From pushing a food cart through the winding halls beneath Vernon Jubilee Hospital to her role as an administrator in a comfortable chair, Dörte Kargut’s road to fulfilling employment was long and windy.
But, as she sits at her desk at Interior Health today, a smile fills her bright face. Despite the twists and turns, Kargut knew that, with the help of her growing network, her ideal job was just around the corner.
“I was freelancing as a virtual executive assistant for two or three years, but it just wasn’t for me,” said Kargut. “I missed being with people. I tried to look for work on my own but wasn’t very successful in my efforts to get into bigger organizations that paid well and offered benefits.”
Born in Berlin, Kargut has spent more than 20 years in Canada. She worked as an executive assistant in Vancouver where she earned a comfortable living, but when she moved to Vernon with her family in 2017, she left her job behind.
Flipping through the newspaper one morning, Kargut came across an article about a successful entrepreneur that went through WorkBC programming.
“I thought, ‘Maybe they can help me as a freelancer. And if that doesn’t work, maybe they have other options for me,’” Kargut said.
As a permanent resident, Kargut was referred to the Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Services Society (VDICSS). With the help of VDICSS and WorkBC, Kargut refreshed her resumé and cover letter and started applying.
“I started voicing my desire to work full time and re-enter the workforce with the friends I had made in the Okanagan,” said Kargut. “My pastor’s wife worked in the kitchen at Interior Health and I was able to get several interviews (for administrative positions) with her help.”
But the administrative assistant and executive assistant positions were competitive and often went to internal candidates.
“Ultimately, one of the managers said, ‘If you want to work, we always have positions in the kitchen.’ It wasn’t my profession, but I knew I had to get in to access the internal postings.”
And, after a few short weeks, Kargut landed a position as a clerk with the Polson Extended Care Unit.
“I was super happy. And it was back to what I was good at, what I knew,” Kargut smiled. “I loved it. I learned a lot of new things. People were supportive and glad to have me there. The only thing was that it was maternity leave coverage.
“But I really started to experience Interior Health as a massive organization where there’s constant movement, so I wasn’t really concerned and worried about my future. I knew I had several months of just learning the work and building my network in my new organization.”
Kargut laughs as she describes her Interior Health employment journey that’s as winding as the halls below the VJH. After leaving the Polson Extended Care Unit, Kargut moved from termed position to termed position before settling into her current role as an administrative assistant to the program director in medical imaging.
“My journey has had its ups and downs, but in the end, it has been perfect. I’m staying here for a year at least,” she smiles. “I might even stay longer. Money is one thing, but job satisfaction is another. As an executive assistant for a full-time vice-president, I’d be back to working long hours and working weekends like I did in Vancouver. Now, having moved to the Okanagan, I want to enjoy the lifestyle and see what the Okanagan has to offer.”
And it’s a journey Kargut says was made easier thanks to the support of WorkBC and the VDICSS.
“I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and needed a boost,” Kargut says. “WorkBC helped encourage me and keep me on track. They were the coach or friend next to me whispering, you can do this, don’t give up. I really needed that.”
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