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Canadian employers often may not know how to assess education and work experience from other countries. They may require, or prefer that you have Canadian experience. Lack of local market experience can pose a challenge for newcomers, but there are ways to overcome some of these challenges.

When an employer tells you that you have no “Canadian experience” often they mean that they’re not sure if you’re going to fit into their workplace. They are not sure that you are familiar with Canadian codes and standards of practice or that you have the communication skills, etiquette or inter-personal savvy to be an asset to their firm.

Employers want friendly, assertive professionals with above average communication skills who will fit right in and over time become leaders. You can overcome this barrier and acquire a good understanding of how a Canadian workplace operates by volunteering, meeting people, having a mentor, getting an internship or job shadowing.

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Volunteering

Volunteerism is an important part of Canadian society and lifestyle. It helps you settle in faster, make friends, practice skills and even it might lead you – in some cases – to a job at the organization where you are volunteering or somewhere else. For example, you may volunteer as a dental assistant in non-profit dental clinics or find some volunteering opportunities in alternative areas. You can know about any opportunities by contacting your local volunteer centre. As well, you can ask your relatives, friends or colleagues for volunteer opportunities that suit your skills and interests.

Regardless, you should consider volunteering in your community as it is an important tool that helps you practice your communication skills or learn some new technology skills.

Click here to know more about the benefits of volunteering.

Internship

Another good way to acquire Canadian experience is by having internships. Career Edge is an innovative internship program that allows you to apply for paid internships at Canada’s leading private, public or non-profit sector employers. The program regularly posts internship opportunities and offers paid internships of four, six, nine or 12 months for recent immigrants with:

  • fluency in English
  • at least a Bachelor’s level education
  • a minimum of three years international work experience

The program is run by Career Edge, a not-for-profit social enterprise that has managed over 9,200 paid internships across Canada since 1996.

Mentoring

Mentoring is defined as a voluntary, mutually beneficial and long-term relationship where an experienced and knowledgeable leader supports the maturation of a less experienced dentist. Benefits to Internationally Educated Dentists include:

  • increased self-esteem and confidence
  • exposure to new areas of dentistry
  • a deepened understanding of the workplace culture/scope/practice in Canada
  • an opportunity to ask questions in a supportive environment.

As well, many immigrant-serving agencies have mentorship programs where they team up a newcomer with someone in their professional field.

The Mentoring Partnership brings together recent skilled immigrants and established professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships. The program is managed by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

You can also look for mentoring opportunities online, by registering for sites such as MentorCity.

For general information on mentoring, click here.

Job shadowing

Not exactly a mentorship or a volunteer opportunity, job shadowing is an interesting way to get some inside information on your industry in Canada, know about how the Canadian workplace operates and possibly make some good networking contacts.

As in volunteering, identify 5-10 dentists or dental clinics you wish to work for and try to use your network to approach dentists who work at these clinics. Contact them, explain that you are a newcomer and ask them if it’s possible to job shadow them for some time to get familiar with the local work culture. For example, some dentists have practices open on Saturdays and you could ask them to shadow for a few hours on Saturday mornings. Who knows, this way you may even get a chance to help them as a dental assistant!