Spotlight: Brandesha Sinclair from The Working Millennial

Earlier this year I sat down with Cassondra Kyra from The Working Millennial to discuss navigating through finances as a young woman and her journey to become financially literate. In a follow-up to that interview I meet with Brandesha Sinclair, the creator of The Working Millennial to discuss why millennials need an employment website catered to them, how she sees the job market changing in the future and the challenges faced during the job search. She is a Job Coach, Facilitator and Content Creator.

On creating The Working Millennial

Why did you decide to make an employment focused website?

I’ve always had the idea in my head, but I never really saw myself taking the action to do it. One day I was browsing and Wix was having a promotion so something in my gut told me to just go for it. I always had the idea and notes for it, but I wasn’t putting in the effort to pursue it. As of Fall 2017, has been up, and right now I’m just learning and working on implementing the other ideas I have for the website.

...And what other ideas do you have for the website?

So with what I do, my passions lie with career development and media. I want to bring those together on to one platform where I can provide information to millennials. I think millennials are different, we are multidimensional, so I want to provide information that is relevant but also has personality and is informative. For the website I want to add things such as a job board for jobs available in the GTA, a spotlight for millennials making big moves in their careers or startup companies, to give them some recognition and help build that network for young professionals in Toronto. I will also be creating more visual content such as videos just to make the site more engaging.

Why do you think millennials need a website catered specifically to them?

In terms of the type of information we are offering, employment and financial literacy, there is definitely a gap in comparison to the older generation, especially in terms of finance. For example, the idea of buying a house is almost a myth for us, so just having those conversations. I find in terms of employment and career development, in speaking with my circle of friends and people I’ve gone to school with, it’s something that everyone seems to have a challenge with. Having those conversations where it’s not an older person who is more distant from the workforce and might not know what the experience is like. Whereas I’ve experienced it, and it’s something where we are able to have that conversation and exchange those tips and tricks so that all of us can succeed. We are the future, we are very present in the market right now and I think it’s very important for us to have those connections and to help each other grow in society.  And to continue that to the next generation, generation z, to help them with that transition as well.   

Do you see the working millennial as eventually being your full-time job?

What I envision for myself, I don’t see myself sitting at the desk I am right now. I do want to have something for myself and what I have going, I think there is so much potential for it. I’m learning as I go, and I just want to see it flourish and have something of my own, I don't want your typical 9 to 5. Although you see a lot of people saying they want to be an entrepreneur, they don’t really know what being an entrepreneur entails. Right now, I’m just going with the flow but eventually I would want that to be my full time thing.


On millennials in the workforce

What do you think is missing in our generation when it comes to becoming an entrepreneur?

Everyone has the idea; especially with social media and seeing all these images it's very glamorized. I can even say myself that I’m a victim to it. You see everyone living this glamorous life, but you don’t ever see what’s behind it. You don’t see that people are up until 3am answering emails or making sure shipments get to where they need to be. It’s different because you don’t know where your next dollar is going to come from and a lot of people don’t realize that. You need to have a foundation started because a lot of people just jump into something, which, I understand taking those risks for your dreams, but at the same time you need to be strategic. I would suggest transitioning into it, start it out as your side hustle and see if it’s something you can see yourself doing because some people don’t have that work ethic. I think a lot of millennials are fascinated by the idea of it but not willing to create a plan.

How do you see the workplace changing for millennials in the future?

I definitely see a shift in the demographics, different barriers being broken. So, in my experience I’ve only had one person in power that was a woman of colour. I definitely see that changing with race(s), gender, etc. In terms of the barriers I see today with gender, there’s so many women that are just so hard working yet receiving small salaries, I definitely see that changing. Diversity in terms of race, and ways of becoming more accommodating of individuals identifying with disabilities. We are much more open minded and willing to listen to what the concerns are and find innovative ways of incorporating those things and bridging those gaps.

What changes do you currently see happening with millennials entering the workforce?

Definitely with millennials I’m seeing a broader spectrum of what people are going for, especially with technology. It’s not just gender specific, anyone can do it. Even if you were to go a more traditional route like education or healthcare, technology is heavily invested in that. But with the people I cross paths with, there is definitely a more traditional lens, so with social work, nursing, ECE, there’s still a lot of women. But with immigrants and international students there is definitely a difference, you see more women in math, science and technology. It seems to be more normalized with women. In terms of the educational path there seems to be a shift but there is still a traditional route.


