Improving Job Prospects – Success Story

With her sights set on a specific job, Carrie boosted her computer skills with an Adult Training Network certificate to improve her prospects.

Carrie worked closely with the instructors at Cobourg’s Adult Training Network to upgrade her computer skills—the golden ticket to landing the job she really wanted.

For years, Carrie, had been working as a cleaner after being a stay-at-home mom for a decade. She also landed a part-time gig helping with special events for the Town of Cobourg—a job she says built her experience for future roles.

But it was when she showed interest in applying for fulltime roles that Carrie realized her lack of computer certificate was a barrier. While she was confident in how to navigate the basics of Microsoft Office applications, she couldn’t prove it without certification.

“I knew part-time jobs and working weekends was not what I wanted for the rest of my life. It also didn’t give me as much professional or financial freedom as I was looking for. I needed better options,” said Carrie.

The mother of four signed up for an online computer class after deciding she needed to upgrade the technical skills she already had. However, she said adapting to the digital format of the tutorials was not ideal.  “The format didn’t work for me because I prefer one-on-one assistance with an instructor to help me work through a problem,” she said.

With COVID-19 bringing layoffs, closures and lots of uncertainty, Carrie was fortunate to return as a Town employee doing manual labour jobs.

But as luck would have it, Carrie spotted a receptionist position to cover a maternity leave for approximately eight months.

“I reached out to the manager of that role to say that I was really interested in the job, and that it would be a great fit for me. It’s what I want to do instead of cleaning,” said Carrie.

Carrie had to show she was familiar with the technology required for the receptionist role. Having it would mean giving herself a competitive advantage.

“At that time, I didn’t have the time or the money to go back to school. I had to find the quickest way of upgrading my computer skills because the job I wanted was open to applicants.”

Carrie was uncertain about her next move until a friend suggested she pay a visit to the Adult Training Network (ATN).

The Adult Training Network is an adult learning centre that helps individuals 19 years of age and older reach their goals. The organization is considered a key resource for adults wanting to upgrade their essential skills to benefit them in their life, career, or training and education.

Thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development ATN’s learning and skills programs are provided for free to eligible adults.

ATN helps learners with skills upgrading to prepare for post-secondary studies, apprenticeships and employment. ATN also supports people working on secondary school credits towards earning their high school diploma. They also offer specialized programs such as computer training, financial skills and budgeting, customer service skills, and more.

Carrie was nervous about getting her skills assessed by the ATN instructors, Katie Gotthelf and Jackie Goddard, but her determination to make the receptionist job a reality fueled her motivation to move forward with what ATN had to offer.

“Jackie tested me to see what I knew, where I needed help and what I could improve. The learning plan she customized specifically for me was geared towards this job that I was going for,” said Carrie.

During the course of the program, Carrie worked one-on-one with Katie and Jackie doing a deep dive into Microsoft Office programs, focusing on how to write business letters and create a mail merge, among other administrative-related tasks. When Carrie wasn’t working, she was hitting the books hard, completing every piece of homework the instructors gave to her.

The program allowed her to make headway independently and on her schedule. The smaller classroom size was also an advantage, said Carrie, allowing her to receive more individualized attention and interact closely with Katie and Jackie.

“I always thought my skills were good, but I started to believe that maybe I couldn’t do this. But then Katie and Jackie would hand me work and I’d complete it and they would say, ‘see you can do it!’. “Katie and Jackie helped me in areas where I needed to do better,” Carrie said.

Months later, having successfully completed the program, Carrie earned her certification. Her upgraded skills in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint boosted her resume to get the job she wanted. She now works for the Town covering the receptionist’s maternity leave.

For Carrie, pursuing her goals with persistence and determination has paid off. Now she’s the person others can go to for answers on how to use the computer software that makes the office run.

“It does make you feel good to be able to take what you have learned and put it to use like that.”
Carrie credits her ATN instructors for helping her escape any doubt in the true spirit of teaching.

“The instructors genuinely rooted for me and were key in helping me complete my learning plan. They made a real effort to make learning interesting and they were confident in my abilities.”

Carrie encourages anyone interested in advancing their education or skills to explore ATN as a viable option.

“I had the perception that the Adult Training Network was for young kids who dropped out of high school or needed extra help. I wasn’t aware that they offered adult training. If you’re interested in upgrading your education, go talk with the instructors there. I get it, as adults we may feel embarrassed to go back to school, but ATN treats you with respect and gives you the confidence to believe that you can do anything.”

Adult Training Network is located in Cobourg but serves all of Northumberland County. The ATN is co-located at the Centre for Individual Studies on D’Arcy Street. They have a satellite location in Campbellford. ATN also has a centre in Peterborough. Services are available online and face-to-face.

Discover your strengths and improve your skills by working with the team at ATN.

Cobourg: CIS Cobourg, LBS Room – 780 Darcy St., Cobourg, ON Phone: 905-372-1697 ext. 33 Email:

Campbellford: Campbellford High School, LBS Room – 119 Ranney Street North, Campbellford, ON Phone: 705-653-3060 ext. 278 Email:

Peterborough: Peterborough Alternative and Continuing Education @ PCVS, LBS Room – 201 McDonnel Street Peterborough, ON Phone: 705-745-9833 Email:

For more information visit our programs page.

Funding provided by:

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