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I wanted to return the favor I received from my mentor, to newcomers

As a mentee turned mentor, Fabian Marks sees the value that a mentor brings to a newcomer’s career search process.  “As a mentee, I totally appreciated the advice and guidance I received from my  mentor. This helped me secure a position in my field, and I hope to be able to return the favour to newcomers.”

Having arrived in Canada in 2008 , Fabian works as Director, Marketing, Global Wealth & Insurance, Scotia Bank International. He became a mentor because he knew there was a need for mentorship,  especially for newcomers to Canada. “Having been there myself 6 years ago, I know how challenging it can be -when you have a family to take care of, this is life changing stuff.”

Mentoring a newcomer gives Fabian the personal satisfaction of having made a positive difference in the life of one or two individuals. “What greater purpose can we be here for than to make a positive  difference in the lives of others?” he asks.  The shining mentoring moment for Fabian? “It is really when your mentee gets a job and is off on their own! Yayy!!”.

I also learn to appreciate the challenges of different fields of work as you do not always get a mentee who is exactly in your career stream. “The people coming to Canada are often qualified , experienced  professionals, and I also learn from them. I was advising one mentee to ensure he has his plans well in place before he leaves his temporary survival job to start his own business. However, he  respectfully disagreed: “a tree cannot grow to its full potential beneath the shadow of another tree”.  This is a young man who is speaking from his experience of having already successfully launched 3  businesses in his home country. So I stand corrected. I learn as much from the mentees as they learn from me ”, he adds.

Being a mentor gives an opportunity to help others, he says. “I think once you have been through the program, you cannot help but be in a position where you can and want to help others.” I have learnt  about resume writing, networking, cover letters, applications, searching the hidden job market, salary discussions, interviews etc. “And there are hundreds of people out of work all around us, family,  friends, and colleagues.” For him, it is important to encourage newcomers to keep their heads up and to keep pushing forward and not to give up. “Most importantly, the emotional toll that being out of work places on us, especially as men coming from countries where your role is to provide for your family, requires that we make ourselves available to support newcomers.” His motivation mantra for his mentees? “Things will work out, but you have to commit 100% and give yourself the 6-12 months.”

Fabian urges new mentees to take the process seriously. “You get what you put into it.” Try not to miss appointments, or be late for appointments and follow up on recommendations. “There are so many little nuances here that people make a big deal of. What you say and how you say it. You can be in an interview for an hour and someone may only pick up one word that they deemed offensive.” People here are very different from many countries new immigrants come from. “Some people  can be overly sensitive.”

Fabian recounts an occasion when one of his mentees came into his office in downtown Toronto dressed quite inappropriately. .” From the first meeting, I could see what we both needed to work on.” Each mentee needs a different solution and Fabian tries individual approaches to address their individual needs. “As a mentee, I got a lot of guidance from my mentor about everything; from where I could get suits at reasonable prices, to whether I should wear a Remembrance Day poppy for my interview.” The mentee should just ask questions and take the process seriously. “Make the most of it. That’s what we are here for.”


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