On the challenges of employment/unemployment

What is some advice you would give to someone that is currently unemployed?

You have to be super driven, even if you go to access career services or an employment coach; they aren’t going to hold your hand. The only person standing between you and your career opportunity is you, you have to make sure you're doing your part. Having someone create your resume for you can only get you so far. I can do your resume but if you don’t take the time to go through your career history and guide someone through your experiences, it's inconsistent. For example, when you’re in an interview and you don’t know what you're talking about. Also, be clear about what you want, even if you are at an indecisive phase in your career; have somewhat of an idea on what you are willing to explore. Having a focus helps guide your job search because you'll know where to look, you’ll know what these employers are looking for and you’ll be able to provide more quality information rather than have a generic resume applying for all these positions and being overlooked because it’s not as concrete as someone else who has the experience. And don’t be discouraged!

Since Toronto is a very diverse city with people coming from other countries, what do you see in terms of employment/unemployment for immigrants?

In a way for a lot of them coming to a new country is a lot. You don’t know how to really navigate the system and with the whole credential system you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it is equivalent, sometimes it is not. But the market is so competitive over here as it is, and you might not know who the top competitors are, or what the norms are, and you don’t have connections because with employment networking is a really big thing. Sometimes they are coming by themselves and they just get lost in the sauce.

Once again there are two types of mindsets you go, some who think they are going to get the top position because this is Canada and the land of opportunity, and you have others that would be happy with a cashier job even if they’ve had years of experience in a top-level position. Working in employment I see the realities of it and sometimes they do have to take more of a survival job. Not knowing the market, not having connections, sometimes that is used as a barrier, having your credentials from somewhere. But at the same time some individuals just don’t know how to market themselves and that’s the same for people born and raised here. You can have that credential but if you don’t know how to market those things you’re kind of stuck. You are your brand.  

Do you find that people are willing to take any job that comes to them rather than waiting it out for what they actually want to do?

That’s an interesting question because you get both ends of the spectrum. You get people that will take whatever comes to them and have kind of given up hope or just aren’t patient. In which case you’ll see people take on survival jobs until they get the opportunity they are looking for which is understandable and I kind of recommended at this time with living expenses. But don’t get comfortable in that survival job, keep looking for what you want. But you also get people that feel entitled and they’re so focused on getting a specific role, but they have some serious gaps. I’ve had some people that are super picky, and have so many great opportunities that just go out the window. So, you have those that are resistant, and those that are flexible but lose focus.

And what kind of advice would you give to each type of person?

For both individuals keep an open mind, learn what you can as you go. Definitely be determined but try not to be idle or resistant. You have to be fluid in this day and age, there are always transferable skills you can get whether it’s a survival job or not. Just learn what you can and make the most out of it.    


Written by: Ashleigh H.

Spotlight: Cassondra Kyra from The Working Millennial

With the information from our Financial Fitness Bootcamp still buzzing in my head, I was in the process of looking for resources to further help me on my journey to financial freedom. As fate would have it, one of my friends introduced me to The Working Millennial, a site focused on helping millennials navigate through the current economy. 

“Millennials are different from the previous generations and the economy is extremely different from their time as well. With precarious work, high tuition costs, increasing debts, living costs and competition in the market, it's easy to feel lost and alone. The mission of The Working Millennial is to collect and provide information and resources to help guide and empower millennials to be the influential, innovative go-getters that we're born to be."

After looking at the website, I was interested in learning how the website's Financial Literacy Coach, Cass, became so interested in finances at such a young age. As someone who does not work in the financial industry, and who is essentially self-taught, I thought she would be a great resource for those of us on our own journey to financial literacy. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with her to discuss her financial journey.

When and how did you start your financial literacy journey, and was there something in particular that sparked your interest?

I started 2-3 years ago. What sparked my interests was when I received my annual statement from my workplace pension plan and, while I was investing, I didn’t really understand anything about it. I had always relied on my grandma who was very financially literate, but at the time she had some health concerns that left her unable to help me.  After a quick pity party, I decided I needed to jump right in and learn as much as I could, having the opportunity to practice both with my own and my now fiance’s finances. From there what started as an obligation quickly developed into a passion.

What kind of resources did you use when learning about finances?

