From an interview with Himanshu Reddy
Himanshu Reddy moved to Canada at the age of 33 in the summer of 2022. He arrived in Toronto with two priorities: to find a place to live and to find a job. With experience navigating the many cultures across India, he adjusted personally to Canada’s way of life quite easily. Professionally, however, he met challenges as he searched for a job. Here he shares how he learned to navigate Canada’s job market, overcame his struggles, and landed a job in his chosen field.
I grew up in the southern part of India in a state called Andhra Pradesh. My parents sent me to boarding school when I was 13 years old. They said, “You have to go out and explore the world.” I like to say, I was thrown into the wild, and I never looked back.
I was in boarding school for six years, and then I went to college. I travelled across India during my years in school and was exposed to many different cultures. When I started working, I did even more travelling as I sold digital programs to businesses across India. It was during one of my meetings with a high-profile Canadian business that I learned about opportunities to work in Canada.
I was told digital transformation was expanding in Canada, which piqued my interest. I prefer to be in an industry that’s growing, rather than one that’s already established. That way, I can grow professionally at a faster pace, and it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to move to Canada.
I started to explore how I could move to Canada and what options were available to me. That’s when my journey to Canada began. In 2018, I applied to move to Canada through Express Entry. Unfortunately, the pandemic stalled the immigration process, disrupting all my plans for about two years.
Finding a place to settle in Toronto
I arrived in Toronto on my own in July, 2022. I had two things on my mind. First was to find a place to live, and second was to find a job. I didn’t have a job lined up before moving here. I was taking a leap of faith. I knew my skills and I knew what I was capable of, so I thought, let me come here and see how I perform in the job market.
To start my search for a place to stay, I checked Airbnb but the costs were skyrocketing right before my eyes. I decided this was not the route for me. Then I found a website called Homestays and connected with a family renting out a bedroom in their home. The location was great because I didn’t have to walk more than five minutes to reach public transportation.
I’m still living with them today, and it’s been good. The family is very cordial and respectful of my privacy. Everyone works, so we all leave home early in the morning during the week. We see each other on Saturdays and Sundays to cook. That’s when we catch up and ask how everyone’s week was.
During my first two months in Toronto, I took time off and did not look for work, but instead travelled around the area and figured things out. I even went camping with a friend from college who was already settled here. I also knew two other people from India who were now living in Canada, so I had some good connections. On a personal level, I’d say moving to Canada wasn’t particularly challenging, but on a professional level, finding a job was not easy.
Getting to know the Canadian job market
This was a completely new job market and I had to figure out what Canadian employers want in a candidate. I learned I needed to get certifications, which was new to me—back home, in India, there aren’t many requirements for these.
Digital marketing has many small niches and I have experience with all of them. In Canada, there is both a generalist and a specialist role in this field. I’m a generalist, so I had to become certified in all the niches to prove my expertise. That was one of the biggest challenges I faced. I was not expecting this based on my experience in India where employers only cared about your past work. But, in a way, I understand that I’m moving to a new country and I have to prove my capabilities.
An organization called ACCES Employment helped me figure out what options were available to me and helped me integrate into the Canadian job market. They offered a six-week certification course that was jointly run by Humber College which helped me understand the Canadian job market, work culture, and workplace ethics.
Narrowing my job focus opened doors
My job search took about three months, and it was initially very hard. I applied to roles but was not even getting initial invites to connect with human resources. But after a couple months, I realized that even as a generalist, I had to narrow the focus of my resume. I could not try to be everything. I had to be more specific in defining what I was searching for. My resume had to be customized to the job, and nothing else. So that was a turning point for me.
This change helped me get a lot of interviews and opened the door to connections with people in the industry. In addition, ACCES invited me to a virtual speed mentoring event in which I got to talk for 10 minutes each to various mentors who worked for different companies. I asked questions about the industry and how to improve the way I was marketing myself. Their advice helped fill in the gaps of my job search strategy.
I relied on LinkedIn, as well. It was an important tool in my search. One great feature is that the moment you see someone is hiring, you can immediately send a connection request and start a conversation.
It took three months of full-time effort to find a job in my field. Even though it took me a while to figure things out, I got a job offer in my domain, and that’s where I am now.
Getting to know Canadian culture
Moving across countries is not an easy thing to do—especially coming from a developing country to a developed one. It’s a different scale altogether. I find what Canadians perceive as good or bad, is all good to me! Back in India, it would take me 40 minutes to an hour just to cross two kilometres to get to work. So, when I hear people here complain about traffic, I think, you haven’t seen anything! It may take a long time to figure out all the differences between developing and developed countries. But I’m trying to get a lot of exposure to Canadian culture so I can understand things more quickly.
I’m also still getting used to the food here. I come from a place that has a lot of spicy food, which I miss. I haven’t found the spices here to make it the same way. I’m also still getting used to the prices of food when I go grocery shopping. I don’t know what the cost will be until checkout. Back home, you can just flip the package and the price is there, including the tax. Here, you don’t know what the sales tax will be, so that was a big shock for me.
Getting to know Canadian culture is more important to me than staying within my own cultural community. I’ve already explored the cultures of India, so here in Canada I’m focused on mingling with people outside of my home community. Every Saturday, I go to downtown Toronto to play boardgames at a bubble tea and cocktail lounge that hosts events. The people I’ve met there, at my new home, and everywhere else, are very nice and polite. Adjusting has not been a problem. Smiley faces all around.