“Not only did the program help me to get a job, it improved my quality of life and totally changed the way I see things.”

As a newcomer to Canada, Jolie faced many barriers to finding work. But through a Women in Technology program, she got the training and support she needed to start a new career in IT.

When I moved to Canada from Taiwan in 2013, I found that I didn’t have enough professional skills to support me in starting a career. In Taiwan, I had graduated from a business college where I studied accounting, marketing, and trading, but I didn’t specialize in any specific areas.

After moving to Calgary, I worked in the food service industry for quite a while. There is nothing wrong with working in that industry – it’s hard work. But it’s difficult to find a steady position, and financially I knew I couldn’t do it forever.

Although I wanted to progress, I didn’t have enough money for college or university, so I kept looking for professional training programs for immigrants funded by the government. Unfortunately, the programs that I found required educational background or work experience that I didn’t have.

Everything changed when I found out about the Women in Technology Training program at Making Changes Employment Association in Calgary. The program offers specialized training for newcomer and Indigenous women who want to earn technical certifications to work in the IT sector.

My intuition told me this was an opportunity to do something real. If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. I knew that if I wanted to pursue a professional career and a better life, I had to apply.

When I started the program, I was both nervous and excited. I didn’t have any technical background, so it was tough for me to catch up on the technical theory and concepts in the beginning. But I told myself that I wasn’t going to give up, because this was a precious chance to change my life. I had to take responsibility for the decision that I made.

My goal was to pass the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam and find a job in the IT field. I also wanted to get past my worries about the future. Before starting the program, I had no idea how to change my life and I was constantly frustrated by that.

For many newcomers, language and culture are barriers to finding work. The program helped to improve my language skills because we spoke English in class every day. Also, in the life skills and employment skills training part of the program, we learned about Canadian company culture, and what to expect in an IT company environment. We also got help with employment skills like writing a resume and preparing for job interviews.

After the technical training, we did a one-month internship at an IT company, which helped me learn a lot as well. After the internship, I started to volunteer and attend networking events while applying for jobs every day. A few months after finishing the program, I got my first IT position at a company in downtown Calgary.

Not only did the program help me to get a job, it improved my quality of life and totally changed the way I see things. I became more positive and confident. Although I’m working now, I continue to look for volunteer and networking opportunities. I’m committed to what I learned in the program and want to keep moving my life forward.

I would like to thank the many people who helped during the program, including Cathy, the Making Changes director; Sharmin, our program manager; Mark, our program instructor; and Iris, our skills training facilitator. I couldn’t make it without any of them!

When I face challenges as I move forward in my life, I’m inspired by what my favourite basketball player, Kobe Bryant, said to his daughters when he retired:

“Those times when you get up early and you work hard; those times when you stay up late and you work hard; those times when don’t feel like working — you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself — but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream, that’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, what you’ll see happen is that, you won’t accomplish your dreams, your dreams won’t come true, something greater will.”

The Women in Technology Training program, delivered by the Making Changes Employment Association in Calgary, has received funding from the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

Image: Courtesy of Jolie.