| Current Toronto Time: 
Mentors help newcomers leverage their skills

Newcomers bring valuable professional experience to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but often struggle to find employment where their skills can be fully leveraged. 

Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) has found mentors for over 15,000 new immigrants since 2004. These mentors help them build professional networks and provide guidance on how the local job market works. Mentoring brings many benefits – 75 per cent of newcomers find employment after taking part in the program. This enables them to contribute to the labour market, which boosts the economy. Mentoring also helps the mentor learn leadership and cross-cultural communication skills. As recent census data has shown, Toronto is becoming ever more diverse, so these are important competencies that today’s professionals need to be able to demonstrate.

TRIEC Mentoring Partnership celebrated Mentoring Month with an awards ceremony to honour mentors and organizations who have made outstanding achievements in its mentoring program.

There are great success stories from people and organizations who have given back to their professional communities including former newcomer mentees in the program who have gone on to become mentors.  

2018 Award Winners include Sue Chan and Joaquin Milo. 

Sue Chan

“I want to help others like they have helped me,” says Sue Chan who is the Vice President of Digital Delivery and Release Management at the Royal Bank of Canada. She has a Bachelors in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, she has worked at RBC for 31 years – as an IT professional for most of that time.

Why Sue decided to mentor: “Throughout my career I have had many mentors. I decided to join TRIEC Mentoring Partnership as I wanted the opportunity to give back.”  

What being a mentor means to her: “It’s being available to assist a person with getting them familiar with the Canadian professional work environment. You provide observations and coaching based on your past experience.

Mentoring highlights: “It’s very satisfying when you see that your dialogue and coaching is making an impact on the individual. I see this through all the mock interviews and workforce discussions – my mentees become a lot more confident in themselves as they gain skills.”

How mentoring has helped her own career: “Mentoring has helped me succeed in my own career. You learn a lot by teaching. Working with the mentees over a period of time, I have become a better coach. We learn from learning with our mentees – when I talk about practices of the Canadian workforce I become aware of those practices and I do them myself as well. It has increased my awareness of diversity: and working with a large range of people over the years enhances my self-awareness as well.”

What Sue’s learned about mentoring through her time with the program: “I think at the beginning it was a learning process for me to figure out how to approach the partnership and what to focus on to really help them. Over the years, I got into a rhythm and now I have a sense of comfort when I am mentoring. I find it so much easier after doing it more frequently. It gives me more confidence seeing the success my partnerships have had.”

The benefits of mentoring: “I absolutely believe that other professionals should mentor. I have learnt there are benefits to both sides of the partnership. The newcomers need a way to get into the workforce; mentors also gain a potential hiring pipeline for our own organizations. Another benefit is we gain stronger coaching and mentoring skillsets as a mentor.”

How a mentor has helped Sue in her career: “I have had many mentors over the years, although one that does stand out to me was someone who was very pictorial. He would make a complex problem into a picture, which is something that helped me and I now do it myself.”

Sue’s top tips for new mentors: “Treat your mentee as an individual who has a lot of value to contribute. In a mentor-to-mentee relationship there should be no hierarchy, just two individuals who have values, skills and experiences to share.

Joaquin Milo

 “Just start it – do it!” says Joaquin Milo. “As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn’.”

A mechanical engineer by profession, Joaquin currently works as an engineering project manager at Enbridge. 

He first registered with TRIEC Mentoring Partnership as a mentee, after accessing support from Community Partners ACCES Employment, JVS Toronto and Costi. He became a mentor in 2013 and has been mentoring with the program ever since. Joaquin completed his 10th partnership in 2017.

Why Joaquin started mentoring: “My journey of learning about the energy sector in Canada made me appreciate how difficult and complicated it can be to land a professional job in the competitive Canadian job market. After much effort, and with the help of various settlement programs, and TRIEC Mentoring Partnership, I was able to land interviews with important companies in my field.”  

Why he thinks other professionals should start mentoring: “Experience is the best teacher and is a gift that should be shared with others. It is also a way to give back to your new country. Finally, mentoring is mutually beneficial for both mentor and mentee.”  

What being a mentor means to him: “It means being able to help someone achieve their potential in their search for meaningful employment in their new country. It is also a way to show gratitude for the help that was given to me when I first came to Canada.” 

How Joaquin has changed throughout his time mentoring: “Mentoring has been a learning experience for me. At the beginning I was a little bit nervous about working with mentees who had more education and experience than me, and what I would be able to offer them. However, now I am confident that they can benefit from my experience in the Canadian workplace. Some of my mentees have successfully achieved interviews, job offers and their professional designation.” 

The impact mentoring has had on Joaquin’s own career: “Mentoring has helped me to appreciate the importance of good communication skills, and the need to be open-minded, flexible and adaptable in order to succeed in the Canadian workplace.” 

Joaquin’s mentoring highlights: “Back in 2015, one of my mentees was invited for an interview. Prior to the interview I spent a lot of time coaching him on what to expect and how to handle the interviews, especially the behavioral questions. He was very focused on his education and years of experience and didn’t place much importance on behavioral questions and the value of soft skills. I told him that education and experience are important, and that’s why they are included in the job description, but soft skills are a key complement to this. In an interview, besides the education, experience and expertise, hiring managers are looking for that potential new team member that can get along with their colleagues as well as providing results.” 

Top tips for new mentor:  “Keep in mind that people coming from different countries and backgrounds are not always aware of Canadian workplace culture and you may need to take extra time to emphasize the importance of soft skills.  

“Remember that newcomers to Canada may be facing a lot of stress in their personal and professional lives as they try to settle here. Be patient and supportive.” 

More information at www.triec.ca 


Posted: Mar 7, 2018

April 2019

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

© CanadaBound Immigrant 2016