Tilahun Bogale, Mechanical Engineer, Fall 2009
Tilahun Bogale expected challenges when he emigrated from Ethiopia to Edmonton to pursue his mechanical engineering career. He didn’t expect, however, to be paired with a Canadian business mentor who is giving him very useful, very practical help he can use to get an engineering job in Canada.
Tilahun earned his undergraduate engineering degree at the Addis Ababa University, in Ethiopia’s capital city. He then worked in Addis Ababa, gaining experience in his chosen profession while he undertook some post graduate work.
He then chose to immigrate to Canada in 2008. “There were challenges in getting to know Canada – but I was expecting that. Imagine moving to a foreign country. Some things you expect and some things don’t go as you planned. Although I was aware that Canada is a cold place, I wasn’t prepared for the extreme weather of Edmonton. But I’m getting more used to it now.”
The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN) helped Tilahun settle in. He also enrolled in the Engineers’ and Technologists’ Integration Program (ETIP), offered through a partnership between the EMCN, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) to gain a Canadian perspective into his profession.
“The technical training program at NAIT is valuable, but I have found the soft skills, like communication skills, taught by EMCN equally helpful.” The EMCN also helped Tilahun connect with The Career Mentorship Program, which he has enjoyed tremendously.
“My mentor is a good interface between me and the real world, the real job market. Universities can’t tell you how the job market works. Mentors can. These people are experienced professionals. They know how to help us with practical things like resumes and cover letters.”
Tilahun’s mentor, Craig O’Connor, gave him some tips on restructuring his resume. “The content was all there, but I needed to change the way the information was structured. Craig knows what to say and how to say it. He taught me to use action words and how to use the jargon words that are common to the engineering industry. He taught me how to sell myself and my skills, how to make the resume appealing.”
Tilahun says he’s been very lucky in learning about the mentorship program and being paired with a Canadian professional. “I can’t summarize in concrete terms everything I’ve learned in a few months, but I do feel more confident in what I’m doing. Showing and feeling confidence is very important. I think my mentor did a great job.”
He would like more new residents to have the same opportunity he’s been given. “All newcomers need support. I would definitely recommend the program to others, and hope they have the same chance I have been given.”
Tilahun recently was interviewed for a professional job. “It was a challenge, but it gave me really good exposure. I won’t meet all my goals in a year or probably even two. I have to be patient. I have to face reality and challenge. Just think positively and that attitude will pay off in the long run.”