Typical students tend to develop some anxiety as they get close to graduation. What will happen next? Do I have the skills I need? Will I find my dream job? What about my student loans? Did I make the right choice?
For Kateryna, a new graduate with a master’s degree, there was the added strain of working through the process to become a Permanent Resident in Canada.
“I came from Ukraine to Canada four years ago on a visitor’s visa. I had just received my master’s degree and I wasn’t able to work so I spent some of my time teaching English to newcomers from Ukraine.
I began the application for my permanent residency. It’s a complicated process to get the papers done, and unfortunately, they lost my paperwork, so we had to go through a long process.
I was waiting for two months and spent some time preparing my resume. It was then that I found KEYS.”
Seeking English classes where she could develop her language skills, Kateryna began attending LINC classes.
“At first, I was looking for English courses, but then it turned out KEYS was not just English classes, but job search help.”
After receiving her Permanent Residency in Canada and registering for KEYS employment services, Kateryna began improving her resume to reflect the Canadian standard and started to apply for jobs.
“I was lucky to meet Nancy. She helped me a lot and told me all about her programs. There was one called Career Start and so I started.”
Career Start helps students transition into the world of work. They offer internships for new graduates and wage subsidies for employers willing to give someone a first opportunity.
As time progressed, Kateryna was hired at Marshall’s as an Associate and began to work. While her education had prepared her for a different experience, she recognized that she needed to build some Canadian experience to launch her career.
“I was so happy because it was my first job in Canada. I have a Master of Finance from Ukraine, but you need to have Canadian education to get started here.
Nancy helped me to not give in to feeling bad about earning minimum wage and instead to look at that job like a step.”
After about five weeks of Marshall’s, Nancy called with an opportunity to interview at a local company making kitchen cabinets.
“I was ready to say yes, even if I would work for free, because I needed to get the experience.
The business was in transition, and they asked Kateryna to wait until they were settled. After a few months of waiting on the opportunity, Nancy called.
“She asked me if I could come to an interview for a new employer the next day. I said, ok, I’m not prepared because it’s tomorrow, but I will come.
I asked Nancy if this job would be paid. I was ready to work for free or minimum wage, but the job was $19 an hour which was a huge jump (from what I was earning).”
After interviewing for the role, Kateryna was offered the position of office admin at a local property management company.
“My manager is also a realtor, and I was open to learn something new and get some experience in Canada and to help me improve my English.
I was thinking that real estate would be interesting to me as well. It would be good for me, and I would really like it.”
After a year of working, studying and managing home life, Kateryna got her real estate license and began working with the rest of the property management team to sell homes. She became the office manager and has since hired another person through KEYS so is gaining experience as a supervisor.
“After a year and a half, the war in Ukraine happened, so it was a very challenging time for us. My husband’s mom came with two kids here to Canada and I told her to go to KEYS right away, the next day. Nancy helped us get connected to the right people to help at KEYS.
KEYS is still in my life after two years in Canada and has helped a lot.”