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Dissatisfied and tired with working at entry level jobs, my motivation started to plummet and I had all but given up on my passion of finding a fulfilling career path. I tried labourer positions, cooking, and dishwashing and while it was clear to me that I needed some training and certifications, I could not afford the programs that would help me get hired. I felt completely stuck.

This is when I came across YMCA Connects, an employment readiness program for youth operated by the YMCA of Okanagan that gets you job ready while earning money. My first reaction was that this was too good to be true, but once enrolled in their four week program I began to understand this was for real, in fact it was a no-brainer.

In the program I gained certifications, sharpened my resume, and developed job hunting, networking and interview skills. My confidence level rose and I learned how to network and market myself.

Our group also did personality tests to learn more about ourselves and career options best suited to each of us. The hands-on experience I gained allowed me to try out a couple different positions and ultimately, I discovered that I wanted to do something active and engaging. I have always had a passion for beatboxing and skateboarding and after completing the program, I was able to use my newly developed skills to obtain my dream role as a skateboard instructor with Airhouse in Kelowna. I love my job and it doesn’t really feel like work. Because of the program I also developed skills that have helped me market my Beat Boxing.

And it just gets better from there! While working with kids at Airhouse I have discovered that I really want to inspire the next generation of children by becoming an Early Childhood Educator. I’ve been accepted into the program and already have work lined up once I’ve completed my ECE Certification.

If I’d never taken the YMCA of Okanagan employment program, it would have taken me much longer to get to where I am today. I would likely be working at a job that didn’t make me happy, and I definitely would not have as many connections or this level of self-awareness. The program helped me become more adult like and made me care deeply about my career path.

The instructors were compassionate, caring, well connected and determined to help all of us in the program. YMCA Connects really helps bring you out of your shell, it worked for me and I saw it happen in others. My sister has now completed the program and her progress is also impressive.

Those donating to the Y’s employment programs are truly saints. They should know their donations help so many troubled youth suffering from low confidence, anxiety, depression, and other setbacks. The program really holds their hand, pushes them out of their comfort zone, and gets them off the street or out of their rut to find meaningful work.

For more information on the YMCA of Okanagan’s Youth Employment programs please feel free to contact us at 250-861-5627 or email