“A LOT OF NEW PEOPLE COMING TO CANADA DON’T KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN”
Text and image from TRIEC
Many newcomers to Canada are guided and shown the way by mentors. “Being a mentee and knowing what new people experience when they come here, what they face, it’s an opportunity to share my experience and knowledge to help them,” says Khaled Souhani, who went on to mentor.
“A lot of new people coming to Canada don’t know where to begin. I was lucky enough to be a mentee and proceed in my career. It’s about sharing this and helping people.”
Sumit Sethi is another mentor who used to be a mentee. Sethi migrated to Canada in 2010 from India, after gaining experience studying and working in the UK. He works in the IT industry and holds a master’s degree in science in computing and information systems. Early in his job search, he signed up with The Mentoring Partnership, connecting through the .Net Certification bridging program at Humber College. He successfully found a job before completing his partnership. Here he talks about why he chose to become a mentor. “I feel it’s very important for us to help each other, and mentoring is one way I enjoy giving back to the community.
“My journey with The Mentoring Partnership began as a mentee. Even though my mentor wasn’t from a software development background, he helped me successfully find a job before I finished my partnership. My time as a mentee was brief but it was a good experience. It helped me understand the power of mentorship and networking, and so I approached the coach at Humber and signed up to become a mentor myself.”
Sethi’s insights into Canadian employment culture:
“I realized that when people come to Canada, they have solid technical knowledge and knowledge of their field. What they don’t know is cultural differences that exist here in Canada when it comes to interviewing and presenting yourself. It’s different in every country.
For example, in India when you’re going for an interview, you could go in jeans.
To them it’s okay as long as you can demonstrate knowledge in your field. In Canada you need to be more formally dressed and show that you’re serious about the job. A firm handshake and a smile on your face, these are some of the little things that people can use help with when they move to Canada.”
Tips for fellow mentors of newcomers:
“When I was paired with my mentees, I started by helping them understand ‘soft skills’. The first thing I ask a mentee is how they present themselves and speak on the phone. That’s where a lot of people need help – that’s where I needed some help – but I had studied and worked in the UK before coming to Canada, which gave me a good start. When I had moved from India to the UK, I needed a lot more help!
“Mentoring gives me a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement in helping others – these are the two things that draw me to mentoring. When one of my mentees got a job after one mock interview with me, it was great. She told me that her experience in our mock interview was able to help her in her real interview.
“At work, I’ve come to realize that my confidence has increased. I’ve also become more able to recognize when people need help but they might be feeling uncomfortable asking for it. I’ve learned how I can approach them and find out what help they need.”
The Mentoring Partnership matches internationally trained newcomers with established Canadians in occupations-specific partnerships to learn about the Canadian job market.
Partnerships run 24 hours over four months with 75 per cent of mentees reporting finding work in their professional field within 12 months of completing the program.
It is a collaboration of employer and community partners, and operates as a program of TRIEC.
TRIEC creates and champions solutions to better integrate skilled immigrants in the Greater Toronto Region labour market.
• If you’d like to share the story of your arrival in Canada, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-695-4357.