Roberta Oramabo is an architect who moved from Nigeria to British Columbia. She is sharing her journey with us on how her pre-arrival preparation helped her find a job in her field sooner rather than later. Two months and two days from the date of her arrival she walked into the office where she started her new job as a landscape designer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why did you decide to move to Canada?
My name is Roberta Oramabo. My academic background is in Architecture and Landscape Architecture. On November 2019 when I was leaving Nigeria for Canada it was nine and four years respectively in both fields of my work practice. I decided to move to Canada because I wanted to try a new life that would hopefully be different from everything I’d experienced so far.
How did the SOPA courses help you prepare for your arrival in Canada and finding a job?
In June 2019 I received my Canadian Permanent Residence Visa and I had to enter the country by the 22nd of November 2019. This gave me a few months to pack up my life in Nigeria and move. It was during that time a friend who was also moving to Canada told me about the Arrive Prepared (SOPA) program. Considering how overwhelmed I was feeling at that time, this was a very welcome intervention. Since I was planning to move to BC, SOPA connected me to MOSAIC. After an intake session and working out an action plan, I started the SOPA courses.
From my point of view, the best thing about the SOPA courses was how exhaustive they were. There was hardly any assumption about the learner’s previous knowledge and every topic was thoroughly explored. I went from feeling overwhelmed to having concrete plans and actionable steps to take in starting a new life in a new place. Going through the SOPA courses also helped me to adjust my expectations. The unknowns were dramatically reduced and there were links to an abundance of resources and how to get the most out of those resources.
Tell us about your current job, where do you work?
After countless applications for positions within my industry, a few volunteer jobs and two survival jobs; literally two months and two days after my arrival, I received the call that marked the beginning of the next phase of my life. PWL Partnership, a leading landscape architecture firm in BC has hired me as a landscape designer. I began on Monday the 27th of January 2020 and my duties are consistent with those I had before I came to Canada. However, I will be working on a remarkably wider range of projects so it’s going to be challenging work!
Take the pre-arrival courses and take them seriously. That’s my best advice to other people coming to Canada. At best you’ll learn something new and at worst you’ll confirm/validate what you already know. Where’s the harm in that?
What advice do you have for other people coming to Canada?
Take the pre-arrival courses and take them seriously. That’s my best advice to other people coming to Canada. At best you’ll learn something new and at worst you’ll confirm/validate what you already know. Where’s the harm in that? MOSAIC and the organizations they referred me to (ISSofBC and WorkBC) have a wealth of experience helping newcomers get settled. Reach out to them because they have answers to most of the questions you can come up with. They are very generous with their resources.
How can other people find the right networks based on your experience?
It very quickly became obvious to me that Canadians are very comfortable talking about what kind of work they do. So as soon as anyone asks, don’t hesitate to mention what kind of work you are looking for. If your profession is regulated, visit the regulating body’s website. They may have an events page and a career page. Go on MeetUp and EventBrite and scour for events and meet ups that resonate with you in any way. Sometimes these events are free or cheap. Follow MOSAIC, WorkBC, ISSofBC, Options and similar organizations on social media. They are a treasure trove of information about free seminars, networking and mentoring events. In my experience they are inexhaustible!
What is one thing you admire about SOPA course or facilitator?
The SOPA courses are carefully thought through and the facilitators are there to support you as you work through situations you will face as a newcomer. It is a great confidence boost for tackling real life when you arrive.
Prepared by SOPA BC Team