On Saturday April 9th, 2016, In-TAC launched its new social engagement series entitled InspiRED Talks. The series will feature presentations by exceptional immigrants who have demonstrated strength and resilience during their economic integration process as they settled in Canada. Their journeys of integration will be showcased through storytelling events narrated by In-TAC alumni quarterly. The element of RED represents the ‘spirit of empowerment’.
The first InspiRED Talk session focused on women’s empowerment and featured the moving stories of seven internationally educated women, In-TAC alumnae, who have experienced and overcome challenging life and career transitions. With varied experience from a wide range of sectors, finance, IT, administration and civil service, the participants shared their best advice for other women on how to survive and thrive during the transition period into the Canadian workforce.
Sushma Lobo, an IT Auditor with a passion for quality systems and processes, immigrated to Canada with her family in 2014. She credits the support received from In-TAC, more specifically, resume and interview preparation, as the key to her success in landing a position as an Internal IT Auditor with Canada Post. When asked what advice she had for other professional women starting out, Sushma said, “Be patient, be observant, try to understand the culture, figure out where you can use your transferrable skills, set S.M.A.R.T. goals, work hard, take the initiative and network by reaching out to others, but most of all, try to maintain a positive attitude and mindset throughout.”
Thanks to In-TAC, Rania Darweesh Saleh, a Network and Cloud Security Expert, broke In-TAC’s records by landing a job just two weeks after her arrival in Canada. Rania was willing to take a chance on a new start-up company and work her way up. She now occupies a position commensurate with education and work experience and has played an integral role in helping the company, InBay Technologies, grow into a thriving ICT business. She laughs when she mentions that as result of her experience with In-TAC, her relatives back home think that it’s very easy to find a job in Canada.
Lucia Burgess, a Program Officer and Accountant originally from Romania, stressed the importance of overcoming your fears and networking to succeed. You would never guess that just a few years ago, this vibrant and articulate presenter used to panic at the thought of having to answer the phone in English. She shared the story of having someone say “Hello ma’am” and feeling very frustrated thinking “Excuse me, I’m not a man!” Luckily, Lucia found the OCCSC’s LINC Program and started to attend English classes. She worked very hard and transitioned into In-TAC’s NaviCan Accounting, industry specific language training where she excelled. She was nervous about looking for work and was terrified at the thought of having to go through an interview. Her In-TAC employment coach advised Lucia not to worry about getting the job; instead she encouraged her to just go to the interview to practice her interview skills. Lucia practiced a lot; she was nervous but went to the interview anyway. She was shocked the next morning when the owner called to offer her a job. She is now a Program Officer with Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada. Her advice to others; “Don’t give up, work hard, never stop networking and don’t just work for money, work for your goals and you’ll achieve your dreams.”
InspiRED Talks also featured advice from two In-TAC volunteers currently helping newly arrived immigrants acquire the skills and confidence needed to enter the labour market. They offered their insights on how volunteerism in Canada can help newcomers and why it is our social responsibility.
Dayani Castro, a single mother and high-level Accountant who emigrated from Cuba, embraced her entrepreneurial spirit and opened her own accounting business. “When I arrived, my biggest motivation was my daughter”. She worked hard, obtained another accounting diploma and started industry specific language training through In-TAC’s NaviCan Accounting Program. After feeling disappointed in the work environment at her new job, she quit and decided to start her own business. “My first and best advice for a newcomer is: Adapt – you left your family and home, that’s the worst that can happen to you, so move forward and adapt.” Dayani feels that “once you’re on your feet, volunteering is a social responsibility. It’s important to give back to the community and help others succeed, just as you were helped when you first arrived in Canada”. She has now been volunteering as a mentor with In-TAC since 2014 and has hired two professional accountants, graduates of In-TAC, as her business has grown.
Luciana Nechita, a lifelong advocate of newcomers and avid volunteer, shared her journey of career transitions starting with a degree in the arts and education from Romania, working with a multinational company in Europe, to counselling survivors of violence and working in the non-profit sector in Canada, to her current position in the corporate sector as Manager of Communications for the Automotive Industries Association of Canada. She talked about the importance of “not limiting yourself, of keeping your options open and remaining available to new possibilities by staying positive.” Luciana encouraged others to “Remember, you write your own history, so never give up.”
Mara Taracievicz, VP of Operations of Superna Inc., a valued In-TAC employer partner, outlined the business benefits of recruiting and hiring newcomer professionals. She shared the reasons why her company embraces diversity in workplace as one of its core values. “We have 12 countries represented at Superna – 40% to 50 % of our people have come from In-TAC” said Mara. “We don’t look for someone from this country or that country, we don’t even require Canadian experience – we hire for talent and In-TAC brings us that talent” she says. “Of course we look for basic skills, knowledge and mental flexibility, but just knowing that someone came from another country indicates to us a willingness to be challenged and to try something new.”
The women closed the InspiRED Talks session with a group photo and great admiration for each other.
In-TAC recognizes the significant role women play in growing the Canadian economy and building stronger communities, and it fully encourages its female clients to actively participate and engage in a variety of business sectors. In-TAC is dedicated to empowering global talent to achieve career success in Canada by creating a platform for continuous dialogue between non-profit employment services and employers seeking highly skilled newcomer talent.