From Participant to Employee: Philip’s Progress through LNV

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Philip poses for a photo at the Lifetime Networks Ice Cream Social;  Philip’s roles at LNV include participant, volunteer, and employee. 

Polite, soft-spoken, and keenly intelligent, Philip has dipped his toes in many academic waters, from maths and sciences to computer programming to music. For the past year he has been enrolled in an accounting program through Camosun College. Philip likes the objective nature of accounting, and enjoys finding answers to problems. However, he is not sure that accounting is really where his passion lies. Philip’s main interests seem to revolve around teaching.

Philip has been involved in the employment program at Lifetime Networks for several years. He initially began as a program participant pursuing self-employment opportunities. Working in part with EntreActive, an entrepreneurship program for people with disabilities, he developed an idea for an interactive teaching website, where students and others could go to learn and practice advanced mathematics. Although he was able to learn the necessary computer programming skills, Philip felt that he did not have the qualifications required to teach the very advanced math lessons that his website was meant to support.

His plans for entrepreneurship were put on hold, but Philip continued to be a part of the employment program at Lifetime Networks. Never an average participant, Philip has often volunteered his expertise in various programs, proving himself to be a valuable asset to the organization. He has taught math skills to the Being a Citizen classes, and has assisted in the employment program as a mentor to other participants as well as an assistant facilitator, standing in for the regular facilitators to run workshops when needed.

Recently, Philip was formally hired by Lifetime Networks as a Community Support Worker to provide mathematics tutoring to an individual who is working to complete his GED. So far, Philip has shown great aptitude in this role, impressing his supervisor with his research into different teaching approaches for memory retention in a way that truly reflects LNV’s commitment to a person-centred approach. Philip reflects that some of the administrative tasks of his role – keeping track of emails and schedules – have been difficult at times, but overall finds the position rewarding. He enjoys seeing the daily progression of the individual he supports. When asked what he likes best about his work as a CSW, he did not hesitate to answer: “When [the student] got his mark back from his exam, and he did well. That was the best part.”

Philip has not given up on his dream of starting his own website. His next step might be to work on increasing his math skills with some more advanced mathematics classes. In the meantime, he has found more tutoring positions coming his way, including a summer position teaching a young boy with a developmental disability. Philip hopes that his unique perspective as a person with a disability will allow him to connect with his clients in a way that other tutors have not been able to achieve.

Meet Jeff: the helper

One of our job seekers, Jeff, presented the following speech about volunteer work in our employment skills workshop last week:

 

Hello. My name is Jeff, and I am a helper.

As a helper, I like to find ways to help people who need it.

My favorite volunteer experiences are the ones where I can do things that are useful.

 

Recently I was asked to help out around Lifetime Networks by organizing the art supplies on Tuesdays before the employment workshop.

This makes the space nicer for everyone to use. It is cleaner, and art supplies are easier to find.

I agreed to do this because I like to be helpful around the Lifetime Networks office.

I also agreed because I enjoy sorting and organizing things.

In the past I have volunteered at a thrift store doing sorting.

I found it hard to sort the clothing, but I really enjoyed sorting the other items.

It was fun to see all the different things that got donated.

 

I have also done a lot of volunteering in Being a Citizen.

One of my favorite jobs was getting rid of blackberry.

Blackberry is a really invasive species.

It grows everywhere and doesn’t leave room for other plants to grow.

It feels good to help remove it, because it is bad for the environment.

Although the berries are delicious!

 

For me, volunteering is a great way to get work experience.

It is also a good way to meet new people.

But the main thing I like about volunteering is getting to be helpful.

If you are looking for experience or trying to find a job, I suggest you try volunteering.

 

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The art supply closet that Jeff helps to keep organized at Lifetime Networks
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Jeff always stops to help – no matter how small the job!

What does volunteering mean to you?

Yesterday, our Employment Skills Workshop group finished their public speaking unit. They each gave a short presentation to their classmates about their experiences with volunteer work.

