Learning that goes beyond new job skills

How one employee embraced a new language to be a better teammate

3 min read

July 2021

Jon standing with arms crossed, smiling

“When I got the call from Progressive, I was jumping around screaming!” House Counsel Administrative Assistant Jonathan recalls the day he got hired and how excited he was to start in our House Counsel office in New Jersey. Turns out, legal administration wasn’t all he signed up to learn. As Jonathan settled into his position, he learned that two of his co-workers are deaf. So, he started learning sign language in an effort to be a better teammate.

You’ve been here just over two years now. What was it about Progressive that made you want to work here?

The thing that stood out to me was—in looking at the career site and job ads—everything rang so authentic. The idea that Progressive believes in honesty, openness, the Golden Rule, their people, and their customers was special. Nothing I read or heard sounded like corporate platitudes. It actually sounded like a company that my friends would have started. It’s funny, whenever I go through the process of buying a car, there’s a moment when I just know I’ve found the right one for me. And that’s exactly how I felt about Progressive as an employer.

What was it about the admin assistant role that had you so excited?

I’ve worked in law firms in the past, but I’ve never really been a corporate person. I’ve always leaned toward mom and pop shops. I really like that Progressive is a large company, but they treat their employees like family. I’ve worked in a lot of industries and held a variety of roles; I’ve finally found a great work/life balance with Progressive.

How did your pursuit of American Sign Language (ASL) begin?

When I got hired, I learned two of my co-workers are deaf. It’s a relatively small team in our House Counsel office, and I knew I would be training with and learning from these colleagues. I feel people are most comfortable and can best communicate with others if they can do so in their preferred language. So that’s really what motivated me to begin. It just felt like a great opportunity to learn something new. And I also felt a responsibility to do my part to communicate well with the people I work with, especially in a new job. If my co-workers spoke German, for example, I probably would have learned some German.

How do you expand your ASL fluency? And do you have any advice for someone looking to learn ASL or a new language?

Aside from learning from my co-workers throughout our workdays, I just started watching YouTube videos to pick up signs you’d commonly use. I think the most important thing when endeavoring to learn a new language is to be interested and curious and want to try. Even if you’re self-conscious, just keep trying. Even a few words can make a big difference. The more you try, the more you’ll achieve. I mean, trying to learn someone else’s language is a good idea. You can’t go wrong with that.

Jon Foley works in Progressive’s House Counsel organization as an administrative assistant. He was drawn to Progressive’s Core Values and commitment to diversity and inclusion. He believes in promoting allyship, equity and fairness among coworkers, clients, and customers. He is a member of the LGBTQ+ employee resource group.

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