Celeste Geisbauer has moved a few times with her husband. They’re adventurous, eager to explore different parts of the country and his work with a national organization has enabled it. It’s also meant that as a mid-career professional, she’s been the one looking for work in a new location. She says the Central Okanagan Connector Program differentiated the experience in a positive way.
Q: How would you describe the Connector Program?
It was almost like the Welcome Wagon, rather than kind of being thrown in the deep end which is usually how it is when you move to a new city. You’re learning street names and how to get around. There’s some pressure to find work and you’re also unpacking boxes and getting used to all kinds of things, finding a doctor, getting your driver's license. It's a lot so it was nice to have a bit of guidance in the work area. I’d never experienced that before.
Q: Just after you arrived you chose to attend a Connectee social, even before you met a Connector. What was that like?
Really good. You're looking at how to belong in the new community, how to meet people, and find activities to help you belong. It was nice to meet others going through this. Even though our scenarios weren’t the same, there were people from other countries for example, we were all looking for work. Knowing we were in the same boat was a bit of relief and it was exciting to immediately have a group of people to connect with. I met two women that night who were lovely and we’re still friends and hang out. That was a happy bonus.
Q: That’s awesome. What about finding work?
I was actually open to a bit of a career change. My experience is in communications, corporate social responsibly and community investment, mostly with large companies. So, I came here with a really open mind, seeing what stood out to me. Filling out the Connectee application helped me focus a bit more. Then it was networking and making connections. In a few months, I’d met with about a dozen people in person. Any one of those paths could have led me to a job. They didn’t have work but said they’d keep their ears open for me. After a while, I decided to explore the non-profit sector. That’s when I was introduced to Sheldon, the founder of Do Some Good. The company fit my values in being philanthropic and supporting the community. I knew I wanted to be involved with the company in some way. Sheldon invited me to meet some of the team and then Covid hit and everything paused.
Q: What did you do?
Once I figured out life with masks and sanitizing like everyone did, I reached out and said, “I know things are crazy right now. But if you at all need volunteer help, I have a communications background and marketing and I want to keep my skills fresh. Even if it's only ever a volunteer gig, that's cool. I just really liked what you’re all about and believe in what you do."
It reminded me of being a new graduate, getting advice to go volunteer at places to have things for your resume, to demonstrate interest in that field and also the desire to improve skills. But, this time for me, it was wanting to keep my skills fresh as well as learn something new.
I volunteered for three or four months, helping with a project. Then, when things settled down for them a little bit, they approached me and asked if I'd be interested in sales. Like I mentioned, I was open to a career shift so I said yes.
It’s great you’ve found a job you are really enjoying.
Yes, and all my skills leading up to this point have actually made it an easier transition into sales. It’s part marketing, branding and communications, which I’ve done. Plus, I’m selling to people who are in the same type of Community Investment Manager position I was in previously.
Q: Would you have known about Do Some Good without the Connector Program?
Well, when I met with the founder, I’d been here a few months already and hadn’t heard about them. I likely would have gotten there eventually, but it could have taken me three times as long without the connector program and the introductions. The team at Do Some Good have said several times that although they were already interested in me, me reaching out to volunteer was a huge determining factor in hiring me. They were impressed.
Q: You have two lovely dogs. What’s your favourite dog park?
We’ve been to every dog park in the Kelowna area. I really like the dog beaches…it’s hilarious to me that it’s a thing. In Regina, you’d have to drive half an hour to get to a lake so having water so close is great. I love seeing their joy as they run in the water and I can just soak up some sun. It’s just lovely.
Interview by Myrna Stark Leader
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