I used quite a few resources such as books, YouTube, and blogs. A major resource for me was Dave Ramsey. Dave is millionaire who lost most of his wealth young and had to build it all back. That story really resonated with me. He created the “baby steps” and he has this “debt snowball” technique where you pay off debts smallest to largest; that has proven to be really effective. The most useful thing I've learned though is that you need to have a zero dollar budget, which means it is important that every dollar has a home or responsibility. It is also really important to give yourself some spending money. There are many budgeting tools that can assist you with this like apps, excel sheets, Pinterest etc. Personally I’ve found that I’m very much a pen-to-paper kind of person; for me it's more focused which helps me process the information.

What kind of tips or tricks would you suggest to others when it comes to sticking to a budget?

I think tricks are silly when it comes to money - you either focus and do it or you fail at it (which is fine if you’re fine with it). For instance I could tell you “Leave your debit or credit card at home and only use cash” and, yeah, that could help you not spend money; but that's not discipline and  won't sustain itself in the long run. It tricks you into thinking you’re focused as opposed to actually being focused. Now for tips, it has to be creating a budget and sticking to it. Sticking to the budget helps take the pressure off.  There’s a feeling of accomplishment you get when you are able to survive to your next pay within your budget, but if you do mess up don’t be afraid to double back and readjust. You’re going to make mistakes, it's part of the process.

One of the biggest themes in our Financial Fitness Bootcamp was addressing how your relationship with money was influenced by your childhood. How would you say your upbringing affected your relationship with money?

Growing up I lived with both my mother and grandmother, who had vastly different attitudes towards money. While my grandmother was very rigid in her financial planning/well being my mother was not, she had this go-with-the-flow attitude and it seemed to work out for her. I truly believe at different times in my life I've had both of those attitudes towards money. What I realize now is the value of money to you as an individual will change over time. My relationship with finances as changed significantly as I've gotten older and had to take on more responsibility. When I was younger I was more “free-spirited” when it came to money but now as an adult I look at my grandmother who at one time supported three households financially and I’m in awe. She’s retired now and still makes more than me, #goals. She definitely shaped how I look at money and finances now.

What is one major mistake you see young people making with their finances now?

This idea of ignorance is bliss, not looking at your credit card statements, not opening up that banking app. Not knowing where to place your money, not investing money or pension planning. I have a pension plan that is matched by work, and I’ve made a point of maxing out those contributions. I also think people need to spend more time researching and maxing out their Tax Free Savings Accounts or Registered Retirement Saving Plans. I see a lot of people my age holding their money in chequing accounts, meanwhile they could be making a lot more by investing it or at minimum throwing the money into a high interest savings account.

What would you say is your biggest takeaway?

You need to budget. That needs to be done, whether it’s once or twice a month, so that you know where your money goes. Even if you make a mistake and are scared to go back and look at it, it is time to "adult".  

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

While I love finances, I don’t typically think about my life financially. I’m more focused on goals in life (money just helps us get there sometimes). In 10 years I will hopefully have a family with some kids and be passing on some good money management habits to them. I would also like to use this financial knowledge to help people in some way whether it's through workshops or consulting. I’m really open to the possibilities.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

A lot of people feel like investing is hard and have someone at the bank manage it for them. Most people don’t need someone to manage their money, with the tools available to us today like Wealthsimple or Questtrade you can just lock in your investments, check on it yearly and readjust when necessary. The Wealthy Barber (by: David Chilton) and Millionaire Teacher (by: Andrew Hallam) taught me about my personal investments and switching up my pension; these resources can help you learn how to make your money make you money.

Something I did notice in my research is that I did not come across many, if any, women of colour talking about finances, that had larger followings. Now while that could be me not digging deep enough, it was part of the reason I stepped out and joined The Working Millennial. My hope is that someone can one day see me and can relate. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to publish a book geared towards young people and children of colour.


In her early 20’s, Cass came to an understanding that she knew too little about her own financial wellbeing. What started as curiosity, quickly became active interest in her pension plan. Over the years, this interest developed into a pursuit of strong financial literacy for both her and her loved ones. As a Child & Youth Worker, Cass realized this was a way to give back to her community both professionally & personally. Her hope is that young people will not have to arrive at their mid-twenties without practical knowledge surrounding their finances.


Written by: Ashleigh H.