Alexis’s Journey: Embracing Identity and Building a Career
Alexis Vasil, a determined and resilient 24-year-old transgender youth, triumphed over substantial employment barriers during her transition. With unwavering support from the Youth on the Rise (YOTR) program, she courageously embraced her preferred name, found acceptance among her cohort and the YOTR team, and secured her first job as a Junior Developer at a graphic design company. Despite facing mental health challenges, concerns about identity-based discrimination, limited work experience, and a language barrier, Alexis’s remarkable journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of the Youth on the Rise program and the profound impact of inclusivity and support.
YES: When did you start your journey and what were some of your goals when you started?
Alexis: Last June marked the beginning of my journey. After graduating from the Computer Science program, I faced two career paths: software application development and web development. I applied to nearly every single job I could find on various job boards and local company career pages, but staying motivated became a significant challenge because I felt like I was getting nowhere, despite constantly applying.
My social transition began after my graduation when I wore a dress and loved the experience. Key milestones included finding the courage to wear feminine clothes outside despite the initial fear of judgment. Now, having done it multiple times, I feel confident, and I no longer care about others’ opinions. Another significant step for me was using my preferred name in my daily life.
YES: What was the problem you were experiencing before you came into YES/YOTR? What were/are your biggest struggles?
Alexis: Before I joined YOTR, my biggest struggles were lack of motivation, depression, loneliness and the continuation of my social and medical transition. Dealing with my mom’s issues regarding my transition only added to the stress and anxiety. It was tough for me to deal with all of that, so I joined various 2LGBTQIA+ groups hoping to connect with like-minded individuals and be more socially engaged.
Despite my computer science degree, I found myself struggling to land a job in the industry I was passionate about. One of the most frustrating aspects was the lack of response from potential employers. I would diligently apply to numerous job postings, spending hours tailoring my applications and writing cover letters, but more often than not, I wouldn’t hear back from the companies at all.
The constant silence from employers made it increasingly difficult to stay motivated and positive during my job search journey. The feeling of uncertainty and the fear of rejection were disheartening, and I began to doubt my abilities and wondered if there was something wrong with my qualifications or approach.
Moreover, as a transgendered individual, I was navigating my social transition alongside the challenges of my job search. Balancing my personal growth with my professional aspirations added an extra layer of complexity to the process. The combination of these factors created a significant emotional and mental burden that affected my overall outlook on my job search.
What made you decide to join the YOTR program, and what were your expectations or hopes regarding how it could help you with your job search?
Alexis: Ellen, my employment counsellor at YES, suggested YOTR to me when I expressed my exhaustion and frustration with the job search. I had almost given up on finding a job and my expectations were low, but I decided to give it a shot. Little did I know that YOTR would become the transformative catalyst in my journey. From the moment I stepped into the program, I felt genuinely valued and supported for who I truly am. The YOTR team, especially Erjona and Molly, played a crucial role in boosting my self-belief and encouraging me to embrace my true self. It was more than just generic job-hunting advice; it was a transformative experience that empowered me to grow personally and professionally.
What did you find as a result of using our services? What was the best thing about it?
Alexis: The YOTR program had a significant impact on my life, expanding my skill set and providing valuable training in essential skills like networking, goal setting, resiliency, French and conflict resolution. A pivotal moment occurred when I realized that many participants faced similar challenges in finding a job, which significantly shifted my outlook on the job hunting process. And immediately after completing the 8-week training, I secured a full-time job, highlighting the program’s effectiveness.
Looking back, joining YOTR was a decision that changed the trajectory of my career and personal growth. It taught me the importance of seeking support and guidance during challenging times and how a nurturing environment can positively impact one’s journey. The program’s dedication to inclusivity and self-acceptance set it apart from other support systems I had tried before, making it a truly transformative and empowering experience.
The best part was the YOTR team’s unwavering support. They rooted for me and acted as true advocates when reaching out to employers on my behalf. I am immensely grateful to the entire team for guiding me through barriers to employment and helping me embrace my true identity, enabling personal and professional growth. It equipped me with essential skills that have been vital in advancing my career and I wholeheartedly recommend the program to others.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share?
Alexis: Through this journey, I’ve learned the importance of pushing beyond my comfort zones to achieve true fulfillment in life, no matter how scary it may seem. Breaking out of my shell, attending 2LGBTQIA+ events, and joining a specific transfemme group in Montreal allowed me to connect with like-minded individuals, embracing my authentic self. The most valuable lesson I gained is that pushing myself out of my comfort zone is essential for finding happiness and personal growth in the end.
Are you inspired by Alexis’s incredible journey? Join our Youth on the Rise (YOTR) program today and discover how we can help you overcome challenges and achieve your professional goals. Join us on this transformative journey!