Keera Sama is a multi-disciplinary designer based in Montreal who participated in WERQ (Women Employment Readiness Quebec)‘s second cohort! From her roots as a clothing designer and entrepreneur to her specialization in graphic design, Keera has always been known for her strong creativity, dedication, and analytical skills.  Her most recent accomplishments include leading efforts to supply PPE to vulnerable populations and healthcare workers throughout the lockdowns and teaching various workshops at Atelier Adopt Fabric. Despite her impressive skillset, and sending out countless applications, she struggled to find meaningful work in her chosen field. She came to the WERQ program after over four years away from the workforce, hoping to develop her communication and interview skills and to improve her CV. Not only did she succeed in all of the above but she completed the program having regained her confidence and landed three job offers from sought-after employers!

YES: What were some of your goals when you started the WERQ program? What encouraged you to apply?
Keera: I was feeling very stuck in my job search process. I had graduated from a new program in graphic/web design and after months of searching and feeling defeated, I stumbled upon a description of the WERQ program. The program looked perfect for me and people going through similar situations to mine. When starting the program my goals were to find a job, increase my confidence, improve my cv, and improve my French.

YES: What have been your greatest achievements during the program and since completing it?
Keera: During the program, I prepared and presented a mini workshop about sewing. I was super nervous and I had not presented in front of people in so many years so it felt good overcoming this fear. I felt relieved after it was over but it also gave me a confidence boost that I could do it! I also completed my new CV! My new CV made so much more sense, I felt confident and proud to send it to potential employers!

Since completing the program my biggest achievements were: sending out dozens of CV’s, and applications to employers, getting and completing four job interviews, and then getting job offers from three of those interviews!! And then finally getting a new job, being employed, and being valued by my employer/company. It is the best feeling in the world and I am so proud of myself.

YES: What were the biggest barriers/challenges you faced in your return to the workforce?
Keera: Getting used to the schedule was the hardest thing. Balancing my life and schedule as a mother was extremely difficult. I’ve been a stay-at-home/work-at-home mother since my first child was born, so this was completely new territory for me. To be honest I am still adjusting but it is getting better every week. Another thing was my energy levels.

YES: Based on your experience, what are some of the challenges faced by women/gender minorities in/returning to the workforce?
Keera: Judgement from coworkers. They have some preconceived notions about who you are and how you will work. Despite being a mother and a woman I was still able to work hard and turn out quality work very quickly. All those years as a mother did not dull my skills, in fact, I feel I have gained so many skills from those experiences and it serves me in my job every day.

YES: What were your biggest takeaways from the WERQ program?
Keera: That I am valuable as I am. I don’t need to pretend to be something that I am not to get a job.

YES: How has WERQ changed your life? How do you feel about your time spent in the WERQ program?
Keera: Honestly, this program saved my life. I have gained so much confidence, a sense of self, and camaraderie with the other participants and the lovely people at YES. It was such an amazing experience and I feel so fortunate that I was chosen and I was able to stick to it and complete it. I enjoyed the program, it was a bit hard at first to adjust to the schedule but I quickly got used to it. It was interesting because every day we had different types of classes and subjects, and I learned a lot. I felt so well equipped once I completed the program; like I had many new tools in my pocket and my CV was sharpened up and ready to go!

YES: Looking back, what advice would you give to someone who is in the same situation as you were before finding WERQ?
Keera: Try not to take rejection from potential employers personally. Easier said than done I know, but they can receive 100s of CV’s for one job posting and they don’t even look at them all with their own eyes. If you don’t get a yes on the first few tries don’t give up, keep on applying! Talk to everyone you know about how you are looking for a job, you never know who knows someone. Sometimes a referral comes from the most unlikely of places! You need to be vulnerable to ask for and receive what you need! I learned this in one of our classes and through the practice of it!

To find out more about our WERQ (Women Employment Readiness Quebec) Program click here.