Seven years ago, Penelope moved from Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, Jalisco to Calgary, Alberta. She described 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 completed a degree in Psychology with a specialization in Human Resources. To continue to work in her chosen profession in Canada, Penelope first needed to study English before registering for the Human Resources Management Certificate at Mount Royal College. At the time she graduated from Mount Royal, the labour market in Calgary was more favorable and jobs were plentiful. Penelope found employment and worked for a couple of years in the Human Resources department of an organization.
In February of 2015, however, Penelope was laid off due to the drop in oil prices and its impact on the Albertan economy. Penelope felt she had been fortunate to get work but her luck had run out. After eight months of submitting more than 400 resumes to potential employer, Penelope 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 move to British Columbia. Initially, Penelope thought she would head to Vancouver. But after seeing ferry tickets for sale in Golden, BC she made a beeline for Vancouver Island.
Penelope immediately feel in love with Victoria. With the encouragement and advice of a friend, she made her way to ICA’s WorkBC Employment Centre. “Everything happened so fast from there,” she recalls. Penelope’s employment case manager assisted her and together they tailored 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. After four interviews with one company, Penelope was offered a position 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 receiving support and encouragement from her friend and from the 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.
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 welcoming feel of a small community. “I can stay in Victoria and make it my home,” she says.