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Nine years and 15 jobs — the endless cycle is eating at my confidence

November 12, 2022

By CBC News |

This First Person article is written by Merina Shrestha, a gig economy worker trying to find a permanent job in Calgary. For more information about CBC’s First Person stories, please see the FAQ.

The sky is still golden pink when I catch the bus and then the train to downtown Calgary — a new job, a new beginning.

But at the second stop, a familiar sign catches my eye. It’s on the building where I worked my first job in an administrative position to get my foot in the door as a new immigrant to Canada.

It’s also a grim reminder. There have been so many new beginnings that sometimes I feel I’m going in circles.

This is my ninth year in Canada — my dream country — and my 15th job in a row. I feel I am still scrambling to put my best foot forward. With every contract that ends, my heart sinks, my confidence plunges, and my anxiety grows. I wasn’t prepared for how much of the labour market in Canada is based on this precarious work or the gig economy.

When I first moved to Canada from Nepal, I knew I would have to start with a basic entry-level job and work hard to get re-established. Back home, with a business degree, I was an officer in an international not-for-profit organization. After I landed in Calgary, I worked in a couple of retail shops because I saw it as a valuable learning experience and a way to get my start.

I took training in Canadian employment skills through a local non-profit and got an unpaid placement at a local IT company with the promise of job experience. But at the end of my three-month contract, the firm simply said I did an excellent job and gave me a nice farewell. My manager said there was no permanent role for me and that she was sorry to let me go.

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