Fen Li (Vivian Lee)

Fen Li (Vivian Lee), Electrical Engineer, Fall 2009

Fen Li and her husband’s thirst for change and adventure was a key motivator in their decision to emigrate from China to Canada. They decided to make their new home in Edmonton because the Internet listed Edmonton as the Canadian city offering the best job opportunities.

Armed with enthusiasm and excellent professional credentials, they arrived in Edmonton in October 2008, ready to offer their considerable professional skills to Canada. In China, Fen earned a Masters Degree in electrical engineering and gained more than 10 years’ experience working as a project manager for large industrial projects like oil and gas plants. She prided herself on offering turnkey project management services, as well as electrical systems design, to her clients. Her husband is an experienced mechanical engineer.

“In China, it was very easy to find a job. There was no need to put out my resume. All I needed to do was post my resume on the worksite and many agents would call me. In Canada, it is very different. Finding a job is not that easy.”

Like other newcomers to Canada, Fen enrolled in the Engineers’ and Technologists’ Integration Program (ETIP), offered at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN). “It’s a very good program to teach newcomers how things work in Canada, and perhaps to help in finding a job.”

The EMCN staff recommended Fen contact The Career Mentorship Program coordinator. “The experience has been very, very good for me. Annette (my mentor) helped me to revise my resume and cover letter. She helped with the format and even helped me choose the right words to polish my presentation. Some of the words I had been using were confusing people; Canadian people wouldn’t see the meaning the same way I would. Just changing a few words was magical.”

Fen says in China, resumes focus on in-depth personal details – in fact, the more details, the better. Here, the whole focus changes to what the individual can offer the employer, written as briefly as possible.

“The Canadian way is good. I like this way.”

Fen’s reworked resume paid dividends. After she sent it out, Fen was invited to her first-ever Canadian job interview. In fact, she was invited to return for follow-up interviews. That position, however, was based in Fort McMurray and Fen and her husband are happy in Edmonton.

Her mentor also helped Fen practise for job interviews. “The mock interviews helped me a lot. If we hadn’t done mock interviews, I couldn’t have given good answers in real interviews.”

“The whole experience of looking for a job is new to me. Many well-educated immigrants like us have no trouble at all finding jobs in their home countries. We simply have no experience looking for jobs anywhere, especially in Canada.”

At present, Fen is working full time as an office coordinator with H & R Block. “It’s good experience, and every bit of Canadian experience helps me.”

She is full of praise for The Career Mentorship Program. “Before I attended this program, I didn’t know what Canadian employers were looking for. I just gave the answers I thought I should say. Now I know more how the Canadian people are thinking and what they want in a professional.”