Canada holds a huge attraction for highly-skilled professionals from all over the world. Most of these professionals are drawn to the immense possibilities that come with living and working in Canada. However, once they do receive approval to move to their new home, and as their departure date draws closer, their initial anticipation begins to give way to anxiety. A sense of uncertainty about their future in a country where they probably do not have family, friends or professional connections suddenly starts to loom large. If the foregoing describes you, then this is where SOPA comes in to help you navigate with ease, the sometimes overwhelming maze of information, resources and services available to you before arrival. At SOPA, we help you arrive prepared in Canada through our free job search and soft skills courses. Also, in one-on-one virtual orientation and employment counselling sessions we help you with developing city-specific settlement and employment plans that will enable you settle successfully into your destination city in Canada.
We recently talked to SOPA Alberta client, Kiran Thomas, a mechanical engineer and technical sales professional from India who landed in Calgary, Alberta, with his wife, Anakha, in June 2020, at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Alberta job market was bleeding jobs at the time of his arrival, Kiran was able to secure a technical sales position with Hilti Canada within a month of arriving! In this interview with SOPA Alberta intake counsellor, Bamidele Salako, he credits SOPA’s Job Search Strategies course and the employment counselling session he received pre-arrival with setting him off well on his way to achieving his career goals in Canada.
1. Why Canada?
Canada is a land of opportunities and an excellent place to settle and raise a family.
2. What were your expectations about immigrating to Canada?
To enjoy a peaceful life and a have a stress-free work environment.
3. How long did it take you to receive approval, and how did you feel when you finally received the approval to immigrate to Canada?
It took five months for the approval after I got the invitation to apply. Those five months felt like five years! I would check my email daily for updates. When I finally came to know my application got approved, I was so ecstatic!
4. How did you find out about SOPA?
I wanted to be prepared before landing in Canada. I knew that I had to be well-prepared to succeed in Canada. So, I was checking available resources on the Canada immigration website.
5. How impactful were SOPA courses in preparing you to find employment in Canada?
I took the Job Search Strategies course. With the help of my facilitator, Jothi Jesu, I learned how to prepare for Canadian job interviews and how to write a Canadian-style resume and cover letter. The course also helped me to improve my networking skills. I also learned how to network effectively using LinkedIn which was crucial to finding my job.
6. How did SOPA employment counselling prepare you for your job search?
I had several employment counselling sessions with Aneta Popa. She gave me proper guidance on the job market in Alberta, what to expect, how to navigate the job market, and she encouraged me to work on my transferable skills.
7. You landed in Canada during a global pandemic. Did you have a seamless transition or was it a challenging experience?
Landing in Canada during the pandemic was indeed challenging and risky too. But I had a dream to succeed, and I never stopped trying. I had confidence in myself, and I was able to find the right resources—like SOPA—at the right time before arriving.
8. How long did it take you to find your job? Any tips you could share from your experience getting the job that could benefit our readers?
I work as an Account Manager at Hilti Canada. I got the job one month after I landed. After applying online for the job, I also reached out to people working in the company for a referral. Through networking on LinkedIn, I was able to connect with the right people who put in a word for me and thus I got the interview.
9. What skills or strategies acquired from SOPA or elsewhere have helped you better integrate and excel at your Canadian workplace?
The Canadian Workplace Integration course which I also took at SOPA helped me to understand what to expect in a typical Canadian workplace. It helped me to integrate easily into the company culture.
10. How would you describe your experience at your new workplace? Would you say your Canadian workplace experience has brought you a step closer to your career goals?
I have received a lot of exposure in my current company as I’m working in sales. I talk to a lot of customers daily and it has helped me improve my communication skills too.
11. Would you recommend SOPA to professionals who are moving to Canada?
I would highly recommend it as it really helps you know what to expect in Canada even before you land. It makes the transition very easy.
12. What practical advice or tip(s) do you have for new immigrants before and after landing in Canada?
Always believe in yourself and reach out to immigrant services if you need any help. There is a way to succeed for everyone. You just must be patient.
13. What is your overall experience and feeling about life in Canada – any culture shifts or shocks?
I do miss my relatives and friends in India. I hope I can meet them once the pandemic is over and it’s safe to travel. Culturally, there are many differences here compared to my home country but adjusting hasn’t been difficult.
Are you approved to immigrate to Canada? Join SOPA today! You’ll arrive in Canada better prepared, more confident and enter the workforce sooner.
Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) is an Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) funded program that delivers free pre-arrival services for job readiness, success and retention. Explore the free, pre-arrival resources, services and courses we offer at ArrivePrepared.ca.
At SOPA, Bamidele connects foreign-trained professionals with the relevant information, resources, and services to facilitate their seamless transition to, and professional success, in Canada. He also writes and edits grant proposals and reports for the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and contributes research to the development of immigrant-focused programs designed to create better settlement and employment outcomes for newcomers in Canada.