Pandemic Is a Career Curveball

A single mother who is a family caregiver and aspiring health care professional is working with JFCS Career Services for Refugees & Immigrants to navigate changing circumstances.


Victoria* had only been in the U.S. a few years and was already on her way to becoming a health care professional. This was a self-chosen step toward financial independence and long-term stability for herself and her two children. But when the coronavirus spread through Louisville, her goal went from advancing her life to simply surviving.

Before, her biggest challenge had been juggling work, classes and her children’s school schedule. While it was difficult, Victoria knew her goal to improve her life through higher education and a new career was attainable with the support of JFCS Career Services for Refugees & Immigrants.

She was attending job readiness and career planning classes once a week at JFCS. Staff was helping Victoria navigate the financial assistance and documentation needed for her professional education and development. JFCS also provides refugees and immigrants career coaching and professional re-certification assistance, as well as guidance on cultural norms of the American workforce and job application process.

After becoming the sole caretaker for an immediate family member who was diagnosed with COVID-19,  Victoria’s career advancement plans were derailed when was forced to quarantine and unable to work. Although her family member recovered, Victoria is now feeling the financial hardships of taking on that caregiving role. Despite month-long quarantine instructions under doctor’s orders, Victoria’s employer would only provide her the two weeks paid leave that was required by federal law.

The compounding events were more like an earthquake than a microscopic virus, and the ground was quickly fluctuating below her feet. Victoria’s education was put on hold, and she was no longer able to work and provide basic necessities — food, rent and utilities — for her family. Like the ground, her immediate goals shifted. She had to find solid footing for herself and her children.

JFCS stepped up to offer additional services, such as food from the Food Panty and guidance on how to advocate for herself by better understanding her options for unemployment or trying to return to work safely. Through all this, she continues working with a JFCS Career & Employment Specialist to study for her professional license and prepare for certification courses.

With the support of JFCS, Victoria is finding the vital resources she needs to stabilize her life now so she can one day confidently re-focus on her continued education and career development.

* Name changed for privacy.

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