The Value of a Mentor What is a Mentor? A Mentor is a person who can guide you, help you and nurture your career quest. He or she is the one that you want to model after. Why do you need a mentor? If you are working, a mentor can coach you to pursue your career goal; if you are a new immigrant who is looking for work, a mentor can help you understand Canadian workplace culture, identify skills needed and explore opportunities in your professional field. How to find a Mentor? You can find a mentor on your own. Identify someone in your field that you admire and respect. Test water by asking advice. If you feel the rapport is right for mentoring relationship after a few meetings, you can either ask the person to be your mentor directly or tell him or her how much you have benefited from his or her advice and hope he or she will continue to offer guidance. Another way to find a mentor is through Mentorship programs, one of which is offered by Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA. How to nurture the relationship? Talk with your mentor about your mutual expectation for the mentoring relationship. Always think about what you can do for a mentor besides what your mentor can do for you. A reciprocal relationship will be a lasting one. Be sure not to burden your mentor by demanding too much of their time and attention. A lot of mentors are volunteers and the time they spend for you should be respected. Although the feeling of being needed and making a difference in somebody’s life is rewarding, a token of gratitude for your mentor will be appreciated. What is required from a Mentee? You, a mentee, need to be open and honest with your mentor. You also need to have realistic expectations. If you are looking for a job, it is not always realistic to expect your mentor find you a job. However, a mentor can help assess your strength and weaknesses, show you where and how to gain the skills needed in your professional field and most important of all, help you get networking contacts, which will be crucial in your job search. MENTORING PROGRAM FOR FOREIGN-TRAINED PROFESSIONALS Some agencies offer a service based on a three-way partnership between the agency, foreign-trained professionals and Canadians working in your career area. You will generally need to be "job-ready" and have adequate English skills to be referred to such a program. Mentors work one-on-one with you to help you achieve your employment goals while you are seeking work. The main idea behind mentoring is that if you can find someone who is already successful in your career area, they can help you understand what you need to do to to be successful. There is no work placement in this program, instead you will learn one-on-one from someone who can help you with your very specific needs. Having a mentor is a crucial key to success—one that many new Canadians simply do not have. Be open-minded about potential mentors. A good mentor can be a man, a woman, a person of a different color, or even your boss. A mentor can be anyone in your field—ideally, someone with more industry experience than you, although a peer mentor with a background slightly different from your own can also provide useful perspective. A mentor can help you understand company or industry cultures and teach you how to navigate around office politics, among many things. The most important factor is that you and your mentor can comfortably exchange feedback and ideas. What a business mentorship program can offer you: A nonthreatening learning opportunity; Improved self-confidence; Developing business expertise and technical knowledge; Support, listening and reassurance; Networking and partnership opportunities; Understanding Canadian workplace culture; Identifying skills required by market demand; Improving your professional terminology; Advice on proceeding with accreditation, if applies; Mastering self-marketing techniques and confidence building; Identifying technical skills, upgrading programs, and resources; Locating publications and workshops on recent development in their fields; Establishing professional networks; Gathering information on local industries and potential employers; Identifying and seizing employment or job training placement opportunities; Supporting and encouraging efforts to become professionally established; Other issues as identified by mentor and mentee. The K-W YMCA’s Host Program also offers a mentorship program for new Canadians. For more information, please contact Marilena or Mehmet at 519- 579-9622 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I AM NEW TO CANADA AND I CAN'T GET A JOB BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE ANY “CANADIAN EXPERIENCE” Starting over in a new country is not easy. There are a number of challenges; learning a new language and understanding a different culture are a big adjustment. Adding to the difficulty, job opportunities may seem hard to pin down. Employers want to ensure the smooth operation of their company. This concern may raise a number of questions. How will a new Canadian fit into their organization? Will there be difficulty communicating with an employee whose mother tongue is different? Will it be easy enough for a newcomer to successfully join the company culture? Is education or training from abroad comparable to Canadian training? Are work environments and practices from abroad similar to a Canadian work experience? Addressing these concerns is not easy, but here are some suggestions that may help you: If your speaking and writing skills in English are not solid, consider taking a "Business English" course from your local community college. Even if your English language skills are fairly good, it is worth seeking help to improve those skills. Look for services that assist newcomers. Locate some expert allies. In almost every Canadian city there are societies and agencies that serve new Canadians. They can be helpful when adjusting to a new culture. Emphasize your skills. Research the companies that you are applying to and find out what skills they seek. Write a 'Functional' resume instead of a 'chronological' one - www.nextsteps.org/resume/resform.html Highlight your abilities on your cover letter - www.nextsteps.org/resume/coverlet.html Volunteer! Volunteering not only gives you Canadian work experience, but it also provides you with Canadian work references. To convince a potential employer that they should hire you, emphasize that you have the skills necessary to achieve the company's goals. Do not rely too heavily on the prestige of former positions or training programs that may not be recognized by a Canadian employer.
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