My Name is Liliana Renteria and I am originally from Colombia. At first I came to Canada to improve my English and my professional knowledge. However, after being here I realized that Canada, and especially Alberta, was offering excellent opportunities to professional immigrants to start their journey recognizing their training and skills. I saw an opportunity to succeed!
Although I am a skilled accountant with over 10 years of experience and a successful journey of promotions, getting started in Canada was a challenge. You need more than background, knowledge and experience to get into Canadian job market, but I decided to take the challenge!
After completing a Business Management certificate and a Human Resources certificate at the University of Alberta, I contacted all the staffing companies in Edmonton. I sent hundreds of resumes and applied to several online posts with no luck. I tried my best to keep a positive attitude, but some days I was feeling hopeless. I am very grateful to my husband who supported me and reminded me to be strong. I started later to build my network with my classmates at the University and within the Latin community in Edmonton.
Working in Canada can be marvellous, but like anywhere else, Canadian opportunities are often disguised as hard work. They are also not always easy to be found by newcomers. My strategy was to start from the bottom and keep working up from there. An opportunity came to me when Target opened in Canada; I was working part time in Human Resources, but at the same time keeping my eyes open for opportunities and focusing on networking. Being involved in the hiring process at Target, I realized firsthand that it’s very common for immigrants to feel challenged and frustrated when looking for professional opportunities in Canada. While at Target, a co-worker told me about ERIEC and Bredin.
FINDING MY WAY
At ERIEC, with the mentorship program, I found unconditional support. I had the opportunity to interact with other professional immigrants with similar goals, ideas and issues. I learned from their experiences and also shared mine. The career mentorship program helped me understand Canadian work place culture and introduced me to a broader professional network. They offered me a chance to integrate myself into the workforce faster.
When ERIEC introduced me to my mentor Kanwal Lali, I was not sure if that was going to work but I was willing to give it a try. I remembered my first task: Understand the Canadian Government (Federal, Provincial and Municipal); how it works, how they tax, how it decides who is responsible for what. Kanwal, a strong and smart woman, helped me to improve my resume and cover letter, gave me tips for interviews and effective communications. She helped me to focus on what I had to offer, what I wanted and what I needed to be successful and to keep a balance between work and family.
Just within a few months at the career mentorship program, at one of ERIEC’s events, I met an employee from the RBC Royal Bank. This person sent my resume to a branch manager and I got my first interview. After a couple weeks, I went to my second interview with the human resource department and I was offered a job as Account Manager. I got my foot in the door! I am still growing my career and I have plans to go back to school, after returning to RBC following my maternity break.
To be successful in the Canadian job market, it is important to network and to take advantage of the great support that groups like ERIEC offers. Just as important is a positive attitude, passion, persistence, focus, an open mind, and be able to learn and restart. I think that the meaning of success is: do not give up!!