By Eiliyah Deewan and Henrique Goncalves
Eiliyah is a Project Officer at the Canadian Executive Service Organization, and a volunteer mentor at TRIEC. Her appreciation for mentoring inspired her to co-author and put this blog together with her mentee, Henrique Goncalves. Both Eiliyah and Henrique share what the mentoring partnership was like for them.
How it all started
In Eiliyah’s words- Volunteering and giving back has always been a big passion of mine. Growing up I often volunteered in various roles and assisted in professional development programs for young kids in my local community. Helping out my community has inspired me so far to gain a unique sense of purpose in life and in work. My mentoring journey will inspire you, cause you to reflect on things deeply, challenge prevalent ideas or simply give you something to read about. I met Henrique through the TRIEC Mentoring Partnership program. When we met, I drew up a thought out plan for our 3-month mentoring partnership to discuss his work background, experiences and goals in life. It gave me a better insight into his background and how I could help him succeed in his career path. Henrique immigrated to Canada in the midst of the pandemic, and found it difficult navigating the job market. Eventually, he was able to connect with JVS Toronto and the TRIEC Mentorship program.
In Henrique’s words- I immigrated from Brazil to Canada in March 2020, exactly 10 days before the Covid-19 pandemic forced Toronto to go into lockdown. During the first few months here, I had a hard time figuring out how to network and job search living in a world of social isolation. It was then that I found out about the Mentorship Program and immediately matched with Eiliyah. Eiliyah made sure I felt comfortable and it ended up being a productive meeting. I felt like I was talking to both a mentor and a friend, someone who understood what I was going through and knew both the challenges and the ways I could overcome them. That made me feel much more motivated in the following months of mentorship.
In Eiliyah’s words- Meeting Henrique has been a life-changing experience. By reflecting on his qualifications and work experience, I provided him with useful tools and resources to enable him find a job in his field. Bearing in mind the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on everyone and the challenges that newcomers face daily in finding work, I often encouraged Henrique to remain optimistic. I made sure to check in, took updates online, gave him enough space, tried to share motivational quotes and shared the struggles I faced in my career journey. I encouraged him to always surround himself with loved-ones and embrace a healthy work-life balance to maintain a good mental health.
In Henrique’s words- At first, the pandemic affected me a lot. Being in a new country, looking for a job, and at the same time, being totally clueless where to look for information and unable to meet anyone for even as little as a coffee chat, I found myself unable to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, the Mentorship Program was instrumental in helping me achieve a better work-life balance during the COVID-19 pandemic. If I can give one single piece of advice to newcomers, it would be this: listen to your body and, most importantly, your mind, and don’t judge yourself too hard. It’s easy to overlook our mental health when we’re under constant stress. Thanks to a well thought mentorship plan and Eiliyah’s ability in guiding me through the process, I was able to improve on myself and network with people in my professional field.
In Eiliyah’s words- Mentoring remotely was quite challenging, mostly because of the endless internet issues and interruptions that came up. Rather than rely on skype or zoom, we corresponded through WhatsApp messaging and phone calls as an effective way to stay in touch and build rapport.
In Henrique’s words- In the beginning of the pandemic, having zoom and skype-only meetings was unusual for someone like myself who’s always enjoyed social interactions and face-to-face meetings. Her willingness to always check in on me and chat frequently empowered me, and kept me on track.
In Eiliyah’s words- My zeal and commitment to always give back inspired me to find creative ways to communicate with Henrique. As the 3-month mentoring program was about to end, I shared important details and effective personal branding tactics with Henrique to help him in his job search. I reminded him that the job market can be a tough and competitive space where everyone has to create their own niche. And that this would require him sharpening his skills and consistently engaging and interacting with people in his field through LinkedIn or virtual coffee chats. That way he can further promote his brand name.
In Henrique’s words – The pandemic made me lose focus on my personal branding. The mentorship was crucial in helping me refocus and rethink my priorities. Moving to Canada was a long and well thought-out process, followed by my desire to build a career in sustainability and become a socially-minded professional. As a mentee, you might feel like you’re always receiving and never giving back, but it’s important to keep in mind that mentoring is a two-way process. I want to continue to share my own skills and experiences to help anyone else’s journey and this collaborative article is one way I wanted to do that.
In Eiliyah’s words – So what started as a mentor-mentee relationship has now turned into a relationship between colleagues. Being a part of the TRIEC mentoring program improved my coaching and leadership skills. I learned how to stay grounded, how to be kind, tolerant, flexible, helpful and approachable. Today Henrique is working in his field at a sustainable finance startup, Platano Capital, a company that provides sustainable investment analysis and solutions to businesses who aim to improve their ESG performance. Seeing how helpful the mentorship was for me made me absolutely sure that I continuously want to give back as a mentor and pass forward my experiences and lessons learned as a newcomer and as a professional.