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  • Building Bridges Part 3: Employment

    In some ways it feels like just yesterday that I started at Alberta Job Corps, and in others it feels like I’ve been there forever. Job Corps was always meant to be a short-term program and there I was, coming up on my third month and wondering if maybe there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t find work and wasn’t even getting any call-backs.

    Today, that changed. Today I was offered a job as a hotel desk clerk, and I took it.

    It’s a good opportunity for me. Full-time, decent wage, benefits after three months, and above all, work that I’ll find rewarding while still giving me time for my writing and studies. I’ll get to interact with new and different people every day and let’s face it, service feeds me. Why else would I be looking at ministry?

    The one downside: the shift I’ll be working includes Sundays. This means I won’t be able to continue as an assistant youth church leader and I won’t be able to attend my regular church as often. I had to think hard about it, do some soul searching–and talk my minister’s ear off a little–but I finally decided that this was an opportunity I needed to take. I had to realize that this does not represent a step back in my faith journey, only a detour.

    The way I see it, if I take a chance on something and it falls through, then it wasn’t meant for me. By that token working at the registry wasn’t where I was meant to be right now, and that’s fine. But if I have an opportunity and I don’t take it? That’s on me. It’s up to me to take what I’m given, and I’m done with letting things pass me by because I’m afraid or because it’s inconvenient.

    I have to work Sundays? All right. I can’t help lead the youth church, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still be involved in my church in other ways. For example, there’s still bible study on Monday nights where I can keep in touch with my minister. I can still worship, even if that means going to the Wednesday service at another church. I can still study; after all, no one’s taking my books away from me just because I got a new job(and I’d like to see them try.) In fact, this way I’ll be better able to afford going back to school in the evenings which is a step forward in the long run.

    Today, I cleaned out my locker at Job Corps. Tomorrow, I start my new life as a hotel desk clerk. And for the first time in a long time, I feel like I have solid ground under my feet.



  • Building Bridges Part 2: Alberta Job Corps

    The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father… wait, no, that’s the Psi Corps. Totally different.

    About a month ago, I mentioned having an interview for a paid work training program in this post. That program is Alberta Job Corps, and as you can probably guess, I got in. I started work on Friday the 13th, which is ironic because this is the best luck I’ve had with work in a long time.

    I’ll admit, the first two days were like being dumped in a snake pit of anxiety. Orientation days are always tough, sitting there with no idea what to really expect while some facilitator hands out booklets and goes on about procedures and requirements. Add to that the people who feel like they’re being forced to be there being as disruptive as humanly possible, and it’s no surprise I left the building shaking like a leaf at the end of the day. I was there to learn and improve; I wasn’t sure I could handle it if I had to push past all that negativity each time.

    But the third day? It was like magic.

    For the work experience aspect, we had a choice between painting and carpentry. I chose carpentry because I wanted to work with my hands and maybe learn some new skills, so on the third day I found myself in the wood shop doing tool orientation. The change from the class room to the shop along with the separation from the Negative Nellies made a huge difference. What’s more, some of those who I’d marked as ‘trouble’ in orientation were a lot happier and more relaxed once they started doing something. So was I, for that matter.

    Over the next little while, we got to know our workers and we got to know each other. There was a sense of optimism growing in us as we saw ourselves doing something worthwhile and learned more about what we really wanted to do and how we could actually get there. Hearing good news about an opportunity for one of our co-workers, or seeing them develop some skills in the shop they didn’t even know they had made us all feel excited and happy for them.

    And it doesn’t just begin and end in the shop. Yesterday and today I was in the career assessment workshop, which will be continuing next week. Here we’re looking at our interests and skills to find jobs that suit us as well as looking at what what sort of challenges and issues we have when it comes to not only finding but keeping a job.

    Once again, I was surprised at how open and receptive everyone was to the class. The facilitators kept the atmosphere positive and constructive, and we all felt comfortable sharing honestly about our experiences and the troubles we’ve had both in the workforce and in life. For the first time, we recognized that we were not alone. How we got there might be different, but we were all there for the same reason. We were all having trouble, and we were all trying to change. I may never have done jail time, and my classmate may not be trying to rebuild after a major identity shift, but we all want something more, and something more satisfying, than a string of going-nowhere survival jobs.

    At Job Corps, I’m getting the support I need to move ahead in life. I get up every morning and go to a wage-earning job that helps me discover what I really want to be doing and gives me the skills to get there. Right now, this is exactly what I need.

    Trust the Corps.



  • Building Bridges

    I used to say, “I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.” I found it amusing, and it sounded to much more exciting than simply finding a bridge and crossing it. It was also destructive and defeatist, which was probably part of the appeal.

    Lately I’ve found myself saying, “I’ll build that bridge.” It’s still a lot more exciting than just crossing a bridge, but otherwise it’s a complete reversal of attitude.

    From an attitude of destruction, to one of construction. It takes considerably more work to build something than to burn it down, not to mention more time and more planning. Building a bridge means finding a way to get from where I am to where I’m going. It’s a vital part of creating a new path.

    And it’s time for me to live up to these words.

    As I’ve said, 2012 will be a year of action, a year of Making Things Happen. The ball is already rolling on a few of these things, but the pay off doesn’t happen right away. The first potential rewards are months away and across a chasm left by a sudden drought of jobs at the temp agency. In some respects it looks impassable, but I will get to the other side. I just need to build myself a bridge.

    So while I get everything in place for my Big Plans, I’m also working on a day job, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. I spent the whole of yesterday downtown. Some of the day was spent running around on errands, but most of it was spent waiting to see someone at the employment office and getting in touch with services that can help. And it paid off. Tomorrow I have an interview at a paid work training program. This will be the foundation for my bridge. From here, all I have to do it build it, and cross it.