One day while I was in my office I came across notes from a Job Search Workshop (JSW) meeting dated 1998, which was when the JSW program first began. Representatives from only five other agencies were in attendance at that meeting. CultureLink was one of the first agencies to offer the JSW program and was a major contributor to many of the ground-breaking initiatives such as being the first to offer evening workshops; youth-focused work shops and specialized workshops to groups such as Engineering, Medical, Finance and Live-In Caregivers. I remember that our funder had many doubts about offering the specialized workshops but other agencies soon adopted the same model. CultureLink also helped create many of the assessment tools developed for the workshops.
Looking through the care notes and reports from the previous years, it is clear that newcomers face many of the same employment barriers today – unfamiliar job search processes and adjusting to a different work culture in Canada. Even with changes in the ways we find work, some things never change: there is no substitute for an effectively presented resume!
The Job Search Workshop Program has adapted through the years by offering new and different ways of creating job search tools and introducing community and corporate partnerships that assisted in either employing our clients or providing them with specialized assistance in their job search. It seemed that everyone we approached was willing to offer support and help our clients.
Through my work with the Job Search Workshop program, I have seen the passion of the JSW staff help clients create successful employment tools such as resumes, cover letters and develop networking skills. I think I heard a success story every week in the 10 years I have been with the JSW program! I have seen many clients (from almost every country) develop fulfilling careers in a diverse range of occupations.
I remember all the clients and their struggles. I remember their personalities, their dreams and their hopes of building a better life in Canada. I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to see inside their lives, see their joys and their challenges. The clients that we serve ultimately make us who we are and what CultureLink has become. It’s the hardest thing to let go of a service that has helped so many clients achieve their Canadian dream. This is not a final goodbye to the Job Search Workshop Program, we hope is only a short absence.
– by Glen Walsh (the soon to be the Ex-JSW manager)
As part of the procedure of wrapping up the Job Search Workshop Program, we informed our clients that the program will be closed by the federal funder as of September 30, 2015. The following is some response we received from our clients within two days after we sent the email:
“I still remember my first day at Culturelink and really sad to know about this. In the fifth year in Canada whatever success I have all started from Culturelink. I can never forget Ms.Lily and Ms.Laura classes. I still have few good friends whom I got from there. Ms.Lily is amazing. I don’t believe your team can stop from what you all were giving to the newcomers. Our relationship will continue. God bless you all. Thank you,”
“I had the good fortune to attend the JSW conducted by you [Olisa] in July 2014. I credit finding my first job with the help you provided me. You gave me confidence by making me aware of my accomplishments. I got experience from this job, and it led to me finding my second job where I continue to work. Through the months I have earned the confidence of the managers at the various stores allocated to me. I will never forget the boost you gave me, and the detailed information provided. It’s not been easy, due to my mature age, but whatever you imbibed in me came to my mind at each step. Recently I took advantage of the free headshot Photo Day offered by your office. The word that runs through my mind when I think of you and your team is ‘kindness’. You all have been very kind to me, and encouraged me at every point. I was invited to attend the AGM meeting of CultureLink held last year, and was so happy to see the whole organization along with affiliates. You introduced me to CultureLink’s NEAT and Wintegration Club, and I attended the Ice Skating event in January this year and got my first taste of Canadian culture! I have attached a photo of me standing on the rink. You and your team have fulfilled my desire for getting merged into Canadian culture.
My best wishes to you and your team and may you all succeed in whatever is ahead for you.”
– Aruna C.
“It is very sad to see the program being closed. The saddest thing is that no one will be able to benefit from such a great thing as many of the participants like I did.
Thank you Asal, Glen, Laura, Lily, Olisa and Shakira!”
“Thank you for the email and thank you for telling us what will happen in the end of this month. Thank you for all of your team members’ help during my participation in the programs at CultureLink. My story will keep going in the future. Also I wish all of you have a nice future in the next program. Thank you again and best wishes to all of you!”
– Nina W.
“As a client to the JSW I would like to say that JSW was useful for me and, I am sure, many other new comers have benefited from this program. I am sure the Culture link will develop still more useful programs in the future.”
“Thank you guys so much for the warm welcome and guidance I received as a new immigrant to Canada it was all truly helpful to me in my Job search. Special thanks to Olisa and Shakira you made my journey fruitful. Wish you all the best.”
– Vikas B.
“Thank you for the information about closure of JSW after making a long memorable history.I would like to thank CultureLink and specially the team that I had an opportunity to meet and learned something nice. Hope to see you again in future.”
– Bir G.
“I am sorry to hear the program is closing. I have visited the program when I have just arrived Toronto 2 and half years before. I was very lost and I have a lot of struggle. Thanks for Laura who gave me a lot of useful advice. The experience is much better than the other organization which I visited.
The care and support for the new comer is essential for them to adjust. Just want to let you know how great your program is. I would like to send my special thanks to Laura.”
“The JSW program is such an invaluable guide and resource for newcomers. I’d been clueless if not for the counselors’ experience and insights that have made a difference in my current job search. Special thanks to Glen with the friendly professional photo shoot, Laura and Asal for the useful online LinkedIn course (MOOC), and Lily and Shakira for their fantastic facilitation in the workshops.”
“I became sad after read this email. Lily was more than an angel for me.She showed me all the tools to get the right job. She changed my life forever.
Thank you Culturlink and special to Lily.”
“I would like to say again thank you so much for the JSW that I have learned so much from your guys. I wish and hope the JSW will reborn again next time to continue guiding those new to Canada.”
– Gerard L.