Posted by Mimi Chandy, Skills for Change staff
Advice to immigrants
“Don’t underestimate yourself. Show your capability. Highlight your achievements and years of experience in your other country.”
Advice to employers
“Pay attention to the positive parameters of people as well. Don’t filter people through recruiters’ as employers may be missing out on a lot of very skilled people.
Advice to employers
Holding a mechanical design engineering degree with over 16 years professional work experience in her home country, Iran, Zahra and her family moved to Canada in 2008 “to expand our horizons” as she put it.
I asked her why of all the countries she could chose from, "Why Canada?" Her reply was simple and heart-warming: "Canada is a country that accepts all people. It’s a country for immigrants. It’s a land of equity."
Zahra's answer got me thinking.
In my line of work, I come across so many newcomers and I have heard many varying opinions on immigration and Canada. I wanted Zahra’s take on it, and the difficulties and hurdles she faced once she reached Canada. There was an inkling of hesitancy in her voice when she asked me to clarify. I went on to explain that I have witnessed cases of highly qualified newcomers who find themselves settling for less. To which, Zahra declares, “I didn’t come to under-estimate myself, I came to improve myself”. It is this determination and focus that sets her apart. As they say, it is all in the attitude.
Zahra took the time to assess her situation and understand what steps she needed to take in order to settle successfully. “Language was the first thing for me,” she said. She attended a program at JVS and then went on to join the Enhanced Language Training Program for Engineers at Skills for Change which provided the atmosphere, support and attention required to work on attaining a higher level of English proficiency. Zahra talks about the experience with a little extra zeal in her voice. “I loved the atmosphere at Skills for Change. I enjoyed the trip to the centre. The staff was very helpful and I felt like it was a private class”.
We broached the topic of her job search. She had placed her resume on several job boards and soon receives 6-7 calls in response to her resume; however, Zahra stresses that opportunities are truly hidden and it’s taping into that hidden job market that is the key. She is currently working with a prominent global provider of engineering and construction services as a mechanical design engineer.
When asked if there's a message that she would like to leave with everyone, Zahra said that as a newcomer you should, ‘think realistically and practically. Balance what you can get and what you can lose. Sometimes you are not confident, but sometimes it is because you are affected by others views. If you are confident and positive you will succeed.”
Isn’t that the truth!