Like many newcomers looking to improve their employment opportunities, Tracy* decided to pursue a second career through further education. But after graduating from a Social Service Worker Diploma program, she had difficulty finding employment.

Tracy was referred to Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS), where she learned about job search supports and programs that help people get on track with their career—including the Job Incentive Program (JIP). The program offers volunteer placements with the City of Toronto for residents who receive assistance from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.

Tracy’s caseworker suggested she apply for a JIP position. She believed that Tracy’s polite and professional demeanour would be a great asset to any organization.

When a new Employment and Social Services location opened at the Yorkgate Mall, staff offered placements to two JIP participants to help with the large volume of walk-in traffic from clients and community members. Tracy was offered one of the placements as a language interpreter/greeter, and she soon became a valuable part of the team, always eager to assist clients and staff.

Toward the end of her volunteer placement, TESS staff at Yorkgate encouraged Tracy to attend an Investing in Neighbourhoods (IIN) job fair. The program provides another stepping stone toward meaningful employment for Toronto residents on Ontario Works by offering paid jobs—for up to one year—at non-profit organizations. Tracy applied for one of the jobs and was hired.

Working at the community-based social services agency allowed Tracy to get more experience in her new career field. When a full-time position was posted for support staff at an Ontario Disability Support Program office, Tracy applied for it—and was the successful candidate!

Tracy’s efforts to establish a career in social services have come full circle. Today she works to provide support for a social assistance program that helps some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

*Name changed to protect privacy.