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Gretchen Mangahas

Gretchen Mangahas

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Gretchen Mangahas

IEP alumna Gretchen Mangahas

Foundation Program

Change Management, Training and Communication Lead
Toronto Catholic District School Board

“Keeping connections with fellow IEPs is inspiring and supportive in the journey of integrating into Canadian society.”

Gretchen Mangahas was working as a Director for Research and Extension Publication back in Philippines before immigrating to Canada in 2019. She was also a University Professor in Development Communication area.  Soon after arriving to Canada when she began to search for jobs, she realized the challenges of building a new career as a Communication Specialist. Her lack of knowledge and familiarity with professional networking and Canada’s job search culture were creating barriers to land a role in her field.

With effort she found a volunteer position at a non-for-profit organization to help her gain experience, and then as soon as she received her permanent residency, she got hired by the same employer as an Administrative Assistance. She was determined to continue to learn and gain Canadian work experience so she could move up to a higher position with the organization, however she found she was jobless again when the Covid-19 pandemic started.

She then contacted Immigrant settlement services to help her find employment and that’s how she learned about York University’s IEP Bridging Program. She immediately applied for the program and was admitted to the IEP Foundation Program at York University in Fall 2020.

As a professor of Development Communication, and a Research and Extension Publication Director, she wanted to take a bridging program at a Canadian University knowing that this will be an enriching experience.

She was enrolled in the programs two Canadian Workplace Foundations courses which were conveniently scheduled after working hours.  After some time, she successfully landed a full-time job as a Project Communication Lead for Toronto School Board.

"The Canadian communication, business culture and management courses were valuable to me in contextualizing myself in my current organization. The professors gave insights of how IEPs can integrate themselves into the Canadian business setting which to some, may be totally different from their practices in their countries of origin.  More than the lessons, I developed professional connections and personal relations with my classmates who I regard as colleagues."

Together with almost 70 other IEPs who participated in the York University’s IEP Bridging Foundation Program, she celebrated her achievements the following January having completed her courses a class as tone of the top three students.  During Celebrate Success closing ceremony she shared her experience and highlighted important lessons she learned from the Foundation Program:

Extend the connections beyond the classroom: While the pandemic has resulted in several restrictions, it has also opened new avenues for connecting and communicating.  The first point of connection is the program organizers. Having conversations with them gives information on university operations and services. Keeping connections with fellow IEPs is inspiring and supportive in the journey of integrating into the Canadian society.”

“Communication is an important skill: It is not enough to know the right grammar and the right way of saying things. It is more important to know the appropriate context and have the ability to convey ideas clearly and concisely.”

I learned from my IEP professors that Canadian culture creates empathy: “The cultural diversity asks us to be more empathic towards each other. This breaks rigid top-down and very hierarchical organizational culture that many IEPs may be accustomed to from career experiences in different countries of origin.   

Speak up and let your voice be heard, especially when you have a great idea to share. Find the space and make use of opportunities to let others know of your presence. Engage in conversations, learn and contribute.”

Gretchen shared her full story here: