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They believed in me and helped me to believe in myself

Image previewMy name is Katherine and I have Aspergers. I came to Canada with my husband when he got accepted into the PhD program at MUN. Despite feeling trepidation at moving so far away from my family, I was eager to explore more of the world and learn about a different culture. After settling in to our new home and seeing my husband off to his first class I knew what my next task was: finding a job. I had never worked in Canada and my last job had ended a few months ago so I knew that I was at a disadvantage. Would any place even hire me given the political tension between Canada and the States? How do I explain that I might not be here permanently, but neither am I going to be gone in only a few months? How do I disclose my Aspergers and the effects it has on my behavior? I kept hearing different things “Oh there are plenty of jobs, you will be hired in no time,” to “Oh, the job market is terrible; I live here and have been searching for over a year with no luck.” I tried for a few months on my own with no success. While I had a couple interviews with people who seemed to like me I was still unemployed. Moving had eaten a large hole into our expenses and my husband’s student stipend was barely keeping us afloat financially. By this time, I was getting desperate. Finally, my husband showed me a flier with information of an organization that helped people with disabilities to find employment: CCRW. Due to my Aspergers I qualified, but since I was not a student, I wondered if I would be kindly but firmly turned away. Much to my delight and relief I was received with open arms and the process to finding gainful employment began.

What I want others to know about my experience with CCRW.

The first thing is to be honest about what you are looking for, your qualifications, and what you are doing to find employment. Job hunt helpers do not like it when they are pouring time and money into helping you find employment while you are just sitting at home goofing off. You need to put in the time needed to find a job while they are helping you. The second thing you need is a willing spirit to work. Don’t say “Help me find a job” and “I hate working” at the same time. Any work is worth doing if it is done well and honestly. A third thing is to take advantage of opportunities to increase your ‘hireability’ by doing extra training. Taking courses in Food Safety and First Aid through CCRW were great experiences for me. Even though I already knew most of what was taught, it felt great to get the certificates hanging on my wall. Looking at them gives me a boost of self confidence, it tells me “I have the knowledge, I have the power.” In fact, after my first batch of training, I was so proud of myself that I was hungry for more training! Getting trained in skills can also really help your resume to look professional: rather then saying “I know about First Aid” you can say “I have certification in First Aid,” and a potential employer will be more impressed.

As far as my interactions with CCRW personnel, the two ladies I worked with were very kind and understanding of my Aspergers. They were ready to help me with many things, from mock interviews to fashion advice and training, even getting work shoes. They were very sweet and professional at the same time and balanced friendship with mentorship perfectly. They believed in me and helped me to believe in myself. The ladies also did not mind when I tried to alleviate my stress at being unemployed with jokes and kindly laughed with me. And when I was close to tears at how powerless I was feeling they helped me cheer up and not give up hope.

What would you like to share about your journey to employment?

Don’t give up hope. I submitted more then one hundred applications, attended about five job fairs, and had over a dozen interviews before I was finally hired. Also being a good employee is not hard. As my Dad told me, there are three things necessary to be a good worker: show up on time, give good work, and stay till closing. If you can do these things you will be well on your way toward winning the good will of your managers. Also be kind and caring towards your co-workers. One of my managers even goes out of his way to hire people with challenges because he views it as a personal project for himself: if he can train us he can train anybody. Perseverance is key. Never give up, never surrender!

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