When Katrina arrived in Vancouver she was intelligent, successful and she had big dreams for her future. Though she was incredibly ambitious and well educated, Katrina found it hard to find permanent full-time employment and community here in Canada. By connecting with Dress for Success, Katrina has found both. She is now thriving at work and giving back as a volunteer and as a client ambassador. This is her story:
I was well prepared for my solo move to Canada – or so I thought. I have a BS. Chemical Engineering and Master in Technology Management degrees from the University of the Philippines. I have become strong-willed and independent since 12 when I moved away from home to study in the premier Philippine Science High School. I was confident that I could successfully create a niche in the global workplace.
To prepare for my move, I researched the job market, customized my resume to the Canadian format and secured a spot with a career development services organization. Two months into the program, I had already sent my resume to several dozens of companies with no success.
It was at this time that I was introduced to Dress for Success Vancouver for a Dressing Services Appointment through SUCCESS. This one-hour experience gave me the joy, hope and courage I needed to continue my job search and to commit to a life in Canada.
I came into that appointment feeling very isolated. I felt like I was not part of Canadian society or any community. I was also worried about my job search and what the future had in store for me.
I persevered and was able to secure a 4-month project contract in a field related to mine. Because of my performance, work ethics and interpersonal skills, the contract got extended 3 times. I was overjoyed and hopeful that this would turn into a permanent position. But it did not.
It was as if all accomplishments from decades of hard work equated to nothing. The thought of going back home crossed my mind. But quitting was not an option. It was during this time of unemployment and frustration that I joined PWG
At the PWG, I was able to connect with a mentor who reviewed my resume and gave me pointers in preparation for the Canadian job market. Moreover, she gave me a much need motivation to continue with my job search and successfully land a job aligned with my background.
My exposure to DFSV has helped hone my soft skills. During the March 2018 PWG Alumni meeting, I gave a well-received speech on “How to Survive in a Male-dominated Work Environment”. From PWG and PWG Alumni, I learned innumerable tips ranging from mental stress to financial literacy. I have also become more comfortable in “Canadian culture” and at the same time gained a deeper appreciation of other cultures.
At work, I established a Cargill Women’s Network. I was then given the opportunity to travel and meet leaders of the other networks during the Women in Agribusiness (WIA) conference.
Because I migrated alone, what is most precious to me is the emotional support and inspiration that DFS offers. The presence of passionate, supportive and goal-oriented women was instrumental to my success and the women of DFSV have become my family in Canada.
DFSV has changed my life in more ways than expected. While it is true that it is instrumental in helping me land an excellent job and live a good life in Canada, I feel that the organization has given me much more than this. It has helped me clarify my values, define my life and create my own success. DFSV has also given me passion for community and for empowering women.
I have been an active PWG volunteer since I graduated from the program in 2014. I have taken my volunteering even further by organizing a clothing and accessories drive for DFS in my workplace and by officially becoming a DFSV ambassador.
I am giving back in other ways too. I established the Cargill Women’s Network – Surrey that focuses on career development, a culture of inclusion and diversity, community involvement and communications & networking. I have also become a member of our company’s Canadian Inclusion and Diversity Committee and Community Involvement Committee.
Dress for Success has made me whole, but I am still on my journey. I’ve learned that we are enough and that when we say to an opportunity, the universe will conspire to help us succeed. With Dress for Success as my foundation, success is within reach.
Katrina will be the recipient of the Dress for Success Vancouver Inspiration Award at The Success Luncheon Virtual 2020 on November 4th.
Photo by Broda Photography