“ONLY THOSE WHO RISK GOING TOO FAR CAN POSSIBLY FIND OUT HOW FAR THEY CAN GO.”
Hi, I am Vishakha Desai, who enjoys adventures, movies and loves to try new things. Coming from a city in India, I always lived with my family. I had a dream of living an independent life in a big city, but never did I dream of leaving my comfort zone. But destiny had its own plans. I finally took a leap of faith and moved to Mumbai, India’s financial capital. On the very first day of my new job, I met a guy and developed an instant connection with him (just like Ross and Rachel in FRIENDS). Fast forward to three and a half years later, we were married and I was moving with him to Canada.
In my wildest dreams I wouldn’t have thought that I would pursue the next phase of my life in Canada. Love for my husband was my motivation to move here. He had received his Permanent Residency and we decided to pursue that and start our life here.
Moving to a completely new country was an adventure in itself. After coming here, I applied for my Permanent Residency. Within 3 months, I was issued an open work permit as part of the spousal PR process. During the waiting period, I always explored and tried to meet new people through volunteering, cultural events, meet-ups and other professional and social networking events. During the waiting period we developed a database of companies where I could apply based on my 10-year experience of working in the events. I did land a couple of interviews but couldn’t land a job due to lack of my ‘Canadian experience.’ Seeing my husband struggle at a job he was doing just to meet our needs was a punch in my gut since I was not able to contribute. I often wondered “isn’t my experience worth anything?” “How long before a company gives me a chance to prove myself?
Eventually, I was able to get a job as a packing assistant at Purdys Chocolatier. It was a seasonal job during Christmas. Being my first winter, it was not easy to wake up at 5AM, travel 1 hour in frigid temperatures and stand for 8 hours packing chocolate boxes. I was anxious and thought of giving up in the first two days but then again, the fighter inside me was just not ready to quit. I did a couple of odd jobs and then finally after months of wait, landed my first full time job with a private college.
After becoming a PR, I was introduced to Dress for Success Vancouver through my sister. Being an immigrant, I wanted to expand my network and meet different people. Dress for Success Vancouver did that for me. Through their program Professional Women’s Group (PWG), I met some amazing women and felt empowered and motivated hearing their stories. Dress for Success Vancouver and PWG gave me a safe space to share my journey where I would not be judged. I still remember my first in-person meeting with my group. DFS had organized a picnic at a park. Since the entire program happened virtually (due to COVID), I was super excited to meet everyone in-person. It was a bright sunny day with colorful picnic mats and balloons representing present cohorts. It was a pot-luck so everyone was asked to bring a snack/desert of their choice.
Through the PWG mentorship program, I was fortunate to meet Brigitte Tritt – my mentor who is a wonderful human being and a career coach. She was a source of emotional support and provided me with a different perspective and viewpoint on personal and professional challenges.
Dress for Success has been and still is instrumental in supporting my journey in Canada by providing tools, resources and networks required to achieve economic independence. I feel honored to be an ambassador for DFS and contribute towards this community.
You can help make more dreams of confidence, community and connection come true by empowering women like Vishakha into good jobs, financial independence and personal success by donating today.