Moving to a new country can be hard, especially when you do it after getting used to a certain way of life. The longer you live one type of life, the harder it becomes to leave your comfort zone. Sometimes we paint a rosy picture of the new place and disappoint ourselves when the reality doesn’t match it.
It was hard for us too (me and my husband). Fortunately, Ruwaida from PrepCan painted a true picture for us: it wasn’t rosy but optimistic. She shared her tool kit to equip ourselves to face the reality. So we started working on our plan even before boarding our flight. After landing, we volunteered and attended networking events.
Within 3 weeks of landing, I found a call centre job, but lost it in two days since the company filed for bankruptcy. Getting a rental apartment posed another challenge. We couldn’t get anything apart from basement without employment letters and pay slips. After applying for numerous jobs in our fields, both of us joined another call centre. Those jobs helped us secure an apartment.
I continued attending networking events and volunteering. At an immigrant fair, I came across a booth by a settlement and employment agency and decided to join their mentoring program. During my appointment with the mentoring coach, I started with the elevator pitch I had prepared. She seemed impressed. By the time our discussion was over, she offered me a volunteering opportunity in social media. The very next day I started working there.
I volunteered 2 days every week for 2 months. Throughout those 2 months, I talked to my colleagues in lunch room about common interests and recent events. About 1.5 month into the volunteering, the mentoring coach encouraged me to apply for a job opening at the agency. Initially I was hesitant since the role was not in my industry. But she helped me understand my transferrable skills for the role.
In a week’s time, I received an interview call (having volunteered at the agency was a big advantage for me, since they had already seen my work and team spirit). In fact, I had already had a few conversations with one of the interviewers in the lunch room. It made the interview less daunting. I didn’t even have to worry about the commuting or finding the address.
As part of my volunteering, I had to arrange an event. My supervisor offered me an opportunity to speak for 5 minutes, which showcased my presentation and interpersonal skills. I got the job- my first Canadian experience!
I had never worked with a non-profit organization and the position posed many challenges initially. But all the colleagues I had spoken with during my volunteering, helped me with information and support. It made the process of settling down in the new job easier.
When I look back now I think below points helped me a great deal.
- Being positive – Both me and my husband stayed positive throughout these months. Even when I found out that I had lost my first survival job in two days.
- Being Proactive – People were willing to help once they saw us taking initiative.
- Networking – After meeting people at events, I made sure that I connected with them on LinkedIn, engaged with their posts whenever possible.
- Rapport building – Whenever I was volunteering or networking, I focused on building a rapport with people. Networking isn’t only about talking to a lot of people but also having genuine conversations with them (never asked for a job). In Canada, It’s not about what you know, but whom you know. Rapport building not only helped me secure a job but also helped me settle down initially.
To conclude, I will only say this. Every person’s journey is different here. Please don’t compare yours to anybody else’s. I have seen people stuck in a survival job for more than a year or two and I have also seen people finding a great job in their own field within one month of landing. It is up to us to keep trying and finding innovative ways.