Credentials: Licencing To Open New Career Paths

Short Courses in Finance and Banking

by Sergio Granillo

One of the main concerns when you come to Canada is getting your credentials recognized, to make valid your university degree and your professional experience. It is hard to accept that, at least for a while, many of us have to start new careers.

Developing new skills in a different professional area makes a big difference between staying in a ‘survival job’ for a long time – and making that job a new career path.

This is about my personal experience. I have a degree in Communications, more than 15 years working in marketing, public relations and journalism. Shortly after my arrival, I approached some orientation centres and workshops to learn how to create a résumé according to the Canadian labour market.

Networking, a word new to me, was stressed in this workshop; a very useful tactic to get a job and to move up in the workplace. Luckily, I started my networking among the other newcomers in the group and attended different orientation conferences.

It was November 2005, in a motivational conference in Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) that I met Stella Mejia, who worked for COSTI – a multicultural agency that helps immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area.

I explained to Stella that I had found a ‘survival job’ in a bank as a teller and that it made me feel frustrated. She gave me a piece of advice: ‘If you can access training programs in that job, take them, whether or not it is related to your background. It’s like a free university!’

It is not easy to accept. But you learn how important that mindset can be. So, I was trained first as a teller, and then I kept learning all I could, as I saw the time passing by and still didn’t find a job in my career.

Anyhow, in the same meeting I got connected to a group of newcomers, all of them with a background in Marketing and Communications, who had created a group called CAMP, where people new to Canada met to join efforts trying to break into that industry.

This way, I tackled two areas in my life, paying the bills working as a teller, while pursuing my long term goal, getting a job in communications.

If you cannot find that ‘dream job’, you need to find the way of not getting stuck in a sort of comfort zone and assess the possibility of growing in a new career path.

And here comes another piece of advice I got: Luis Flores, a Mexican investment advisor in the bank, told me, “Forget about your degree, it is not going to open the doors here; in this company you need to have a licence to sell mutual funds, that course will open doors”. He studied at the same private university that I attended.

The first thing I thought was, I am not giving up my search or ripping up my diploma. It is hard to take, but what he told me was true.

Even though I had no desire to become an account manager – a position where this licence is required – I realized that you need that accreditation to get better jobs in the bank.

The Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) offers these courses. The basic ones are the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) and the Investment Funds in Canada (IFC). The cost is $995.00 and $350.00, respectively. They are self-study courses, so you can organize your study time. Within a year, you can book the date to take the exam. If you succeed, then you get your licence, which is valid for a couple of years.

I have lost opportunities to get better jobs because I didn’t have any of these courses. Finally, I decided to enrol in one of them and I realized that they provide me with a better understanding of the industry I am in. It can give me tools to build a new career. And I have been able to transfer some of my previous experience and skills to enhance my performance and thrive for better opportunities.