Careers: Seneca Program Helps New Canadians Find Their calling – Again

When Miriam Polga decided to move to Canada with her family, she was determined to find a job in her field.

The Venezuelan born, married mother of two – who now calls Toronto, Ont. home – worked as a civil engineer for four years before deciding to leave her country and job to give her kids “a better future.”

But after months of searching for an engineering position in her new adopted city, the 33-year-old quickly realized that finding work in her field wasn’t going to be easy.

“I didn’t know beforehand that it was going to be so hard,” says Miriam, who applied for more than 20 engineering jobs without any callbacks. “I sent out resume after resume and it didn’t get me anywhere.”

Miriam’s luck eventually changed when she heard about a program offered through Seneca College that helps newcomers to Canada find work in their chosen field.

In fact, the Re-Employment Services for International Professionals Program (RESIP) assists about 20 newcomers in finding jobs each month. The four-week program, which is funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and co-ordinated by Seneca’s faculty of Continuing Education and Training, has enjoyed a 75 per cent success rate since its launch in 1992.

“We help clients get to know their profession in the Canadian context,” says Valerie Sealy co-ordinator of the RESIP program. “Through the program, we give clients a better understanding of what the Canadian job search process is all about.”

For many professional newcomers to Canada the job finding process can be daunting.

Through the RESIP program, consultants (counsellors) work with clients to help eliminate those barriers by identifying their skills, aptitudes and interests. The first two weeks of the program are dedicated to self-assessment, career options and labour market information, while the second half is devoted to resume building, cover letter writing and interview skills.

In Miriam’s case not only did she lack Canadian experience, but she had very little job interview experience having only gone on one interview before. That didn’t stop her, however, from applying all the job search skills she learned through the program.

Today, Miriam is an engineering designer with KMK Consultants Limited – a job she landed after calling the company about a possible position.

“The RESIP program gives you the confidence and self esteem to really go out and get the job you want,” says Miriam, who is currently studying to become a licensed professional engineer in Ontario. “They [the employment consultants] always insisted that you had to find a job in your field.”

The program’s clients include newcomers from around the world who have worked as engineers, IT professionals, architects, teachers, financial analysts and university professors.

Recently, the program changed locations to help even more professional immigrants and is now co-located with the North West Scarborough Employment Resource Centre.

The North West Scarborough Employment Resource Centre will give clients increased access to job coaches, print and computer-based resources and equipment such as faxes, phones, computers and the Internet.

Through RESIP, clients also have the opportunity to access other programs tailored to the needs of international professionals, including the JUST program – a series of half day workshops providing information on a variety of key job search topics. In addition, through the four week program, one-to-one support is provided by a Job Developer and Re-Employment support groups are available to clients who have completed the RESIP program, but are still having difficulty finding employment.For more information on RESIP, visit www.senecac.on.ca/resip or call 416-299-6625.

CNM