Hoda saw Canada as a good "honest" country, where she could seek new opportunities, when she decided to immigrate to Canada in 2011. While the majority of her family was still in Egypt, Hoda had heard good things about Canada from her sister.
Life was good in her homeland, (she was a civil engineer, teaching math in a private school) but she wanted to join her sister and family in Canada. Although she soon discovered it would be a long and costly road to become certified in her profession, Hoda decided to remain in Canada and use the opportunity to put down new roots, develop new skills and embrace life in her new country.
First on her list was to improve her English language skills. Her sister suggested she start at the Welcome Centre -- where Hoda enrolled in LINC classes. Although she could read and write in English, she was not as comfortable speaking the language. As her language skills improved, so did her confidence. Between classes she took workshops to help with everyday issues from finances to housing. She enrolled in the Job Search Workshop program, and fine-tuned her resume and job search skills. She began volunteering — anything that would help her to practice her English, and provide her with Canadian experiences.
Following the advice of staff at the Welcome Centre, in 2012 she enrolled in Seneca College's Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, got a job as a teaching assistant in a Before and After School program and continued to volunteer. She will graduate in the Spring of 2015 — and hopes her certification will continue to open more doors for her.
"I love children, and I have found a career that is close to my own career. I am still a teacher and I feel I am doing good things with children to help them develop and improve."
Hoda believes the Welcome Centre was key to helping her navigate many of the obstacles that face many newcomers. "The key is that it is all in one place; I was able to go from classes to workshops, and not have to go anywhere else," she said. "This (the Welcome Centre) is my home, my family, (and) they help me as a member of a family," she said.
She is very proud of her adopted country and hopes to get her Canadian Citizenship next year. "When you are here you have to think as a Canadian. That doesn't mean you forget your soul; you just have to be part of this new community."
Samer arrived in Canada from Egypt under the Federal Skilled Worker program, along with his wife and two teenage sons. Although Samer and his family were adjusting to their new life in Canada with a good support network of friends and family, he realized he needed additional support with his job search and approached the Welcome Centre for assistance.
Samer had over 12 years experience in the Financial Services sector, and was looking for a position that would build on his skills. After having his educational qualifications assessed, he also obtained a Canadian Securities Certificate to enhance his job search within the securities field. After his assessment with a Case Manager at the Welcome Centre identified his specific employment needs, he enrolled in the Job Search Workshop program, where he received focused assistance with interview techniques.
Additional individual support by the Employment and Resource Area Staff strengthened his interview skills and he started his first job in Canada with a 3-month contract at a financial institution.
When Gabriela came to Canada from Mexico, she was overwhelmed by the many options available. With a degree in Business Administration, as well as experience as a Spanish teacher in her native country, she found the job market in Canada challenging.
After meeting with a Case Manager at the Welcome Centre, she was referred to an Employment Settlement Specialist for individual career coaching. Along with her own labour market research, she reflected on her strengths and began investigating some of the options available to her. She had worked in management and administrative positions, including Human Resources, along with her teaching position. Encouraged by discussions with friends and business coaches at a local Enterprise Centre, and building on connections she had in Mexico, she even considered the possibility of starting her own import/export business.
After taking an online customs/importing course at Seneca College, she obtained a short-term contract working as a supervisor of a distributor of Mexican foods, which provided her with valuable work experience in Canada. She is currently taking a business English course at a local college, allowing her to continue to develop her skills, suitable for her long-term goal of being her own boss.