This post is continued from Real Life Narratives Post 2. Please read that first.
Person E is my wonderful friend. We lived together in the UK before both moving to different countries and then meeting again in Canada. He is an IT Manager and resides in Ottawa with his beautiful wife.
How did you choose destination Canada among other countries?
Canada wasn’t too difficult a choice in the sense that the opportunity was there because of the immigration program. The countries that have such opportunities are Canada and Australia but I chose Canada because I have family who have a lot of good things to say about Canada, the peace compared to it’s neighbour the US, the no gun rules unlike the US, the opportunities for professionals like myself and the stories I heard about people who had gone ahead and were able to settle down and most importantly the fact that I knew the land is full of immigrants so I wouldn’t be out of place coming here. Choosing Canada was easy based on all these.
My first job
When I came into Canada, I tried a lot of means to try to break into the job market. One of it was networking and trying to integrate in the community where I was living. I joined a program called In-TAC – organized by an NGO. The program is about helping IT professionals and accountants who did not study in Canada to get some exposure into what is required in the job market and also help them get placement. I joined that program and there were a lot of trainings, networking events etc on how to do well in an interview, answer interview questions, prepare your resume, we even had diction classes – how to pronounce words which to be honest I now appreciate a lot more when I started working. Initially I felt like what’s this and I was just doing it because I was part of the class but it really helped. I got my first job in Canada as a result of this group. One of the recruiters in the team had a couple of openings and felt I was a good candidate so I was referred and went through the interview and I got the job. So my advice for new immigrants when coming into Canada is to try to integrate into the community around you. Sometimes they are your channel in reaching out to those companies that wouldn’t advertise their positions out there but are quickly look to fill them. I moved on to another job which I got by applying online but with the help of the skills I got from that In-TAC program in terms of how to structure my resume for the type of job I was applying for and all. I wasn’t transferred but I got the job a few weeks after landing. It was easy for me because I did a lot of integration with the community here.
Work life in Canada
Work life in Canada has been pretty amazing I must say. It beats my expectation. I don’t know why I had those expectations. People have been very friendly and accepting. In my office, we have a lot of employees across 10 sites and there are very few people of colour but you don’t feel that way because everyone sees you as same. There has been a lot of acceptance, people trust what you’re doing and show love. There are a lot of similarities back home and this might be attributed to the fact that we are all also immigrants. You have to maintain your professionalism but there is a lot of friendliness and acceptance, people trusting you, people believing you can do it, respect for time, respect for one another. Even talking to my friends, I haven’t had anyone who has had terrible experiences. It has been really good especially in the professional space.
Selling yourself in the professional space is very important. Recently I had the opportunity to recruit some people to take over a role in my organization and I found that there are some people who have had several years of experience even in Canada and are still trying to go for a position which I think they are overqualified for. This got me thinking that is it that there are no jobs or are people not doing the right things. Then I see other people who have been here for a short time changing jobs to better ones so it means it is very possible to grow.
My advice would be to understand the environment in which you are in and understand what sells. This will vary from one profession to the other. You need to know what is required of the career that you are going into and present yourself that way. The qualifications need to be there but beyond the qualifications you need to have the right work ethics and the right presentation of yourself. Presentation of yourself starts from even the resume that we put out and the details we put in there. Some jobs do not require all the details and some do because it is an experienced position. I interviewed someone and the person was barging me about the salary whereas we had not come to that part of the conversation. I was already put off as a person because we were just trying to get to know the candidate yet he was insisting on what the salary will be. Personally I didn’t move forward with that person even though I thought he was good enough because I felt he was being overly ambitious and will probably not stay with us for too long because of the way he was going on with the salary. This is a common mistake people make. Prepare well for the interview because it is the first contact they have with you even if it is over the phone. People have gotten jobs over the phone without going into the offices at all. It is all about how you prepare for these stages. Then when you get into the work place you need to add the right attitude. In the professional space, when you go into a role people expect you to add something to the role. You can’t lay back. You don’t want to go there asking what do I do, you need to take initiatives and come out looking reliable. I saw from about two resumes, there was a particular candidate who from his job history was not in a job for a long time. He was there for short periods like 3 to 4 months and had like 5/6 of those kind of jobs. I believe that might be down to him not performing well. I don’t believe going into jobs for few months with a gap and again. There must be something you are not doing right. When you go into a place you need to understand the work culture of the place and know what is expected of you. Take initiative and get the work done. If you have to learn again then learn. Sometimes you need to unlearn and learn again. Some things you knew before you need to take away and and take the new things and see how to make them better. If you are good at the interview and start the job but do not prove yourself well you might not make it past the probation period. It is all about getting to the work place and spending the time and effort that it takes to succeed.
