Where are you on your path?
This was my speech for the United Way fund-raising campaign 2009, talking about my Canadian career path and the impact of Centre Francophone de Toronto on my career:
“Hello everyone, and Thank you for inviting me here.
It is a great pleasure to speak to you today about a strong and positive impact that an organization, supported by United Way, has on new immigrants to Canada!
My name is Gabriela Casineanu, and the organization I will talk about is the Centre Francophone de Toronto. This Centre is the gateway for all francophones in Toronto, delivering free services in French for Children and Families, Social Services, Employment Services and services for Newcomers.
The story I will tell you today, it’s about a woman in her 40ies who immigrated to Canada six years ago. She came here to be closer to her children and hoping to see a positive change in her professional and personal life. She couldn’t see her children in the 5 previous years; after the divorce, ten years earlier, she raised her children until they went to visit their father in the United States. And .. he didn’t allow them to go back to her, in Romania.
Her children welcomed her at the airport, but they went back to Detroit, after two days. So here she is, alone in a new country, new culture, an Anglophone environment. She starts looking for jobs, leaving home every day in the morning, with a sandwich and a bottle of water, searching for information and anything that could help her. After a few days, she finds a flyer about Centre Francophone de Toronto. She’s happier: French language is more familiar and closer to her heart since it has the same Latin origin as Romanian. She gladly arranged a visit to this Centre and enrolls in a three days Job Search Workshop … that will change her life forever! For years she knew that engineering is not the right profession for her. The managers always appreciated her work, but something.. was missing! Have you ever felt that?
Even back home, she tried to change her profession: she took courses and became an IT programmer. She also worked in Quality Assurance and obtained a post-graduate diploma in Business Administration from a French University. The last one, was especially to fill her time, to not cry so much thinking about her children. Yet, none of these fields helped her find out what she was looking for.
One day, during that Job Search Workshop, the participants were asked to do an exercise: on a list of skills they had to check all the skills that they would like to use in the profession/ career of their dreams. Not what they are good at, or have experience with.. but what is really important to them! Later, they were asked: How many of these skills did you use up to now, in your career? She was amazed: none of those skills matched her background! No wonder why she wasn’t satisfied about her career! For the first time in her life, she realized that if you want to get satisfaction from your profession, you don’t have to look outside, to what’s available in the economy! It’s more important to look inside, to discover what ignites you, what’s really important to you and helps you to become alive and fulfilled! Only after that introspection, you look for opportunities to get you where you want! How many of you thought about this and followed this process?
She gave herself time to figure out what she really wants, and start making a list, where she frequently added things that she would love to have in her new career. This process took her a while. Meantime, she was also focused on finding a job, and continue her integration in Canada. Would you like to know how she found her first job? One day, she receives a phone call from American Express, inviting her to an interview. She realized only later, that the employment counselor from the Centre Francophone de Toronto, who was impressed by her background, sent her resume to them! The two Canadian referrals she had for this first job were: one – from the Job Search Workshop Facilitator, the other one – from the Host Program Coordinator (from the same Centre Francophone). The later knew about her, because she was already volunteering with this organization.
Fast forward: in two month she switched to an engineering position in Quality Assurance, almost doubling her salary. For three years she worked there, while focusing on removing the stress of starting a new life in a new country and continue to add on her list. Finally .. realizing what’s her passion: empowering people to be proactive instead of a back-seat driver of their life! She was surprised to find out that there is a profession that matches her list: Coaching (she didn’t even know such profession exists before coming here!) She took courses in Co-active Coaching, Organization and Relationships Systems Coaching, starting her own business three years ago, while still working full time.
Where is she now, after 6 years? She’s in charge of a Mentoring Program for professional newcomers, and is focusing on growing her own Coaching Business to Full Time, by empowering people to get in touch with their inner strengths, and become more resourceful! She wouldn’t be here without the services of Centre Francophone that jump-start her Canadian career.
The woman I’m talking about is in front you now, applying the concept “Pay it forward”. Did you see the movie? It’s about helping someone without expecting something in return, but asking that person to help someone else at his turn, to pay it forward! I will never forget how the Centre Francophone helped me, but I also encourage people like you to “pay it forward”. If you have ever been helped, you might want to understand how wonderful it is to help others on your turn. And if you didn’t have this chance, I encourage you to give it a try, to see how amazing it is to make an impact in your community, on other people lives.