Newcomer Pt. 2

Disclaimer: I’m not a legal or policy expert. I’m writing based on my own experience and I recognise that this may be different from another person’s experience, especially if that person lives outside Ontario.

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I’m assuming that before you arrived in Canada, you are well-educated and most likely the best in your field in your home country. Unless you came here as a skilled worker (like a caregiver), it will be challenging to find work in the same field.

You’ll hear the phrase ‘Canadian experience’ in your job search. 100%! This means having work experience in Canada. So, regardless of your expertise, say being an engineer for 20 years plus with several projects under your name in your home country, Canadian firms in that field will be hesitant about hiring you. I’ve met several people in Toronto who’ve had successful careers in their home country but moved here because they wanted something better for their family, only to find themselves driving an Uber, cleaning toilets or delivering pizza.

The Canadian government made some initiatives to address this underemployment. Universities offer bridging programs, as in the case of foreign-educated nurses and doctors. I think Canada will benefit greatly from the talents of immigrants. I personally find it unfair that highly experienced people are stuck in service jobs when there are several sectors in the job market that barely have any applicants, and the only thing stopping these people from applying is ‘Canadian experience.’

So, what did I do?

I started in service jobs, from fastfood restaurants to hotels. I looked for tasks and acquired skills that I can transfer in the next best job I could find. I used my customer service experience to land a position in the mailroom. My boss sent me to different assignments outside the mailroom too and that gave me experience with reception. Reception led me to office administration work. The entire process took me 3-4 years.

My heart is in health and science, though. So, I went back to university last fall. But, that’s an entirely different blog post.

So, here are some things to keep in mind. Determine whether your occupation is regulated in Canada. If it is, regulatory bodies will let you know what you need to practice in your field here. It might involve some schooling. If it does, make sure you have enough money to fulfill your basic needs while you are in school. Do the math. You might need to work for a few years or maybe 6 months, depends on how long you’ll stay in school. If there’s no regulatory body for your occupation, some of my older friends suggest getting your foot in the door. It may mean starting as a cleaner, mailroom guy or volunteer. In this case, networking will be your friend.

It’s hard work, I know. Sometimes, you’ll feel worthless. I did. Other times, you’ll find yourself questioning whether you made the right decision on moving here. You made the right decision, I’m sure. Canada is a great country for so many reasons (that may need its own blog post too). I can tell you one thing: if you work hard enough, you’ll see the fruit of that hard work.

Next time, I’ll write about homesickness, making friends and going back to school in Canada.

For Part 1, click here.

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