Career Centre supports newcomer to Canada in finding meaningful work

By Wanheng “Hana” Zhao, Career Centre – SCDSB client

About two years ago, I said “Yes” when my husband proposed to me in Shanghai, China.  After being with each other for three years, we were finally going to be a couple. We were so excited and started to plan our future together. My husband is Canadian, so he wanted to bring me back to Canada and try to start our life here, which meant I had to leave my parents to go to the other side of the world. That was not an easy decision to make. After a few months struggling, I finally made up my mind and decided to move with my husband no matter what happened.

Visiting a new country or an island for a vacation is fun and exciting, but living in a completely different environment is difficult. I had so many things to learn, and I still do, but when I first landed, I felt a little overwhelmed. Thanks to my parents- in-law: they are so nice that they made me feel at home instantly.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English from China, as well as experience teaching both English and Mandarin as a second language, managing a staff of teachers, and working as a Mandarin/English Interpreter back home. I heard about how hard it is to find a good job in Barrie before I came here, and I understand why, but it was still so depressing when I couldn’t find anything for the first three months after I got here. I connected with the Career Centre in Barrie where I met with an Employment Consultant and began working on an employment plan right away. I learned about various resources I had access to as a newcomer, how to identify my transferable skills and market them in a competitive resume and cover letter to employers, how to network and navigate the hidden job market, as well as prepare for the local interview process here.

I enrolled in the Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT) Program through Georgian College for Business English training, and I went to the Barrie Learning Centre to improve my general English skills, where I met the best team of instructors and lovely classmates. I felt alive being in a school environment, because that is my background, and that is where my heart is. Knowing my teaching background, my speaking instructor recommended that I apply for a Mandarin instructor position at the Learning Centre that was posted, and my reading instructor volunteered to be my reference. With their help, I applied for the job. After a month’s wait, I got an interview. After a couple of weeks, I received a phone call from the coordinator telling me that I was hired. I cannot forget about the moment when I heard it. I knew it was going to be a good start. Now I am teaching Mandarin to students from Grade 1 through Grade 6 every Saturday at the Learning Centre, and go to a secondary school as an ESL support staff twice a week. I love it!

In the meantime, I applied to a position with WINNERS and received another invitation to attend an interview with the hiring manager, who was very nice. After the second interview, I was hired as a part-time associate. One of the store’s policies is promoting diversity, and luckily I speak Mandarin.

I know it is not going to be that easy to make my ultimate dream come true, which is to bring my parents here to Canada to be with me, but I will try my best. I am lucky, and I do appreciate everything I have accomplished so far, and everyone who has helped me along the way.

Meeting new people is important, and meeting the right people will definitely make things a little easier. Understanding what resources are available and connecting with the right people is so important. So go out and meet people, let them know your strengths and skills and how wonderful you are, and always, always be appreciative and enjoy life.

Part of the Simcoe County District School Board’s Adult and Continuing Education Department, the Career Centre has been providing quality employment services to job searchers and employers in Barrie and the surrounding area since 1995. The Career Centre has experienced, professional Employment Consultants available to help job searchers prepare for and find the work they need. For employers, Employment Consultants are available to help them with hiring people with the skills they need and by providing information on the Canada-Ontario Job Grant. The Career Centre’s services are available at no cost for anyone who is looking for work or employers who are looking to hire.

This Employment Ontario service is funded in part of the Government of Canada.

This Employment Ontario service is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

Career Centre


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