Get information that is essential for all newcomers to Canada


We would like to introduce you to Gayathri Veersaswaminathan, a lovely young woman from south-west India. Gaya arrived in Canada in April, 2012 along with her husband Gnana Prabhu and young daughter Shivani. Gaya currently holds the position of Finance and Administrative Coordinator with Peel Newcomer Strategy Group and United Way of Peel.

Well spoken and well educated, Gaya and her husband moved to Canada with the hope of providing their daughter with a better education and more career opportunities than they felt would be available to her at home in India. For themselves, Gaya and Prabhu were looking for career growth Gayaopportunities, as well as a better work/life balance for their family. In India, Gaya was working long hours, six days a week and was feeling the stress of being a working mom trying to raise a child and build a family. Although they had the support of family and friends, Gaya was looking for something more for herself and her life. They learned that Canada is a safe and welcoming country and they believed they would fit in well here.

Gaya holds an MBA in Finance and Systems, while her husband is a Computer Hardware Engineer. They are both fluent in English and held good jobs in India. They assumed that these qualifications would help to make it relatively easy to move and settle in Canada. Prior to moving Gaya and her husband did a significant amount of research on the Internet. They also attended a two-day information session in India sponsored by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This session provides information to potential newcomers about life in Canada, as well as tries to answer any questions people may have. After all of this preparation Gaya was still surprised by how difficult her first few months were in Canada. According to her “we didn’t think it would be as difficult as it was. Although we had great ‘hard’ skills on paper including language, education and work experience, we definitely underestimated so many of the ‘softer’ cultural issues we’d have to deal with.” After arriving in Canada Gaya sent out resumes and applied to more jobs than she could count but had no luck even getting an interview. She was confused, frustrated and getting depressed. She did not, however, consider giving up or heading back to India. Instead, she sat down and took a hard, objective look at her situation to try and figure out her biggest challenges. As part of this process Gaya decided to seek the help of a newcomer settlement agency, a search that ultimately brought her to the offices of Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services (POLYCULTURAL).

Gaya said that it was “the way the POLYCULTURAL staff really listened to me, considered what I had to say and then suggested a plan that addressed my specific needs” that was the turning point for her. In particular, POLYCULTURAL realized that Gaya needed to work on her “soft skills”, things like understanding the Canadian workplace culture and exactly ‘how’ people get jobs here. Because of her English fluency, Gaya qualified for the Enhanced Language Training (ELT) program run by POLYCULTURAL. This six-week program is designed specifically for newcomers with high-level English skills. It helps build on the individual’s existing work experience and enhances their knowledge of technical terminology relevant in their specific field here in Canada. The ELT program also taught Gaya how to highlight her skills in her resume and prepare for interviews. An important component of the ELT program is over a month-long internship at a Canadian employer. Gaya was placed at the United Way of Peel and it was this placement, together with the skills and strategies she learned in the ELT program that gave her the boost she needed to secure her current position.

When asked to describe the most important things she learned in the ELT program, Gaya said “I learned that, in Canada, you really need to have essential soft skills to fit in the work place and know how to promote yourself. I was able to tighten my resume in order to highlight my strengths. I learned that it is both important and expected by employers that you are able to ‘promote’ yourself – to let people know what skills you have and why they should hire you rather than someone else. This is very different from my experience working in India and I needed to learn how to do it.”

Eighteen months after landing in Canada Gaya and her family are realizing their dreams. Gaya is thrilled to be working with Newcomers in her position. Her husband has completed a similar ELT program and is currently working as a Distribution Associate and their daughter is fully integrated to Canadian life. Gaya credits her mother for giving her the strength and determination to move to Canada and pursue a life here even when things were difficult. She credits the staff at POLYCULTURAL for supporting her and helping her to get the experience and soft skills she needed to get a good job. When asked what advice she would give to other newcomers arriving in Canada Gaya offered the following: “ First of all I would welcome them to Canada. The key lessons which I learnt after coming to Canada were Patience and Persistence. The initial struggle and difficulties you experience would happen even if you were to move from one province to another within your home country. In the initial months you must be prepared to allow time for you and your family to adjust to your new life. You should approach a settlement agency like POLYCULTURAL immediately after you arrive in Canada. Agencies, like POLYCULTURAL in particular, are very experienced in helping to direct newcomers to the services they need. Once you have secured a job make sure you participate any networking events you can find. This will help you to build friendships with people and to make contacts for other job opportunities. Most importantly: stay calm and be patient. If you have the right attitude and believe that things will work out: then they will.”

Tracey Bennewies

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