Beat the odds: Settling in Calgary During the Pandemic (Part 2)

I apologize that the second part of my blog is coming much later than anticipated. It’s been a year since the first part of my guest post was posted here, and you might be wondering why it has taken me so long to write the second one. I will mention the reason later below, but first, I’d love to share some of my family’s experiences during our initial months as new immigrants in Canada.

As mentioned in my earlier blog, our initial days passed swiftly through opening a bank account, finding good accommodation close to essential amenities like grocery stores, shopping malls and transit, applying for our Social Insurance Number (SIN), applying for the Calgary Transit Fair Entry Pass (very essential for a newcomer), registering for the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), school registration for my daughter, getting a family physician, etc.

The first few months were hectic as my husband and I applied for several jobs, attended multiple job interviews, and participated in job guidance and training workshops conducted by the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS).

Meanwhile, I got the opportunity to volunteer with the SOPA program as an administrative assistant through my mentor and guide, Aneta Popa, Team Lead and an Employment Counsellor with the SOPA Alberta team. This experience proved instrumental in helping me secure another volunteering position with the Calgary-based Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation (ICAI) which connects newcomer and immigrant artists, arts administrators, and culture workers to the existing arts community in Calgary. I got to work closely with, and learn so much from, Toyin Oladele, the founder of this organization.

My networking on LinkedIn and other social media platforms and the guidance of my peers and mentors helped me to land a temporary part-time job opportunity. Remote work and restrictions resulting from the pandemic gave us ample time to update our skills, learn new technologies and utilize free resources like the free professional development courses available through the Calgary Library’s LinkedIn Learning for Library resource. It was a very busy but productive transition to life in Canada!

As mentioned in my intro, I would now like to share the reason for the delay in posting the second blog. At the time of writing the first blog, my husband and I were still struggling to get the right jobs that matched our education, skills and experience. I wanted to wait to share our job search success in the second blog, and that is why it has taken this long to write it. And yes, almost after a year of hard work and struggle, we finally landed our first professional jobs in Canada!

As a famous quote states, “Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting.” As a newly immigrated professional in Canada, my advice to fellow new immigrants or those waiting for their ‘golden emails’ is to never give up. Some newcomers may land their dream jobs within a short time after landing, while others may take much longer. What’s most important during your waiting period is that you make maximum use of the opportunities around you such as the services provided by newcomer-serving organizations like CCIS, ISC, Centre for Newcomers, CRIEC, CIWA and many more. The programs and courses they offer are tailor-made for immigrants. They also offer plenty of opportunities to network and volunteer. These organizations which I have mentioned are based in Calgary, Alberta, but you can always ask your SOPA counsellors about similar organizations in your destination city in Canada.

This post was written by SOPA Alberta Client, Sujatha Gopalakrishnan


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