Immigrating: Sharing Knowledge & Building Bridges

Annette Geldbert, a Public Affairs Associate at the Region of Peel, wanted to give back some of what she had learned over the years. She knew her pool of knowledge and resources would help a new immigrant understand Canadian work culture, and she was eager to help someone start along their career path in Canada.

Kerry Mulchansingh arrived in Canada from Trinidad and Tobago in July, 2005. As a new immigrant he was eager to start his new life, and one of the first steps was connecting with people and finding a job.

Annette and Kerry were matched through The Mentoring Partnership, an initiative of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). The program is delivered through community agencies in the City of Toronto, Peel Region and York Region.

Relationships in The Mentoring Partnership last for 24 hours over a four-month period. During this time mentors help new immigrants navigate through the job search process by sharing their knowledge and experience. The mentor provides guidance on how to write a Canadian resume, how to prepare for an interview, and how to network. They also provide insight into the Canadian workplace and work culture. The most important aspect of The Mentoring Partnership is that of providing mentees with professional networks whereby they can meet and speak to people in their area of work.

When asked to describe their relationship, Annette said, “My relationship with Kerry was great, and it was definitely a two way learning experience.” She went on to explain that the relationship afforded her opportunity to not only explore other cultures and traditions, but also permitted her to put into practice her various coaching and communication strategies. “We all have these skills and need an opportunity to put them to good use. The Mentoring Partnership provides us with this opportunity,” said Annette.

Annette worked with Kerry on various job search strategies and tailored his resume so that it would work in a Canadian context. They then worked on various interview techniques and conducted a number of mock interviews. This preparation provided Kerry with the confidence he needed to shine in his interviews. As Kerry said, “I did not expect my mentor to find me a job. I wanted guidance and advice on what to do and I was confident that a job would be the logical conclusion if I took the right path. Annette showed me that path.”

Their four month relationship has now ended and Kerry has found employment with Gartner Lee Limited in the city of Guelph. Annette has decided to mentor again.

Ratna Omidvar, Executive Director of TRIEC emphasizes the fact that when you need to get a foot in the door it is often who you know, not always what you know, that counts. The Mentoring Partnership allows immigrants to access a larger network of professionals. Mentees in the program are screened for English language, workplace skills and adaptability, and have prior work experience. What they lack are professional networks. The Mentoring Partnership provides them with these networks.

Since The Mentoring Partnership launched in November 2004, over 600 matches have been made and over 700 mentors have volunteered their time. The program has been successful, with 70% of mentees finding employment by the end of the four-month relationship.

Please visit our website at www.thementoringpartnership.com and sign up to become a mentor. New immigrants can register with any one of the community agencies listed on the website.

You can e-mail JobStart at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

CNM