This blog was written by Daniel Kim, who leads media and government relations at the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).
If you’re about to move and start a new life in Canada, one of the most important questions you should ask yourself is: Where can I meet and build my professional network? Many newcomers arrive in Canada with tremendous skills, experience, and education. But not enough highly skilled immigrants have an established group or community they can rely on who understands their work experience, expertise, labour market, and who can speak the same “career language”. You may have a strong support group of friends and family – but that’s different from a professional network who can help you with your career. Luckily, Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) is here to help.
PINs is a program of the Toronto Region Immigration Employment Council (TRIEC) that is made up of 78 GTA-based associations with a total membership of over 50,000 immigrant professionals in a variety of occupations and industries. Each association is a volunteer-led, member-based organization with an employment focus, run by and for immigrant professionals. Examples include Canadian Network of Iraqi Engineers and Architects, Manyatta Network, UnstoppableMe.rocks, and more.
As you’ll notice, some immigrant associations are based on a specific race or country, some are solely occupation-based, some are both, and others (like UnstoppableMe.rocks) are for anyone and everyone who is a newcomer. But all associations are led by volunteer leaders who are giving back in their spare time – most of them have separate day jobs. The mission of each association is to support its members to find meaningful employment in their respective fields. Whether it’s holding networking events, professional development sessions, or providing mentorship, the initiatives of these associations have resulted in many success stories for new Canadians.
Many immigrants come with career backgrounds in regulated professions (i.e. accounting, law, engineering). It’s very difficult to re-find your careers when there’s the added challenge of having your international experience and foreign education credentials recognized to work in a specific field. Often times, many immigrant professionals will need extra schooling, licensing, and examinations to validate their experience. That’s why associations in regulated industries like the Black Female Accountants Network (BFAN), Association of Romanian Engineers in Canada (AREC), and Canadian Hispanic Bar Association are doing incredible work helping newcomers navigate the – sometimes bureaucratic – process of validating their credentials.
Do you want to become a member of PINs? The good news is that you can research and sign up with an association even before you land in Canada. Here’s how you can do it:
- Research what association applies to you: Go to the PINs Directory and search different associations by profession or ethnic community served. You can even input keywords to see related associations.
- Register and join: Whether via website or email, each association’s page will have a bit of information about the association, membership benefits, fees (if applicable), and contact information to register. Register today!