As a newcomer to Canada, finding a job is a priority for you.

However, you don’t just want a survival job; you want to shape your career here. Having a mentor to guide you on this seemingly daunting journey to establishing your career in Canada is crucial. Read on to understand why you need a mentor, how to find one, and how to make the most of your relationship with your mentor.

Who Is A Mentor?

A mentor is someone who will be sharing their professional expertise with you over a long period of time (several months, a year, or even several years). You could choose your mentor, have an organization or your workplace assign you one, or sign up for a mentoring internship. Mentors provide invaluable insights into the industry in which you would like to work, or help you become more deeply involved in the industry you are currently working in. In many cases, mentors and mentees develop symbiotic relationships and go on to provide each other mentorship through their careers.

A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.- Bob Proctor Click To Tweet

Why Do I Need A Mentor?

A mentor can teach you important lessons about the new culture you are stepping into. As a newcomer, you may need to unlearn your old style of working and understand how to adapt to working within a new culture. A mentor can help you avoid making mistakes you wouldn’t have realized you were making, and to identify areas of improvement. Some of the most pertinent roles a mentor can play in your professional life are of a sounding board and a mirror – if you lament that you have not been progressing despite doing things a certain way, your mentor can bring your attention to things you haven’t been doing. A mentor helps you stay honest and authentic within your workplace.

When Rajesh, an East Indian business owner started mentoring Apiyo, a West African cleaning company owner, they weren’t so sure things would work out. Rajesh had tough expectations, and Apiyo was terrified by him. He told her that, to work with him, she would have to read three business books and report on what she had learned. She protested that she had a new business, a part time job and three young children at home, but he would have none of it. 

However, by the end of the eight month mentoring period, Apiyo had secured three large cleaning grants, hired and trained five employees and was making five times the income she had projected when first starting her business. She quit her part time job and her husband quit his to manage the accounting and payroll. In an interview one year later, Rajesh said he learned as much from his mentee as she had learned from him. Now, three years later, they are still friends who overcame differences of perspective and learned to work together effectively. 

What Is The Difference Between A Mentor And A Coach?

You do not pay for a mentor, while a coach is someone whose services you can avail for a fee. A coach works on short-term goals with you and helps you reach them. Coaches help you stay focussed, create specific action plans, and provide practical ways to achieve what is important for you in the moment. Mentors work on long-terms goals, building a relationship with you over time. Having a mentor also helps further the careers of you and your mentor, contributing to overall progress.

What Are The Different Types of Mentors?

Mentors can be of two kinds – bonders or bridgers.

  • Bonding mentors help you deeply understand the industry and culture. They identify the backdoors and hidden entry points into your desired career and lead the way to success. They also teach you how to have specific conversations, how to manage certain workplace issues, and how to recuperate from failures. They are experts in building relationships.
  • Bridging mentors help you connect to people and opportunities. They identify important people who will be beneficial to you and introduce you to them. They also teach you how to make the most of the connections you build. They are experts in networking.

Some mentors are better bonders, while some are better bridgers. Not every mentor can do both, and it is really rare to find someone who does.

How Can I Find A Mentor?

  • An easy way to find a mentor is to do a Google search with the following terms: ‘new immigrant mentor opportunities’, ‘mentoring for new immigrants to Canada’, ‘mentoring for newcomers in the job market’ or ‘mentoring for entrepreneur newcomers in Canada’. Narrow the results down by your province, county and city.
  • There are also immigrant-serving organizations all over Canada who can connect you with a mentor. Since this is a coveted service, you may be placed on a wait list, in which case, it is wise to sign up for mentorship programs with multiple organizations, to improve your chances of finding a mentor.
  • If you are already working, look for someone you admire at your workplace. Approach them letting them know the aspect of their work you admire, and ask them to mentor you on it. Most co-workers will be flattered that you asked, and be willing to share great tips and tricks, and even help you further your career outside that organization. This also contributes to the productivity of the workplace and builds capacity.

How Should I Make The Most Of My Mentor?

It is important to find a balance within a mentoring relationship – don’t approach them too often, but don’t ignore them either. Always be prepared with questions to ask them, and back those with your own understanding and opinions. Seek specific answers, insights, feedback, tips and plans. Acknowledge that your mentor is busy, and respect the time they spend with you. Don’t waste the opportunity by being unprepared or looking for direct instructions. Allow the mentorship to become a dialogue, with engaged participation from both people.

Do I Need More Than One Mentor?

Since mentors provide bonding and bridging opportunities differently, you may want to have a mentor who can help you with each. A simple way to approach this is to ask them, “We’ve been working together for a while now, and I’d like to know if you are the type of person who is good with building relationships (bonding) or with making connections (bridging).” The answers you get will usually be a good starting point for you to understand how you can make the most of your mentorship and if you need to look for someone else who complements what you are learning from one. You could also have a coach alongside these mentors, and be a part of several professional groups or career clubs.

For more information and access to resources, coaching and insights from special guests, join the Canadian Workplace Career Club today!

About Marie:

Marie Gervais, PhD, CEO Shift Management is a business-to-business entrepreneur who specializes in helping employers train their middle management to lead, get their workplace learning online and interactive, and conduct team assessments to figure out who to promote and how. She has a background in integrating internationally-trained individuals to the workplace and has supported many businesses in their efforts to hire, retain, support and promote immigrant and diverse employees.

Get in touch – she would love to hear from you: marie@shiftworkplace.com or 780-454-5661