Tips to maximize your experience as a mentee

posted on January 7, 2022

Canadian Immigrant | January 7, 2022

The challenges new immigrants face finding a job are many: language, culture, lack of connections — and that terrible phrase used in interviews “very impressive qualifications and experience, but you have no Canadian experience.”

So, what can you do to minimize your lack of “Canadian experience?” How can you better understand Canadian business culture and build a network of contacts to help you attain meaningful employment or advance in your profession?

Based on good advice from organizations like the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and my experience over the last few years mentoring immigrants from around the world, I suggest finding a good mentor is a practical step — and a crucial one in building your career.

Mentoring often happens informally, but it is becoming more available formally as well. Old notions that mentorship was only for more senior personnel to mentor junior personnel and only within organizations no longer apply. Additionally, the notion that the value was only to the mentee also no longer applies as mentorship is itself recognized as a key management skill for mentors.

So, as an immigrant how do you find a mentor?

You can find a mentor as part of your job search. Identify people who have influence, relevant experience and, importantly, a willingness to help you.

For instance, by networking with people in your extended community: your family here in Canada; ethnic, work and school connections, and so on. They could help suggest potential mentors as well as employment contacts.

Joining volunteer organizations representing your skills/capabilities and your personal interests is another approach. A great example of this type of organization is the American Marketing Association in Toronto which runs the Mentor Exchange for marketers — which is how my mentees found me.

You can also engage with relevant social media, like LinkedIn, where you can access opportunities, promote your experience, and view profiles of useful contacts and potential mentors.

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