Sanjeev Sharma

Sanjeev Sharma, Account, Fall 2010

Consider the changes in Sanjeev Sharma’s life over a 10-month period.

Until September 2010, Sanjeev, his wife and two children were living in India where Sanjeev was employed in his chosen profession of accounting. From India’s Punjab state, Sanjeev had completed his Master of Commerce degree from Delhi University in 1994 and earned his professional accounting designation in 1997.

Eager to make a new life for himself and his family, Sanjeev and his wife chose to emigrate, joining his wife’s parents in Edmonton.

“Simply, Canada offers a better quality of life. The job prospects are better, the socio-political systems are better and there is more opportunity here for our children,” said Sanjeev. “Considering all this together with a better atmosphere, the overall quality of life is better here in Canada.”

The Sharma family soon began to settle in. The two children, aged nine and six, like their new school. “There are big differences between Indian and Canadian schools. In India, children get lots of homework and need to carry many books. In Canada, at least in elementary school, they don’t carry a single book,” commented Sanjeev. “I’m happy because schools here don’t put extra pressure on children. Instead, the school encourages children to explore any question their own way, using their own words. This is very good for their oral development.”

While the children were settling into school, Sanjeev was searching for a professional accounting job. He got in touch with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN) to expand his job search and get some welcome advice. As he searched the Internet for professional development opportunities, he discovered the Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC) – and applied to become a mentee with The Career Mentorship Program.

“I was very eager to join the program. I wanted to better understand the Canadian work culture and what employers expect. My expectations have been fully met.” Sanjeev attributes much of his success to his mentor, Ishpreet Lamba, Senior Financial Analyst at Exel Global Logistics Canada. The pair started meeting in December and completed their official time together in April.

“Ish understood immediately that my goal was to get a good job in accounting. He also understood the specific things I needed to learn about the Canadian workplace. He helped me fine-tune my resume and cover letter and introduced me to his network. That was very important.”

Ish also shared some very useful tips for job interviews. One tip is to pause for a minute to think and prepare your answer. Another is to show confidence. “That point needed a lot of practice, actually. Feeling and showing confidence is very, very important – and not so easy to do.” Ish also introduced Sanjeev to scenario questions. “This is not done in India and I had to practise a lot because it was new. I was not used to those types of questions.”

“Ish also encouraged me to listen to various media. This helped me learn about politics, sports and other topics to chat around the proverbial water cooler.”

The two also shared information on interacting with superiors. “In India, normally the ‘Yes, boss’ approach prevails in corporate culture. There are generally two rules to follow in almost any corporate environment: Rule #1 is the boss is always right; Rule #2 states that if you do not agree with your boss, follow Rule #1. You don’t argue. Here in Canada, if you are right and can show that logically, that’s good.”

Clearly, Sanjeev paid attention to the things Ish had taught him. He secured a temporary accounting position with the Government of Alberta, then moved to the City of Edmonton as a Senior Accounting Assistant. “I am learning all the time and also upgrading my qualifications by pursuing my CGA designation since my former designation is not fully recognized here. My bosses are happy with my output.”

His bosses aren’t the only happy people. Sanjeev is delighted with the extra time he can spend with his family. In India, he worked 9.5 hours a day, six days a week, plus travel time. “That doesn’t leave enough time for family.”

Sanjeev highly recommends ERIEC’s mentorship program. With its step-by-step guidance and personal interaction with mentors like Ish, “who knew what I was going to ask even before I asked him,” the experience offered exactly the information Sanjeev needed.

“I definitely want to stay in touch with Ish. I hope our relationship continues for a very long time.”