Professionals needed for Mentorconnect and Connector programs

posted on April 28, 2015

By IEC-BC | Link to Article

By IEC-BC | Link to Article

One of the biggest challenges skilled immigrants face when they arrive in a city is the lack of a network.

“Vancouver’s a big city, but in many ways it’s a bit town in that networks are tight,” said Nair Rampersad, one of 50 TELUS employees to mentor new Canadians through the IEC-BC MentorConnect program.

IEC-BC’s MentorConnect and Connector programs bring many benefits to new Canadians, while also providing leadership and coaching development opportunities for the person doing the mentoring and connecting.

TELUS Human Resources Manager Fiona Easton said everyone – mentors and mentees – benefit from participation in MentorConnect, a program that brings job-ready new Canadians together with local established professionals in an occupation-specific mentoring relationship over a four month period.

“Employees gain valuable experience in coaching,” says Easton. “The opportunity to provide support and guidance to new Canadians and to share your experiences; you can’t put a price on that.”

TELUS began participating with MentorConnect in 2013 to help professionally trained immigrants understand Canada’s work culture and to increase leadership experience for employees. TELUS employees have embraced MentorConnect with many of the original 50 volunteer mentors signing-up again.

The City of Vancouver, the first MentorConnect employer partner, has been helping professional immigrants make the transition since 2011.

Vancouver city manager Dr. Penny Ballem says the mentoring program has been transformational for city staff. “We’re a diverse employer and very proud of that,” she says. “You can’t get better exposure than working with someone from a different background. I tell my friends in other municipalities, ‘you should do this.’”

One of the first to volunteer as a mentor was Peter Judd, the city’s chief engineer. Judd has mentored three new Canadians and tells of a recent mentee who was highly qualified, but his resume was so low-key and subtle, it would likely be weeded out at any early stage of recruitment. He worked with him on building a resume that would be noticed and help get his foot in the door for an interview.

“The people I see are very accomplished in their field, but they haven’t figured out the work culture and the nature of such things as a resume, a cover letter and how to conduct yourself in an interview here.” he says. “People who are generally very accomplished just need a way into an organization and we’re giving them the tools.”

To date, every one of the people Judd has mentored through MentorConnect program has landed a job in their field. For Judd, mentoring skilled immigrants has its own rewards.

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