Canadian employers often may not know how to assess education and work experience from other countries. They may require or prefer you to have Canadian work 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 terrific communication skills who will fit right in and become natural 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.
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. You can find hundreds of volunteering opportunities in community organizations and social non-profits in your area 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. You should consider volunteering in your community as it is an important tool that can help you integrate faster into society and workforce.
Click here to know more about the benefits of volunteering.
Internships are an excellent way to gain Canadian experience. You can find different internship programs in Canada that can help you and also you can attempt to arrange your own by networking.
One of the well-known internship programs is Career Edge. It is an innovative program that allows you to apply for paid internships at Canada’s leading private, public or non-profit sector employers. The program offers paid internships of four, six, nine or 12 months for recent immigrants:
- with fluency in English
- with at least a Bachelor’s level education
- with 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.
Another opportunity is the Federal Internship for Newcomers (FIN) Program which provides recent immigrants with valuable temporary Canadian work experience and training opportunities with federal government departments and other public and private sector organizations.
Interns are hired as casual employees for 90 working days, with the possibility of extending the internship an additional 90 working days.
Internships are offered in categories such as: policy, administration, project management, computer science, communications and science. A mentor will be provided for the duration of the internship.
It’s important to find someone who can coach or mentor you and share information about the ICT industry in Canada. Many professional associations and some companies offer this type of “buddy” program, where a seasoned member guides a junior one. 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.
Click here to learn more about mentoring.
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 gain some good networking contacts. This can last anywhere from an hour to an entire day. Job shadowing is a great way to find out what an hour or a day on your job is like in Canada.
Click here to learn more about job shadowing.