In my previous blog, I wrote about my journey to Canada, how I ended up joining the Masters program at the University of British Columbia (UBC), landed a job with RBC, and also shared some tips for newcomers to Canada.
I didn’t know anyone living in Canada and didn’t have much time to prepare for my move and hence, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the things I experienced upon landing.
Some of the key differences I observed with regard to career and employment were:
Networking is important
When I first landed here, I was very disappointed with the concept of networking for finding jobs because in my mind it had a negative connotation and I felt that people who were born here or existed here for a while were the only ones benefiting from the concept of networking. But gradually, upon reflection, I realized that relationship building is in fact disguised as networking, and now I encourage people to put themselves out there and build their network. In my earlier post, you’ll see how my job offer with RBC was an outcome of the connections I made.
Be more confident and vocal
Contrary to India, where we let our work speak for our capabilities, in Canada, there’s a lot of emphasis given to extrovertism or super confident personas—it matters how vocal you are.
Social life with colleagues counts
I’ve observed that a lot of business decisions such as direction of work, selection for various opportunities happen outside of business hours – at a social event or when you grab a drink with a colleague or a senior leader. It’s in stark contrast to the environment I was used to in India.
Workplaces are supportive of employees’ personal health, wellness, and wellbeing
People are not biased and it’s perfectly okay to take a mental health day — no one will judge you for it. Employees are given ample flexibility and support to care for their health and family.
Processes tend to take their own time and move at a slow pace
Many processes (like recruitment) move very slowly inside corporations and government. It’s just something you have to be prepared for.
The recruitment channels are unorganized
In India, we are familiar with the process and we usually know what to expect as a next step, know the contact details of recruiters, and we’re aware of the approximate timelines as well. That’s not the case in Canada. There’s not much clarity on what happens after you apply to a job through a specific channel.
There were some subtle differences in lifestyle and settling in as well:
Neighbourhoods are less populated than India and seem empty!
Given how densely populated India is, I was accustomed to seeing a lot of people around wherever I went. However, that was not the case in Canada and I often wondered, “Where are the people?!”
Accessibility is given a lot of importance
I noticed how people with disabilities are able to be self-sufficient and lead an independent life thanks to the accessible design in most facilities like office buildings, shopping centers, and transit systems.
The education system is more flexible and versatile
Students have greater flexibility in deciding which subject to major in or even which profession or career path to pursue. In India, the system is slightly more rigid, and students are compelled to make up their minds at an unfairly early age about the field they want to enter.
Students and professors share an informal relationship
In Asian countries, teachers and professors are people who are greatly revered and the relationship with them is rarely informal. It’s rare for students and teachers to go out for drinks or meet outside of study hours. But it’s quite the opposite here in Canada where it’s perfectly normal for students to meet casually with teachers or professors.
An independent lifestyle is the way of life in Canada
Being raised in a country like India, we’re used to having our family look after us and help us out all the time. Once you move to Canada, you learn how to be self-sufficient and manage most tasks by yourself.
Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world
In Toronto, you will meet people from all over the planet. Diversity is embraced as a strength, and cultures are celebrated.
My hope is that this blog will give you some insight into what to expect when you land in Canada and thus help you acclimatize to the local culture smoothly. I’d like to end this post by saying keep an open mind, follow your curiosity, and push your self-imposed limits!
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