“When I came here from Tanzania in 1982 there was a recession and I was jobless for nine months. There was no one to tell me where to find a job. I had to start at minimum wage and had a really tough time. I want to give newcomers support so they won’t have to suffer as much as I did.”
The one key tip I try to pass on to my mentees
Most jobs aren’t advertised in the newspaper. If you want to work for a company, go look at their websites. I give my mentees the names of the big construction companies here. I show them how to go online, look for positions and how to apply.
One mentoring experience that stands out for me
Natalia, a mentee of mine from Russia, had excellent experience, but couldn’t find work. Within one month of us meeting, I saw a job in Saturday’s Toronto Star for a job in Edmonton. I called her first thing Monday morning. She applied by 9:30AM. By noon human resources had contacted her to set up a meeting with the company president who was travelling through Toronto that evening. She had an interview at 9PM and was signing the contract by 11PM. It’s a phenomenal story and I was ecstatic for her.
My advice for job-seeking skilled immigrants
It took my daughter six months to find a job after graduating from mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto. That’s a typical amount of time. It’s not just newcomers.
Mentee, Natalia Dourbalova, on why Nizar’s mentorship made a difference to her
I was a professional engineer in two countries and had over 15 years of experience when I arrived here, but I couldn’t find a good job. Nizar gave me specific information about which companies to research and how to get my job search back on track. He explained that I needed to obtain my license and find work in my field – and that I should consider relocating to do so. He was right on all accounts. After working in Edmonton, I have three years of Canadian work experience and my designation. I really value Nizar’s feedback and have continued to ask for advice on pursuing professional development courses. I wish there were more Nizars for other internationally trained engineers new to Toronto.
More on mentor Nizar Hirji
- Building Inspector, City of Toronto (retiring late 2011).
- Mentor to 10 or more skilled immigrants through The Mentoring Partnership.
- Nizar heard about The Mentoring Partnership through the City of Toronto, a corporate partner of the program.