Submitted by Deb Hamblin, Employment Services Manager
Seven years ago, Penelope moved from Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, Jalisco to Calgary, Alberta. She describes the experience as moving from a large city that felt like a small city to a large city that really felt like a large city.
Back home, Penelope earned a degree in Psychology with a specialization in Human Resources. To continue to work in her chosen profession in Canada, Penelope needed to study English before registering for the Human Resources Management Certificate at Mount Royal College. After she graduated, the labour market in Calgary was favorable and jobs were plentiful. She worked for a couple of years in Human Resources; however, in February of this year found herself laid off. Penelope felt she had been fortunate to get work but her luck had run out. After eight months of sending over 400 resumes, she still did not have a job. “I thought I was lucky in the beginning of my time in Canada but felt I wasn’t lucky anymore and it affected me badly. I thought I would have to change careers,” she recalls. Discouraged, Penelope decided to leave Alberta and its coldness behind, and move to BC. Initially she was headed to Vancouver, but after seeing ferry tickets for sale in Golden, BC she made a beeline for the Island.
Penelope immediately feel in love with Victoria and on a friend’s advice made her way to ICA’s WorkBC Employment Centre. “Everything happened so fast from there,” she recalls. Penelope’s employment case manager helped her to tailor her resume for each and every job posting. Almost immediately, the interviews started coming in. Her case manager coached her with interview preparation and mock interviews. “That part was so helpful,” she says. In one week Penelope had three people calling her – within a month of arriving in Victoria – and after four interviews with one company, Penelope was quickly offered a job as a Human Resource and Benefits Specialist.
“Getting work in Victoria has changed my life,” she says. “I now have a job and a place to call home.” Penelope says she is thankful for all the support she received from the ICA employment team who boosted her confidence, made her feel at home and guided her in her search for meaningful employment. “Even little things like transportation support when I wasn’t getting paid, made a really big difference to me,” she says. “I don’t think I would be this successful in my life without the support of ICA.”
In the future, Penelope is hoping to complete her Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP). She considers Victoria to be a fairly large city with the feel of a small one. “I can stay in Victoria and make it my home,” she says.
Learn more about ICA’s WorkBC Employment Centre here