and spending time with her seven grandchildren (ages 14 to 2½-year-old twins), including teaching them crafts and sewing.
Swift said that she’s been grateful for her time in both conferences and the co-workers she’s had along the way.
“Your friends talk about their jobs and how somebody’s hard to get along with and their boss is mean. I think I have a great job with great benefits,” she said. “I work for an organization that I respect, and why would I want to change?”
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