Leaving the small island state of Grenada, a warm tropical island in the southern Caribbean, was one of the most significant decisions of my life. Having already achieved a successful career there, deciding to relocate to Canada was not easy. I had to say goodbye to very close family and friends and a cherished legacy of a very fruitful career. It also involved leaving temperatures ranging from 19 to 31 degrees Celsius influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and an only 5-minute drive to the world-famous Grand Anse Beach. In December, I left Grenada to head for Guelph, a small rural urban town of approximately 125,000 people in southwestern Ontario. My main connection in Guelph at that time was my wife.
Pre-arrival & Exploring
Before leaving Grenada, I had a pre-arrival orientation and job search preparation about the Canadian job market. However, I suddenly realized that orientation was just the first step. Canada has a different culture from where I came from – communities were very closed with different social norms and behavioural practices. I had to learn to make the necessary adjustments. In this initial phase of my settlement journey, I deliberately purposed myself to read and observe as much as possible—my early connections with members of my church congregation, where I attended services every Sunday. I explored doing shopping, riding the transit, and taking winter walks; these all helped me observe and learn a great deal about my new home.
Pandemic , Newcomer Support & Networking
By March 2020, three months after I landed, the COVID 19 pandemic with all the associated restrictions and great ear of uncertainty began to take effect. With lockdown in force, I had to pivot to online operations to help me learn more about living in Canada. At times I found that process very challenging and overwhelming, even with frustration. But I used the strategies of speaking to myself often, maintaining a regular exercising regime, and reading spiritually uplifting literature to help me stay focused.
Immediately after the first COVID lockdown ease, I connected with the Guelph Lutherwood Employment Agency, where I was connected with an employment counselor. Within days, the counsellor helped set my career goals and objectives for my job search. She subsequently worked with me to reshape my resume to identify and highlight my key competencies and significant work achievements. I also enrolled in an Internationally Trained Professionals Mentorship Program; my mentor, whose parents were immigrant from South America, shared key aspects and intricacies of the Canadian job market.
I attended my first Job Skills Conference at the nearby town in Kitchener with over 200 new immigrants in attendance through its support. The informative and strategic presentations made me understand in a much in-depth way the challenges that new immigrants face in Canada and the available opportunities. I recall leaving the conference discouraged but determined to use the new knowledge to make critical decisions to move forward. I clearly understood that it was not going to be easy, but at the same time, I was determined to succeed.
I attended many free virtual webinars and started writing many more targeted applications to align with the particular job posting by that time. A mastering LinkedIn training course, helped me upgrade my profile and made more strategic connections. I started reaching out to my new networks to source information and ask for referrals to companies I was interested in joining.
Perseverance fruits success
Then after about six months of writing countless applications, I got the first call for a telephone interview. It was a private sector company that was looking for a Liaison Officer. The interview was short and informal, but I thought I handled it well. I was told they would get back to me, but that call never came. However, it was not long after when a second call came. It said, “Hi Samuel, I am … calling from the County of …. You applied for a position with us as Program Coordinator. Are you still interested in the job?” I hurriedly said, “yes, thank you.” I remember my mentor telling me that the municipalities are good to work with and will be a good fit for me, given my training and experience.
This was an application I did back in April, and the call for the interview came in July. By the middle of August 2020, I began my first job in Canada as a part-time worker with relatively good compensation. After seven months in that job, I was promoted to a full-time worker and have remained in that job since, feeling very satisfied. My perseverance and willingness to learn and put in the work have opened the doors of opportunity. I am grateful for the support and mentorship I was given during my early days of job search.