Getting a career head start in Canada

Job opportunities in Nanaimo, British Columbia, are mostly from the local government.  The service, retail and tourism industries are also big contributors to the local economy. (Photo Credit: “2011” by Jo-in-BC is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Paul Foers is an engineer from the UK who moved to Canada in September 2017.  Before he arrived, he participated in FAST, an online career preparation program for immigrants.

With hard work, support from IEC-BC, and his own resourcefulness, Paul got hired as an Electrical Engineer with a reputable firm in Nanaimo, BC.  We caught up with him online to let him share his journey and advice to newcomers.

Tell us a bit more about yourself and your professional background.

I was born and raised in Northern Ireland, and I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Queens University in Belfast.  I then decided to join the Royal Navy as a Trident Weapons System Officer, and after six years of service, I pursued a career as a Chartered Engineer.

The following years I took on several roles in London, mostly in operations management and in power engineering. I was a Power Systems Engineer Consultant with Moeller & Poeller Engineering (MPE) before my move to Canada.

What helped in your transition to your new life in Canada? 

The work I put in before I made the move, in terms of online Canadian move preparation courses, such as FAST, helped me a great deal.  I believe this program, along with support from my wife’s family in BC, helped make the move and transition a smooth one.

How was your experience applying for jobs in your field?

I made life more difficult for myself for choosing to move to Vancouver Island, and in particular, Nanaimo, where there are only a handful of companies that suited my skills and experiences.

I contacted these companies well in advance of my move and kept in touch throughout the process. One of these companies, an engineering firm, was very interested in hiring me.  However, they were going through a hiring freeze, so my timing was bad.  So meanwhile I took a ‘transitional’ job working for an electronics retail store. I did this for about a month, then the engineering firm contacted me again and said that they now had a position for me, and was I still interested.  I gladly accepted.

What do you love best about working and living in Canada? 

I really enjoy the culture, and the people who I have met through work and socially. I have enjoyed getting into Canadian sports such as ice hockey (and enjoyed watching how Winnipeg progressed in the Stanley Cup) and football.

From a professional perspective, I have enjoyed the challenges set by my new role – different voltage system, understanding building construction, and learning about the Canadian Electrical Code.

What advice would you give to Canadian newcomers? 

Preparation is the key to a successful and smooth transition in your move. Researching your chosen field, getting in touch with prospective companies, making sure your CV and cover letters are in great condition, and gaining an understanding of workplace culture in Canada in advance – through online courses such as FAST, are all important steps to complete as early as possible.

Be financially ready too, as there will be certain things that will be more expensive in Canada (and cheaper) – and be prepared to take a survival job.

FAST is an online program helping immigrants get a career head start.  Click here to find out more.


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