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Graeme’s Journey to Success with KW Career Compass

Graeme at Onward Manufacturing standing beside boxes of barbecues. Title says: Graeme’s Journey to Success with KW Career Compass. There is a KW Career Compass logo and a KW Habilitation logo
Graeme working at Onward Manufacturing.

Graeme’s ultimate goal was to move out of his parents’ house and live on his own. To do this, he knew he would have to be able to obtain and maintain a full time job in order to pay for rent and living expenses. He recounts, “I wanted to give my parents a bit of a break, as well as have my own independence. I wanted a place of my own, but knew full well I needed a full-time job to be able to support myself”.

Graeme’s past jobs were all in the food industry and he had lots of experience in various roles at many restaurants but wasn’t having much luck in maintaining employment for long periods of time. “All of my previous work experience was in the food industry and I thought it was maybe time to try something different. I didn’t know exactly what that would look like, or if I would be successful, and I was very nervous about the unknown. The more I thought about trying something new, the more skeptical I became,” says Graeme.

Graeme’s Job Coach through KW Career Compass, encouraged him to try another type of employment setting. “At first Graeme was a bit hesitant,” said Graeme’s Job Coach, “because he said he didn’t know anything else other than the food industry. Working in restaurants was all that he knew.” His Job Coach suggested that they tour Onward Manufacturing plant’s distribution center so Graeme could see for himself “what else is out there” along with the tasks and responsibilities involved in various roles within the plant. 

After touring the plant Graeme was very intrigued in the various roles at the distribution center, and his interest was piqued. Graeme says, “by allowing myself to step out of my comfort zone I was able to see first-hand what other opportunities were available in the labor market”.

As a result of a longstanding collaboration between KW Career Compass and Onward, the company allowed Graeme to go back and try a variety of tasks to see how he would do. If Graeme had the interest and necessary skills, they said they would consider hiring him for a 3 month full-time contract. So, Graeme tried a variety of tasks in the distribution center and he excelled at it! On March 1st 2020, he was offered a 3 month full-time contract with potential for a permanent full time position. 

Even though there was a steep learning curve, with initial support from his job coach, Graeme learned new tasks and responsibilities and continued to show he could meet and exceed expectations. Due to this, Graeme was offered a permanent full-time position on June 1 2020, and he is still a valued member of the Onward Manufacturing team to this day. 

 “It all worked out,” says Graeme, “ Had I only pursued employment in what I was comfortable with (food services) I would have, at the very least, been laid off at various times throughout the pandemic. Business is booming at Onward, and I was very lucky that they gave me a chance to prove myself. As a result I have been able to successfully maintain full time employment in a role that I truly enjoy”.

On March 1 2021, exactly a year to the day that he was initially hired, Graeme achieved his ultimate goal and moved into his own apartment! “Working at Onward has taught me to never be afraid to try something new,” Graeme proudly says, “take a leap of faith and you just might achieve more than you ever thought you could”.