Iqraa Sayed immigrated from India in February 2022. She’s 28 years old and lives with her auntie, uncle and cousins in Regina, Saskatchewan.
I never thought my parents would allow me to travel to a different country, so I never even brought up the idea. My uncle and his family live here, and he always talks about Canada. You know: the culture is like this, you have so many healthcare facilities, education … so, good stuff, right? In 2018, he suggested I come to Canada, but I wasn’t sure. Then my mother said, “If she wants to go, she can go.” I was surprised! After that, we started researching how to do this, and we found a consultancy to help us.
Photo: Iqraa Sayed and her auntie
I arrived in February 2022, in the winter. In Saskatchewan, it gets down to around minus 30, which just took my breath away. My eyes were freezing because of the cold, but it was so beautiful to see snow.
“It took me days to feel that I was finally here. It’s very exciting to go to a new place and start a new life.”
The culture here is very open to immigrants. When you’re welcomed, you feel it.
RBC Future Launch supports programming and initiatives through the Regina Open Door Society Inc., which empowers newcomer youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to find a job and connects newcomers with professional organizations, networking opportunities and resources.
I have my master’s in accounting and seven years of working in finance in India. My relatives told me that when people first immigrate, they may have to get an entry-level job. You might have to start with something lower than you’re used to. I expected that, so I was prepared if that was the case. When I came to Canada, I started applying for jobs in finance and accounting because that’s the education I have. For a month, nothing happened. Every day I was on LinkedIn, on Indeed, applying for jobs, and doing tests, but nobody called back. I decided to try applying for entry-level jobs. I had to start somewhere, and I thought maybe things would work out. I still got no calls.
At this point, my auntie told me about the Regina Open Door Society (RODS). It’s an organization that helps immigrants get settled, so I booked an appointment. I got a one-hour session with my counsellor, Miss Shanthi Thomas, where she asked for all my details. What’s my education? Where have I worked? How many years? What is my purpose here? Do I want to study in Canada?
We had a very detailed session, and after that, she gave me an action plan.
There was a program with in-class training and three or four weeks volunteering with partner companies. This would give me what I was missing: Canadian experience and professional connections. I enrolled in the class but didn’t start until May, so Miss Shanthi told me to consider taking some workshops.
I started with the resume development workshop, where I learned how Canadians write resumes. In India, the more information you put in, the more credible it is. That resume was three pages long. Here, nobody’s going to look at that long a resume! I learned I had to keep it short and to the point.
Around this time, Miss Shanthi emailed me about an accounting position at the Saskatchewan Health Authority. I said, “Let’s go for it.” I gave her my resume, and the very next day, I got a call. Within a week, I had my interviews. After the second interview with the director, I was hired.
The accounting job at the Saskatchewan Health Authority was just for three months, finishing someone’s contract. In my interview, they asked if I wanted the job, even if it was only three months. I said, “Why not? The only thing not on my resume is Canadian experience. I want to go for it.” They liked that attitude.
“I think the work culture is better here and I’ll tell you why: It’s not only your work that’s taken into consideration, it’s also your mental health.”
Here, if I want to have a walk for five minutes because I don’t feel focused, nobody’s going to be upset about it. Back in India, you can’t do that. Because work here isn’t overloaded, you have the space to do other things, like interacting with your colleagues.
My job was supposed to end in June, but it was extended for another year. My new contract ends in March 2023.
Photo: Iqraa Sayed and her colleagues
I’m so glad I went to the Regina Open Door Society. Miss Shanthi was able to recommend the workshops I needed because she got to know me in the one-on-one session. The people at RODS could vouch for me, and my counsellor gave me a reference. I wouldn’t have attended those workshops if it wasn’t for Miss Shanthi. And she helped me develop my resume so it wasn’t three pages long!
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