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Mahek’s Story

As the famous proverb goes If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

And this is exactly what I did.

I am Mahek Lakhotia and I immigrated from Mumbai, India, arriving in Vancouver in the winter of 2019 with a couple of suitcases and tons of enthusiasm. I was well prepared for my solo move to Canada – or so I thought. I completed my Chartered Accountancy (CA) from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Master in Commerce from The University of Mumbai and made the tough decision to be away from my family and move to Canada to enhance my professional prospects. I have always been this strong-willed and independent girl since childhood and was confident I could successfully find 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 as soon as I landed in Vancouver in November 2019. Two months into the program, I had already sent my resume to several dozens of companies with no success. To my utter shock and disappointment, just about at that time, in early 2020, the COVID pandemic struck and there was a complete lockdown, including the job market! There were layoffs happening everywhere, along with a hiring freeze.

It was at this time that I was introduced to Dress for Success Vancouver for Dressing Services through my employment counselor at WorkBC. This one-hour experience not only helped me get my professional suit in place, it also helped me find my voice and boosted my confidence so I could set my foot in the right direction while navigating my way in the Canadian job market. It gave me the joy, hope and courage I needed to continue my job search and to commit to a new life in Canada.

I came into my appointment feeling anxious. I felt like I did not belong to Canadian society or any community. I was also worried about my job search and what the future had in store for me.

Dress for Success Vancouver not only helped me prepare for the start of my professional journey in Canada with dressing services, resume writing workshops, and mock interview sessions but also held my hand while I embarked upon my journey here as a Credit Risk Analyst.

Through Dress for Success Vancouver, I was introduced to the PWG program in 2021. At PWG, I was able to connect with a mentor who reviewed my resume and gave me pointers in preparation for the Canadian job market and worked on improving my soft skills. This paved the way for me to successfully land a job aligned with my background.

Dress for Success Vancouver has changed my life in more ways than expected. From holding my hand while I took baby steps to being the wind beneath my wings when I soared high up in the sky. It has helped me gain confidence, strengthen my beliefs, given me a sense of belonging and a direction to write my success story. DFSV has also given me passion for giving back to the community and for empowering women.

I decided to become a Dress for Success Ambassador once I graduated from the PWG program in 2022 to give back some of what I received from Dress for Success and to encourage other women who might be facing adversities. 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 Dress for Success Vancouver have become my family in Canada. I hope to help other women realize their full potential and see challenges as part of life’s journey and use that to feel empowered to be the best version of themselves.

Reflecting upon this journey, I am thankful to all the fantastic people I met here in Canada, and who helped me not just walk but even run and now fly. My employment counselor at WorkBC, the Dress for Success Vancouver  community, the wonderful network of women at the PWG program and my mentor- they have all been instrumental in me moving forward! 

You can help make more dreams of confidence, community and connection come true by empowering women like Mahek into good jobs, financial independence and personal success by donating today.

Mahek’s Portrait by Badzak Creative

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