From an interview with Dhiti Nanavati, Content Marketing Manager, and Arrive Ambassador
In 2016, Dhiti came to Canada from India, by way of the UK and the United States. During her journey she gained a Master’s degree in Applied Economics and an MBA in marketing. By the time she arrived in Canada, she had five years’ experience in brand management and marketing, with expertise in IT brands. Even with all that experience, people advised Dhiti to take a job as a labourer. Dhiti put in her time, got her Canadian experience and is now Content Marketing Manager with a leading technology company, creating content for global campaigns. Dhiti talked to us about her struggles and successes, the importance of networking, and how she gives back as an Arrive Ambassador.
When I came to Canada from the U.S., I thought my transition would be easy: I wasn’t a complete newbie. I had worked in the United States for several years in marketing with a big IT firm, and I knew the system. I thought there wouldn’t be much of a culture shock because I knew what the environment would be like and what the people would be like and how to conduct myself. But I got the same treatment that any newcomer would get.
The biggest challenge for me was the fact that professionals here were not very open to the idea of a newcomer who’s been abroad, who’s lived abroad, who’s been in the US – they were not excited about that. So, while nobody talked about my lack of Canadian experience, it was implied that I lacked it, and that I wasn’t ready for the workforce here.
I remember one instance where somebody said, “You’re overqualified for the role.” I was taken aback because that interview was fantastic. I didn’t expect it. But then I understood their hesitation in wanting to employ somebody who has just come here: They didn’t know me, they didn’t know my skill set, they didn’t know what I had to bring to the table.
While I was disappointed, I tried to understand their perspective as well. It made me realize that perhaps I needed to take a step back and maybe start with whatever I could land in order to get to where I wanted to be.
From struggle to success: It takes time
I think the worst point for me was my first job. I was packing cosmetic products in a warehouse, and eight hours a day I would ask myself, “Did I get two masters degrees to do this – what am I doing here?” While I respect the work that the individuals do there, as a highly educated professional, it really demotivated me.
However, I felt that I had no choice and thought, “This is the way to gain Canadian experience. I’m going to do it”. I accepted it and I did that for two or three months until I landed my first marketing opportunity with a small business. That was the turning point for me. The business owner gave all his marketing operations to me, so I was doing everything from content marketing to social media, to anything you can think of!
This was followed by one of my biggest moments of joy: Getting a marketing specialist opportunity that came out of the blue and landed right in my lap. I didn’t apply for that job. It was offered to me. It really boosted my confidence and brought back that lost self-esteem – the feeling that you’re not worth much as a professional.
Now that I’m a content marketing manager, I feel confident because my employer is very supportive. They’ve given me the option that if I want to branch out into product marketing or brand marketing, there are opportunities within the company for me to grow. I’m very positive now.
Read more about sales and marketing jobs in Canada
A few things I’ve learned about finding a career in Canada
1. Keep an open mind
One of the biggest tips that I have for newcomers is to be open-minded when you move here. There will be lots of well-meaning friends, family, and acquaintances who will give you all sorts of advice. Keep an open mind about life in Canada. It’s not going to be without struggles, but that will be the case wherever you live, whether it’s Canada, the U.S., Australia, or India.
2. Networking is crucial
I am an introvert. I hated meeting people (I am still not a big fan) but I quickly learned the importance of networking. I got out of my comfort zone and that really helped me to expand my network and my opportunities here.
As soon as you know you’re going to make the move here, start networking. And don’t just network with friends or people in your community. Reach out and network with professionals. Everyone here is very open to helping. I think that’s the biggest advantage of moving to an immigrant-friendly country like Canada.
Remember, networking is about human relations: be grateful, follow up and always say thank you.
3. Your LinkedIn profile is very important
I looked at the profiles I liked on LinkedIn and I saw the kind of language and keywords they used. I did not copy, but I did use some terms that leading professionals were using. I believe that made a difference.
I also had my profile evaluated by a lot of people in marketing. I asked everyone to go look at my LinkedIn profile and suggest if I should make any changes.
There are a lot of tools out there, but there are some websites that scan your LinkedIn profile and suggest that you include certain keywords.
Looking for tips on how to use LinkedIn? Watch our webinar on LinkedIn strategies for newcomers
4. Understand the Canadian job market
To be very honest, I did not do a lot of research before coming here. I came in with this mindset that it’s Canada, it’s going to be like the U.S. How different could it be? But I was in for a surprise. Especially, in terms of the people and the job markets. In the U.S., the recruitment process is more aggressive. The Canadian job market is a bit closed, it’s a bit conservative. We take our time in getting to know people and recruiting them, our recruitment cycles are sometimes two, three, six months long. It takes longer here because companies here are often more interested in how you are going to fit with the team than just your skills on paper.
5. Find a Mentor
My manager at my current job was my mentor’s mentor! A mentor or an ambassador or champion can make such a difference in helping understand the Canadian job market and providing connections and helping you achieve your career goals.
As an Arrive Ambassador I can mentor newcomers to help them avoid some of the struggles I faced
My primary motivation for becoming an Arrive Ambassador was to give back. When I moved here I did not have an ambassador to talk to. I did not have a mentor in the first year. So, I was pretty much struggling on my own. I was getting all sorts of advice from different sources.
There were people who suggested I go work in a call center, there were people who asked me to continue working in labour jobs or get into banking or change my line of profession. All that was very demotivating for me because I was very clear about staying in marketing. Through this platform, I hope to pay it forward, and give back to the community. I don’t want anyone else who moves here to be in the situation I was in – not having the right connections or the right advice.
I heard about Arrive through LinkedIn and some social media posts on Facebook. I saw their ads and I was intrigued: What is Arrive, what do they do and how are they different from other agencies or organizations that support newcomers in Canada. What I found unique about Arrive was that the professionals on the platform are a lot more accessible and responsive. I think that it’s a great platform for anyone who’s looking to immigrate to Canada.
It’s been a long journey, but, I’m glad I arrived here.
I went from packing lipstick to working for a painting company, and now I’m with one of Canada’s largest information management companies. So, success is the present for me. I feel like I have finally arrived after three and a half years. I know I’m earning my professional stripes, I’m hopeful, and I’m also very excited about paying it all forward in any way I can.