Mentoring brings great benefits for all involved
June 1, 2009
The mentor-mentee relationship is the first link in a newcomer’s professional network that opens doors for them. At the same time, it changes perceptions about the value of skilled immigrants in the Canadian working environment. However, it can be somewhat challenging in acquiring that first mentor, especially when a newcomer’s main focus is on seeking employment. But, really, you should be treating the acquiring of a mentor as a number 1 priority.
Value to the mentee
Most internationally educated professionals (IEPs) have a university degree or higher, along with valuable working experience, when they arrive in Canada. However, they lack familiarity with the Canadian workplace and culture, and thus are repeatedly faced with the “No Canadian experience” barrier when applying for jobs.
Mentors can help break down the employment barriers by offering industry-specific advice, equipping new immigrants with the knowledge they need to find meaningful, professional work more quickly.
Newcomers often run into difficulties with job searching, resumé writing and interviews because it can all be very different from what they have experienced previously. Through a mentorship, newcomers develop networking skills, job search strategies and learn more about the Canadian context of their profession. A mentor can save a newcomer years of struggle in returning to his or her profession. Mentors can also potentially lead you to hidden employment and job training opportunities.
Benefits for mentors
In turn, mentors earn benefits for themselves through learning to develop coaching, communication and leadership skills. They develop the capability to work with people with different backgrounds and cultures; motivate and support others to reach their potential; and become more aware of the job market and industry trends.
If you feel that you are ready to give back to the community through the mentoring of a newcomer, there are several organizations with mentoring programs. While you can directly set up a mentoring relationship, I recommend that you go through a program such as the mentoring partnership of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) in Toronto.
You may also try encouraging your employer to become corporate partners with an established mentoring program or even develop one internally. Employers are starting to recognize that newly arrived individuals have very diverse skill-sets and work experience, which can result in numerous benefits to employers in today’s global environment. And providing them with a mentor helps facilitate their integration into the Canadian workforce and into the firm itself much faster.
Reference: Canadian Immigrant