It's About Dignity, Not Dollars
It's never just about having a job. I've sat opposite university graduates, people that hold masters degrees, mothers, high school students and everyone in between and I have learned that it's never just about having a source of income - it's about dignity. Imagine not being able to pay rent or having to order "just water" when you go out for dinner with friends because you don't have the money to afford a meal or an appetizer. Some of the people we have helped have looks us in the eyes and said "I feel completely useless" others have shared how their situation is affecting their mental health. Those are heartbreaking words to hear from people who have invested so much in themselves. I remember asking one of our students "What do you actually want to be in life?" and seeing the tears fill her eyes because it's never just about having a job - it's about becoming something more.
After studying Cognitive Science at Carleton University for 4 years, my sister finished with the highest GPA in her program. In 4 years, her lowest ever mark was an A- and everything else was an A+. Within those 4 years, she decided to started to teach herself how to knit, how to make her own hair and of course a new language - Korean. In case you don't know, Korean is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn but within 6 months she could hold a conversation and by the end of that year she understood the culture and language enough to teach it. But after graduating, my sister could not land a single interview! For 4 months she spent applied to every role she could find. It started with high level positions and big companies like Shopify and Phreesia but by the 4th month, out of desperation, she was applying to anything and everything.
I could see the disappointment in her eyes, she no longer had a pep in her step, her confidence was at an all time low, and I could tell she felt less valuable than she actually was. Her mental health, self confidence and dignity were being directly affected by this whole job hunting process. It wasn't about finding a job, it was about having purpose everyday. I knew this girl - I had known her my whole life - this was not my sister. For the first time ever, I realized that it wasn't about paychecks, it was about purpose. She wanted to have a reason to wake up and work hard everyday. That's human nature! The other problem was that international students have a set number of years to find a job that qualifies for Permanent Residency and most parents opt to bring their kids back home if it takes too long to find work. That was not an option.
We stood in the kitchen one day and she broke down in tears voicing how frustrated she felt. As a big brother, to see my sister in tears because of something that seemed so small hurt me deeply. I remember looking her in the eyes and telling her I would do something about it - I didn't know what, but I resolved to fix it somehow. That weekend, I went and found the owner of a small marketing agency that I knew needed help with their operations and in 5 minutes I pitched them the idea of hiring my sister for an operations role. My final words were "Pay her minimum wage and if you're not impressed after a month, fire her!" He agreed to interview her by the end of the week!
I spent a few hours prepping my sister for the interview - and by prepping I mean boosting her confidence and reinstating her dignity.
I spent a few hours prepping my sister for the interview - and by prepping I mean boosting her confidence and reinstating her dignity. I told her "Walk in there like you already have the job and you will get it. It's yours." I helped her redo her resume, we practiced interview questions and did research on the company. That Friday, right after the interview I got a call from her and she says "I got the job! He hired me on the spot!" I called the CEO to confirm and he says "She's the best candidate I've ever interviewed." One year later, she was running the operations of the entire company, had enough experience to apply for Permanent Residency and was ready for a new challenge.
This time, we knew she needed to work for a big company - she had what it took! So using my company, 3Skills, we went to work again and revamped her resume to communicate the true value of her time at the marketing agency. Then, we used one of our referrals to land an interview in a company that had raised over $200 million and was hiring rapidly. We prepped her for the interviews, boosted her confidence once more and sent her on her way.
"I GOT THE JOB!" Double the salary, full benefits, more vacation time and more peace of mind.
On September 25th, I received a text message from her "I GOT THE JOB!" Double the salary, full benefits, more vacation time and more peace of mind. I called her and we cried together on the phone - she was so overwhelmed with gratitude. For some people, it's just a job, but for us it was the beginning of our legacy. This meant we could help pay our little brother's tuition in 2020, it meant we could start saving towards a family house, it means we would be able to sponsor our parents to move to Canada finally. For my sister, it meant that now as a university graduate, she wasn't earning just over minimum wage and struggling to make ends meet - this meant she could live more generously. Again, I saw her eyes light up, her confidence was through the roof and the future seems much brighter. My parents were so relieved because they knew what it meant for our family.
Finding a great job is about dignity, not just dollars. Sometimes we hear people say things like "So basically, 3Skills just helps make resumes" but if you talk to the 19 people that we have helped land jobs in the past 4 months, you find out it's much more than that - we're giving people their dignity back. The dollars are just the icing on top.