Seated behind her wood-framed desk, a smile creeps across Janine Downes’ face as she peers at her Acer laptop screen.
Next comes the twinkle in her eye, as she describes the day-to-day duties for what she calls her dream job.
The Human Resources Director at Goodwill Industries Essex Kent Lambton says she never imagined she would have a career she’d love this much, where she would experience so many highs.
“I really enjoy working with people and working at Goodwill you see the success stories every day.”
A graduate of Lambton College’s Human Resources Management (HRMG) program, Downes says things weren’t looking so positive on the employment front just a few short years ago.
She was 50 years old when she enrolled at Lambton College through the province’s Second Career program, when she was laid off after spending 23 years with another company.
The Dawn-Euphemia resident describes it as a real nerve-wracking time in her life. She was scared.
“I thought ‘OK, I’ve got 23 years’ experience so it should not be too hard to find another job.’”
But Sarnia-Lambton was not immune to a province-wide economic slowdown in 2009. She sent out applications, but received no interviews or call-backs. So she decided to upgrade her education. She applied to the Second Career program through Goodwill Industries.
“It really opened my eyes to all of the services that Goodwill offers.”
She admits she was nervous about returning to college as a mature student, but those fears were quickly allayed.
“The faculty was incredibly helpful. The program offers a lot of networking projects and great collaboration opportunities.”
In addition to graduating from the one-year Lambton HRMG program, Downes wrote and passed the national CHRP exam, qualifying her as a certified human resources professional.
Through Lambton’s program she managed to land a one-month internship at Goodwill, the proverbial foot in the door.
“One thing led to another, and today I’m Director of Human Resources.”
Downes says the most rewarding aspect of her job is working to help Goodwill staff and clients get to where they want to be, whether it’s helping them to secure new employment skills or finding that perfect job.
“My life has changed 100%. Now I’m making an impact and it feels great to get up and go to work in the morning.
“I can’t stress how much I appreciate all the support I received at Lambton College.”
She knows that graduates from the program are trained to directly enter the workforce. Downes recently hired Heather Cook, a 2012 graduate of the HRMG program.
“It’s a good feather in the cap for the program,” Downes says.
Pictured:Goodwill Industries employees Janine Downes (right) and Heather Cook are graduates of Lambton College's Human Resources Management program. Downes went back to school at age 50 and now serves as the agency's director of human resources.