By Vicki Brookes
Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2018 brings peace, prosperity, good health, and for those who are looking, a new career.
The New Year is a time for reflection and often with that reflection, a strong desire for personal growth and change. While personal growth and change are challenging, we realize that we need to make these changes in order to be a better person and to better adapt to our new surroundings. As the famous country music singer Jimmy Buffet said, “Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.” The same is true with our approach to being in a new country, adapting to a new culture, and finding new work.
If I had to give any newcomer advice on their job search, I would say make sure you learn to adapt to your new surroundings. Living in Canada is not easy; the transition to a different culture, climate, language and professional expectations is extremely challenging. You have so many hurdles to jump and barriers to conquer. Navigating these strange cultural waters while trying to prepare your children for school and getting ready for work is really a test of your inner strength. Having said that, living in Canada is incredibly rewarding; there is diversity, understanding, laws that benefit all, freedom and peace. It is a beautiful country populated by people from all over the world, however, you have to learn to adapt and you have to want to embrace the changes in order to reap the benefits. If you do, I promise, your life will be successful in your new country.
The wonderful thing about Canada is that there are many resources in place to help newly-arrived immigrants. Many years ago, when my family was settling from Eastern Europe, the city of Toronto had few things in place to assist newcomers. Those early settling immigrants forged ahead embracing all their new country and city had to offer despite a lack of assistance. These people established businesses, they worked at low-paying jobs, they bought homes, they started communities with places of worship, and they raised families. The city of Toronto is peppered by many wonderful communities which is a strong indication of the settlement process: Little Italy, Greektown, Little India, Chinatown, Koreatown, Portugal Village, Little Poland, and Little Malta are just a few of the communities that makes Toronto so unique. In many cases, these neighbourhoods and communities were established with little or no assistance from governmentally-sponsored settlement agencies.
Today, it is an entirely different story. There are so many places that can offer newcomers assistance! Look into organizations that are geared towards specifically settling immigrants for assistance. Try to remember that you are not alone! These organizations have language classes, groups for seniors and youth, settlement adaptation programs, business start-up courses, translation and legal services. For the most part, for those who qualify, the services are all free.
There are organizations that assist you with your credential evaluation. World Education Services, ICAS, and the University of Toronto’s Comparative Education Services will work with you to make sure your documents are at the level they need to be to find work or pursue education.
Use the National Occupation Classification system to research what employers want. Research the Conference Board of Canada for information about job search. Find out through country-wide surveys, what Canadian employers want most from their employees.
There are bridging programs that are designed to ease the transition back to education for Internationally Trained Professionals (ITPs) into the workplace. Check out any university or community college for more information.
For those ITPs who have a very high level of English language skills, look for Enhanced Language Training (ELT) courses. These courses are offered at several settlement agencies throughout the GTA and usually attach an unpaid internship at a reputable organization within your professional field of interest. In most cases, those internships lead to full-time paid employment.
On a personal level, learn what makes Canadians tick! Google Canadian Idioms and start incorporating this crazy “new” language into your lexicon because the last thing you want is to be on the “outside looking in” for the rest of your life. Adapting and adopting these language changes brings you closer to your goal of fitting in.
Find out what Canadians are talking about. This is as easy as reading online web-papers from the CBC (www.cbc.ca) and Toronto Star (www.thestar.com). There are articles about current events on every single imaginable topic and the nicest thing…they’re free!
Find out how to look for work and learn how to interview. You will see that it’s very different from your previous country. Learn how to tell stories to answer behavioural questions.
Try a physical makeover! There are organizations such as Dress for Success and Dress Your Best that provide appropriate women’s and men’s business clothing at very low prices.
In the future, this section of The Migrant will focus on job search and interviewing tips, the importance of all forms of communication and everything you need to help you adapt, adopt and embrace your new country. I look forward to working with you!
Tip of the Day:
The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings. ~ Kakuzo Okakaura
Vicki has spent the past 20 years coaching and working with internationally trained professionals and helping them transition their skills into the Canadian workforce. She has created and taught curriculum that includes relevant skills training for newcomers. She currently teaches the Labour Market Access for Newcomers to Canada program at the Newcomer Centre of Peel in addition to the Workplace Communication in Canada program at Ryerson University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Education, and a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and is TESL certified.