The Mentoring Partnership, a program of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), has made more than 10,000 mentoring matches between skilled immigrants and professionals in their field.
It brings together recent skilled immigrants and established professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships. This relationship has become a powerful way of supporting newcomers to the GTA in their search for meaningful employment. Mentors are given the opportunity to hone their leadership skills in an increasingly diversifying workplace, with more than 75 per cent of mentees finding work in their professional field after 12 months.
“In 2014, The Mentoring Partnership reached two historic milestones: the 10th anniversary of the program and 10,000 successful mentor-mentee matches that have changed thousands of lives for the better,” said Margaret Eaton, Executive Director, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. “Our new partnership with the Centre will allow us to change even more lives, as we enter a new era of the program.”
Mentors Majid Kazmi and Enriques Enriquez were once mentees themselves.
Enrique Jose Hizon Enriquez
City of Toronto, Information Technology Analyst
When Enrique Enriquez arrived in Canada from the Philippines in 2003, he brought with him skills in networking, systems support, administration and teaching. The Mentoring Partnership was yet to be launched. He struggled with and learnt the nuances of the Canadian job market on his own. Today, he works as an Information Technology Analyst with the City of Toronto.
He signed up to The Mentoring Partnership because he knew that if he had had the chance to be mentored when he came to Canada, his transition would have been smoother. “I felt that this program was it and I wanted to see what I could do to give back to the community,” he adds.
What inspires him to keep working with newcomers?
“My mentees,” he says. “They give me inspiration to continue to be a mentor. The passion that the mentees bring, their enthusiasm, willingness to learn, their commitment to success and never-fail attitude inspires me.”
Having gone through ten mentoring relationships, Enriquez realizes that each relationship is unique and has its high and low moments. “A definite high is when a mentee gets a job while the partnership is ongoing, of course.” For him, “mentoring makes me not take anything for granted. It has taught me to remain grounded and be practical.”
Enriquez uses The Mentoring Partnership online handbook and the mentoring dashboard when he is looking for resources to support his mentoring. He has also participated in the Professional Development series organized by The Mentoring Partnership which he found very useful. “The networking sessions and mentoring workshops are great. I get to network, learn from other mentors and seek answers to my questions.”
How has mentoring changed Enrique?
“It has kept me focused and optimistic about the future and the challenges ahead,” says Enrique. “Knowing the mentees, learning about the skills they bring, and being aware of the opportunities available keeps me motivated.”
As a seasoned mentor, his tips to a new mentor are to be realistic. “Do research about your mentees’ field, learn from your mentee too – and remember we can’t be superman all the time.”
Business Consultant, Channel Strategy, Retail & Business Banking, CIBC
When Majid Kazmi came to Canada in 2012, he brought with him years of experience as a banking professional in Pakistan.
“Thanks to my mentors, I was quickly able to figure out what it takes to be successful in the very competitive job market of Toronto,” he says. “My mentor did a great job providing me the basic understanding of the job search process and the hiring criteria relevant for my role.”
Kazmi today works as a Business Consultant for Channel Strategy, and Retail and Business Banking at CIBC.
He has tried to contribute to new immigrants’ successes through various forums. He helped establish the CIBC International Professionals Network (IPN) and was appointed its first co-chair. Majid has documented his networking experience in an article, entitled 10 Tips to Smart Networking that Worked for Me, which gives advice to newcomers.
Becoming a mentor was an obvious choice for Kazmi. “I wanted to pay it forward. Not doing that just didn’t feel right to me.”
Mentoring is a wonderful opportunity to learn from the experience of other newcomers and learn about diverse cultures, he says. “The experience of learning from the personal stories broadens the horizons of my personal growth, and helps me become a more empathetic and perceptive leader.”
What has Kazmi gained from being a mentor?
“Long lasting relationships that could be mutually beneficial in the months and years to come.” He has also gained an understanding of different perspectives about the employment market. “Knowing that all mentees do not go through the exact same challenges has helped me appreciate the distinct aspects of each mentee’s experience and the variety of opportunities and solutions that exist.” And more importantly, being a mentor allows Majid to inspire others to make a difference in the lives of newcomers by becoming mentors themselves.
The satisfaction of being mentor comes when mentees succeed, Majid says. “The shining mentoring moment for me was when a mentee received two interview calls in one day and both eventually converted into job offers.”
Motivation and positive energy are some of his many take-aways from his mentoring experience.
“Being successful in your career essentially takes the same skills as finding a job in a new country,” he says. “The Mentoring Partnership has taught me the importance of being driven by my goals and being persistent in doing all that it takes to achieve those goals.”
“My motivation came from within but was intensified by the overwhelmingly positive response I received from my mentors. Every time I am faced with challenges, it is this positivity that helps me refocus on what I can do to maintain the momentum,” he adds. “It was this positive energy that became my biggest learning from the mentoring experience.”
As a mentee-turned-mentor, Kazmi has some sound advice for mentees.
Since the time commitment in a mentoring relationship is limited, it is crucial for mentees to make the most of it.
“They should ask the right questions. This comes from an understanding of one’s short-term professional goals and long-term career aspirations.
“A mentee can only get a mentor’s support to design effective strategies to target relevant jobs, if he or she has a well-defined career objective and knows who his prospective employers are. Also, have your mentor help you research and learn more about your field here in Canada”, he says.
“The mentor can then channel the mentee’s efforts in the right direction based on his goals and strengths.
“The mentee should make the most of the mentor’s past learning and seriously consider the tools and resources that the mentor suggests,” he advises.
Posted: Jun 2, 2015
TRIEC’s PINs program is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and sponsored by Scotiabank.