My Year Working in a Social Enterprise

Just one of the highlights, PEI Fest 2017

Just one of the highlights, PEI Fest 2017

One year ago if you asked me to sum up my overall outlook on life and career, I likely would have said “fed up”. I had fallen victim to the classic Nova Scotian narrative - to find full-time work, you’ve got to find it outside the province. While I loved all of my jobs (I had four at the time), I longed for a “normal” one, and maybe, just maybe get started on a new career path. By sheer luck I was connected with Stephanie Pronk, Common Good Solutions’ then Business Manager.

They needed an admin person, I set up a meeting, we had a chat, and they offered me the job.

Life. Changed.

The biggest road block I faced getting on some kind of career path was the ongoing employment conundrum - “we need someone with experience”-- but no one is willing to hire in order to gain experience. The kicker was that I already had a diploma and a bachelor’s degree and had worked in my previous career for five years. When I met with the team at CGS I was lucky enough to sit down with people who were looking beyond the list on a resume to a person’s potential: my potential.

During our initial chat I was asked what my career goals were and at the time and I had only one, and it was pretty simple: gain marketing and communications experience, under one roof. And they said...deal.

Since July 2016 I have had the opportunity to work for what I would say, hands-down, is one of the best employers in Nova Scotia, especially for youth. Once hired I immediately started earning a living wage (the first time I was able to begin paying down my student loan...never thought I’d be happy to see that day!), had health benefits and vacation time, but most importantly I had the opportunity to find my way as a professional, and I still am.

Common Good Solutions’ mission is to change the way business is done. And one of the ways they are doing that is showing the business world how doing right by your employees is not an impossibility. Particularly our province’s youth, the future of our workforce.

Working one year for a company that is just as invested in growing professionals as it is in their business, I have cultivated a list of experiences that I wasn’t able to accumulate in the five years I spent in my previous career.

I could list each one of the experiences, conferences, events and sector milestones that I’ve had the privilege of attending, witnessing  and learning from. But the true importance, to me at least, is in the following list. A list that I’m not sure I’d be able to form if it wasn’t for working for a social enterprise.

  • Coming to work each day and knowing I am contributing to something meaningful.
  • Coming to work each day and meeting people wanting to make our communities healthier and stronger.
  • Coming to work each day surrounded by peers.
  • Coming to work each day being challenged to grow and be my best.
  • Coming to work each day feeling trusted and valued.

So there you have it, it’s been one for the books. A year that has reignited my faith in Nova Scotia and my place in this province as a professional, simply because I’ve been given the opportunity to try. When I started out here, whether I was going to succeed or fail was to be determined, but it all starts with someone believing in you. That’s something social enterprise does so well: believing in people, believing in communities and working with them to find solutions.

 

Maria Wamboldt is Common Good Solutions’ Communications Coordinator. A native of Nova Scotia she loves all things social enterprise, particularly as it relates to the well-being of our rural communities.