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Graduating from university is always scary, but during a pandemic, it’s particularly frightening. During my final year, I kept hearing statistics about people being fired or laid off, and how unemployment was on the rise. I felt completely lost and didn't want to become another statistic with a large amount of debt.

I graduated from UBCO in 2020, during the pandemic. My final courses and exams were very suddenly moved online, and my graduation ceremony took place on YouTube. After 4 years of rigorous study, I was looking forward to celebrating with my classmates, but it never happened. I have yet to watch that video, I tried once but just put the celebratory beer back in the fridge. It was all so surreal and disappointing.

With my Human Kinetics degree in hand, I had no idea what to do or where to go. I decided to start out tree planting as it gave me time to think. It proved to be a very demanding job- the heat, the hours and the need for physical stamina was a lot. It was not something I wanted to do long-term, so after the summer I decided to move forward within the field of Human Kinetics.

woman in black jumpsuit in the woods

I reached out to the YMCA’s Career Development Services for help and guidance. My first introduction to the program was so welcoming. An Employment Counselor helped me outline my values to find what could be a good fit. It felt great to talk to someone about my problems and gain advice on how to progress my career.

One of the things I found particularly interesting was knowing that I had access to a free employment counsellor who provided me with the personalized support I needed. Counsellors like these can really boost your self-confidence and help motivate you. They set me up with resources to empower me to go out on my own to find meaningful work.

My biggest takeaways were learning how to cold call and the importance of an elevator pitch. The program also connects participants with resources, grants, and referrals for business start-ups, as well as financial supports to access first aid training and more.

At that point, I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue to pursue my Master's degree or jump into work as a Kinesiologist. To help with the decision, the program set me up with informational interviews with professionals already in the industry. As a result of these interviews, I quickly landed a job!

Now, I am living and working in the Kootenays and I couldn't be happier! The Y helped me develop the skills I needed to progress my career and because of this, I feel like I have blossomed. Without the Y, I wouldn't feel as confident in my capabilities as I do now.

The Kootenays don’t have a Y facility and I can feel its absence. Most people only think of the YMCA as a recreational facility but it’s so much more. They strive to improve the well-being of the community in so many ways.

The Y relies on donations to keep these programs running, I think it’s important to donate what you can. Every single penny can help make a positive lifelong change in someone's life. The Y provided me with the tools I needed to progress my career and it has truly helped me thrive.