2023-08-25T10:43:09-04:00Nov 5, 2020|

How to find a mentor in Canada: Tips for newcomers

For many newcomers in Canada, finding a job and getting back in their field of work feels like an uphill task. While it does take effort (and patience) to find meaningful employment, there are various resources and tools available that you, as a newcomer, can leverage to ease your job search journey. One such incredibly valuable resource is a mentor. 

In this article, we will explain what it means to have a mentor and share a list of organizations that can assist you with finding one in Canada. We will also provide information on some additional avenues to explore to meet new people and find a mentor.

What is mentoring and who’s a mentor?

According to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), mentoring involves the pairing of an experienced or skilled person (mentor) with someone who intends to improve their skills (mentee). The mentor acts as a role model and supports the mentee by sharing knowledge, resources, and career advice to help them improve their skills. 

Mentoring can happen in different ways. For instance, it can be as simple as one employee showing another how to complete a particular task, or it can be more involved where two working professionals commit to long-term mentoring relationships.

As a newcomer to Canada, finding a mentor (who may be an experienced professional or an industry leader in Canada) is a good way to learn how to adapt your skills and experience for the local job market, grow your professional network in Canada, and find relevant career opportunities. The process of finding a mentor can take a while, so it’s advisable to start early.  

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How to find a mentor in Canada

Some Canadian professionals and industry leaders provide free advice and coaching to newcomers settling in Canada. You can request to be paired with a mentor through government-funded newcomer settlement organizations or dedicated forums committed to helping working professionals. 

Here are a few government organizations that help newcomers find a mentor:

1. Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)

ISANS has a Professional Mentorship Program for newcomers that matches you with a mentor in your field of work. To register for this program, you need to contact one of their Employment Specialists. As part of this program, you will have the opportunity to meet your mentor two to four times a month. Your mentor will provide ongoing guidance, support, and suggestions to help you achieve your career goals.  

2. Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC)

If you have a permanent resident (PR) visa for Canada, intend to settle in Calgary, and have signed up for settlement services, you may be eligible to participate in CRIEC’s Mentoring Program. Professionals who meet the criteria are advised to email mentorship@criec.ca to learn the next steps. For this program, there’s a variety of support provided by CRIEC. They have:

  • Connector meetings: A one-time coffee meetup, where the mentor listens and shares guidance.
  • Workshops: Skill-building and job market information sessions. 
  • SmartConnections – with Calgary employers: To connect newcomers with employers in Calgary who can provide them with tips and ideas to prepare them for employment.
  • MentoringCircles: A group mentoring session for newcomer professionals. 

3. Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC)

With over 19,000 mentoring matches made to date, TRIEC’s Mentoring Partnership program is very popular among the newcomer community. You may qualify for the program if you have over two years of work experience, have been in Canada for less than five years, and are currently unemployed or looking to get back in your field of work. 

The program requires you to commit to approximately one and a half hours per week, totalling up to 18 hours during a three-month timeframe. However, you and your mentor will have the flexibility to decide how many hours you spend together each week or month. In addition to your meetings with your mentor, you are expected to conduct job search activities throughout the period of the mentoring relationship. Your mentor will support you with this. Additionally, you will also have access to a variety of online tools and resources to guide you through your partnership. 

4. Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC)

ERIEC’s Career Mentorship program is focused on supporting new immigrants with job search and helping them understand the Canadian work culture, so they are better prepared to work in Edmonton. You are eligible to join the program if you are new to Canada and are actively searching for employment in your field of work. ERIEC runs seven mentorship cohorts per year, with regular new signups. The program will give you access to one intercultural workshop a month over a four-month span, along with resources and support materials that can support you during your mentorship. 

5. Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)

OCISO’s Career Mentoring Program supports internationally educated professionals to obtain employment in their field. In this program, you will be matched with a mentor working in the same or a related field. Mentors and mentees usually meet weekly. To be eligible for the program, you have to be a landed immigrant in the province of Ontario. You can email mentoring@ociso.org to register. 

6. Skills for Change

Skills for Change is a Greater Toronto Area (GTA) based organization known for pioneering programs that respond to shifting immigration and workplace trends and lead to employment. Their Mentoring Program connects internationally educated professionals with experienced occupation and industry-specific mentors. You may be eligible for the program if you have a minimum of two years’ professional experience outside Canada and have been in Canada for less than five years. Candidates are expected to dedicate one hour per week for up to four months. To participate in the mentoring program, you can register by emailing mentoring@skillsforchange.org

7. CultureLink

CultureLink is a settlement and community organization with more than 30 years’ experience in developing and delivering services to meet the needs of diverse communities. Their Community Connections Career Mentoring program is focused on helping newcomers build their network and obtain job search support. You can join the program if you are a PR with no Canadian work experience. All participants are expected to commit to at least 30 hours within a six-month timeframe to meet with a mentor and participate in related programs. 

To register for the mentoring program, you are required to fill out a registration form. You will then be invited to speed-mentoring events to interact with their one-off mentors, attend informational interview sessions, and/or be matched with one mentor for a period of three to six months for long-term mentoring. 

8. Canada InfoNet

Canada InfoNet is a free employment program designed for internationally trained individuals relocating to Canada. Their Online Mentoring program connects immigrating professionals and newcomers from all industries with established Canadian professionals in their field. As part of this program, you will be expected to dedicate one hour a week for approximately 10 weeks. Once you register for the program, your application will be reviewed by a mentoring coach. The coach will then look for suitable mentors and reach out to them to confirm availability and create a match. Finally, you will be introduced to your mentor. 

Other tips for finding a mentor:

1. Volunteering

Giving back to the community (or volunteering) is usually well-regarded and valued in Canadian society. It can help you gain Canadian experience, learn the local culture, serve as a good way to build your network, and find a mentor. 

Tip: To discover the importance of volunteering in Canada, and learn how to find volunteering opportunities, read The benefits of volunteering as a newcomer in Canada.

2. Industry gatherings, seminars, or conferences

You can use websites like Eventbrite and Meetup to locate industry-specific networking events near you. These events are excellent forums to find other professionals (peers) and industry leaders from your field of work. They can not only help you strengthen your local network but might also aid in finding a mentor for yourself.   

3. Websites like LinkedIn and Ten Thousand Coffees

Similar to networking events, LinkedIn is a great tool to find a mentor. The website has a feature to set your profile as someone who’s seeking career advice. Once you do that, you will be able to view profiles of experienced professionals, experts, and industry leaders who are open and willing to provide career advice to others. You can view their profiles and easily connect with them online. 

Ten Thousand Coffees is a networking website that’s also useful to find mentors. It lets you list your profile and browse a database of professionals who are open to networking or mentoring. You can reach out to individuals you’re interested in and connect with a coffee chat or an informational interview. The site is organized into “hubs” so you can find people by skill set, industry, university, college, and even company networks.

4. Industry associations

Many industry-specific associations and certification bodies offer the opportunity for their members to find mentors in their community. Futurpreneur Canada, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), the Canadian College of Health Leaders, the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) of Canada, and the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) are just some of the organizations where you can find a mentor. You can look up local governing bodies in your industry to see if they provide the option to connect with mentors. 

Tip: Review some of the other career tasks you can do in pre-arrival to get a headstart on your job search journey in Canada.

The Canadian government has provided multiple resources and tools through various government-funded organizations and websites to help newcomers ease their transition to Canada. A mentor or a career coach can be very beneficial in propelling your career forward. Do explore all available options so you can get started on the right foot as you begin your career journey in Canada.