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Kate’s Story

After enjoying a successful career in the Philippines, Kate arrived in Vancouver and faced unexpected employment challenges, but she persevered and she is once again enjoying success. She is one of the client ambassadors who will be walking the runway at IMPACT 360 on May 8th.  This is Kate’s story:

I was born in the Philippines to an upper-middle class family. I attended the best schools and was raised to believe I could be anything I wanted if I set my mind to it and worked hard. Which I did; I graduated with a degree in Political Science and became a university instructor. Subsequently, I studied Nursing, and after receiving my license, I was invited to be a national lecturer for review schools. I also set up my own tutorial school.

I was financially successful and my own boss. Then I fell in love with an intelligent and kind man.

After two years together, we married and moved to BC. While waiting for my permanent residency, I did volunteer work, expanded my culinary skills, taught myself to sew, knit, and even do Boolean algebra.

I was excited when I was finally granted permanent residency – but the joy was short-lived. Finding work was not as easy as I thought. During 14 months of applying for different jobs and more than 50 applications, I was only invited to three interviews. I was a finalist in two of them, but in both cases, the employers chose the other person. I was left frustrated and dejected.

I couldn’t understand the reasons I wasn’t getting hired. As an internationally trained professional, was it because I didn’t have Canadian education? Was it because – apart from my volunteer experience – I didn’t have Canadian work experience? I wondered if my foreign-sounding name was a factor. It was discouraging to feel as if my education, training and work experience meant nothing.

I decided to do something about my situation. I came across a brochure from S.U.C.C.E.S.S. about a project-based training program for administrative assistants. I called the organization to express my interest in the program. I was invited to an information session, interviewed, and fortunately was accepted into the program.

That program finally made the difference. It gave me access to the Canadian education I needed to bolster my resume. It was through the program facilitator that I heard about Dress for Success. She shared her positive experience as a member of DFS’s Professional Women’s Group. I was intrigued by her story and decided to find out more. I liked what I learned and referred myself for an interview suiting appointment.

I didn’t really know what to expect, but any trepidation I felt immediately evaporated when I entered the DFS boutique in Vancouver. It was like walking into a candy shop! The suiting appointment was a lot of fun. The lovely volunteer who assisted me was chic, knowledgeable, encouraging, and had a lot of great tips about how to put the clothing pieces together. I loved the outfit I chose; it made me feel competent and sharp. I felt so grateful that I was in tears by the end of my appointment.

I applied for three jobs and was interviewed for each one. I wore my DFS outfit, aced the interviews, and received job offers from all three companies. Now I was faced with the pleasant dilemma of which job and company to choose.

Dress for Success helped me look professional and gave me the confidence to present myself to the world as I wanted to be seen: competent, secure, and skilled. DFS changed my life by helping me fulfill my goal of being employed. By joining the Professional Women’s Group, I have learned a lot of valuable information. As a wonderful bonus, I found a group to belong to, a community of women who accept, support, and encourage each other. I would love for other women to benefit the way I have.


Kate will be one of the nine client ambassadors walking the runway at IMPACT 360 on May 8th. Join us to celebrate her journey and the journeys of so many others over the past 20 years.

Join Us at IMPACT360

Photo by Broda Photography


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I felt so grateful that I was in tears by the end of my appointment.