Although she is able to do “about 97% of everything” on her own, Jessica’s condition does affect her physical ability at work. She experiences some spasticity in her body and very limited balance. Due to this, she is unable to walk and uses a manual wheelchair to get around.
After expressing her frustration with finding a job, Jessica learned about the Neil Squire Society’s Working Together Program through her friend. The Working Together Program helps people with disabilities develop the skills they need to achieve their employment goals. Happy to hear that there was someone who could help and hoping to learn more about the working world, she hopped on board.
“[My goal was] learning the skills to be able to build a good resume and interview well,” she says. “I didn’t know how to go about disclosing my disability, so I never did. When I walked into an interview, people were usually very surprised and sometimes caught off guard.”
At first, Jessica found she was resistant to Working Together due to her past experiences. But she slowly began to open up and go through the different steps. Along the way, she learned about avenues she hadn’t considered before, like working in guest services.
Jessica soon built on the skills she had hoped to learn, and started applying to jobs. One job in particular caught her eye: Guest Services Representative at Coquitlam Centre (new window). “I had a love for Coquitlam Centre. I don’t know why, I just always felt connected to it and I liked the atmosphere. So when a job came up last year, I applied – and I didn’t get the job.”
This did not deter Jessica, who spent time further honing her skills. To her surprise, the same job was reposted exactly a year later. This time, she applied and successfully landed the position. She instantly realized that the role would fit her like a glove.
“I think I’m going to enjoy it immensely,” she says. “It’s the perfect fit for me, so I’m very excited about it… I adore people and have a passion for helping them, and it’s always very interesting. It’s challenging and it’s different every day, and that’s exactly what I needed.”
Jessica now feels much more confident in the workforce. She now knows how and when to disclose her disability in a professional manner and is much more comfortable telling people about her needs and proposing solutions to those needs.
“Without the Neil Squire Society, none of this would have been possible,” says Jessica. “I’m really grateful and I think that the Neil Squire Society is a wonderful organization that actually cares and prepares somebody to be in the workforce with tools that stick with you, so that you can use them on a constant basis and in the future. I’m really thankful.”
It has been a long journey for Jessica, and her future is full of possibilities. “From the start of going back to school, all the way up to now, I would say I have been working on this for about seven years altogether. So now that I am working, I’m just taking the time to absorb, to relish in and celebrate the fact that I actually met a huge goal! Things have definitely changed and because of that there are so many more possibilities.”
The Working Together with Employers and Enhancing Employability
program is funded by the Government of Canada’s
Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities