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Refugee - where to start to find a new career

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  • Aug 14th, 2017 2:51 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
Aug 11, 2017
7 posts
1 upvote

Refugee - where to start to find a new career

Hi all
What a great forum!
Im a 32 yrs old Syrian refugee in Toronto, with a bachelor degree in Marketing. Just came here so I dont have any Canadian experience.
I have worked before in advertising agencies as an account executive, but it seems like my experience doesn't count here.
I would love to hear suggestions and advice from you guys on where to start and what path to take.. I dont mind starting a totally new career or even going to school for a masters/post graduate certificate if this will help me in building a career.
Thank you
16 replies
Newbie
User avatar
Aug 6, 2017
19 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto, Canada
Firstly, welcome to Canada!

A few places to look:
Employment agencies: there are a lot of employment agencies out there that might help. YMCA, ACCESS, etc. All government funded and all free. The challenge is that they are hit and miss on helpfulness depending on the person but they can help on basics like resume and interview skills and stuff.
Mentors: I'd focus on finding mentors. There are organizations like TRIEC who can pair you up with someone in your industry to help. The matching process may be long as they have limited mentor availability.
Network: There are meetups such as Quantum Career and UnstoppableMe (in the Toronto area) who have newcomers plus those who found a job and are interested in giving back as they were in your situation previously. The PIN (professional immigrants network) has a list of other organizations that could help.
Making friends and adding value locally will help open doors as well.

Sorry for not including the links but you should be able to Google them.

Good luck!
Deal Guru
User avatar
Oct 3, 2006
10180 posts
610 upvotes
Toronto
Sorry to say it but you are right that your experience is not valued here. If you want a real career, you should strongly consider going to school again to get a Canadian degree or diploma, then go from there.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 11, 2017
7 posts
1 upvote
lukidanu wrote:
Aug 12th, 2017 8:59 am
Firstly, welcome to Canada!

A few places to look:
Employment agencies: there are a lot of employment agencies out there that might help. YMCA, ACCESS, etc. All government funded and all free. The challenge is that they are hit and miss on helpfulness depending on the person but they can help on basics like resume and interview skills and stuff.
Mentors: I'd focus on finding mentors. There are organizations like TRIEC who can pair you up with someone in your industry to help. The matching process may be long as they have limited mentor availability.
Network: There are meetups such as Quantum Career and UnstoppableMe (in the Toronto area) who have newcomers plus those who found a job and are interested in giving back as they were in your situation previously. The PIN (professional immigrants network) has a list of other organizations that could help.
Making friends and adding value locally will help open doors as well.

Sorry for not including the links but you should be able to Google them.

Good luck!
Thank you very much for the valuable information. I will start looking into it right away.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 11, 2017
7 posts
1 upvote
Aznsilvrboy wrote:
Aug 12th, 2017 6:16 pm
Sorry to say it but you are right that your experience is not valued here. If you want a real career, you should strongly consider going to school again to get a Canadian degree or diploma, then go from there.
Luckily, my bachelor degree is from a Canadian university but in an overseas campus. My credential is 100% canadian.
But most employers dont look into your degree as much as your work experience.
Most of the calls i have been receiving is for commission based sales jobs.. id like to think im better than that.
Newbie
User avatar
Aug 6, 2017
19 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto, Canada
Aznsilvrboy wrote:
Aug 12th, 2017 6:16 pm
Sorry to say it but you are right that your experience is not valued here. If you want a real career, you should strongly consider going to school again to get a Canadian degree or diploma, then go from there.
Aznsilvrboy has a point. While not always true, I have found that for the newcomers I mentor, many who get some sort of education locally (usually a certificate from a college) end up getting jobs in their field sooner, although at a more junior level. That's just anecdotal.

The counter point is that I've also encountered those who heavily network and demonstrate value to those they connect with, which takes time, and they can also get a job in their area of study and often at the same level as their previous experience. They networking part can seem much more daunting for newcomers. Again, just anecdotal based on my observations.

You could always get the best of both worlds by going to school and at the same time heavily network and demonstrate value.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 11, 2017
7 posts
1 upvote
lukidanu wrote:
Aug 12th, 2017 10:39 pm
Aznsilvrboy has a point. While not always true, I have found that for the newcomers I mentor, many who get some sort of education locally (usually a certificate from a college) end up getting jobs in their field sooner, although at a more junior level. That's just anecdotal.

The counter point is that I've also encountered those who heavily network and demonstrate value to those they connect with, which takes time, and they can also get a job in their area of study and often at the same level as their previous experience. They networking part can seem much more daunting for newcomers. Again, just anecdotal based on my observations.

You could always get the best of both worlds by going to school and at the same time heavily network and demonstrate value.
Thank you.
As i said my bachelor is from a canadian institution .. so the question is .. if i go and do my masters degree and then start looking for a job .. wouldnt i be over qualified for positions that employers would give for people with no canadian experience(entry level mostly)?
Newbie
User avatar
Aug 6, 2017
19 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto, Canada
Nalax85 wrote:
Aug 12th, 2017 11:31 pm
Thank you.
As i said my bachelor is from a canadian institution .. so the question is .. if i go and do my masters degree and then start looking for a job .. wouldnt i be over qualified for positions that employers would give for people with no canadian experience(entry level mostly)?
Could be. Depends on the company and role. Is your degree from a recognized institute? Unless it's from a UofT/Rotman, Ivey, Schulich, UBC, MUN etc or one of the more recognizable universities, and even if it is, it might not count as much as you might think especially without Canadian work experience.

That being said, what I've observed is that companies often have more flexibility when hiring someone from a school program. So the school may be less about getting the education vs having your status set to student.

That being said, If we focus away from the school part for a minute, what would be the most value you would say your provided in your account exec role? Did it have to be with a marketing agency?
And what's the challenge with taking the sales roles? Wouldn't sales be a big part of an account exec's responsibilities? It could be a stepping stone to get that Canadian experience and land a future advertising account executive role. Or do you feel strongly about moving into the same level/role?
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 11, 2017
7 posts
1 upvote
lukidanu wrote:
Aug 13th, 2017 12:10 am
Could be. Depends on the company and role. Is your degree from a recognized institute? Unless it's from a UofT/Rotman, Ivey, Schulich, UBC, MUN etc or one of the more recognizable universities, and even if it is, it might not count as much as you might think especially without Canadian work experience.

That being said, what I've observed is that companies often have more flexibility when hiring someone from a school program. So the school may be less about getting the education vs having your status set to student.

That being said, If we focus away from the school part for a minute, what would be the most value you would say your provided in your account exec role? Did it have to be with a marketing agency?
And what's the challenge with taking the sales roles? Wouldn't sales be a big part of an account exec's responsibilities? It could be a stepping stone to get that Canadian experience and land a future advertising account executive role. Or do you feel strongly about moving into the same level/role?
First of all, no my degree is not from any of those recognizable schools. What i am actually looking for is a management trainee position in operations, logistics, or admin. but definitely not sales; i believe a sales position for a new comer like me is quite hard as i dont have connections and havent formed a wide network like youve mentioned yet. On the other hand, a management trainee program for a begining could land me 40-45k a year, allowing me to atleast support my family while I get the experience and progress.
Am i being too ambitious?! Face With Tears Of Joy
Do you think obtaining a postgrad certificate will boost my chances? Im a bit confused regarding that matter as it is an investment of time that i consider valuable at the moment
Deal Guru
User avatar
Oct 3, 2006
10180 posts
610 upvotes
Toronto
Nalax85 wrote:
Aug 12th, 2017 11:31 pm
Thank you.
As i said my bachelor is from a canadian institution .. so the question is .. if i go and do my masters degree and then start looking for a job .. wouldnt i be over qualified for positions that employers would give for people with no canadian experience(entry level mostly)?
If you do decide to pursue more education, you might consider one that has a good internship or co-op program so you can get some hands on experience and get your foot in the door. In my perspective, you have a Canadian university degree, and your English seems decent enough, so you already have an advantage over most other immigrants with no Canadian education, no Canadian experience and lack of English skills. If I were you, I would probably just try to apply for entry level positions that requires little to no experience and see what happens. If nothing after a few months, then I would start to consider more education.
Deal Addict
Oct 18, 2014
1022 posts
288 upvotes
New York City
Nalax85 wrote:
Aug 12th, 2017 8:59 pm
Most of the calls i have been receiving is for commission based sales jobs.. id like to think im better than that.
At this point, any job is better than no job, and being supported by someone else. Even if that means working in fast food at McDonalds. Or is that beneath you?

The richest classmates of mine are all those who either went in Sales, or became an entrepreneur.

One of them had bad english, is from Sri Lanka, but had a lot of grit and persistence.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but you will soon fins out how competitive this country is in the job market, welcome and good luck!
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 11, 2017
7 posts
1 upvote
McKinsey wrote:
Aug 13th, 2017 7:33 am
At this point, any job is better than no job, and being supported by someone else. Even if that means working in fast food at McDonalds. Or is that beneath you?

The richest classmates of mine are all those who either went in Sales, or became an entrepreneur.

One of them had bad english, is from Sri Lanka, but had a lot of grit and persistence.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but you will soon fins out how competitive this country is in the job market, welcome and good luck!
Thanks for the input.
Oh no I would never think of any job as "beneath" me. And believe me I have done much worse than working for McDonalds.
I agree with you on the sales and entrepreneurship .. it's just that I thought I can get a job that can actually pay the bills.
Thanks again :)
Deal Addict
Dec 21, 2011
3046 posts
511 upvotes
London
I'd really look into those mentorship program that lukidanu mentioned, probably the best advice so far.

Welcome to Canada and I look forward to hearing of your success :)
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 11, 2017
7 posts
1 upvote
snow00774 wrote:
Aug 13th, 2017 10:52 am
I'd really look into those mentorship program that lukidanu mentioned, probably the best advice so far.

Welcome to Canada and I look forward to hearing of your success :)
Yes. I actually found a private program to help with employment for refugees.
The funny thing is Ive been here for only 4 months now and they try to assist refugees after a year of coming. I cant imagine myself staying home for another 9 :D.
this country been very generous to me and i cant wait to pay back.
Newbie
User avatar
Aug 6, 2017
19 posts
4 upvotes
Toronto, Canada
Nalax85 wrote:
Aug 13th, 2017 12:41 am

Do you think obtaining a postgrad certificate will boost my chances? Im a bit confused regarding that matter as it is an investment of time that i consider valuable at the moment
Yes it would boost your chances, but just relative to what? If it's just applying online, then yes. There's opportunity cost in the time you spend in class.
building relationships and adding value, IMO networking wins hands down. If you volunteer at the right places, demonstrate your value. connect with the right people, then it's a matter of how much effort you put in and value you deliver. But that requires you to focus on delivering value.

Tactically, I suggest you start by finding 10 companies you want to work for. With linkedin and other social, you can find people that work there. Connect with them. Then give. Understand their challenges. Ask yourself: how could I help them? Then help them. Share your experience from your roles back home. Provide them insights. Or however you add value. Some might be on spec to show them the quality of the work you do. Learn whether that is of value to them and adjust as appropriate. Do that for each of the 10 companies. Then do it again for the next set of companies.

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