When I was growing up, I did not exactly have an aim in life. I followed a conventional path of what “success” meant in my home country. However, I was struggling with not having any opportunities to grow further. At the age of 25, I realized I needed to get out of my comfort zone to focus on self-growth. I wanted to change my field of studies and planned to take a second Masters. Even though it seemed far-fetched at the time, I took a chance on trying to make a living in a new country. I started my journey as an immigrant in 2015, and since then, it has been a learning curve filled with good, bad, and wonderful experiences.
Currently, I am working as a Project Specialist for the Career Advancement for Immigrant Professionals (CAIP) program at TRIEC. Being an immigrant myself, it has been rewarding to work for the community through this program, and through being part of the organization overall. The CAIP program in particular works with employer partners to ensure effective career advancement for newcomers within their organization. The program is unique in its quest to facilitate career progression for newcomers commensurate to their skills and experience.
I reached Canada, which I call “home” now, in late 2019 as a skilled immigrant. I had prior experience settling in a new country (Australia), but I made this previous transition as a student. Being a student, I got support from my university, I made new friends and connections to help professionally, and also had opportunities to build my network within the university. All this helped me to navigate my career path, and although this was not easy, these things helped.
As a skilled immigrant to Canada, although I have come with significantly higher skills and experiences, initially, like everyone else, I found myself all alone without much ready support to navigate the nuances of the labour market. I had to put in additional effort to identify the support systems available and often this could be somewhat frustrating.
I felt elated when I came to this country but the problem hovering over me was how to sustain myself. I started with a job in a call centre to pay my bills, and connected with employment support for newcomers. I felt confused, less confident at times, but I was trying my best to believe in the value of patience and persistence. Thanks to my previous experience as an immigrant, I somewhat knew how to manage my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, prior experience as an immigrant does not make the adjustments to a new country any easier, but what it does is you already know this is not going to be “easy”, so difficulties don’t come as a surprise. My mentor from TRIEC Mentoring Partnership helped me to understand the unknowns at that time.
My career journey before TRIEC had a few pit stops. I had decided to leave my successful banking career in Bangladesh (my home country) to pursue my second Masters in 2015. In Australia, I completed my degree in Management, and then started working in non-profit organizations on projects supporting people from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants and refugees. These experiences shaped my career goals and aspirations, and when I reached Canada, in the midst of all the struggles, I only knew one thing – I wanted to build on my previous experience, and have a career in a non-profit supporting people like me who are struggling to find a place in a new country. I was looking for project-focused roles in non-profits and my first role in TRIEC, although it was not program based but an admin role, gave me the opportunity to set foot in the industry.
Being an immigrant and starting a new life all over again takes courage and resilience. It is not easy to reach where you left off and I am still walking the path after almost two years. What gives me hope is the efforts and initiatives from organizations like TRIEC to make this transition easier to navigate.