Practicum lands grad a new job in five months

Photo by Dan Toulgoet

In 2019, Laura Mandado was a full-time mom who didn’t want to return to a job in sales and longed to do something more with her career. 

She never imagined that completing SFU’s Career Development Practitioner Certificate would immediately lead to a full-time role with the employment service posAbilities, helping people with diverse abilities find work.

For Laura, it all began when she found a job posting on LinkedIn for an employment specialist. 

“When I read the job description, I thought I had some skills but not all the skills listed and that I would love to do this as a career,” she explains. 

In her classes, Laura first learned about the difficulties of those who face employment barriers, including Indigenous people and people with physical or developmental disabilities.

“One of my family members was diagnosed on the spectrum and it changed the way I see life,” she says. “I started to see that people were facing various challenges and they didn’t have any help. I wanted to work in a field where I’m doing something meaningful for someone.”

She was also moved by the experiences shared by one of her program instructors, Mark Gruenheid, who has dedicated his career to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Canadian workforce. 

As part of the program, Laura started her practicum at posAbilities, an organization dedicated to helping people with diverse abilities secure employment, in January 2020. When a posting for a permanent position opened, her manager encouraged her to apply. 

“My life changed completely,” she recalls. “I was a student, and five months later, I had a full-time job in the field that I wanted.” 

She loves how no two days on the job are the same, whether she’s meeting with the people she serves, connecting with employers or heading to a job fair.

No matter what her daily schedule looks like, Laura knows her work is making a difference in her community. 

“In the past, I used to sell products. The goal was increasing sales. Now, it’s not about sales anymore; it’s about changing people’s lives.

“I’m talking to employers and trying to convince them to give people a chance.”

By Bernice Puzon