One of the first things you’ll discover as an immigrant in Canada is the willingness of people to help. In your initial weeks, months, or years, you might need guidance as you start exploring life and work in Canada. A mentor – an established individual, whether an immigrant or Canadian-born – can be of great value in your journey. Let’s find out what mentorship looks like in Canada and how you can seize this opportunity for success.
Mentorship in Canada starts with you
Before you start looking for a mentor, take some time to self-analyze and figure out your goals. Make a list and mark your short-term and mid-term goals. What requires immediate action? What is it that you would like to achieve two years down the line? “Mentorship is a reflection of what your immediate or mid-term goals are. If you don’t know the steps that you need to complete to achieve your goals, your mentor can help you with that. But remember, it’s you who is in the driver’s seat!” says mentor Sanobar Syed, who works as a Forecasting and Strategy Manager at Abbvie. What she means is that you, as a mentee, control how your mentoring relationship with your mentor blooms and the results it brings.
Mentor Jonathan D. Almanza, who is also the Senior Manager, Strategy and Capabilities at TD bank, echoes this thought. “Mentorship is guided discovery,” says Jonathan. “It is not instruction. You’re not getting a coach that is going to teach you something. You should be the one who is researching and finding things as well, and it’s also not someone finding you a job. Your mentor is going to help you bring out the best of yourself as you’re building your network and presenting yourself to your connections and employers,” he adds.
Can you have more than one mentor? Sure, that’s a good idea!
There are different types of mentoring relationships that you can have. As a recently arrived immigrant in Canada, you can seek a mentor who can help you learn about life in Canada. Someone who probably arrived here six or 12 months before you. They would be able to advise you on how to prepare for the move, answer your questions about settlement and integration in the country, and warn you about the mistakes they made in their early days.
The other kind of mentorship – one that’s common within the immigrant inclusion landscape – is professional mentorship. The mentor helps the mentee in their professional development, job search, and career. The goal is to help you get settled in Canada with a relevant job to your experience, whether you’re looking to reconnect with or progress in your career.
Having both kinds of mentors can be of immense benefit to you because you’d be able to get more and targeted guidance from each of your mentors.
Professional mentorship in Canada is structured
While mentorship can also be informal and on an infrequent basis, professional mentorship in Canada is usually structured. You and your mentor would agree upon meeting a number of times during the weeks/months that your mentoring relationship lasts. You would also set expectations and goals early on. From there, you’d work on the goals strategically, measure your progress and discuss the next steps in every meeting.
If you’re a newcomer to Canada, you can probably discuss the following topics, and more:
- Writing, structuring and formatting a Canadian resume and cover letter
- Sending professional emails for job search
- Information about your desired role, profession, industry
- Developing and showcasing soft skills
- The workplace culture in Canada
- Network effectively to develop professional connections
- Job interview advice and mock sessions, etc.
“It’s important to have the local nuances to be able to land a good job, especially within your own field. Your mentor can provide you guidance and local labour market insights,” says Yilmaz E. Dinc, Research and Evaluation Manager at Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). Yilmaz vouches for mentorship from his own experience during his new immigrant years, and says, “Amazing mentors and peers inspired me to do better“.
Let the search for your mentor begin
So, how can you begin your search for a mentor? Well, for an ‘introduction to Canada’ or a ‘life in Canada’ mentor, connect with people that you or your friends/family might know who immigrated to Canada before you. You can also find such an individual on LinkedIn or immigration forums and WhatsApp groups that you might be a member of.
As for professional mentors, approaching a settlement agency, community organization, ethnic organization, or professional organization in your region of residence in Canada is a great starting point. They will all likely have a mentoring program,” says Jonathan D. Almanza. “And, if you end up opting for education and start a course, you can also get plugged into the mentorship programs offered by the school. And finally, when you get a job, your company might also have some structured mentoring programs at that job place,” he adds, encouraging you to reach out to someone who you’d like as your mentor.
Yilmaz lists some services. “In the Greater Toronto Area, there’s TRIEC Mentoring Partnership. Similarly, there is CRIEC (Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council) and ERIEC (Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council) and so on in some other provinces and cities.”
It does not matter where you reside in Canada now or when you arrive, a quick search on the internet about mentoring programs in your region will throw up desired results.
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