ACCES Employment hosted the fifth annual Speed Mentoring Marathon recently, welcoming 400-plus mentors and mentees to an evening of networking, mentoring and new connections.
The evening featured 11 different mentoring rooms and was the largest marathon yet. The Speed Mentoring Marathon is an annual event that includes over 200 volunteers from 100 different companies across the Greater Toronto Area. Together, the mentors contribute their time, expertise and advice to new Canadians looking for work. The program was developed to respond to the needs of newcomers in building their professional networks in Canada.
This year, ACCES introduced a new virtual mentoring room to connect newcomers from overseas (still in their home country, who have already been approved to immigrate to Canada) with local mentors at the event.
This virtual mentoring session gave pre-arrival mentees the chance to meet with Canadian employers before they immigrate – giving them a headstart when they arrive in Canada in the months to come.
Mentees logged in from across the world in Pakistan, India, United Arab Emirates and Nigeria and were given the opportunity to participate through preparation and participation in the Canadian Employment Connections program.
“This is an excellent opportunity for new job seekers to get in touch and prepare themselves even before they land in Canada,” says Abe Salam, a mentor from Accenture. “I was happy to be one of the first mentors to test the virtual mentoring process. I think that this is the way to go for the future.”
The virtual mentoring room provided an innovative way for mentors to meet and provide advice to mentees through web conferencing software, with the same 10-minute rotations as the live speed mentoring events. Mentors and mentees met in one virtual room and broke off to meet one-on-one for 10 minutes, then, the mentee moved to the next virtual room to meet with another mentor.
“Speed mentoring helped me to build my confidence level, mentors gave me feedback on my CV and I was able to make changes based on their advice,” said Kamran, a mentee in the virtual mentoring room from Abu Dhabi. “I am so happy to have had this opportunity.”
“This Speed Mentoring event is a great opportunity for us to market ourselves, to increase our chances of employment in Canada,” said Nadim Choudry, a mentee from Pakistan. “I want to thank ACCES Employment and its team for providing us this great opportunity.”
The opening session was attended by emcee Pooja Handa, anchor from CP24, and Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade; Michael Wilson, Managing Director, Corporate Citizenship Canada, Accenture; Andrea Hazell, Senior Bank Manager, BMO Financial Group (mentor); and Angel Valdes, Purchasing Analyst, City of Toronto (Supply Chain Connections Alumni).
For newcomers to Canada, networking is a highly effective way to start a job search and meet professionals who can introduce them to new opportunities. A large percentage of jobs are not advertised, which means that who you know can lead to a number of jobs with employers that are hiring.
The Speed Mentoring program at ACCES allows individuals to network with professionals in their field, to receive advice about their job search, and meet employer contacts who can refer them to job opportunities. Over 75 Speed Mentoring events are hosted each year in various sectors.
“Virtual mentoring creates the amazing opportunity for global mentees to learn about the job market in Canada, to get a head start on their job search and to make the transition of moving to a new country much more easily,” said Allison Pond, President and CEO at ACCES Employment. “We are very excited to launch these new virtual connections with our pilot group of mentors and mentees at the event.”
ACCES Employment is a leader in connecting employers with qualified employees from diverse backgrounds. More than 16,000 job seekers are served annually at five locations across the Greater Toronto Area. As a not-for-profit corporation, ACCES receives funding from all levels of government, corporate sponsors, various supporters and the United Way Toronto and York Region.