Business - Human Resources Stream
Master of Human Resource Management Candidate
Having arrived in Canada from Iran with an undergraduate degree in statistics and work experience in human resources and marketing, Saviz Azad (Saviz Rahbarazad) found herself at crossroads when it came to looking for a fulfilling job.
“Wherever I looked, I saw only challenges,” says Saviz of her attempt to leverage her education and work experience in finding that job.
“Because I didn’t work in statistics, I didn’t have the knowledge that comes with experience. And though I worked in HR and marketing, I didn’t have a degree in those areas.”
Did she come prepared for the struggle? “Of course not,” says Saviz. “I came expecting to find a job relevant to my previous experience.” But then she realized that though the knowledge gained at work was universal, without knowing the culture and without having proper level of language proficiency, a job was not easy to attain.
“I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know English and I had no clue how to write a professional resume,” she says. “I was not used to that degree of instability. But it was an experience that made me realize that my life depends on me and not on anything else.”
With this realization came clarity, a vision to shape her future. She knew she should acquire higher academic credentials to get a job that was not at the entry level. In her case it was a graduate degree in HR to compliment her experience from back home.
Saviz then started off on a journey of learning English, of identifying her skill sets and recognizing what she needed to learn. “I checked with several schools. All of them said my grades were not good, so I had to first acquire additional credits by doing pre-degree programs.” They were expensive, and would have taken lot of time. Plus, there was no guarantee that it would get her admission into graduate program, she said.
Things started looking up when Saviz got into York University’s bridging program for internationally educated professionals. “At first, I did not know that I could leverage it to do a graduate program. But once I was in, and after the foundation courses, I realized well, this is like doing a real certificate program. I was doing full credit courses, studying the same courses that other regular undergraduate students were studying.”
Talking to Saviz today, it is impossible to believe that she was not a fluent English speaker just three years ago. “What York University taught me in its Jump Start program is more than just English conversation skills, or grammar,” she says. Jump Start is a pre-requisite program that focuses on developing English language skills. One thing she cannot get over is the concept of plagiarism. “I had no idea about plagiarism before attending the Jump Start classes,” she says. “Jump Start gave me useful tips to integrate into the Canadian work environment, academically as well as personally.”
She is grateful for the foundation courses that she had to complete before entering the regular stream. “Each foundation course gave me new tips and, new confidence.” For instance she aced her first presentation in her graduate class because of what she learnt in the professional communication class.
“I had to make my first presentation as part of a group project along with four students, who were super smart. The class has 16 students, 14 of them are Canadians. I thought I cannot speak as good as they do and that thought made me feel sick.
“But the night before the presentation, I went over the professional communication class notes about how to make a presentation. I followed every tip and so was able to sail through.”
Saviz says the York University bridging program showed her what she was capable of and made her self-confident. “As a student, I was offered an internship position which helped me learn SAP (HRM software).”
Working as an intern helped me know firsthand how the real work place in Canada looks like, and what I want to take out of it, she says. “I just hope all new students realize that they will get from this program as much as they put in,” adds Saviz.
From being zero in English language skills just three years ago and to a confident, comfortable, upbeat person, Saviz is an example of how hard work, perseverance and focus can help shape one’s future.
She tries to network and learn from others. “I believe a lot of newcomers are afraid of integrating in a new culture and they live in their own community/ ethnic bubble. Working with Canadian-born students and making friends with them are the only ways to understand the culture and people here.”
I just hope all new students realize that they will get from this program as much as they put in