Saleha Hussain, Building Engineer, City of Toronto

Saleha’s parents immigrated to Canada when she was a teenager. She witnessed their struggle settling in Canada and trying to find jobs in their professional fields. Unfortunately, it never happened for them and they had to work survival jobs to take care of their four children. “Many immigrants still face these same challenges, but it’s great that we now have programs like TRIEC’s Mentoring Partnership to help them out,” says Saleha. Working at the City of Toronto as a Building Engineer, Saleha is a big supporter of the partnership and is currently supporting her tenth mentee.

Learning from experience

In the past, Saleha would go through her mentees’ resumes and map out an action plan for them on their first meeting. With her tenth mentee, however, she wanted to try a new approach and start with an in-depth interview. “I wanted him to tell me what his experience has been so far, what he has done and has accomplished and how comfortable he feels to going forward from here,” shares Saleha. “I then catered our action plan going forward towards what his experience has been.” Saleha found that her mentee’s resume looked very good and that he had already done a lot. But she knew no matter how experienced, educated and prepared for a job search her mentee was, he would need support, motivation and inspiration to keep going and reaching his ultimate goal.

Why she keeps coming back

Saleha has volunteered as a mentor with The Mentoring Partnership ten times and doesn’t intend to stop. “If I can help one person at a time, I’ll do that. If I can reach out to even one more person, why not,” says Saleha. “I learned something from each of my mentees. They have many struggles just like we all do. The nature of their struggles changes from person to person. Being a mentor gives me perspective on these struggles, and how we can get over them.” “We’re here to help each other not give up and to keep on trying.”

Saleha’s advice to mentees:

  1. Don’t give up. Ever. Keep your hopes high
  2. Give yourself time and set yourself a deadline. If by this deadline you don’t find suitable employment in your field, then volunteer to get the experience you need.
  3. Explore other provinces, such as Alberta, because there might be job opportunities there for you.

Advice to mentors:

  1. Find motivation for your own professional development in helping to guide your mentee
  2. Don’t be disheartened if your mentee does not have a job offer at the end of the four months. You have helped them and they can take what you shared and apply it going forward.