When Olga Metelscaia emigrated from Eastern Europe she fully expected to find work as an engineer. It didn’t take long though for her to realize it would take more than a solid résumé to land a good job.
In Moldova, where Olga is from, qualified candidates with a good résumé can secure a job interview, compared to Canada, where applicants are expected to research a company and submit a detailed cover letter and résumé tailored to the specific job.
“These are things I didn’t know so the only positions I was offered were entry-level jobs,” Olga remembers. “My lack of local experience and credentials were also barriers I faced.”
Olga spent two years working in retail before participating in MentorConnect, an IEC-BC program that pairs highly skilled immigrants with business professionals who help them navigate the Canadian job market, access professional networks, and understand the local work culture.
Olga was paired with Inna Kroogman, a TELUS Program Manager and professional engineer who emigrated from Russia 25 years ago.
With Inna’s help, Olga realized that telecommunications companies in Canada are structured differently than in Moldova and that jobs are more specialized. That meant modifying her résumé and learning to use key words that would help employers clearly see how her skills and abilities matched the position she was applying for.
Inna also taught Olga the importance of networking. In fact, it was during a lunch meeting with Inna’s colleague that it became apparent that Olga had experience highly valued in the telecommunications industry.
Olga was called in for an interview with her colleague’s telecommunications company and exactly two months from the day Olga and Inna first met, she started her new job.
The successful MentorConnect program is in its fourth year and matches job-ready immigrants with a mentor who provides occupation-specific coaching over a four-month period.
“The mentee may have the experience and skills but may not understand the nuances of the Canadian workplace,” says Opreet Kang, IEC-BC MentorConnect Manager. “That is the role of the mentor, to provide feedback and guidance that will help them navigate the Canadian work environment.”
Inna’s employer, TELUS, is entering its second year in IEC-BC’s MentorConnect program. TELUS team member Gilbert Tai, who leads TELUS’ partnership with IEC-BC, says the program helps the company understand and connect with new Canadians, and enables it be an employer of choice for new Canadians.
Gilbert says TELUS team members who volunteer as mentors benefit from cross-cultural business training as well as professional development and networking opportunities. TELUS volunteers develop their leadership and coaching skills, support workplace diversity and awareness and give back to the community in a meaningful way.