By Annie Singh
Mentoring is like having a personal GPS for your career, especially for newcomers in the Canadian job market. It guides them through twists and turns and helps them reach their destination safely. They can benefit from the knowledge of an established professional in their industry, while also making valuable connections as they navigate the challenges of building their career in a new country. It’s important to remember that mentoring is a two-way street – it is not just about helping others but also about personal growth for mentors. The old saying, “to teach is to learn twice”, holds true in mentoring.
Despite the many benefits, there are misconceptions that can deter potential mentors from participating in newcomer mentoring programs, as highlighted in a recent research study by Sheridan College in partnership with TRIEC, Facilitators and Barriers to Mentoring Newcomers to Canada. In this article, I will dispel some of these myths by providing insights from the TRIEC Mentoring Partnership program (TMP).
Myth 1: Mentors do not feel qualified or competent to mentor newcomers.
Mentoring is fundamentally about personal growth and fostering connections. As a mentor, it’s not necessary to have all the answers to a mentee’s questions from the start. You do not need to be more educated, smarter, older, or more experienced than a mentee. Hearing about your experience in the Canadian job market can be invaluable to a newcomer. As a seasoned mentor remarked in the report, “Don’t judge what value you can bring, just dive in, and have the experience. I think at the end, both parties can win and gain something from the experience.”
Throughout my professional journey, I have had the privilege of being both a mentee and a mentor. When I first arrived in Canada, I received some valuable guidance from an HR executive – Network without expectations. Meet as many people as you can. Learn and be a sponge. It was simple, yet powerful. I took their words to heart and actively built connections in my industry. To my surprise, the relationships I formed during my job search and early stages of my career played a significant role not only in teaching me about Canadian work culture, but also in shaping my future growth and development in this new country.
When you join our mentoring program, know that you won’t be on this journey alone. You will have support from Mentoring Coaches at Community Service provider organizations, opportunities for networking, professional development workshops, and access to a wide range of online learning resources.
Myth 2: Mentors do not have enough time to commit to mentoring.
As a mentor in TMP, you can expect to spend about 18 hours over a period of three months with your mentee. While it’s true that many mentors have busy schedules, the mentoring partnership can be flexible to accommodate the schedules of both parties. It doesn’t have to consume a large amount of time if you don’t want it to – you can always find creative ways to make it work. Set expectations around when you are available to meet and schedule meetings in advance at mutually agreed times. Organizing virtual meetings and calls during non-work hours, over lunch breaks, or through emails, can all help save time, without significantly impacting the quality of the experience.
Myth 3: Mentors have the responsibility of finding work for the mentee.
As a mentor in TMP, you provide customized support and guidance to newcomers throughout their job search process. You can share insights and information about your industry and occupation in Canada, as well as assist in building professional networks. However, it is ultimately the mentee’s responsibility to secure employment. The goal of the mentor is to empower newcomers to build successful careers in their new home.
The impact of mentoring is far-reaching and can be life-changing for both the mentor and the mentee. If you can become a mentor or be mentored, go for it. You won’t regret it!
If you are an established professional looking to give back and make a positive impact, consider becoming a mentor and help newcomers to Canada achieve their professional aspirations. If you are a newcomer to Canada looking to build your career, consider applying for the TRIEC Mentoring Partnership program. It is a fantastic opportunity to connect with a mentor who can support you in navigating the challenges of building your career in a new country.