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It’s never too late to start a career

By Sponsored Sep 21, 2023 | 12:00 AM

That’s the message WorkingNB client Crystal Cook has for those wanting to make a change.

“I was on assistance for twelve years,” Cook a single mother, says. It was a big leap for her to decide to make a change and explore what other options were open to her.

“It took a lot of trust because I didn’t have trust in myself. I just felt like I was going to be steered in the wrong way. But I was proven wrong.”

That decision, to see what WorkingNB could offer her in terms of reentering the workforce, made all the difference in her life.

WorkingNB helped Cook gain new skills, who received one-on-one guidance and support through the program. This support gave her the confidence and the ability to enter the workforce doing a job she was interested in – working in childcare.

“Job Launch, was a program WorkingNB piloted in Saint John”. says Melissa Garland, manager at WorkingNB. “In partnership with Social Development, the Job Launch team customized employment programs for clients. The program was free to clients and was designed for clients seeking to overcome employment barriers.”

After meeting with the team and developing an employment action plan, Cook was offered customized in-person training followed by a paid work placement through Workplace Connections.

“When we first met with Crystal, she was seeking guidance to return to work,” says Melissa Garland, manager at WorkingNB. “She expressed her desire to work with children. Crystal was still overcoming barriers, so our team supported her by arranging a paid work placement at a daycare that was close to her home.”

WorkingNB also assisted with childcare and transportation and arranged an opportunity to take First Aid training which was required to work with children.

With the support provided, Crystal excelled and quickly became a valued employee, resulting in her job’s continuation after the placement ended.

“WorkingNB provides a variety of programs and supports, tailored to the individual, and we felt Cook was a great candidate for our ELE (Experiential Learning and Employment) Continuum program, adds Garland. “ ELE programs are longer in length and there’s often a technical component piece to the training.”

As a part of ELE, a job coach works very closely with participants from the beginning and is a support to the clients throughout the entire initiative and the retention phase.

WorkingNB programs provide support to those who feel disconnected from the labour market and are unsure where to begin. The programs build confidence and help participants see their potential, providing an alternative path for those who feel stuck helping with everything from building a resume to exploring job options to providing real-life training and work experience directly applicable to the client’s chosen career path.

For Cook, the guidance and training she received through WorkingNB not only led to a paid placement but also led to a permanent job in childcare at the YMCA – one where she is building on the skills she learned in the program.

What’s more, Cook’s initial experience led her to discover a more specific career path she didn’t even realize she had an aptitude for – working with autistic and hard-of-hearing children.

Working with special needs children has led Cook to develop an even bigger skill – sign language.

Starting out learning a few signs from a parent of one of the children she works with, Cook has taken to her role and her employer is supporting her training to learn even more.

“There’s three levels of signing,” she says. “I’ve only done my first but I’m going to be working on my second and my third.”

For Cook, she says the experience has truly been about finding a career, or a calling, rather than just a job.

“This is my second home,” she says of her workplace at the YMCA.  “My co-workers are the [people] that I needed in my life.”

But of course, it’s the work with the kids that gives Cook the most fulfillment. “I get to engage with these wonderful kids and learn how they teach me as I teach them.”

“l love it! Every day is different, it’s never boring.”

Cook adds that it’s never too late to explore your options.

Any New Brunswicker looking for career or training opportunities can connect with a WorkingNB employment counsellor.

Contact them today to get started on your employment goals. https://www.workingnb.ca/