Immigrant take: Komal on how networking, volunteering helped her find a job in Canada
Komal Parekh learned about the importance of networking and volunteering when she attended Planning for Canada‘s pre-arrival sessions. After moving to Canada, she applied all of her learnings in her job search and it paid off. “I volunteered at CCIS. I also networked with several people through a Facebook group that I created to teach French for free. Through that, I landed a job!” she shares.
Read our chat with Komal about her immigration and settlement journey in Canada.
Country of origin: India
Immigrated to Canada in: March 2020
Currently lives in: Calgary, Alberta
Occupation: Employment Counsellor and ECW Coordinator
Why did you decide to immigrate to Canada?
I was working in Dubai as a Foreign Language Coordinator teaching French. I was looking for a permanent stay, in a country outside India. Canada seemed to work well in that regard. Also, as French is an official language, I foresaw career growth for myself here.
What do you like about Canada? Is there also something you dislike?
Like: I like the fact that when you’re walking on the street, the people walking by smile at you and say ‘Hi’ or ask how you’re doing. I like that warm and cozy feeling; it makes you feel like you belong here. We [Komal and her husband] are in Calgary and the standard of living in the city is so good. It’s also so calm and beautiful here. We wanted that. Especially after living in very busy places like Dubai and Mumbai (India).
Dislike: It’s sad that a large number of immigrants struggle to find a job that’s relevant to their own industry.
Did you face any specific challenges after you landed in Canada?
During our Planning for Canada sessions, we were impressed to learn about how the country has so many services for immigrants. We thought it would be easy for us to settle in and find a dream job very soon. Although it took longer than we had expected, it wasn’t a very difficult journey because we got all the information that we needed earlier. We just followed our Action Plan and things fell in place.
When did you avail of Planning for Canada’s pre-arrival services? Was the time that you had enough to absorb all the information?
We attended the PfC sessions in January 2020. We wanted to book a slot as early as possible to receive all the information that we could before immigrating to Canada. We didn’t want our plans to move to get affected because of the pandemic, and I’m glad we arrived just in time before India went into a lockdown. We were able to learn a lot about Canada in the sessions.
What was Planning for Canada’s role in your immigration preparation?
The team at Planning for Canada patiently answered all our questions: from the cold weather in Calgary, what to carry with us to job search. They also told us about networking and volunteering, and I followed their advice after landing.
How did these services assist you in your settlement and integration journey in Canada?
I like how every detail, small or big, was covered in the sessions, which helped us prepare for our move. Besides that, we had some 10-12 people in our group session. So, we all formed a WhatsApp group. Those who landed before us updated us about things to do when we reached Canada. That was really very helpful. We also had a personalized chat in the PfC sessions, where we could clear our doubts. The team continued to provide support via email till much later. After the sessions, I started focusing on my LinkedIn profile, checking job descriptions, and formatting my resume. All this made a huge difference in our preparation.
Please tell us about your employment journey in Canada.
I was a French teacher and when moving to Canada, I wasn’t sure if I should stick to my field or change my profession. PfC told me how to apply my existing soft skills, and experience in communication and facilitation to admin roles, diversifying my job search. Another thing that helped me immensely was a Facebook group that I created, where I would teach French to people for free. In just two weeks, more than 500 people joined, and the number gradually crossed 1,000. This also helped me to network with so many people and, through that, I landed a job. I was working as a Networking and Outreach coordinator at Talent Pool Society. I also volunteered with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) and I’m happy to share that I’m working as an Employment Counsellor and Employment Communication Workshop (ECW) Coordinator with CCIS now.
Any tips or learnings that you’d like to share with future immigrants?
My tip to immigrants would be to understand and adapt to the job market, learn new skills, volunteer, and network – this would lead you to a successful future in Canada. Don’t hesitate to talk to as many people as possible. But, remember not to ask for jobs; build relationships instead. Networking is like dating: you meet different people, get to know them, and let them learn more about you. Once people become comfortable, they would open up to you and maybe share opportunities with you. In Canada, it’s not about who you know; it’s about who knows you. So, focus on creating a strong network. Give things some time and don’t expect instant results.
* Planning for Canada, funded by Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada, provides pre-arrival services to economic and family class immigrants before coming to Canada. For more information and to register, visit: www.planningforcanada.ca.
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