Wider Horizons

When the local economy took a downturn, Lethbridge College responded with a free employment-readiness coursecompass for the community. Here, two participants share their experience.

Darcey weathers storm

Darcey Trowbridge isn’t letting the recession get the best of him. Thanks to Lethbridge College’s Charting Career

Change course offered last spring, the 45-year-old found the strength to embark on an entirely new career path, and knows his future is bright.

Trowbridge previously owned and operated his own business, specializing in carpet cleaning and janitorial work. He decided to enroll in the five-day course after hearing a radio ad.

“(The course) sounded like it would help me get back to work and find a job that I would enjoy,” he says.

Trowbridge has since decided to enroll in the college’s Nursing program this fall. He has been interested in the medical field since he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and feels the course helped him choose the right direction.

“I wasn’t sure how to go about making it a reality until I was given information about help with learning and getting grants,” he says. “It gave me the tools to pursue, and feel comfortable with, my decision.”

Trowbridge says the advice the course offered was especially helpful in making good choices for the future.

“It was very well put together. The college seems to be a family atmosphere and the faculty is outstanding,” he says. “I know that I have a lot more to learn, but I know my career is going in a positive direction.”

Bruce charts new waters

Bruce Webster had enough. After 16 years, he resigned from his position as manager of Alberta Sugar Beat Growers in Taber and decided to explore his options. Thanks partly to the skills he learned at Lethbridge College’s Charting Career Change course, the prospect of unemployment didn’t scare him one bit.

The course was offered in March and again in May to provide those out of a job with the necessary information and tools to succeed. Webster enrolled in the March session, and at the time of the interview, had been unemployed for four and a half months.

“It just came to the point where my board of directors and I didn’t agree on the strategic direction of the organization and we parted ways,” he says of his previous job. Webster and his wife reside in Taber, but he knew the options there were limited and he would most likely need to begin looking in a bigger centre.

“There’s no chance of finding a similar position in Taber, so that means the more time I spend in the city keeping in touch with people and networking, the more likely I’ll find something to do.”

Through networking, Webster is able to keep busy with volunteer work as a member of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, and says he found out about the course during his time there.

He also noted he’d been unhappy with his previous job and was ready to explore other avenues.

“The college sent the e-mail about the college’s course to the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, and it was mass e-mailed to all the members,” he says. “I wanted to be in a new job; the purpose of the course for me was evaluating what is it that I wanted to do, and how to best present that desire.”

Webster also realized a considerable amount of time had passed since he last applied for a job, so he would need the course to help him retrain for the modern workforce.

“The process of (applying for a job) is greatly different from when I did it the last time; there is no technology in use today that was there in 1993,” he says. “Everything I’ve applied for has been either an online application, or you email in the application; what people are expecting is way different.”

The course helped Webster to put these changes in perspective, as well as put forth the idea of upgrading as an option, which he is considering doing at the University of Lethbridge.

“There’s a program at the U of L that I’m potentially interested in that will help me get my Master of Science in management,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can always learn to do things better. You can really change what you do in life and I wanted to ponder that.”

He says the course helped him get to the stage where he could begin thinking positively, and would recommend it to others in a similar situation.

“I don’t think it’s useful for anyone to sit at home alone and try to deal with it. It’s useful to at least have a group of people around you to help you realize you’re all in the same boat and trying to get out of it.”

Wider Horizons
Christina Boese (Communication Arts 2008)
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