Mentors can show newcomers how to land successfully
By ROHIT SINGH
Indra Mahajan and his young family arrived in Toronto in 2010 from Nepal.
Being aware of the licensing process, Mahajan knew he would need to spend some time to get into his professional field of electrical engineering and land his dream job as a manager.
He came prepared, but what he didn’t expect is how diverse Toronto would be and how Canadian culture would be so different from Nepalese. He needed help and guidance, and he found it through The Mentoring Partnership.
“When I came to Canada, I knew about the licensing project, job market, colleges, documents, etc. Most of the information can be found almost anywhere – online, in brochures, through settlement agencies,” shares Mahajan. “But the key information and training I got was from my mentor, such as how to talk to people, how to deal with particular situations, who to copy on your emails and who not to, how to be successful in the workplace and how to handle conflicts.
“Nowhere did it say that Toronto had such a diverse community and workplace. People from all over the world live here, and everyone has different perspectives,” says Mahajan. “Working in this environment is challenging when it comes to situations like what should I expect from my manager, how to interpret and perceive feedback. My mentor helped me to understand this and many other situations.”
His mentor, Stephanie Tham, Manager, Ontario Power Generation, helped him to interpret the tricky situations at work and gave some practical advice on how to interact with colleagues and managers leading to a successful career in workplace.
It took Mahajan almost six months to land his dream job and start building his career. Once he stood firmly on his feet, he decided he would pay it forward by volunteering as a mentor and helping other newcomers facing the same obstacles he encountered at the beginning.
“Mentoring gives me satisfaction. Knowing that I can help someone else who is in the same situation I was in is great. If I can help somebody stand on their feet and experience the quality of life that comes with the right career and job, why wouldn’t I do that?”
Mahajan admits that often immigrant professionals come with a tunnel vision and stick to the titles and past experiences when in reality they have to re-invent themselves, be flexible and willing to take different avenues.
“Electrical engineering here is a small field. I suggest to my mentees that they explore other paths. You’re still an engineer, but work in a different capacity with a different title and portfolios.”
Being grateful for the support and help he received as a mentee, Mahajan shares a great analogy of what it’s like to be mentored and why everyone who is new to Canada should get mentored:
“You might have all the skills and qualifications; you know you can do the work. It’s like you are flying a plane with all skills required, but proper landing is essential. I call mentors ‘traffic controllers’ who direct mentees where to land and what to do to land successfully.”
• 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 4 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. More information on TRIEC and The Mentoring Partnership at TRIEC.ca, TheMentoringPartnership.com or @TRIEC.
• If you’d like to share the story of your arrival in Canada, please write to email@example.com or call 416-695-4357.