The Importance Of A Mentor

Like most immigrants, I landed in a new country devoid of any contacts professionally and socially. Sure, you do have LinkedIn and other networking sites, but how many of you have the most powerful tool in your arsenal? I am talking about mentorship of course.

Now back ‘home’ I didn’t have any formal mentors but certainly had a few who guided me as a young, impetuous professional. And when I started my first entrepreneurial journey in Canada, I did a lot of reading and found that mentors can dictate the outcomes of a new business by being coaches, teachers and a sounding board.

So I went out and got twelve mentors. And honestly, I firmly believe any success I had was a result of these mentors who pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me strive higher.

Many immigrants I speak to talk about how difficult it is to find a mentor. I just can’t accept that. My very first mentor was featured in the newspaper, and I just called him and we had lunch and he agreed to be my mentor. It truly is a case of ‘finding a way’ to do what you need to.

Many professional associations offer this type of “buddy” program, where a seasoned member guides a junior one. A survey conducted amongst immigrants showed incredible results. Twelve months after the start of their mentoring relationship, unemployment dropped from 73% to 19%. In addition, 71% of mentees were employed in their field, compared to 27% pre-mentoring. Average full-time earnings increased by more than 60% from $36,905 to $59,944.

So, go out, find people in your profession, your community and read up about them before you approach them.

Good luck!

End of the Year Investing!

No, I do not plan to suggest an investment opportunity! I am talking about investing in yourself!

As the year draws to a close many of us gather with friends and family to celebrate Christmas it is also a great time to reflect on your professional journey in Canada. Some of you may have landed your job within your profession already, in which case we would certainly want to hear from you and maybe even share your story with other immigrants. Email us at [email protected]

For those of you who are either in a transition job or are looking for a job, this is a great time to brush up your skills. Our newly redesigned website has new eBooks on 22 professions, essential soft skills and webinars on demand including some great webinars on LinkedIn for Newcomers, Immigrant Access Fund and Certificate and Bridging Programs.

There is also an abundance of information on the internet, but I would also suggest a site called Coursera where you can brush up on a variety of topics and do it all for free online! The website provides you with highly qualified faculty who cover subjects from public speaking, writing, soft skills to digital marketing. Most of the courses have faculty from top notch US Universities and you get a certification of completion that will look really good on your resume.

The bottom line is that take some time out to invest in yourself and improve your chances of getting a job in your career of choice!

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and Happy Holidays!


Have a Plan B in Canada!

What does having a Plan B mean? Plan B is what happens when Plan A (your original plan or the career you had before you migrated) doesn’t work!  Unfortunately, many immigrants do not even have a Plan A and think that they will just do what they did back home. And trust me, that does not always work.

In my case, I came to Canada with twenty-three years in advertising handling account management, new business development, copywriting and film production for global brands in three different countries. After landing in Canada I discovered that Vancouver had very few ad agencies and I should be in the capital of advertising that is Toronto. With a family of four, that would have meant a very expensive move, plus I fell in love with Vancouver and I am not particularly fond of shoveling the snow that you get elsewhere in Canada!
Time for Plan B!
I moved into advertising sales and both my employer and I were impressed at how good I was at it! My Plan B worked because I used my transferable skills and made a career out of it.
Plan B soon became preferable to my Plan A, as I launched my own magazine utilising the new skills I had added to my resume. That is the best way to create a Plan B! List your skills and then search for different careers that would need those skills and go from there.
I have been talking to thousands of immigrants about this in my 7 Success Secrets for Canadian Immigrants seminar for over a decade. Plan B is now also referred to as Alternative Careers.
Please do your research and always, always have a Plan B!

Immigration lesson from a toy!

At a recent conference I attended, the MC asked the audience to connect with someone who they didn’t know and talk about a toy that they remembered from childhood.  I met a young man who proudly flaunted a badge showing he was working for a national bank.

Like almost all of us, he went through the all too familiar initial responses to job applications, interview sessions and hearing the dreaded ‘no Canadian experience’ response.  Which is very disheartening indeed, as anyone who has experienced it knows.

“So how did you overcome the negativity?” I asked.  “Did you have that clown toy as a kid? You know the one filled with air that you could keep punching down and it would bounce back?” he asked.

And I did remember having a toy like that and smiled nodding.

“Well, I just kept thinking how the toy kept bouncing back never being laid out flat! And I took my inspiration from the toy!”

What a great attitude!

I constantly marvel at the immigrant spirit. The ‘never say die’, the ‘I will never give up’, the ‘tomorrow is another day’ attitude.

Almost every successful immigrant I meet has that positive attitude in spades.

For me it was the poster above my desk showing a cartoon drawing of a stork with a frog in the beak and the frog with his hands around the neck of the stork! The saying was “never give up!”, and I didn’t.

Nor should you.

Tomorrow is another day. Brush yourself off and get to it!


I am here! Now what?

I often get messages from immigrants asking this question.

