Chris O’Shea knows what it feels like to be a stranger in his own town. Self-proclaimed “boomerang”, O’Shea returned home to Halifax after six years in the United States to find a very different city.
“Since no one knew me here, I had to take a refocusing of my career,” says O’Shea. “When I came across the border, I had a solid set of skills but it was put aside for ‘Who are you? Why did you leave?’”
As many of O’Shea’s contacts had re-located, re-inserting himself into his industry was a challenge. With an IT background and over six years of experience O’Shea struggled for months to find a job in Halifax.
“If you don’t know somebody or have the contacts in the industry, it’s harder to gain that opportunity,” says O’Shea, who currently works as an Internet Services Consultant for the Business Development Bank of Canada.
From this experience, O’Shea seeks to lend his connections, experience and expertise to anyone else facing the same dilemma through the Greater Halifax Partnership’s Connector Program.
By pairing up new graduates, immigrants and international students with Connectors - business and community leaders in Halifax - the program helps participants build their professional network and find jobs in their field.
Over the last five years, over 641 Connectors have joined the program and over 447 participants have found jobs. Word has spread about Connector’s success and as a result 14 cities across Canada have started their own programs with the Partnership’s help. The program’s growth and would not have been possible without the help and support of volunteer Connectors like O’Shea.
“I consider myself a coach,” says O’Shea who has been a Connector for a year. “I like to see where the participants are at, what their career goals are, I want to make sure that whatever their goals are, that as a region we can provide it for them.”
As Connector, O’Shea has met with several participants to help them build, re-build and integrate into the community. His dedication to the program and willingness to connect multiple participants at a time has made him a “Super Connector” for the Partnership.
“I’m not out there pounding the pavement,” says O’Shea, “I just make a few calls and send some emails, but if what I can do makes an impact, that’s an effort I want to make.”
O’Shea’s top coaching tips for Connector participants are:
1) Tap into the potential of LinkedIn
2) Start talking about your industry and be in those places, be at the events, do the networking, take in the information.
3) Be open and friendly.
An advocate for promoting opportunities within the city, O’Shea encourages others to start to play the role of Connector.
“You really need to look at the Ivany Report as the fork in the road. Which way do we want to go from here,” says O’Shea. “If there is something here that newcomers and young talent are interested in for their career, why wouldn’t we do what we can to keep them here?”
Denise is responsible for managing the Partnership's Connector Program which is funded by the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada.
If you're interested in joining the Connector Program, you can contact Denise at: (902) 490.6460 or firstname.lastname@example.org