Claudia Medina is the brand governance manager at CIBC. She is an internationally trained advertising and marketing professional who moved to Canada from Venezuela with her family in the summer of 2013. She registered as a mentee in TRIEC Mentoring Partnership through Sheridan College in 2013, and became a mentor last year.
When and How did you originally become involved in TRIEC Mentoring Partnership as a mentee? Which agency did you work with?
My plan, even before moving to Canada, was to take an Enhanced Language Training (ELT) program as soon as possible. I did it at Sheridan College in Oakville (Iroquois Shore Road campus). The professors introduced me to the TRIEC Mentoring Partnership as one of the available programs. I did not take it right after I finished ELT, but at some point – being not able to find a job – I met with the program coordinator at Sheridan College, looking for a mentor.
How did the agency support and help you in your career goals?
The coordinator at Sheridan College consistently shared job postings with me during that time. They were also pretty fast in finding a mentor for me. It was a good experience to connect with someone in my field in Toronto.
Why did you become a mentor?
I was a mentee and I wanted to give back, in hopes to have a positive impact in a newcomer’s life. I knew I wanted to be a mentor as soon as I finished the program as a mentee. Even though each case is different, I understand the struggles, challenges and fears of a newcomer first hand. Being able to pass my experience onto someone was important for me and hopefully valuable for my mentee. We come to Canada with our hopes and dreams to start a new life and ready to put our experience to work fast. We have to start from scratch, and it takes a lot of effort and courage until we’re given the opportunity and demonstrate how good we can be. After that, it’s up to us, and the passion we put into it. That will help us build our personal brand in Canada. There’s so much potential and strengths in diverse teams and all employers should embrace diversity and inclusion.
How did mentoring help you with finding your first job in Canada?
Even though my mentor did not connect me to my current job, it was a valuable source for me to get to where I am today. My mentor gave me some good tips to improve my resume and job search strategy. He was always empathetic, and mentioned some potential employers based on my experience and interests. Finding a job in my field was not an easy process. I’m an introvert and learning that networking was one of the best ways to find a job in Canada was a bit frightening for me so I had to do it my way and be persistent and patient. I tried every possible way, including the “daunting” networking which proved to be effective as I was able to connect with some interesting people who also helped me.
Can you give an example of how you’ve put your learning from the program into practice?
I worked hard on polishing my resume and cover letter. I learned resilience. Being rejected is not easy and after one, you just have to keep going.
What advice would you give to a new mentee about how to make the most of the mentoring relationship?
Be open, explore and try different and new options. Ask. Listen. Be resourceful. Learn a new skill or improve one you already have. Ask again. Listen again. Focus on what you want. Being part of the Mentorship program as a mentee means accepting that things are not going to be easy and that it’s hard to do it on your own. Humbly, we need all the help we can get and use the resources available. Fortunately, the Mentorship program provides that help. And last but not least, as soon as you feel ready for it, become a mentor.
What does being a mentor now mean to you?
Being a mentor means having the possibility to share my experiences to improve someone else’s and have a positive impact on their life. It was also a great opportunity to learn from my mentee about things that were new to me. Who knows, maybe one day you can help your mentor.
And lastly, could you please complete the following sentence…
“The future of mentoring is…collaborating with mentees even before they arrive to Canada so newcomers can come even more prepared.”