What I like about living in Canada
To be honest only few people might relate to what I like about living in Canada. One of them is that I have constant power. Back home I used to struggle with running the generator and the noise that comes with it. If there is one positive thing that comes with moving to Canada it is having not to run the generator again and knowing fully well that there will be power when I wake up.
Canada is a very welcoming place. I found people very accepting. Of course there have been 1 or 2 people who were not really accepting but that’s a very minute and negligible number compared to the general populace. It feels really welcoming and exciting living with people who accept and respect you.
Canada is a very beautiful place. It is quiet and easy going. I like the peace in the environment. It is a safe place too. The variety of food and things you can get as well.
What I don’t like about living in Canada
The colddddd. Canada is cold. I came in winter and it was terrible for me. Right now it is warm and I don’t look forward to next winter.
The other thing I don’t like which is my opinion and because of my religious background is some of the values the children are exposed to in school in terms of having to choose what gender you are irrespective of the fact that God has created you with a gender. A lot of parents so far are struggling with that and sometimes have to spend more money paying for private schools or christian schools so their kids are brought up in the values they believe in. I think it is a dangerous path to go in even though I know I will receive backlash in the foreign community for saying this. I think it is a challenge because kids at that age need to be brought up right not making choices because they don’t even know what’s right or wrong. If we start giving them the ability to make choices at that point in their life, chances are that they will make the wrong decisions. That is one of the fears of a lot of parents and I share the same concern as well. If there was something I could change about the environment that would be it.
Adjusting to the new culture
In my networking space I talked to a lot of people who have been here for a long time, some who were born here. I think that has been very educative because one of the ways to easily blend in is networking. If you come to Canada and stay in your own space, do your own thing and know only your next door neighbour or very tiny set of people you may end up in a box with little to no information and that might not be helpful to you. My first tip is to expand your network as much as possible. From church to work, in the summer make sure you get involved in things. There are lots of things to do in Canada in summer. If you like sports make sure you join soccer games, volley ball, if you want to learn hockey during the winter etc. There are lots of things to do and that way you get to meet people, share ideologies, try new foods and you will have more information in your hands and this information will become very useful in your settling down life. Do not stay only in the community you feel most comfortable in which is what a lot of people do because they look for a set of people who are like them or immigrated from the same country as them. If you ask me and also for people who have been successful over the years, most of them had to break out. I’m not saying you should go away from that circle but just expand your network to reach other people. Then, you can adjust even at work because at work you will not meet the same set of people and you will mix with all sets of people. You will understand temperaments and know when someone is making a joke, when someone is swearing and it’s a joke or when someone is swearing and is serious. So tip number one in adjusting to a new life in Canada is expanding your network.
Number 2 is to get involved with your local community and get involved in volunteering especially during the summer months. Also find something to do in winter if not you will feel like the world is against you lol. Be open to the environment, there are a lot of things that Canada can give to you. Take the positives and run with it otherwise you might get joined to a life of solitude. Don’t be afraid to go out, don’t be afraid that people will push you away and be open. A lot of people will accept you, you might find that 1 or 2 people do not but most people would accept you. There are a number of local community programs to help people integrate as well as government programs for such things. When you go for these events you will be able to meet different people and know different lives. But then again always watch the company you keep. If you have friends of different origins you start by trying Spanish food today, Lebanese food tomorrow and shortly after you have bonded and gained valuable information.
So folks, there you have it – 5 candid real life narratives on moving to and living in Canada. I will share my own story in a subsequent post. I’ll also share more candid posts like this from other immigrants. Please let me know if you have any areas in particular you want them to focus on in the narratives. I have more awesome content coming your way. Please comment and share!