Everyone did a fantastic job! Check out some of the highlights below.

 

Amanda shared with us about her position volunteering at Sanctuary Youth Centre, an experience that she describes as very rewarding.

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“This job always left me feeling complete. Knowing that the youth left happy, with full bellies… was enough for me.” 

 

Brent absolutely loves volunteering at the Ashton Armoury Museum, and shared his enthusiasm and passion with us. 

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“I feel that working hands-on brings a sense of happiness and pride. It makes me feel tired – in a good way.”

 

Eric, who currently volunteers as a courier for Lifetime Networks, talked about his past experience volunteering in a library. He said it made him feel useful, and taught him some great life lessons.

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“It helped me realize that no matter the person, we all can find something to contribute back to society… it has also helped me realize that taking those few moments to help make someone’s day easier can also end up rewarding you in ways you would never have foreseen or thought possible.” 

 

Great Work, Everyone!

I’m In To Hire: an inclusive employment initiative

If you are familiar with Lifetime Networks, you are probably also familiar with the Best Buddies program. Lifetime Networks works with the University of Victoria to match student volunteers with community members with disabilities to facilitate friendships throughout the school year. But you might not be aware that Best Buddies International also has a Jobs Program, and puts a lot of emphasis into promoting inclusive employment practices!

As part of their focus on employment, they launched an initiative to encourage employers to support and adopt inclusive hiring practices. I’m In To Hire asks employers and others to pledge their support for inclusive workplaces and the benefits of hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Additionally, you can download a free copy of the “Employing People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” report that Best Buddies produced in partnership with the Institute for Corporate Productivity. This is a great resource for employers who might still be on the fence about hiring people with disabilities or diverse abilities.

Here is a brief info-graphic teaser of some of the information contained in the report. Check out the full report, and share with any employers you know!

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Download the Report

Public Speaking: What makes a good speaker great?

September is Public Speaking month for the Lifetime Networks Employment Workshop group. This month we will be learning what it takes to be a great public speaker. At the end of the month, each participant will give a short speech to the group to demonstrate what they’ve learned!

To kick off our first lesson on public speaking, we watched a few examples of great contemporary public speakers and discussed what we can learn from them. You can check out some of our thoughts on these examples below.

 

Conveying emotion

The most common goal of public speaking is to persuade the audience. Whether you are encouraging them to act a certain way, or offering them new knowledge to consider, it is imperative that you connect to your audience. The most effective way to do this is through emotion; through conveying emotion in your speech, and having the effect of changing the emotion of your audience.

In the following clips, taken from YouTube, we see Michelle Obama and Stephen Colbert giving very heartfelt and emotionally driven speeches. The group reflected that these speakers were so powerful precisely because of the emotion conveyed in their speeches. They made us feel something, and feel it strongly. They went beyond the mechanics of a good speech and connected with their audience on a much deeper, genuine, personal level.

ž Michelle Obama

Stephen Colbert

 

The mechanics of good speaking

Of course, an emotional speech wont be effective without first mastering the basics of public speaking – speaking confidently, clearly, and conversationally are all important qualities of good speakers.

In the first example below, we see how one speaker, Margaret Thatcher, put a lot of time and effort into honing her speaking voice. Over time, she learned to modify the pitch of her voice, her tone, her speed and enunciation. She did this because it was thought that these qualities made her a better speaker. To contrast Thatcher’s efforts to change her voice, we watched a clip of comedian Drew Lynch, who speaks with a stutter. Not only is he unable to do anything to change his stutter (nor should he), he has found a way to embrace it so positively that his comedy routine is actually enhanced by his way of speaking.

Margaret Thatcher

Drew Lynch

 

There is no single quality that makes someone a great public speaker. It is a combination of personality and confidence, mastering the basic mechanics of giving a speech (voice, body language, presentation), and being able to connect with your audience. A good speech also needs to be well written and well rehearsed.

If you’d like more information on public speaking, check out Toastmasters!

