“I feel because I wanted to integrate into Canadian society and get a job in my field, I armed myself with a lot of resources while in Nigeria and upon arrival in Canada. The key is to be proactive, ask questions and stay positive and never give up. It’s not going to be easy the first few months but just hang in there.”
These are the words of Linda Okafor, an accountant from Nigeria, who arrived in Calgary, Alberta, on March 13, 2017. The endless opportunities that Canada offers to immigrants proved to be a strong motivating factor when she decided to relocate. Even though she was excited about the prospects of immigrating to Canada, she struggled to shake off the spectre of uncertainty that hovered around what was for her a dream move.
Topmost on Linda’s agenda was to secure a job in her field within a year of arriving. She understood perfectly that nothing would be handed to her on a platter in Canada and that she had an important role to play in her own success. Most importantly, she was clear on the importance of being armed with the right information and maintaining a positive attitude. “I knew that coming to a new country where I knew no one was going to be very challenging, yet I was hopeful and positive that I would get settled in within a year in terms of getting a job.”
She first learned about SOPA during an orientation session at the Canadian Embassy in Nigeria and wasted no time in signing up for the program. She also found out through the resource materials she received at the session that her profession was regulated in Canada. This led Linda to immediately begin seeking information on the professional qualifications required to work in her field in Canada as well as the membership requirements for the professional association for accountants in Alberta – the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) of Alberta.
Furthermore, she completed all the SOPA courses and found them to be a treasure trove of relevant information that proved instrumental in helping her secure a job with the Calgary office of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a tax service agent eight months after arriving. Linda ensured that her eight months of job searching were productive.
A month after she arrived, she enrolled in a bridging program that helped her to update her skills, network with other professionals in her field, and gain Canadian work experience through the program’s internship arrangement. She was also provided a mentor who became a strong support system when the going got tough. Apart from offering her career advice and guidance, Linda’s mentor helped her to manage negative emotions that threatened to dampen her enthusiasm. This helped her to stay the course and accomplish her goal.
Acknowledging the role the strategies and techniques she learned during SOPA played in her job search and interview success, Linda advises immigrants applying or interviewing for jobs to, “Research the company you’re applying to or interviewing at. Know how the company operates. Plan and prepare well ahead on answering interview questions. Also, showing some form of enthusiasm during the interview itself goes a long way to show that one is passionate and will make a good team player in the organisation when eventually hired.”