Immigrant engineers in the Canadian job market

When I was invited to attend a “speed mentoring” session organized by ACCES Employment, I was a bit skeptical. I have never been a believer in those speed-whatevers. They don’t sound natural to me.

I expressed my concern and the organizers explained the purpose as “to find a connection between the mentees and the mentors so that they can follow up later.” Now, that made sense.

For those who don’t know, let me explain what ACCES Employment ((www.accesemployment.ca) does. It is an agency that helps new immigrants to integrate into the Canadian job market. The particular session I was invited to was geared towards engineers, aiming to introduce them with those of us who have been on the hiring side and provide them with guidance to get their first Canadian jobs.

So, I went to the session and am I glad that I did! Upon entering the modest office of ACCES, I was greeted by the organizer and a number of hopeful faces. The organizer escorted me to the room where the session would be held. A couple of other mentors who arrived earlier were already there, so we chatted a bit. Then, the mentees arrived, all dressed to impress, resumes in hand, some a bit shy, others more eager to strike a conversation. After brief introductions of ourselves, we started the mentoring session where each mentee spends about five minutes with each mentor. When the time is up, they rotate. I guess you get the picture.

To say that I was impressed by the quality and caliber of the engineers I met at the session would be an understatement. In addition to undergraduate degrees in engineering, they had advanced degrees in engineering or business. Since arriving in Canada, they learned programming and other computer skills. Other than one fresh graduate, they were experienced in their fields. And, in spite of a very slow job market, their attitude was positive and forward-looking.

I hope the answers we provided were helpful to them. They have a lot to contribute to the Canadian society when they have the chance.

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