Kaitlin Roke moved to Kelowna from Ontario to join her significant other. Although she’d never heard of a Connector Program, the well-educated, young professional decided to give it a try.

Today, Kaitlin is using her skills and talents as a Strategic Information Analyst at Interior Health, the largest employer in the region. Working with stakeholders like clinicians and program managers they use data to create new programs and make clinical improvements.

Q: How’s the job going?

I really like being part of a bigger organization, having the benefits of different skill-sets and teams working together to create better products and services. And our team is really great. They’re friendly, supportive, dynamic and passionate. Of course, COVID-19 means we’ve been working more remotely.

Q: With your skillset and PhD., there were admittedly less employment options here than in a bigger centre. How did the Connector Program help?

I really enjoy connecting with people so I’d started a process on my own where I reached out to ask people for virtual coffee or an email chat. But, the (Connector) program felt like a more intentional way to get connected. I was introduced to people, and this helped me create more tailored connections. My Connectors were really excited to learn more about me and what I was looking for. It was a really, really nice way to feel like you were building a community.

Q: You’ve said that you used Indeed and LinkedIn to figure out the types of work available here. Do you have advice for others?

I initially used a lot of keywords in searches on platforms like Indeed to try and figure out the type of work available locally, but conversations enhanced that. It's worth taking the risk of reaching out to ask for a meeting. Ask them about their job. Why do they like it? What other jobs are like theirs? Worst case, they say no, they aren’t able to chat. Don’t be discouraged. Everyone's managing whatever they're managing. But there's probably someone out there who you will be able to connect with. So, continue to ask for help, or ask them who they could refer you to. This also works if you are considering a new sector for work.

It can feel fairly hopeless when one is job searching. Even though the Connector Program can’t “get you a job”, it feels like you're doing something towards getting a job which feels good, compared to submitting 1,000 applications and hearing nothing.

I really loved the people that I met from the program.

Q: What insight can you share about Interior Health?

There’s a lot of different kinds of employment here that people don't necessarily think about. It is a large employer.  I'm still learning about all the departments! They have a fairly structured site to look for job postings so that's helpful.

Q: Aside from work, what have you found to do here?

I’ve really prioritized enjoying the outdoors, hiking and exploring my new home. There is a lot very close by. I’ve given myself some time to try to make some new friends and get more settled at work. Eventually I hope to connect with a few local organizations to get more involved as a volunteer.

Q: Will you stay in the Okanagan?

When I first moved here, if someone said ‘if things don't work out, what would I do?’, I would have said I’d go back to Ontario. So, I’ve surprised them (and myself!) by not being ready to go back. I definitely feel comfortable here so we'll see where things end up. With the pandemic, part of me thinks, “Who really knows what the future holds?”

Q: What’s one of your favourite hikes?

Oh, there's so many options. Pincushion was good - it took a long time to actually hike it because it was always so busy. I also started pairing hikes with wineries. We did Giants Head in Summerland, then went to Dirty Laundry. That was one of the nicest days, a fairly easy hike followed by a beautiful patio. Exploring or hiking, and wineries pair two of my favourite things.

Interview by Myrna Stark Leader

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