Every experience we go through in life is a lesson and no matter how much we may think there might have been some mistakes somewhere, it shouldn’t be seen that way. This is a lesson I have learned time and over again.
Career growth and planning has fascinated me for the most part of my life. One question I often receive is: “Zinny, I am about to immigrate, should I study or just find a job?”
The next question I most likely ask is: “what would you want to do career wise? Do you want to go ahead practicing what you already do in your home country or would you rather change career?”
Whatever your answer to that question is should help determine next steps. However, from my discussion with some readers who ask me this question, I have realized that most aren’t necessarily sure what they want to do next and even if they want a career change, they aren’t sure how to go about it and how to gain or grow work experience.
For the purpose of this article, I’ll be focusing more on immigrants who want to grow their career and have difficulties with growing their experience to get a new job.
When I moved to Canada, as I’ve shared previously, my greatest challenge with gathering experience was for two reasons. First, I had a Bachelors in Law from a foreign country, I couldn’t necessarily relate that to practicing law in a new country because it’s a regulated discipline. Secondly, at the time, I didn’t want to continue practicing law.
On my resume, I didn’t have enough previous business related experience to show as most of what I did in my home country was strictly legal and the educational system didn’t teach any business courses because after you were done with high school, you began studying law unlike most Western countries that have you complete a first degree before choosing to further your career by going to Law School.
If you are a new reader of this blog, let me also quickly add that when I was moving to Canada, I had gained full-time admission to study Human Resources Management which meant that a year that could have been spent adding experience to my resume was spent studying.
At this stage of my life, I have no regrets because every career choice I’ve made has eventually turned out to work for me in one way or the other as I’ve chosen to take advantage of every situation.
So why am I sharing this?
I’m sharing this because now that I’m in the workforce and thinking logically through every experience I’ve had, there was something else I could have done. My goal on this blog is to share as much as I can, I believe it helps people.
From working in the HR and IT industry, there are a couple of things I have discovered. Work experience counts a whole lot and if you immigrated as a Permanent Residence, you can use this to your advantage if you are still trying to figure out what you want to do with your career.
So how do you go about this? Below, you’ll find vital tips/ questions to ask that have worked for a number of friends and how I have applied these tips to myself.
1. Do I have the fund for schooling?
If you are contemplating relocating to a new country to study, it’s important to note that international fees are usually almost double the price of domestic student fees if not more. As a result, are you willing to pay such a huge sum of money especially when you are still unsure what career direction you want to embark on?
Yes, when I moved to Canada it was for studies. But I must also add that at that time, I had no intentions of living permanently in Canada. Fate happened. All this to say, my story doesn’t have to be the same as yours. When people ask these questions, I always want to let you know that you can try out other options as there are.
Bear in mind that even after landing in your new country and paying your fees, you’ll have to feed, pay rent and have more expenses to incur.
2. How can I make use of my past experience?
If you are immigrating as a Permanent Resident, do you really have to go to College again? Were you already practicing a career that wasn’t necessarily regulated?
For example, if you were a doctor, lawyer or engineer in your home country, you’ll most likely need to get certified to practice that profession in your immigrant country and this might take a number of years.
If you still want to go ahead with your practice, then should you go to College or University for another year or two?
Knowing what I know now, one option will be for you to consider a part-time course. Yes, it might take more years to actualize but your work experience will keep counting.
If you are in an unregulated industry, then you might take advantage of that and look for work in such areas in the new country.
You see, the one year I spent studying Human Resources Management was a year where I could have been working even in the worst of positions and could have had more years to claim in my resume. If you recall, I had spent six (6) years studying law in the University and Law School, which meant that by the time I was done schooling, many of those who studied business-related courses had graduated two years before me and had work experience counting for them.
Losing another year to College, meant that I had a cumulative of 3 years which could have been used gaining work experience. Work experience feels like gathering coins, and you have to have your coin bag fully stacked!
If you can spend these years gaining a handful of work experience, you can always use it to your advantage later and that way you already have a career path to choose from using your work experience as you know better what you may enjoy doing in the future.
If you already have a career path you plan to work on and have had extensive experience from your home country, that is entirely different. But if you are still unsure, then you can explore this option.
3. How am I supposed to grow or change my career if I choose to school part-time?
Full-time education is amazing, you get it done almost immediately, but you end up losing some work experience that can count for you eventually.
That explains why in the qualifications area of a job opening, you see recruiters highlighting the number of years of work experience needed for a job.
Work experience is vital to filling a job position because experience in many cases teaches you more of industry practice and knowledge in a unique way that the traditional education might fail to. You learn the terms and technicalities of your job/ industry because you have spent months in a field, learning the nitty-gritty. No one can take practice away from you.
Little wonder the phrase: “practice makes perfect”. You become a subject matter expert when you least expect it. And that way, if you had to start from scratch as an entry level candidate because you want to change your career (if that is the case), you no longer have to!
You already have the years counting for you to go into an intermediate position instead. You see where years of experience come in?
4. How about doing a full-time course?
If you’ve already enrolled in a full-time course or are on a study permit, that’s not a bad thing and you can take it to your advantage. I have written wonderful articles on this in the past and wouldn’t want to be repetitive.
Furthermore, an education helps you think in a number of ways and with some research and practice, you’ll be even more equipped for the workforce. Alternatively, you can consider a certification in your field which will help propel you for your career path.
Most importantly, if you are able to work part-time that will be a great way to start growing your career. Trust me, even if you will be working part-time in a job you don’t necessarily see yourself growing your career in, you can always use it in your resume to your advantage. Also, it will count as experience to boast of and it will then be your responsibility to highlight how it’s relatable to your prospective job opportunity.
In the next article, I’ll be sharing how you can use your past or present work experience to grow your career path. I can’t wait to share more so make sure you subscribe to the blog. You can also download the Resume Template for free.
Kindly share this article with friends and family who will find it useful. Did you enjoy this article? Let me know in the comment section!