From an interview with Gaurav Agarwal – Manager, Business & Commercial Banking, RBC
After working nine years as a banker in India, Gaurav and his wife took a calculated risk and moved to Canada. They gave themselves six months to achieve their goals, and if things didn’t work out, they would consider it an extended vacation and return home. Their risk paid off, and Gaurav is now paying it forward as an Arrive Ambassador, mentoring and guiding newcomers toward career success in Canada. This is Gaurav’s story.
I was doing well in India, but I took a leap for international opportunities. It’s a hard decision to leave everything behind, especially if you’re both doing well in your careers, and things are kind of settling down in your personal life – it’s a risk. However, we were quite confident that we’d find opportunities here, so we made the move.
My primary goal was career-related: from a professional point of view, I wanted to get some international experience and work in an international business environment. Back in India, I was already working with a lot of multinationals – international companies from Canada, from the U.S., and from other countries. So, I felt that this was the right time for me to take my career to the next level. In terms of personal goals, it had more to do with a better quality of life in terms of education, living standards, healthcare and work-life balance.
Do the research. Do the math. Then go for it
I was trying to find people who had been here or people who were living here, but I didn’t have any family or friends in Canada. So I reached out to groups I knew in my network to see if they had family or friends here. That was a starting point. We got information on the cost of living in Canada, the job market, and so on.
With this information, we estimated how much time it would take for us to land jobs, how long we were willing to wait, and how long our savings would last. So, after we did the math, we figured out that okay – we are good for around three to six months. We decided that we should live in a good place, we should enjoy ourselves and we should not be stressed out immediately. If things didn’t work out, we would take this as an extended holiday.
Paying it forward with real-life experience
When I came to Canada, there was a large information gap. Some of the things that were being told or taught by immigration agencies were prehistoric. The advice was ten to fifteen years old – from a time when the situation was very different for newcomers. They were saying “take that entry level job, just get a job.”
So, I thought that that’s a huge mismatch and that is what’s leading a lot of people to get into jobs which they don’t want to get into. There are still many challenges for newcomers, but because so many newcomers are already working here and already proving that they are good at what they do, employers are better informed compared to maybe ten years ago. I knew I could help people.
The main reason for becoming an Arrive Ambassador was that when I arrived in Canada, I struggled to find mentors. While there are many people out there, it’s always good to have somebody who will help you consistently, someone you can go back to regularly. I felt I needed to step up to that role.
My goal is to provide mentorship to newcomers and give them real information. What I mean by real information is that I listen to them, and then I tell them what I feel they should target, not a junior level role, target maybe a mid-level role. I tell them It’s okay to wait for three months to find a good job rather than getting into a low-level job right away. I encourage them to work on a calculated risk model.
I tell them that there is a risk if you wait for three months or six months, but this is something that you can possibly achieve. So take the time and target the job you want. Keep this target in mind when you are networking or reaching out to a recruiter.
I don’t give them blanket answers; I try to talk about their role. I am not an expert in all roles, but I can discuss the ones I know. I also share how friends of mine have done this, or that I have seen some people succeed this way or that. So maybe you can try this route because those are real life experiences.
For example, when I began my job search, people who had been here for a couple of years told me that if you get into a survival job, it will eat up all your time – you won’t find time to get the job you’re targeting. So I decided not to spend time on survival jobs. I stuck to my plan, stayed focused, and it worked.
Making more meaningful conversations matters
Most of the conversations on the messaging platform are focused only on the job part. Their expectation is that it is my job to get them a job. They message, “Please call me to get me a job!” That’s not a meaningful or rich conversation. I would also like to derive something from the conversation so I can add some value, but if every conversation is around, “Get me a job, get me a job!”, it doesn’t work that way. The first thing I learned when I came to this country was, “ Don’t ask for a job. Tell your story and wait for that magic to happen.”
I like to move the conversation to other topics like living standards because I think those are the things that impact your job search as well. I personally believe that my job search would have been very different had I lived in a basement, let’s say, or had I not enjoyed the first few days when I came here because then I would have been stressed out. I might have taken a survival job.
The conversation should be around what each of you has done. It should be around common interests and activities. Is there a common company or industry, something you both relate to? This way you can connect on something other than looking for a job.
Helping others reach their goals is a good feeling
It obviously feels good to give back. I like having these conversations and helping newcomers. Many of them do get into a job after speaking to me, so that seems quite good. I feel good about it.
Let’s say if I’m talking to somebody, and within a month they post that they got a job, I reach out to them. I congratulate them because I know that I made a contribution to their journey. That’s the way it works, you know? When I was job searching somebody else contributed to mine.
You make connections with many people. You have to enjoy talking to newcomers and really want to help them out. It will take some time, and it will require some interest from your side to understand their queries and all that stuff. It may help you today and in the long run to build your own network, but you will definitely help them right from the start.