I am Cem Gurbuz, a permanent resident who came to Canada from Turkey in August 2022. My hometown is Gaziantep, one of the cities most affected by the massive earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023. Before coming to Canada, I was an English instructor and researcher at a state university in the city of Elazig, where I survived another severe earthquake in January 2020. Now I am in Canada and I am fortunate to still be doing what I love best, teaching, with the organization that prepared me for my immigration to Canada as the Alberta partner of SOPA.
I may be fairly new to Canada, but I applied for Canadian immigration back in 2019! Although the wait (due to Covid-19) was definitely not easy, I was able to get a lot done in the meantime towards a good life in Canada, such as obtaining an educational credentials assessment and professional certifications for a relevant job in the Canadian market. I learned about SOPA when I was referred to them by another pre-arrival program, Planning for Canada, which also worked wonders in preparing me for my new life in the Great White North.
“Throughout this difficult but rewarding journey, SOPA has definitely been my biggest help. From the online courses I took to get acclimated to living and working in Canada to the counselling sessions I had on settlement and employment, I learned a lot about my destination and improved in such important areas as job search, networking, interview skills, soft skills, and social interactions.”— Cem Gurbuz, SOPA Alberta Client
When I first came to Canada, I treated myself to lots of trips and sightseeing and did not give much thought to finding a job or settlement while the weather was still warm. I do not regret at all mustering the energy to look for a job and get through the cold Canadian winter. I started sending out my first applications for my targeted occupation (teaching) in mid-fall, but the competition was fierce. There were literally hundreds of applications, even for entry-level teaching positions. At that point, I thought I could stand out from the crowd by using my native language, so I applied to be a language interpreter to get my foot in the door, which worked out quite well as a first step. I started with written translations for law firms and consecutive interpreting for the federal government at refugee hearings. In the meantime, I volunteered at various settlement agencies to gain experience teaching in Canada, because I wanted to make teaching my day job here. After a few months, I applied for a permanent teaching position in Calgary with the non-profit organization that prepared me for moving to Canada. Now I enjoy teaching English to newcomers and immigrants from all over the world.
Throughout this challenging but rewarding journey, SOPA has definitely been my biggest help. From the online courses I took to get acclimated to living and working in Canada to the counselling sessions I had on settlement and employment, I learned a lot about my destination and improved in such important areas as job search, networking, interview skills, soft skills, and social interactions.
The counselling sessions exceeded my expectations, especially the one on employment. The way my employment counsellor, Olja Stojanovic, walked me through everything related to employment was as valuable as the relevance of the content of her presentation. Not only did she address the content, but she made it so personal by looking at my resume and career field and developing pointers from there, which was really helpful. She also gave me a lot of positivity and confidence by praising my work and being friendly and cheerful. Olja provided me with skills and strategies that I have been using since day one and went above and beyond to help me land my first job in Canada. Having worked as a client with other settlement agencies across Canada, this was the first time a counsellor took the time to prepare a customized presentation for me that included my own resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. She also constantly checked in on me and provided valuable advice and feedback on my application materials. Now I am honoured to work for the same non-profit organization as Olja to help immigrants and newcomers like me in their new lives in Canada as a language teacher.
For those overseas waiting for the big day to travel to Canada, I strongly recommend doing as much as you can to prepare for your new life while you are still in your home country. Moving to a completely new country is never easy, and you can never prepare well enough on your own. That’s why you should seek the help of settlement agencies and programs before you arrive. Some tasks, such as obtaining educational and professional credentials, can take months and weigh heavily on your shoulders once you arrive in Canada. Therefore, it is better to complete these tasks while you are still at home.
Good luck to all!
Written by Cem Gurbuz, SOPA Alberta client
What is SOPA?
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.
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