“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Newcomers to Canada face many challenges and barriers, some very real and some imaginary ones.
One of the most common barriers is the “lack of Canadian experience”. Many newcomers ask, “How am I supposed to get Canadian experience if nobody gives me an opportunity?”.
It is true that many highly skilled immigrants (physicians, engineers, teachers…) end up driving taxis, working as cashiers at supermarkets or security guards. But it is also true that many fulfill their dream of working in their profession or industry, some change careers for an even better opportunity, some find their true call in this new country and many eventually settle and make Canada their new home.
In regards to Canadian experience, I have seen newcomers with only two weeks of arrival who seem to have it, while some immigrants who have been more than five years in the country and have worked in Canada obviously lack it. How is this possible?
The main issue about “Canadian experience” is that it represents different things for different people, and sometimes, it also hides real challenges and barriers. It is used as an euphemism (the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant).
Let’s see what “Canadian experience” may mean for employers:
As you can see, nowhere above we mentioned actual “Canadian” work experience…
There will be things you won’t be able to change, such as discrimination or ignorance from some employers, but you don’t want to work for such employers either!
Let’s see what you can do:
Some comments on taking a “survival” job:
I have nothing against jobs in general. But when a job becomes a cage, I am against it. The difference between a “survival” and a “transitional” job is much more than the way you call it. Think about this:
Two people go to work biking. One decided to bike because she learned about the damage cars create in the environment. She bought a bike, learned to ride and dresses in comfortable clothing. The feels empowered and happy of being able to experience Nature as it is: she enjoys the wind in her hair and the freedom of moving around without traffic. She loves her bike and uses it to get to many places, not just work. The other person had to buy a bike because she didn’t have enough money for a car and doesn’t like public transportation. She has not learned how to make the best of her experience, so she ends up being late and uncomfortable for work. The bike for her is a burden and she keeps dreaming of a time when she has enough money to buy a fancy car and can get rid of the bike.
What is the difference? The same happens with a survival job. You may get stuck in it forever, lose your skills and forget about your dream, or you may see it as a bridge to something better. You may hate it, or you may enjoy meeting new people and learning new skills, while planning for a future where the skills you practice today can be used creatively.
Be aware of abuse and exploitation:
Some newcomers take a job from people from their own ethnic community who offers them an “opportunity to gain Canadian experience”. While this may be true in some cases, there are many cases where this becomes exploitation: low pay and working extra hours is the norm, and the “Canadian” experience is nowhere to be found.
Remember: if a job won’t provide with the income you need to pay the bills, but neither the satisfaction of doing something you enjoy, it is not a job, is a cage. Working for five, ten years for an abusive boss just because you are new will not provide any “Canadian experience” and won’t serve you as a human being either. Do not accept “under the table” agreements, illegal “contracts” or any other intrusive or abusive behaviour. That is not for what you came to Canada…