The following article appeared in The Toronto Sun JobBoom section prior to the NACC + OACC Conference May 4, 2011.
Where there's a will, there's a way
By Laura Bailey
Special to QMI Agency
Vian Sharef began her professional life in the finance and banking industry. Following years of success in that career, Sharef became an unemployed single mother. She didn't know that over the course of a few months her life would change and she would be part of the Second Career program.
"My sister had told me about a government program called Second Career," Sharef says. "I applied in October 2008 ... at that point I had nothing to lose and didn't take no for an answer."
After three months of waiting, Sharef got her approval. "I cried that morning after getting the call," she says. She knew this program would change her life; the month she started classes her Employment Insurance was set to end.
Launched in June 2008 by the Government of Ontario, Second Career aims to give laid off workers the opportunity to take their passions further and train for a new career. Offering support for tuition, books and living expenses, thousands of Ontarians have been able to retrain and pursue their dreams. Between December 2009 and January 2011, more than 16,000 people were approved for Second Career funding-- 63% chose to train at registered private career colleges in Ontario.
From a young age Sharef was fascinated with beauty, particularly the medical aspect, and she often thought about a career in the beauty industry. The loss of her job gave her the opportunity to follow her passion and train as a medial esthetician at The Salon + Spa Career College (formerly Champlain Institute) in North York.
Following a search for programs online, Sharef and her sister Hozana visited The Salon+ Spa Career College, where they found both the atmosphere and admissions staff were great.
"This is a serious school that takes education seriously," Sharef says of the college.
Although she was counselled that it wouldn't be easy, she enrolled in dual diploma programs, medical esthetics and esthetics, alongside her sisterwhoenrolledin esthetics.
"It was hard being a single mom with a baby, a full-time student and doing two intensive programs at the same time," Sharef recalls. "But I managed and graduated with honours in both programs in March 2010."
Small class sizes, focused hands-on learning and shorter program lengths mean students can complete two-year college diplomas in 12 months or less -- putting them back into Ontario's workforce sooner.
Sharef is now the owner and operator of Promenade Village MedSpa (www.pvmed spa.ca) and works with her sister Hozana inside a cosmetic surgery clinic with over 2,000 clients.
"You can call this a success story," she said, "I call it where there is a will, there is a way."