Mentoring is a successful tool to help skilled immigrant in their job search. In partnership with TRIEC’s Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) program, JVS Toronto has helped even more immigrants take advantage of this tool through its ethno-cultural mentoring program. This program provides a framework to help ethno-specific professional immigrant associations run group mentoring programs for their newcomer members.
The Association of Romanian Engineers in Canada (AREC) was one of the first associations to participate in JVS Toronto’s program in 2011. The training enabled AREC to successfully deliver its own mentoring program.
Recently, we spoke to Cristian Radu and Marian Tanase, mentor and mentee respectively, about their experience with AREC’s mentoring program.
How did you find out about AREC?
Cristian (mentor): I first found out about AREC when I started to gather information for my Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) licensing application. I attended a few of AREC’s info sessions and discovered many great people there, professionals like me, willing to help each other.
Marian (mentee): I found out about AREC through LinkedIn. I emailed them and received a fast and concise response. I thought it was a great opportunity for me, as a newcomer, to be part of a great association of professionals in engineering here in Canada.
Why did you want to be part of the mentoring program?
Cristian (mentor): I found it remarkable that volunteers from AREC dedicated their time and effort to guide other people in need of information. Many of us came to Canada with great education and work experience but the whole adaptation process in a new country is made a lot easier through someone’s guidance. I was helped by extraordinary people when I needed it the most, and I thought I’d return the service to the new generation of immigrants.
Marian (mentee): I joined the mentoring program at AREC because I was a newcomer to Canada and was looking for every opportunity to successfully continue and develop my professional career in Canada. Once I received all the information about the mentoring program, it was an easy choice and I joined without any doubts.
How was your experience as a mentor/mentee?
Cristian (mentor): Being a mentor somewhat resembles teaching, but at a very personal level, and involves a lot of listening to start. I discovered I love to listen to people’s particular cases and to understand their finest details, before proposing a recipe for success.
We all know that in general, there is a reluctance to change. Some people adapt faster and some don’t. I believe that the first success for a mentor is when their mentee starts to accept the need to change and understand that despite their past beliefs the new rules are a bit different. Then once they learn and start to apply the new rules, the benefits will show quickly. So I think the most rewarding part of being a mentor is being able to convince the mentee that they have to forget some of their old habits and to adapt to new ones.
My mentee, Marian, is a highly educated professional and an ambitious man. I was impressed with how well he did his homework regarding integrating into his new life in Canada. He was extremely fast and got a survival job in the first week after landing. Then, in a matter of weeks, he moved to something better. He then applied to a government internship program to gather work experience in his field. He is a very motivated person, to say the least.
Marian (mentee): Since it was my first real experience in a mentoring program, I can say that it was a great overall experience and I’m glad that I didn’t miss it.
My mentor was more than a guide. He was and is a great friend and I really appreciate everything he did for me. Throughout all the meetings, I received a lot of valuable information regarding Canadian workplace culture and how important it is to build a proper Canadian resume.
Our meetings always had everything needed in order for it to be a successful program.
What advice would you like to give to skilled immigrants seeking employment?
Cristian (mentor): Networking is my first recommendation; and the second, and the third. Also, take full advantage of your formal education and work experience; don’t minimize its importance. It’s your most valuable asset that brought you here in the first place. Use it as best you can. For that to happen, make it official: register with the provincial regulatory body for your profession. And don’t forget networking!
Marian (mentee): Be persuasive! Try to get in touch and network with people related to your field of work. Try on every occasion to improve yourself, not only as a professional but as a person as well.