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Job Club 2 Small Talk Practice John Silveira, Nicole Neuberg, Not Sure, Sukhmandeep G, Selena Ha


Job Club Creates Safe Place to Learn and Explore

Looking for work can be a lonely challenge at times. You wonder if your resume will get an employer’s attention. You’re nervous about the interview and wish you could practice with someone. Even finding the job you think you want to apply for can be confusing. If you add a mental health challenge or a disability to that mix, it can feel even more isolating.

Job Club 1 Goals
A recent Job Club focused on the importance of setting goals

At Communitas, employment specialists work with individuals to help with the process of finding meaningful work. While individual attention is important, it can still feel a little lonely if you think you’re the only one trying to find a job. That’s why the Communitas Job Club is so important.

Nicole Neuberg is an employment specialist with Communitas and works specifically with people who live with developmental disabilities. She says the social aspect of the Job Club is important.

“I like job club because usually we meet with the people we serve one-on-one,” Nicole explains. “Job Club allows people to get together and see that they’re not alone, that they’re in the same boat.”

Job Club 2selena Ha, Nicole Neuberg, Not Sure, Sukhmanpreet G, Brittany Reimer, John Silveira, Jamie, Marcel H
How to Create Small Talk is a skill discussed at another Job Club

Brittany Reimer agrees. She is an employment specialist specifically supporting people who live with mental health challenges. She says that Job Club provides a great opportunity for people, especially if they are struggling with social anxiety.

“Sometimes the people I serve feel quite isolated,” Brittany says. “Job Club creates that social interaction that they need, so that they don’t feel so alone.”

A typical Job Club meeting will have a theme to it like setting goals, developing interview skills, or how to create small talk. One of the employment specialists will make a presentation or a guest speaker will come and address the group. There’s time for discussion and opportunities to ask questions. And there are always snacks.

Job Club 1 John And Person Served Setting Goals
Kyle and John go through a helpful worksheet focused on goal setting

At a recent Job Club, Kyle and Mariel enjoyed a presentation by Nicole on setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound.) An engaging video reinforced the presentation and then they had the opportunity to use a worksheet to set some goals for themselves. Part of that process was identifying their own strengths and challenges.

Mariel At Job Club
Mariel listens intently as others share their persepctives

Mariel hopes to find rewarding work either in child care or as a support worker. She identified her strengths as being creative and patient and also recognized that her learning disability might make education a challenge. Mariel also knows that she’s not alone in the process.

“I also have people who can help me achieve my goals,” she said. “My husband, my parents, and also the staff at Communitas.”

Kyle came to Job Club with John, his employment specialist. Kyle is looking for work in retail. Going through the worksheet with John helped him identify some strengths, one of which was a willingness to try new things. Kyle hadn’t considered this before.

“I really appreciated that feedback,” he said.

Job Club 2 Small Talk Cards
This helpful tool is useful when considering how to create appropriate small talk

At another Job Club, the topic was Creating Small Talk – an under-rated skill that’s helpful when starting a new job. The group brainstormed topics that you shouldn’t talk about (like gossip, intimate relationships, or personal trauma) and what makes for good small talk (like weather, favourite movies, restaurants, or pets.)

The larger group broke into smaller ones to practice. One group began by talking about local restaurants and favourite foods.

“I love to eat samosas,” says Sukhman. “I have them just about every day.”

The other group talked about favourite movies, travel, and weather – including the recent snow fall in BC, which led to conversation about winter sports.

What each group noticed was that once they started talking, it felt quite comfortable to join in. And that’s exactly what Job Club is for – a safe place to learn, to practice new skills, and to explore what feels comfortable.

“Our hope is that Job Club provides a safe space to make connections and to explore what feels comfortable before going out into a new workplace situation,” Brittany says. “It’s a great, low stakes opportunity.”

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