Q&A with Ibrahim Bolaji

Ibrahim Bolaji emigrated from Nigeria to Canada on September 11th, 2019 and got his first job only a month later. He got an exciting job as a Member Service Associate with the Cambrian Credit Union through the Manitoba Start: Credit Union Training & Work Experience program. Ibrahim tells us about his journey to his first job in Canada. How SOPA helped him arrive prepared.

  1. Can you tell us about your background?

My background is in banking and finance with a Master’s degree in International Business. I was lucky to work in different units of the banking sector for some years before moving to Canada with my family.

  1. How did you find out about SOPA? How did SOPA services help you?

I first heard about SOPA when I received my passport request letter (PPR) from IRCC. It was the golden documents where I read about the free Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) program for the new immigrants. I quickly took advantage of it. I knew the importance of such a program when you are relocating to an entirely new destination.

The program helped me in many ways. My intake counsellor prepared my needs assessment to help my family transition into life in Canada. I was referred to an employment counsellor who gave me an in-depth knowledge of the finance industry in my province and the prospect of the sector. I had access to different online courses, such as ‘Canadian workplace culture’, ‘Soft Skills. The courses helped me understand skills required to be competitive in the Canadian labor market. I had an information session about accommodation in Manitoba facilitated by New Journey Housing, and many more. I was also referred to other post arrival institutions that helped me and my family settle and integrate easily into the community.

To be sincere, I am an advocate of SOPA. I encouraged everyone I know in possession of PPR to register and take advantage of the program. I understand the anxiety of getting ready to leave your home country and relocating to Canada, but making out time to enroll in the program is priceless.

  1. How did you apply for your job? Did you apply before or after arrival? How long it took you to find employment?

The tutorial I received from my employment counsellor was very beneficial in terms of how to job hunt. I also had the privilege to understand the labour market in my province. My counsellor also helped me with the list of potential recruiters and companies in my city before coming to Canada. I also had an interview coaching session with her, and it ultimately got me prepared, because I knew the kinds of questions to expect and how best to handle them.

My job search was mostly online, through different job search engines like Indeed, LinkedIn. I also took time to visit company websites, and with that, I was able to set my priority right. I made a few applications before arrival. However, most of the positive feedback came after my arrival. In about a month, I already found a job to set my foot in and begin to learn about Canada’s work culture and, most importantly, gain Canadian work experience.

  1. Are you working in your field?

Yes, I am working in my field now. This allows me to use my skills and apply what I have known in my industry. As well as I learn new processes and procedures.

  1. What strategies did you use to find a job in your field?

I visited company websites regularly and subscribed to job opening notifications. One key thing is the ability to capture the interest of the hiring manager with a well-tailored cover letter and resume. I always put effort to make it stand out, it could be time-consuming, but it is the best way to go and you should never give up.

  1. What were the challenges you faced in your job search and how did you deal with them?

Resume, cover letter writing and dealing with interview questions are mostly the major challenges in my opinion. I was able to deal with it through coaching I received from my career coach. It was during the post-arrival settlement services at Manitoba Start. I also realized the more you improve and write your resume, the more savvy you become at it.

  1. Do you have any tips that you would like to share with fellow newcomers in terms of finding employment in Canada?

One-step at a time, you have come to stay; Canada is your new home. Be open-minded and learn the Canadian way, and in no time you will get to your desired destination. Moreover, when you get the job, be dedicated, enjoy every bit of your work experience, and compliment it with your integrity.


The interview was done by:

Samar Seoudi, Employment Specialist SOPA Manitoba