I can vividly remember the excitement when I finally received an email confirming the approval of my permanent resident visa application after three long years of waiting. Shortly after that, panic set in because I had no idea where to start looking for a job and a place to stay. I was acutely aware that having a Master’s degree and a secure lecturing position in South Africa did not guarantee me the same fate in Canada, mainly because I don’t have ‘Canadian’ work experience. I even recall an early conversation with someone telling me I should prepare myself for a ‘survival’ job and a poky flat with people I didn’t know. You can only imagine the fear and doubt slowly suffocating my enthusiasm.
Everything changed when I contacted SOPA to help prepare me for the big journey ahead. I decided to move to Nova Scotia, so I was introduced to the SOPA (Settlement Online Pre-Arrival) program to assist with my pre-arrival needs. After registering with the SOPA Program I got connected with an intake counsellor (Anika Sweet), an employment counsellor (Aleksandra Niedzwiecka), a job search strategies and cultural communications counsellor (Cynthia Wang) and I was referred to a professional mentorship counsellor with ISANS (Ritu Ganju) to help me secure employment in my field. The best part of the experience is that each mentor is an immigrant, so they understood my doubts, fears and concerns.
“While moving across the world is equally scary as it is thrilling, I am grateful for the small community of people that rallied behind me to make this move run smoothly.”— Shannon Leigh Landers, SOPA Atlantic Client
I am happy to report that I secured a lecturing position at Cape Breton University after two months of searching for employment. I firmly believe that the job search strategies course contributed to my successful application. I learnt a great deal from all the counsellors and facilitators, who set time aside to answer my questions, assist with job applications and help prepare me for interviews. I am particularly grateful to Cynthia for providing timely feedback on my weekly assignments and to Aleksandra for meeting with me to discuss employment options. These ladies instilled confidence in me and encouraged me to apply for work in my field. Additionally, I’d like to thank my professional mentor – Kelly Dye – for holding my hand throughout this daunting process. Canadians are the kindest people!
I am leaving South Africa on 4 August and look forward to the adventure that awaits me on Cape Breton Island. While moving across the world is equally scary as it is thrilling, I am grateful for the small community of people that rallied behind me to make this move run smoothly.
I recommend the SOPA program for new immigrants seeking assistance with pre-arrival support to Canada because I am proof that this program works.
Shannon Leigh Landers, SOPA Atlantic Canada Client