I am a skilled immigrant who has recently arrived in Canada and am looking for work as a Controller. I am completely lost as to how to build my career here in my field and how the job search and job market works here.
I am happy to report that I have been connected with a mentor in my field of financial services, through JVS Toronto’s Mentoring Partnership program for internationally trained newcomers, and am meeting my mentor next week. He is a Certified Accountant from one of the large financial institutions.
I would like to learn as much as possible from him on the inside perspectives of a career path in my profession. Do you have any tips as to how I can make sure to have a meaningful and successful mentoring relationship?
Signed: Leveraging my Mentor (LMM)
I am excited for you that you are going to have a Mentor in your field. This could be a fantastic networking, learning and fun experience. I have heard many success stories from our skilled immigrant clients from various occupations who participated in the mentoring program, which is part of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). Patricia Houghton, our Mentoring Coach/Employment Counsellor, has a few words of guidance and advice on how to have an effective and successful relationship with your Mentor.
1. Clarify your goals:
Make sure that both of you are clear about your learning goals and that you have realistic expectations for this relationship. After the orientation sessions, Mentors and Mentees meet in person for the first time to agree upon the goals of the mentoring relationship and sign the Partnership Agreement. Some of the typical relationship goals that may be discussed at this stage include: understanding workplace culture, self-marketing ideas, accreditation, establishing professional networks, identifying employment opportunities and setting job search strategies. Throughout the relationship, check-in to make sure that your goals are being met, and that you and your Mentor are in agreement.
2. Clear communication:
Working with your Mentor is a professional relationship. Decide at the beginning of the relationship how your mentor would like to communicate. Some Mentors prefer emails, some prefer in-person meetings, and some prefer the telephone. Establish a mutually beneficial timeline that works for both of you and will ensure that you maximize your time together. The mentoring partnership should be collaborative. If you have to cancel a meeting, make sure you notify your Mentor in advance; be accommodating to his schedule.
3. Stay positive and open to feedback:
Be flexible and open to constructive feedback from your Mentor. It’s a unique opportunity to learn from someone who is experienced and professional and working in your field. Be a lifelong learner; take the suggestions of the Mentor and try them out. Show him that you have initiative and welcome his opinions and feedback.
4. Be thankful.
Anyone who is willing to volunteer in the community by offering guidance, advice and time deserves some recognition in return. Don’t forget to show your appreciation each time you communicate with your mentor. Gratitude and loyalty goes a long way. Maintain a professional demeanor (advance notice when cancelling, following instructions as to how the mentor likes to communicate, effective listening, to name a few). It is critical to thank the Mentor. Patricia emphasizes that the relationship is a win-win for both parties. The Mentee and Mentor both develop their leadership, coaching and communication skills, learn about the recent trends in their profession and labour market, as well as learn from the Mentees’ experiences with their job search.
5. DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB.
The purpose of this relationship is to help the Mentee become more effective in their job search, and to reconnect with their profession in Canada. Mentors are volunteers. It is not their responsibility to find you a job, nor are they expected to do so. It’s a learning and networking opportunity, as well as a professional relationship that offers you guidance, coaching and assistance with your efforts to build your career in your field. Hopefully you can take all this new information and insights and apply them to your job search, which, in the long run, will eventually help you get a job.
6. Be prepared.
Do you homework. Be conscious of your Mentor’s time. He has a full-time job, as well as other commitments and obligations. He is volunteering his time to help you be successful. Make sure you have an agenda for each meeting that you send to the Mentor in advance of your meeting.
7. Check in with your Mentoring Coach.
Your Mentoring Coach will conduct a monthly check-in by phone or email to review the progress of your partnership. Keep your Mentoring Coach updated as to your activities. If you have any concerns, or questions, consult with your Coach to problem-solve. Sometimes, the relationship isn’t a good fit. It’s important to discuss this with your Mentoring Coach to avoid potential and unnecessary conflicts.
You can visit The Mentoring Partnership website for more information, or call Patricia Houghton at JVS Toronto at 416 649 1686; she would be more than happy to assist you.
I wish you lots of success with your Mentor. I know you will learn a tremendous amount, which you will be able to apply to your job search and building a successful career in Canada in your field.