A diverse professional network can be very helpful for newcomers looking for meaningful employment. But how does it work in practice? Marcela Chein, President, EXATEC Ontario, a Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) association, talks about how joining a professional association helped her build her network and find employment in Canada.

Marcela_Chein_MarchMCPhoto (resized)I came to Canada in 2013. After about six months of living here and feeling like a tourist, the realization set in that I actually lived here, and I wanted to connect with people from my community. In November 2013, I found out that EXATEC Ontario was setting an altar at Harbourfront Toronto to celebrate the Day of the Dead. At the time, a part of me just wanted to reconnect with my culture, so I decided to join in. As an alumna of Tec de Monterrey University in Mexico, I was lucky that there was a professional network where I could connect with professionals from my home country, and subsequently, I became a member of the association.

EXATEC Ontario provided a platform for me to connect with other associations and leaders in the GTA, through TRIEC’s Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) program. Since becoming President of EXATEC, I have had the opportunity to demonstrate my skills and capabilities as a leader. I have also gained a lot of exposure by being the primary contact for all activities related to the association.

As a PINs association leader, I participated in their quarterly meetings. In one of these meetings, I connected with a PINs leader from the Association of Romanian Engineers in Canada (AREC). We had an informational interview, and I mentioned my interests, experience, and the challenges I was having in finding a full-time position. A few months later, she contacted me about an opportunity at the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) she had found through her network, which matched my skills and qualifications. She recommended me for the position and I was called for the interview. After the interview process, I was hired by ICTC as a Student and Employment Coordinator for the Toronto cohort.

Joining a professional association has many benefits for newcomers in Canada. They get the opportunity to meet and connect with other immigrants in Canada. Learning from others’ experiences also allows us to relate to their life experiences and get a new perspective. I would recommend newcomer professionals to attend as many networking events as possible, practice their elevator pitch, and try to stay in touch with these new connections in a friendly manner. At the end of the day, if you make a good impression, it is more likely for them to think of you as a good candidate, whenever they learn of any opportunity, and recommend you. You can also learn about the different ways to succeed in this country that we now call home.

To learn more about the PINs program and to connect with a professional association, click here.