 

“Back to School” means Back to the Job Search!

As summer comes to a close and we head into September, the leaves are falling, the pumpkin spice lattes are steaming, and the students are leaving their summer jobs and heading back to school. And here at Lifetime Networks, our Employment Program has an influx of new job seekers waiting to get started with us on their job search.

Fall can be a peak hiring season for businesses that are leaving behind the carefree summer days and getting back into the swing of things. The hiring managers are back from vacation and the executives are making plans for the coming New Year. And all those students who monopolized the job market all summer long are giving up work hours in exchange for text books.

Now is the time to revamp and renew your job search!

Don’t know where to begin? Check out our fall job searching tips below.

 

Rewrite your resumestartup-photos

You’ve likely been handing out variations of the same old resume all summer long. Time to switch it up! The resume you’ve been using hasn’t landed you a job yet, so you might as well refresh it. Even if you don’t have any new content to add, you can still switch up the format and presentation. Our blog posts on how to craft an eye-catching resume should get you started.

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Refocus your job search

By now you have probably applied to a lot of different jobs. You might be feeling tired, frustrated, or hopeless about your job prospects. It can help to pause and refocus your search. Sometimes you might actually be casting your net too wide. If this is the case, it can be beneficial to focus on specific skills and abilities, and cater your job search to jobs within a certain industry where those skills are in demand. A career counselor can help with this, or an employment specialist with an employment program like we have here at LNV. They can help you identify and focus on your job search goals, increasing your chances of success and helping you to avoid job search burn out.

 

startup-photos2Refine your goals

What is it you really want out of life? It’s good to take some time to reassess your goals and be sure you are still on the right track to achieving them. Once you’ve identified your short-term and long-term goals, you can examine your job search and identify whether your methods support those goals. Is your goal simply to bring home a pay check as soon as possible? Or are you more interested in developing a career path that will increase your upward mobility? Are you saving up to go back to school, paying off debts, or buying a house?  Goals can change, and your current goals could have a strong influence on your current job search. Whatever your goals may be, it is important to have a clear idea of what they are and how you are working towards them.

If you need advice on how to renew your job search this fall, contact us!

 

Getting What You Give: The benefits of volunteerism

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Here at Lifetime Networks, we place a great emphasis on volunteerism. So much of what we do is made possible with the help of our wonderful and dedicated volunteers.  Therefore, one of our core values is “Volunteerism through belief in the importance of unpaid relationships in the lives of people we support.

When participants enter the employment program, one of the first things we tell them is to start volunteering. This is because we truly believe in volunteerism and its many benefits! For some people, volunteering (i.e. working for free) can seem like a bit of a sideways step off their path to employment. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! The more you give, the more you will get in return. For the job seeker, these benefits are so important to success.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that volunteering can do for you:

 

Gain Work Experience

It’s commonly said that the best time to find a job is when you already have one. This means if you are unemployed and looking for work, the odds are stacked against you. Volunteering can be a fantastic way to get current experience that you can put on your resume! Ideally, you should find volunteer work that relates to the field in which you would like to find employment, but this is not always possible. Volunteering can be a great way to engage your passions while still proving to potential employers that you are reliable and hard-working.

Develop your Skills

Volunteering is an excellent way to practice your skills and develop new ones. You can build upon skills you already have by lending your expertise in a particular topic, which is a great way to advance your career goals. Volunteering sometimes provides opportunities for specialized training that would be costly to get on your own. If you are an inexperienced worker, volunteering can help you learn many of the important skills needed to be successful in the workplace, such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, time management, and work ethic.

Meet New People

As a volunteer, you will likely have plenty of opportunities to meet new people. This is a great benefit for anyone who wants to expand their social network and make new friends. Spending time with people who have common interests is a great way to develop your social skills, and makes finding new friends even easier!

Be Part of a Community

Volunteerism is one of the very best ways to connect with your community. By leading a hand to a cause, however small, you can make a difference in the lives of people (or animals, or the environment) in your community. This strengthens your bonds with your community as well as making it a better, more welcoming place for everyone.

