The mentorship program launched by the Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) association Hispanotech has come a long way since its first cohort in 2015. Now into its third year, the program has expanded its capacity by partnering with the Canadian Colombian Professional Association (CCPA) in 2016, and EXATEC Ontario, who will be joining this year. We caught up with Gabriel Sorozabal, Andrew Carvajal and Marcela Chein from Hispanotech, CCPA and EXATEC Ontario, respectively, to get their thoughts on how collaboration has made the program stronger.
Q. Let’s begin with you, Gabriel. Why did you want to start the mentorship program at Hispanotech?
Gabriel: When we set out to start the program, our main goal was to provide tangible, real benefits for our members. The mentorship program is a very effective way to help members get closer to their goals and also a great way to increase membership through word of mouth.
At the same time, the program improves engagement of our older members by providing them with the opportunity to give back. After all, this is what we are about, helping each other to improve our community.
Q. Can you tell us how first cohort went, back in 2015?
Gabriel: Our first session consisted of nine mentor-mentee partnerships. We reviewed each participant and tried to get the best match for each other. TRIEC kindly provided the space we needed to conduct our group meetings and its staff was very supportive of the new program.
This small group was very successful as 40% of mentees reported that they had found employment in their field of expertise, either during the course of the 12 week program or within three months after. They are now our success stories who inspire participants of the new cohorts of the program.
Q. Andrew, why were you interested in partnering with Hispanotech on the mentorship program?
Andrew: We believe that strength comes in numbers. Working collaboratively with another Hispanic organization that had has success with their mentoring program meant that we would have access to a larger pool of mentors and mentees in the Toronto community. It was an excellent opportunity to make our program bigger, split costs and learn from each other’s success. Since our members belong to the same community, they have similar needs and can gain from being in contact with each other.
Q. Are there any outcomes from the program that you would like to share?
Gabriel: We grew from nine pairs in the 2015 to 44 pairs in the 2016 cohort, which we organized jointly with the Canadian Colombian Professional Association (CCPA). Another very positive outcome of the mentorship program is a growing network of people who are very willing and ready to give back to the community by mentoring a fellow member in their integration to the Canadian labour market or by coaching members who are trying to get a promotion at work or are switching careers.
In many cases, the relationships forged during the mentorship program continue after the end, further enhancing the benefits to both the mentee and the mentor. We have found that successful participants from past sessions are our best advertisement and our mentors from previous programs provide the best guidance to new mentors.
Andrew: Most people have heard of the CCPA or remember the CCPA fondly because they participated in our mentorship program at some point in their careers. People have found jobs, made friends, and opened many doors by being part of the program and we really treasure that. It is also an opportunity to work on networking skills, which aren’t used as often in the Hispanic labour market.
Q. Marcela, what convinced you to join Hispanotech and CCPA on the mentorship program?
Marcela: Many members of EXATEC Ontario have benefited from joining the mentorship program before, as mentees and mentors. However, we have never participated in the development of the program. We thought it was a good way to pay it forward, and to continue expanding the Hispanic professionals’ presence in Toronto.
Q. How do you think this partnership, and the program, will benefit your members?
Gabriel: TRIEC and the PINs program have provided Hispanotech with the initial impulse that enabled us to continue offering a solid mentoring program to our members. Future participants will benefit with the experience we have gained and feedback we have received from the previous sessions. Also, the success of the program has attracted other professional associations to partner up and work collaboratively with us. This collaborative work will benefit many new Canadians.
Andrew: Many of our members are newcomers to Canada. This is an excellent opportunity for them to work on their networking skills and meet people who may present opportunities that will benefit them personally and professionally. For mentors, this is also an opportunity to meet others, connect with other mentors and give back to the community.
Marcela: This program will benefit all our members. As mentees, they will be able to gain self-confidence, explode their potential and realize that all the experience they have can be transferable and used to grow in their professional field. As mentors, it is an opportunity to give back and also learn and improve their leadership skills by guiding others to find professional opportunities and connections. A mentorship program is the right place to start to boost their careers in Canada.
To learn more about the Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) program, and the PINs association, visit www.networksforimmigrants.ca.