Moving to a new state presents a unique set of challenges, even for well-equipped job seekers. When Sanique moved to Charlotte, N.C., from Alabama in 2014 after completing graduate school, she had a limited social network and an even smaller professional network. She was looking for a job in Human Resources – the field in which she has her master’s degree – but ended up taking a position at a call center instead because that was the only job she could find. After working at the call center for a year, Sanique moved back to Alabama to regroup because she was unhappy with her career in Charlotte. A year later in 2016, Sanique moved back to Charlotte to give finding a career in Human Resources one more chance.
One day shortly after moving back to Charlotte, Sanique heard about a job fair that Goodwill was attending and decided to go. There, she met Craig Kalhagen, a member of Goodwill’s Business Relationship Management team, who specializes in connecting qualified clients to hiring employers. Craig suggested that they set up a time to meet and talk about Sanique’s experience and aspirations. Sanique never knew that Goodwill could help people find employment – she only knew about Goodwill’s retail stores. However, she knew how important it was to meet new people and expand her network, so she decided to give it a try.
“I didn’t have anything at the time,” Sanique said. “I was open to trying out Goodwill because I was doing anything and everything to network and find the right fit.”
Over the next few months, Sanique worked closely with Craig and Goodwill’s Business Relationship Management team to try to find a career in Human Resources. Craig would send Sanique job openings that he thought would be a good fit for her, and Sanique would send Craig job openings that she thought she would enjoy. Craig would contact employers on Sanique’s behalf, advocating her skills, capabilities and strong work ethic.
“It was such a great experience working with Craig and his team,” Sanique said. “At the time, I was working with a couple of temporary staffing agencies, but working with Craig and his team was more personal. I felt valued, and they really took the time to help me find what I was looking for.”
During her job search, Sanique felt frustrated at times, but she knew she couldn’t give up. When Sanique was a child, she and three of her sisters were placed in the foster care system. Sanique’s foster mom told her that foster kids rarely amount to anything, and Sanique has always used that as her driving force to succeed.
“I was only 11 when my foster mom told me that I would never make it out,” Sanique said. “That’s when I knew I had to make something of myself.”
One day, Craig sent Sanique a job posting for which he thought she would be perfect. After reviewing the job description, Sanique also felt that it would be a great position for her. Craig soon connected Sanique to the hiring employer, and their hard work and perseverance paid off when Sanique was hired as the Human Resources Coordinator at a local home health agency in November 2016. Today, Sanique is thriving in her new career and enjoying the stability that full-time employment offers. She recently purchased her first home and spends her free time enjoying her new life with her family.
“My quality of life is so very great now,” Sanique said. “I have a one-year-old daughter, and it feels great to be able to give her the life she deserves.”
Despite Sanique’s recent accomplishments, her journey is far from over. She has aspirations to continue growing in her career and making a name for herself.
“Right now, I’m more of an HR generalist,” Sanique said. “In a few years, I’d like to focus on a Human Resources specialty, whether that be benefits, payroll or whatever. And ultimately, I would like to fall into a management position.”
Sanique’s advice to anyone who feels like giving up is to keep pushing through and searching for new opportunities. She stresses how important it is for job seekers to grow their social and professional networks, whether they can do so on their own or need the assistance of organizations like Goodwill.
“Stay focused and remain positive,” Sanique said. “Continue to build your network. No matter if you’re networking up, down or across levels, you never know who you’ll run into. I’ve learned that a lot of job openings aren’t posted online. Get out, meet new people and see what opportunities are out there.”
Today, Sanique’s future is looking brighter than ever, and she wants to pay it forward by sharing her story in hopes of inspiring others to persevere.
“I’m really glad I found out about Goodwill. I’ve been telling the world about it,” Sanique said. “A lot of people with challenging childhoods feel like they’ll never make it. I want to encourage people from all walks of life to do their best. You can succeed.”