Most of them have attended Prepare For Canada’s webinars and they seek inputs on the next steps. Here they are:

  1. Get ready to leave your comfort zone! Trust me, you will need to do things you never thought possible, like striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger. Remember this: what worked in your home country probably won’t work here. Get ready to do things the Canadian way.
  2. Understand the Canadian job market. 80% of jobs are not advertised (this is called the hidden job market) and can only be accessed through networking. There are several networking organisations that are career specific (referred to as PINS or Professional Immigrant Networks). They will connect you with peers who will help you understand your career in Canada as well as how to go about your job search. Also start looking out for other networking opportunities like on Meetup. This will help you create your social network.
  3. Connect with a settlement agency, as they are truly the best qualified to help you in your job search including helping you with mock interviews. All their services are free to you and you should take advantage of this.
  4. Find a mentor. Now people always come back to me saying “I tried at all the agencies and no one could find me a mentor” and my answer is, you go find yourself a mentor! Research and find the company you believe is at the top of their game in your profession and start dialling!
  5. Volunteer! This is the best way to get Canadian experience! Check this article.

I am not saying these are the only steps to take, but they will certainly be the top five when you land here. So go for it and let me know how it works!



Happy Canada Day!

Sunshine, blue skies and open roads. Canadian living doesn’t get much better than this!

Next year, Canada will celebrate its 150th year since Confederation and as future citizens of this great country, it would be worthwhile to study a bit more about Canada. Knowing about the country you have embraced will make you proud of its achievements and you will be a great ambassador when you talk to family and friends about this great country.

At Prepare for Canada, we are constantly working on improving your professional prospects in Canada. We have teamed up with several professional bodies to provide you with free training that will enhance your ability to get a job of your choice.

We will shortly be launching a free predictive performance profile (P3) that will help you in your job search. The P3 program (similar to a Myers-Briggs assessment) will also help you in creating an effective LinkedIn profile as well as in crafting cover letters for jobs.

Meanwhile, go out there and enjoy the Canada Day Long Weekend!

Big Country, Bigger Hearts!

I have had the pleasure of visiting Fort McMurray several times over the past four years and came to love this small community with a big heart. This vibrant community of individuals who had moved from different parts of Canada and also different parts of the world got hit with the drop in oil prices last year, but true to the Fort Mac spirit the residents soldiered on.

More of that resilient spirit will be needed after the recent wildfires that caused an evacuation of over 80,000 individuals. The panic of having to evacuate is unimaginable, fleeing for life with family and loved ones leaving behind homes that you know will be burnt down and what was once filled with memories and laughter. In some areas, people were given two minutes to leave!

This became personal for me, as my brother and his wife were stuck there as the raging fires threatened life and property. He initially headed north and after being stuck in the traffic ended up spending the night in his truck. He later turned and went south to Edmonton driving down a highway with flames on either side.

In this mass evacuation, what was amazing though was how the Albertans created a human chain of love, outreach and help for their neighbours up north. They drove with trucks filled with gas, water and food to the highways helping stranded drivers. Several people took in perfect strangers into their homes and hearts and provided them with a warm bed and food. Individuals even created Facebook pages that offered help with animals that people may want to be housed safely. A Ford dealership stepped up as did people from neighbouring Saskatchewan sending trailers of food supplies.

This is the unique character of Canadians. To have the compassion for a neighbour and reach out at a time of a devastating tragedy.  As immigrants, we should do our part as well. This is our country and we need to step up to do the right thing for Canadians in need and show our children the true meaning of unconditional love and compassion.

Do consider giving to the Red Cross, even if it is a small amount, every bit counts!

I always say to immigrants that while Canada is a big country, what is bigger is their hearts. And now we need to give to the people of Fort McMurray in their time of need.

Immigrants and the rear view mirror!

And no, this article is NOT about driving at all. Let me explain.

Many of us come from positions much senior to what we are doing in Canada. We were Senior Managers, some even Vice Presidents and Directors earning a great income and the lifestyle that goes with that income. And the initial years in Canada can mean stepping down several rungs not only in our titles but also our earnings.   Continue reading

Loans for immigrants

For the past four years, we at Prepare for Canada have been speaking to immigrants preparing them by providing them information on Canada. One of the most asked questions is “are there loans that one could get to upgrade skills or get further education?” And the answer is ‘Yes!’ Continue reading

Yes Sir, yes Madam! NONO!

At a recent conference, I was seated next to an HR manager who after a few hours of sitting together turned to me and said “I have an unusual situation with an immigrant hire and was hoping you could give me some inputs.” She went on to say that the person in question had been promoted to a Manager position, but had some ‘communication challenges’. Continue reading

Watch out for scammers!

Scam keyboard key

Summer is here and with it brings so many newcomers to Canada! I recently had the opportunity to connect with someone who had attended our Know Before You Go! Webinar. After a couple of months in Canada and he called me and said he wished he had done all that we advised him to do! It is something I hear all the time and frankly, there’s not much that we can do but give you all this information. Continue reading