Business - Human Resources Stream
Shoppers Drug Mart
It was one year too long, says Laura Haz about her job as a cashier in retail industry. An economics graduate with a Master’s in Marketing from Ecuador, she got her first break in May 2011, within two months of her arrival in Canada. By July 2012, she had become a retail manager, which is an achievement considering that most immigrants struggle to break into the job market within the first two-three years of their arrival. With that, not only had she added a year of Canadian experience to her resume, but was ready to go on the prowl again. Why? “It simply did not provide me an opportunity to leverage my education and experience, and contribute!”
It is entirely up to an individual to choose where he or she wants to go, she says. “Whether you want to stay in any job or get into a position where you can contribute, leveraging your skills and experience. That decision will help set your future course. ” She credits her role as a cashier and a manager in the retail industry with giving her an understanding of the Canadian work culture. “It gave me a glimpse of what to expect in a Canadian work environment. It also helped since I was already in the Canadian system.”
But one cannot be stuck in “survival jobs” and has to secure a decent job within your field, she says. “It takes time, courage and a lot of thinking to take the first step towards that goal. Especially if you do not have anyone to support or help you.”
Laura should know. It was her friend who motivated her to immigrate to Canada. “She got her PR status before me and had arrived in Canada before I did. She had a great job in Toronto, was aware how things work here and was going to guide me after I arrived in Canada. However, she moved to Vancouver to pursue another great work opportunity. So I had to manage everything on my own while exploring opportunities that fitted my experience.”
After two years of working with the retailer, Laura started feeling uneasy about not leveraging her education and skills to improve her career prospects. She thought of studying in a Canadian school to help her succeed in the competitive job market.
“That is when I decided to enroll in the York University Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEP). It helped because, one, it gave me the tools to get successful in my job search. Two, I could show it on my resume and three, when employers asked about it, I had the opportunity of talk about the program, what it meant for me, and project it as a big asset for their company.”
The simple fact that one starts interacting with the Canadian educational system is a learning by itself, Laura says. “It provided an opportunity to network with others, including the professors and my fellow IEP students.” She credits the bridging program for helping her get a job within her field. “Because it showed the prospective employers my determination to achieve more in a country where I am still new. Without York University, I would have been looked at as yet another immigrant. A certificate from the university shows that I am hardworking and committed.”
Path to success
Her first success in her job search was when in January 2013, she was contracted to work with one of the largest companies worldwide, Procter and Gamble (P&G). “That was a game changer,” she says. Her two-year stint with P&G helped her build references, which helped her in securing a permanent job in another small-medium company. She continued her search for a position that she dreamed of, and found her calling when Shoppers Drug Mart, the largest Canadian pharmacy chain, hired her as a Category Assistant in their head office in January 2015.
“Different companies have different cultures. What helped me integrate in all companies was my attitude,” she says.” It is an important asset to have, especially when you are new in Canada. Having a great attitude wherever you go and in everything you do, tells a lot of about your character. A great attitude is what has helped me in my journey.”
Laura is glad that she has been recognized by her peers, managers and colleagues as an extremely positive, energetic person. “People know me that I am super committed to my role and responsibilities.”
Talking of challenges, she says the challenge is only in one’s mindset. “I understand that things can be difficult when you are in a new country. It is in your hands to embrace these challenges as opportunities to grow, learn and change. Open your mind and walk towards the change.”
Laura says she built her brand and exhibited her core values at every given opportunity. Her next objective? “Learn from every mistake, and work on everything that needs improvement. My goal is to develop my career and grow professionally in the company that has given me the opportunity to showcase myself.”
Embrace challenges as opportunities to grow, learn and change