Lessons from an Employment Program
By Maria Morales
Sometimes in life, it feels like we are in a catapult where we are pulled back before we can go forward. It is often adversity that creates the tension needed to release the energy that thrusts us forward and lets us reach higher. This is a metaphor that Shahina Suleman, Program Manager at PTP Adult Learning and Employment Programs, loves to use when talking about what the Elevate program does for its participants. In the program that she leads, many students overcome difficult situations with resilience and adaptability. We all can use difficult experiences as the energy to project us forward. Let us analyze the physics of the catapult of life that many students in this employment program have experienced.
The tension generated by being pulled back is often caused by experiencing severe life changes. But, that is an excellent opportunity to discover your strengths.
For PTP participants like Chanukya Sathya, change has been the one constant during the last year. Like many newcomers, he left his home country, leaving behind culture, language, family and a well-paid position as a postdoctoral research associate. Arriving in Canada just before the onset of the pandemic amplified his challenges. However, with the Elevate program’s mentoring, he gained confidence in the settling process. Chanukya has a great conviction that things will work for him.
“It feels like I’ve taken a step back in my professional career” says Chanukya. “But, after completing the Elevate program, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until I get the Canadian experience, integrate fully into a Canadian workplace and build strong connections to land the right position.”
Shahina remembers many participants who arrived at PTP Adult Learning And Employment Programs after experiencing difficult situations, but they realized their inner strength with career counselling and job coaching. Life changes bring about an opportunity to grow, take time for self-knowledge and redefine your journey. When facing uncertainty, we discover who we really are and that sense propels us forward.
To get into a catapult, you have to trust in its efficiency and be sure it’s in the right direction. The self-assurance comes from the encouragement and support of your network.
The role of the Elevate program is to provide participants with confidence and set the catapult in the desired course. Shahina helps students realize their potential and helps them believe in their capabilities. She shows them different pathways and self-management tools. She recognizes that most of her work is contained in building and enabling connections. Building your support community takes a lot of effort and you have to dedicate time to the task. But it always pays off, especially when facing adversity. It’s easier to manage challenges with a community facing similar situations.
“Instructors at PTP like Shahina share a genuine intention to help us settle down with mentoring and guidance,” says Chanukya. “They reinforce the importance of networking and building a support community. Meeting other people like me at PTP encouraged me, it gave me emotional support in these challenging times.”
Once the projectile has been released from the catapult, the only force it is subjected to is its own weight, the person’s inner greatness.
The height the person soars will depend on his mindset, values and beliefs. To rise above the challenges, you have to maintain a positive attitude and be open to opportunities. “Having a growth mindset combined with hard work and personal responsibility can take you right up the career ladder,” says Shahina. The values that propelled students forward are perseverance, resilience, gratitude, commitment and adaptability “There have been many beautiful stories PTP has allowed me to be part of”, she says. “I’ve realized that most of my participants land in amazing jobs. It’s just a matter of time and making the right choices.”
Life often brings us situations where we have to recognize that it’s okay to take some steps backward in order to later jump farther. It’s totally fine to take a moment to pause the race to be sure we are in the right path and it’s a sign of strength and wisdom to ask for help. Life begins beyond your comfort zone.