Newcomer to Canada helps others find their career path

Photo by Dan Toulgoet

As a program coordinator for the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) in Surrey, B.C., Sant Kaur helps those who are at risk of homelessness find employment. She credits SFU’s Career Development Practitioner Certificate program with allowing her to find her calling.

In 2019, Sant moved from India to Canada, where her husband’s family lives. 

Back in India, Sant had been a teacher who worked with youth in exploring their career goals. Now, starting afresh in a new country, Sant had to chart her own career path. 

She came to Canada in October with the mindset of continuing her career in teaching, attended an info session to learn more about becoming an education assistant and volunteered at a Surrey elementary school. 

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everything changed. While exploring other educational opportunities and alternative careers, she was introduced to a PICS employment program in April 2020.   

The instructor of the program was a great source of inspiration for Sant. Her passion for helping and guiding her students, as well as boosting their self-esteem, was truly remarkable. Learning about Canadian workplace culture reminded Sant of her own memories teaching and helping others.

 “I asked my instructor, ‘What did you do to get into this field? I want to do the same thing,’” Sant explains. “She introduced me to the Career Development Practitioner program and I found that it aligned with my interests.”

The program provided Sant with a comprehensive understanding of career development theories, counseling techniques, assessment tools and strategies for assisting individuals in their career journeys. She gained practical skills in areas such as resume writing, job search strategies, interview preparation and career planning.

After completing her certificate, she connected once again with PICS and secured a role as a job developer. Having made her way back to the organization that once supported her, Sant is now the one helping others find meaningful work. 

Sant recalls the joy she felt when a woman she advised landed a well-paying position at a non-profit. 

“I was so happy seeing her succeed and get her desired job," she reflects. "I love doing this, and it motivated me to change more lives and continue making a positive impact."

"I am passionate about using holistic and client-centered approaches to support individuals. I focus on my clients' strengths, resilience, and abilities, and I work together with them to set achievable goals." 

She was promoted last fall and now coordinates the PICS I M Change program, which provides paid employment skills training to people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Some are refugees trying to adjust to the employment standards of a new country, just as she once did. 

Constantly seeking to enhance support for program participants, Sant and her team have been diligently organizing sessions and workshops. These sessions address topics like mental health, financial literacy, WorkSafe BC, Canadian workplace culture, gender-based violence and more. 

Her favorite part of her current role? Thinking of new ways to serve others. 

“It’s all about empowering our clients and how we can best help them.” 

By Bernice Puzon