Amazing mentors and peers inspired me to do better: Yilmaz Ergun Dinc
By Tosin Ajogbeje
Looking for immigration stories to inspire you today? Meet Dr. Yilmaz Ergun Dinc, Senior Research Associate, Immigration at the Conference Board of Canada.
When Yilmaz Ergun arrived in Canada in 2018, he had every newcomer’s worries – how to find his professional footing, build social networks, and meet people.
“I had a great job in my home country of Turkey, working as a Research and Program Analyst at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) while finishing up my Ph.D. at Yeditepe University. During this time, I considered starting a new life in a new country and Canada was that place for me – a new home,” says Yilmaz.
Uncertain and anxious, Yilmaz recalls thinking of his first few months in Canada. “The entire process of settling in is no small feat, no matter how well you think you researched and prepared in advance,” he says.
In Canada, Yilmaz wanted to continue his career as a researcher. As he was trying to navigate the job market, he talked about how his friends and family helped him through his settlement journey. “Moving to a new country and finding good employment in your field can be a daunting task. Having professional networks and people who can guide you makes all the difference,” says Yilmaz. “Luckily, I was able to reach out to my peers from graduates studies in the UK. I also looked for opportunities and services available to newcomers and attended a few career mentoring workshops in Toronto. These gave me a good start.”
When applying for jobs in Canada, Yilmaz immediately saw the value of seeking guidance and support from senior professionals in his occupation. According to him, “as a newcomer, networking and receiving guidance from experienced professionals pays off.”
He also says that “having several mentors to help you strategize and provide feedback on your resume and interviews can help you land a great job. For example, when new immigrants sign up for career mentoring programs, they are often matched with a person in a related field who can assist with job search. But it doesn’t end there – mentors share invaluable context such as their own experiences as well as cultural and professional nuances.”
Yilmaz remembers struggling to navigate the job market in Canada, and his journey to find a job to grow professionally in a new country. “Working at the UNDP for almost 6 years equipped me with a multitude of skills, and allowed me to work for the betterment of the global community. I wanted to find myself in a similarly rewarding job. I had to remind myself that finding the right job takes time.”
After a rigorous search for quality employment, Yilmaz found an ideal role as a Research and Partnerships Specialist at the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) in 2018. At TRIEC, he focused on research around immigration and the workforce participation of immigrants. In his two years at TRIEC, Yilmaz published several reports to advance immigrant talent in the Toronto region and beyond. “Thanks to the mentors who guided me along the way, I was able to make a smooth transition into my job at TRIEC and then to my present role as a Senior Research Associate at The Conference Board of Canada.”
Yilmaz speaks passionately of his professional journey. “In my current role at the Conference Board, I continue to do what I’m passionate about. From authoring research reports on immigration to convening key stakeholders on issues facing immigrant talent, I am proud of the work we do.” He recently co-authored the “Building on COVID-Period Immigration Levels: The Economic Case” report by the Conference Board and the Century Initiative. The report offers valuable recommendations to maximize the benefits of immigration for both people born here and immigrants.
“One key piece of advice I can give to newcomers is to continually explore networking and professional development opportunities to acquire new skills and learn ways to promote their accomplishments.”
Being committed to immigrant inclusion, Yilmaz acknowledges the importance of the government’s role in implementing effective policies and programs to integrate newcomers into Canada’s workforce. “There is no doubt that the pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for newcomers, so in this case, providing accessible and holistic settlement services as well as targeted support for hard-hit newcomer groups is key,” he says. “Newcomers are disproportionately affected by precarious work, and this should be addressed because they bring a wealth of skills and experiences with them to Canada.”
Now residing in Toronto with his family, Yilmaz continues to make a positive impact in his field. “One key piece of advice I can give to newcomers is to continually explore networking and professional development opportunities to acquire new skills and learn ways to promote their accomplishments. You can also make use of tools like the Conference Board and Future Skills Centre’s OpportuNext to explore new career paths related to your skill sets. I made a choice to permanently move to Canada, with the hope that my quality education and experience can bring value here and that I can grow further, and it worked out well,” says Yilmaz. “Despite the initial challenges and doubts, I learned a lot and I continue networking with amazing mentors and peers who inspire me to do better.”
Also read: Toronto author Koom Kankesan recalls his newcomer days
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