Neil Armstrong

TORONTO: Jamaican Karen Brown is one of the recipients of the Mentee of the Year Award which is granted by the Mentoring Partnership, award-winning program of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

She was one of five outstanding participants recently honoured at the fourth annual Mentoring Partnership Awards, sponsored and hosted by TD Bank Financial Group.

The other award recipients were mentors Michael Schafler, John Phelan and Carrie Samuels, and Kenneth Chiguvare of Zimbabwe, who was also a recipient of a Mentee of the Year Award.

Arriving in Canada in October 2008 with 10 years of international experience in financial services from Jamaica, Brown set a goal of finding a job in her field within six months. She worked with the Financial Services Commission in Jamaica for seven years. Brown said the job search a bit slow before she participated in the mentorship program which provided much needed advice about how to find the right job in Canada.

With her mentor’s coaching, she conducted information interviews, secured a job shadowing opportunity and volunteered at the Brampton Neighbourhood Resource Centre to gain Canadian experience. She met with her mentor, Jasmine Tehara of TD Bank, who critique her resume, offered suggestions, conducted mock interviews, facilitated professional interviews and job shadowing. The pair was matched by ACCES Employment Services in Brampton.

In July 2009, Brown’s positive attitude and determination landed her a job with TD Bank Financial Group. Her advice for other new immigrants and job seekers trying to make it in this tough job market is to have a positive attitude and be willing to ask for information.

“Networking is very important. It is harder to apply online than to meet someone, through networking, who can hire you,” said Brown.

Founded in 2004, The Mentoring Partnership uses a simple, but powerful idea to help job-ready skilled immigrants build their professional networks in Canada and better leverage their experience and skills in the local labour market. The program brings together recent skilled immigrants and established professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships. Through the program, mentors give 24 hours of their time over a four-month period to help mentees navigate the job search process by sharing their knowledge, experience and professional networks.


With the support of over 50 corporate partners and 12 community partners, The Mentoring Partnership has connected close to 5,000 skilled immigrants with a Canadian professional and network – both critical elements of the job search.

“This year’s winners exemplify the difference that can be made through one-on-one professional relationships between skilled immigrants and established Canadian colleagues,” says Elizabeth McIsaac, executive director of TRIEC. “These success stories underscore the immense value of mentoring as a critical stepping stone that helps skilled immigrants find the right job.”

TD Bank Financial Group is the founding corporate partner of The Mentoring Partnership, has hundreds of employees actively participating in the program, and is helping to expand the mentoring program to other cities across Canada in partnership with ALLIES, a project of Maytree and the J.W. McConnell.


Reference: Gleaner Extra North America