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Finding Career Success with YWCA FOCUS@Work


For new immigrants to Canada, making the first steps into employment may seem like a daunting task. It’s not only about finding work, it’s also about finding a job that is a good match to their skills, background and aspirations. The good news is that it’s possible and gets easier with the right assistance and advice.

YWCA FOCUS@Work helps women (Canadians and newcomers) identify the talent and experience they’ve always had, build connections and network so they can find meaningful employment. 

Sabrina, a software developer from Brazil, recently completed the YWCA FOCUS@Work program. Here’s her success story. 

Sabrina started looking for her first job in Canada immediately after landing in early 2018. She spent nine months sending resumes and attending interviews, but found no success. “One application in particular, I was certain that I was a perfect fit for the position, but I didn’t move forward. In addition to all these rejections, there were also all of the challenges a newcomer needs to handle,” Sabrina explained.

She was feeling stressed, discouraged and with very low self-esteem. Sabrina decided to take a break from the job search until she felt more confident, but when she was ready to start again, it was not any different. “I sent more than 40 resumes and attended around 20 interviews but continued receiving rejection after rejection.”

It was then that she found out about FOCUS@Work and decided to attend an information session. “I was surprised to learn that the program would be three weeks long and absolutely free,” she recalls. 

“I met wonderful women, almost all of them newcomers like me. We had a true connection. The first week was all about finding out about ourselves and what we wanted to do with our careers. I took personality assessments and the results were so precise! I finally accepted some of my defining characteristics and what I could do to make myself understood. We also did a skills assessment test that confirmed that my top five skills are perfect for my career choice and my doubts to continue pursuing employment in this field were gone.

“During the second week, I learned about the hidden job market and how to tailor my resume following Canadian standards. My resume improved so much that on my first in-person interview after the updated resume, people praised me when they saw it.”

Sabrina also did mock interviews, including video recording and feedback. “At that moment, my self-confidence began to come back. My group was so kind, so supportive! I figured out how sometimes one could be so hard on oneself. YWCA FOCUS@Work staff always encouraged me and gave me pep talks.”

After the three-week workshops finished, Sabrina continued to receive one-to-one support from a FOCUS@Work facilitator/mentor. “My mentor helped me with specialized questions for each interview. Her advice was so important because at that time I had applied for so many companies and five of them were interested in interviewing me. I was so happy, but at the same time, so stressed. My impostor syndrome was hammering in my mind but she showed me that I could do it and what I had already achieved.” 

Sabrina finally got two job offers and found herself in a position to choose the one that was the best fit for her.

I am so grateful to have found this program. I really recommend it for every woman that I know that is unemployed.

The YWCA FOCUS@Work program helps women assess their skills and strengths, set career goals and develop job search skills to obtain meaningful employment. This 12-week program includes 3 weeks of workshops and 9 weeks of full-time job search support, all free of charge. 


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