Try New Things

If hobbies aren’t your thing, try volunteering! Volunteering is a great way to use your time to explore new interests and activities. You can also use volunteer work as an opportunity to explore new career options!

Boost your Confidence

When you volunteer, you are actively participating in something bigger than yourself. Whatever type of volunteer work you decide to do, you can be certain that you are developing your skills, contributing to a good cause, and making an important difference in your community. This can give you a great sense of accomplishment and pride. As you grow and learn, you are bound to start to feel more confident in yourself and sure of your place in the world.

Stay Healthy and Happy

There have been countless studies done on volunteerism, and they all seem to confirm some important results. Volunteering makes you happy. It has been known to relieve stress and anxiety, and can help to relieve symptoms of depression. Dedicating yourself to a cause adds purpose to your life, keeping you motivated and passionate about life. It also benefits your physical health by keeping you active, and reducing the risks of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Make a Difference

At the core of volunteerism are the ideals of caring, generosity, respect, and dignity. When you volunteer, you are giving of yourself to benefit the world around you. Contributing whatever it is you have – be it time, money, knowledge, skills, kindness, or friendship – to make someone’s life better is perhaps the most noble undertaking available to us. To put it simply, volunteering allows you to touch the life of another human being in a positive way. And that is a beautiful thing.

 

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Job Search Web Resources

Technology plays such a big role in our lives today. It’s not surprising that it also plays a big role in our job search!

While we would not suggest using online job ads as your ONLY means of job searching, it can be a very useful tool to use in conjunction with other job search techniques. Browsing the job boards can give you a lot of useful labour market information, including a sense of which jobs are available in your region, which industries have the highest turnover rates, and where to begin to focus your search.

Here are some of our picks for the best job searching sites:

BC Jobs.ca

Craigslist  (Use caution with Craigslist. Watch out for scammers, and never give out your personal or banking information in response to a job ad!)

Indeed.ca

Job Bank

Monster.ca

Victoria Tech Jobs

WOW Jobs

What’s your go-to job search website? Let us know in the comments below!

Social Media and You: How your social media presence may impact your job prospects

Throughout the hiring process, many employers use social media as a tool for screening potential job candidates. During your job search, it’s important to be aware of what your social media presence says about you to potential employers.

It’s important to always try to maintain a professional online presence. Use privacy settings to limit what others can see on your social media pages. Google yourself regularly and assess the results. Do they reflect the image you would like to present to employers? Facebook, Twitter and personal blog sites should all be monitored closely and inappropriate content hidden or removed.

Some things that can hurt your chances of getting hired if seen on your social media page by a prospective employer:

Photos or mentions of your use of illicit drugs

Photos of you consuming alcohol

Content that demonstrates racist or sexist views

Sexually explicit content

Profanity

Anything related to illegal behaviour

Violent content, including posts on guns

Harassment, bullying, or badmouthing others (especially former employers)

Poor spelling and grammar

 

Social media can be an excellent networking platform during your job search if used correctly. Employers may view your social media profiles to confirm whether you will be a good fit for the company culture, or to find evidence that backs up your skills and qualifications. Create a LinkedIn profile showcasing your accomplishments. Put some effort into making your online presence professional and positive, and your chances of being hired will increase.

 

This BC Day, take some time to nurture your work / life balance

 

What you do outside of work can have a big impact on your attitude, your energy, and your success on the job!

It’s important to find regular opportunities to engage in activities and hobbies that you enjoy outside of work. This allows you to relax, recharge, and relieve stress, making you more prepared to go to work with a positive attitude, plenty of energy, and the motivation you need to succeed.

It’s all part of having a full and balanced life.

This week, a few of our job seekers took the chance to let loose and have fun with their friends on the annual Lifetime Networks camping trip at Goldstream Provincial Park! It was a blast!

How are you going to spend your BC Day weekend?

Camping

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