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TRIEC celebrates skilled immigrant mentors

Immigration isn't just a matter of navigating clearly defined legal and employment constraints: getting your paperwork in order, re-credentialling, and so on. There is also a host of soft skills—cultural conventions and communication best practices, social insight and networking capacity—that anyone needs to successfully make a transition to a new country.

Helping skilled immigrants do just that: the mentors of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), who assisted 1,000 immigrants this past year via a program called The Mentoring Partnership. Mentors offer sector-specific advice (mentees and mentors are matched by occupation), but also help with the ephemeral, essential task of getting settled in a new work environment.

Those mentors and their successes were celebrated recently, at an annual reception.

Indra Maharjan was a mentee with the program in 2010; he returned in 2013 to act as a mentor to two new skilled immigrants; he was one of the program participants honoured at TRIEC's reception. Like many new immigrants Maharjan had done a lot of research and planning when it came to logistical issues, but it was the Mentoring Partnership, he says, that "helped me to get lots of other information which is not publicly available: how to deal with people, how to make sure your boss is happy," and other similar matters.

The Partnership helped him learn about Canadian work culture and communication styles, which allowed him to find and flourish in new work more quickly. "The crux of success lies in how you communicate with people," Maharjan says, and there's is no better guide to that than another person who can answer real-life questions about it, and help you work through situations as they arise. Years later he and his mentor are still in touch.

This year Maharjan's two mentees each found jobs within two months, he says with pride. "Most people are hardworking, but if they can't express themselves that creates a bottleneck."

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Indra Maharjan, The Mentoring Partnership
Photo: Camilla Pucholt
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