My name is S.E. and I am originally from Germany. I arrived in Canada on May 3rd, 2023. I currently live in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC). I am aiming to work as a Chemical Engineer or Process Engineer in the field of Fuel Cell development or production. Currently, I’m working as a Systems Designer, specializing in Fuel Cell and Electrolyzer test equipment.
Q: Can you summarize your employment journey in Canada?
I started the SOPA program immediately after receiving the notification to enroll for pre-arrival services. It allowed me enough time to create a Canadian-style resume, understand the Canadian workplace culture, and start networking before arriving in Canada. Additionally, I had sufficient time to collect and translate all the required documents for obtaining a professional engineering license (P.Eng.).
I found employment in the industry (fuel cell industry) but had to switch from chemical engineering research in fuel cell production to process engineering and testing of fuel cells and electrolyzers, which is related to my original field of employment.
Q: How did SOPA change your approach to seeking employment in Canada?
Information and online courses, especially one-on-one career sessions with my employment counsellor were very helpful in developing a Canadian-style resume and cover letter specific to my profession. Having those checked by my SOPA employment counsellor was extremely helpful. Also, additional information sent to me by my employment liaison was helpful but sometimes too comprehensive to study in detail.
I learned about the importance of informal job interviews and networking for finding employment in Canada as this is definitely different in Germany! Without networking, I would not have been able to find work so soon after my arrival.
Q: How did the Canadian partner organizations help prepare you for the job market, before you arrived in Canada?
I had very specific questions about my P.Eng. registration with EGBC (Engineering and Geoscience in British Columbia) which is why I specifically asked for support in this regard. Therefore, I was referred to the ISS of BC. Unfortunately, I was not qualified to take part in this program as it was only for immigrants that have landed in BC already. So I ended up looking for information by contacting EGBC directly.
I started the SOPA program right after I received the notification that I could enroll for pre-arrival services. This gave me enough time to create a Canadian-style Resume, learn about the Canadian workplace culture and most importantly, start networking!S.E.
Fortunately, I moved to my girlfriend and had some friends in Vancouver already. This is why finding housing and family doctor, transportation etc. were of minor concern (luckily, because finding housing can be very challenging).
Q: Describe any challenges you faced in your job search process and the steps you took to overcome these obstacles.
- High competition in the local labour market
- Chemical Engineering is licensed in B.C. and getting a license is very expensive and time-consuming. Most of you need support from your current employer in your home country as they might have to validate your work experience. You might want to find out about the requirements your current or even former employers in your home country have to fulfill and you might want to reach out to them before you leave
Q: Do you have any tips to share with your fellow newcomers if their job is also regulated?
- Get a Canadian phone number as soon as possible after arrival
- Use and expand your network using LinkedIn, current coworkers, job fairs, and more! Informal interviews and coffee chats are very useful. This is how I got my job offer at Greenlight as well as a good connection with another company that I am still in touch with. Try to arrange for interviews when you are still in your home country. However, doing so months in advance might not be too useful, as I experienced that the hiring process in Canada can be quite fast, and maybe faster than in your home country.
- Learn about Canadian-style resumes and cover letters → The SOPA/MOSAIC program is very valuable!
- Use the opportunity of mock interviews as it helps you to understand work ethics. I was asked how I understand the Canadian workplace culture and where I see the biggest differences from the workplace culture of my home country. This question was addressed in the mock interview and it proved to be a very important question. A nice answer is to point out the fact that the Canadian workplace is very diverse and international which bears challenges because everybody thinks differently and there might be aspects that are fine in some countries but not okay in Canada. It is essential to be aware of this and adapt. At the same time, this is a great opportunity to broaden one’s horizons and get new ideas and new perspectives on problems you haven’t had before. Problems are solved differently in different countries. Therefore, combining different cultures in one workplace can be very fruitful!
- Get licensed if you work in a profession that is regulated in the province you are landing. NOTE: get all necessary documents such as certificates and diplomas, when you are still in your home country as you might need to get them translated and as they might only be accepted when sent through the institution you obtained your degree from. Without this license, you might not be allowed to call yourself an engineer!
- High proficiency in English is mandatory
- Be flexible and join fields that are different from your original field of expertise. Use your transferable skills if necessary. I also had to do this but I don’t regret it as it is a chance to expand my skills and knowledge.
We appreciate S.E., our client, for sharing his experiences and insights about his job search journey and the challenges and opportunities he encountered when moving from Germany to Vancouver, BC. We wish S.E. continued success in his career!
Story written and prepared by S.E. a Chemical Engineer from Germany
Story edited by Albina Ziatdinova, Online Community and Social Media Monitor with SOPA