Gautam Nath, leader of the Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) association, Jobs In Canada, has been volunteering since he came to Canada. His volunteer work hasn’t just benefited the community. It’s also helped him in his own professional field. He explains why volunteering can be an important step in an immigrant professional’s pathway to employment.

I first visited Canada as a tourist. I experienced the beauty of nature, met lovely people, sampled the variety of cuisines, and drove around the province in an RV. My experience as an immigrant professional, however, was very different. I realized that everything you accomplish outside of Canada – your brand and wealth of knowledge – wasn’t valued as much. You have to re-brand yourself and find opportunities to be seen and heard.

That’s when I discovered this beautiful thing called volunteering. In Canada, the expectation of volunteering is for each person to give something back to the community. However, for a new Canadian, volunteering goes beyond that. Volunteering can be a platform to showcase your skillsets, your passion, to network with others, and to get experience of Canadian workplace cultures. After learning of these benefits, I began to volunteer literally from the first month of landing here.

I volunteered on the Board of MCIS Language Solutions, and PINs associations such as M-Bridge Culture Integration Society for Professionals and the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals. I am also on the York University Advisory Board, supporting the International Educated Professional Bridging Program. Recently, I have joined the board of New Canadian Media, an online platform helping immigrant journalists. I also started my own PINs association, Jobs In Canada, which has over 36500 members globally. Aside from this, I have also had many speaking engagements at various immigrant-serving agencies such as ACCES EmploymentJob SkillsWoodgreenCOSTI and Skills for Change.

In my own profession, I found that volunteering helped keep me abreast of trends in my field of marketing. I was able to share and learn from other members and volunteers. Being a volunteer speaker at events kept me on the leading edge of the subject. Even after I found employment, volunteering for immigrant-serving organizations helped me understand the challenges of newcomers. This was helpful in my work, as it allows me to reach out to them in a more meaningful manner.

In 2011, I was one of the recipients of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award, in recognition of my volunteer efforts. In 2016, I received the Certificate of Recognition from Volunteer Toronto. Most recently, in 2017, I was honored with the highest volunteer recognition in Ontario, the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism. It feels good to give back, and be acknowledged in my new home. Being able to motivate others and to share my journey for their benefit is very fulfilling!

I believe volunteering is one of the first things an immigrant professional should get involved with. It allows you to network and meet people, gives you a routine and a place where you are wanted and recognized, and it helps you hone your skillsets. Volunteering can be a vital tool in finding meaningful employment.

Click here to find out more about the PINs program.