“If you ask Gabriela Medar what it takes to succeed in Canada, she’ll say understanding your new culture is a must.
An engineer originally from Romania, Medar wanted to change her career path once she arrived in Canada in 2012 to work in the non-profit sector, and enrolled in from SFU’s career development practitioner program.
“I wanted to work in a helping profession and I was willing to start from scratch. In that sense, it gave me an advantage because some qualifications are not easily transferable to the Canadian labour market.”
After graduating from SFU, she started working with the Whalley Employment Centre in Surrey, helping clients with resumés and job search advice. Helping other immigrants to establish their careers quickly became her passion. But she noticed the integration needs of immigrants went beyond general resumé tips; they needed help in understanding Canadian culture.
She then wrote an ebook called 10 Steps to Find Work and Be Successful in Canada: A Guide for Immigrants Who Want to Thrive in a New Culture. And, together with Mohamad Khademyani, Manny Daid and Michelle Xiao, she started a Meetup group called Job Search for New Immigrants in Greater Vancouver as a way to further help immigrants through workshops and networking events.
“We started this Meetup to help more immigrants and offer more support. We saw the need and decided there needs to be more help for immigrants,” says Medar.
The right mindset
Daid couldn’t agree more. An immigrant from India, met Medar and later became a collaborator in Immigrant’s Meetup group and set up a Facebook page for the group called Successful Canadian Immigrant.
A mechanical engineer who is now a speaker and author, Daid not only wanted to find success for himself in Canada; he wanted to help other immigrants do the same. He believes having the right mindset is the key to all.
“Through our events, we show immigrants and support them to integrate in Canada through a mindset,” Daid says. “We help immigrants integrate mentally. It’s not just about finding a job, but alongside that, having a mindset to be socially available. To feel at home in Canada.”
He says that newcomers tend to still be mentally in their home country. “I see that happening all around. But, if you’re living in this country, why not make it home?” says Daid. “Be present.”
Medar adds that it’s not about abandoning your culture. “We love diversity. We will never say give up that cultural background; it’s rich and gives a deep understanding of who we are. However, there are things that immigrants need to understand about the Canadian culture. It’s about identifying the rules of the country,” she says. “It’s also about what employers are looking for, and why they are reluctant to hire without Canadian experience.”
“People have different experiences and backgrounds of knowledge; our target is to help support them to integrate,” says Daid, who recently penned a book called Immigrant’s Secret to Success: Mental Karate.
This June, they started holding a companion workshop called Successful Canadian Immigrant Mindset Crash Course, which focuses on networking skills, leadership and overcoming limiting beliefs that stop you from getting what you want.
“It’s about helping immigrants integrate into Canada by developing a success mindset,” says Daid. “They will learn a new model of communication practices and principles that successful people have adapted. Overall, they will learn principles to live a life passionately in any foreign country.”
The group has also launched a new community video project for 2017: Canadian Immigrant Share. Once a month, they are going to interview successful Canadian immigrants who will share the challenges they encountered in Canada and the success strategies that worked for them.
And their Meetup group is growing. “When I started [the Meetup group], there were five people; there’s now 650,” says Medar. “And our target is not just permanent residents. There are lots of people here with work or student visas and they have no government support but may want to stay here and get a better job, but have no idea what kind of skills they should have. I see that as a trend that will continue, and we are here to help them.””