A New Start in Calgary - Marvin's story

Monday, April 14, 2014

“I don’t follow the Flames, I’m a Shark’s fan.  But they don’t hold that against me,” jokes Marvin about his co-workers.  “When my wife and I were still living in separate cities, we used to schedule our phone calls between work and the Game.  Nobody can talk to me after it starts, I’m still working with my wife on that one.”

Marvin loves hockey, so it’s fitting that he’s now working as a Bookkeeper at the NCHL (Non-Contact Hockey League). 

Marvin arrived in Calgary in June 2013.  Fresh off the plane from California, he was motivated to support his wife and start a new life here.  Amid the excitement there was also anxiety.  

Would he be able to make a life of his own? The easy option would have been to stay home and help his wife who runs a daycare.  But Marvin knew that this was not the right fit for him.  So from day one, he started his own job search.  He soon found that job search in Calgary was different from what he was used to.

“I felt lost, I was using Kijiji and Facebook, I was calling mutual friends, asking anyone about jobs.  If I hadn’t found Champions, I’d still be doing that and I’d still be lost,” he says.

After finding out about Champions online, he attended orientation and immediately felt supported by the staff and resources available.  With education in accounting and extensive work experience in administration roles, Marvin worked with Mat, his Case Manager, to determine his job targets.  Marvin, who has had cerebral palsy from birth was careful to seek out positions which enabled him to work to the best of his ability, not requiring long periods of standing, sitting or heavy lifting.

Marvin participated in many of Champions’ workshops and he remarks that the most memorable one was the Disclosure workshop.  During this workshop, participants explore their ‘barriers to employment’ and during the course of the two days, work through ways to break down these barriers.

“I really felt like this activity was the new start for me…coming from another country I was an unknown commodity.  Champions workshops really helped me in discovering how to approach a job search and how not to look at your disability as a disadvantage.  I knew I had it in me, Champions just gave me more bullets.” he said.

The Interview Skills workshop and mock interview also gave him support in an area he felt was one of his weaknesses.  During this workshop, he practiced answering interview questions, learned about interview preparation and received honest feedback from Champions’ Employment Readiness Facilitator Susann Grodsky about how he presented himself.

He jokes about himself, “sometimes I say too much in interviews.  Susann really helped me with that, she called it ‘not showing your underwear!’ I learned where to draw the line with answering interview questions.  After the mock interview, I really felt prepared.  I knew what to say, what not to say, how to say it and how not to say it! So that when it came time for the real interview, I was able to show my love for hockey, my excitement for the job and not worry about the small things.”

It’s obvious from talking to Marvin that he loves his new job and the team at Champions is proud to have been part of helping him kick-start a new life in Calgary.

“Never think that a door is ever closed to you…I may have a disability, but I’m also kind, caring and generous.  Replace ‘disabled’ with other adjectives.” says Marvin.


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