From an interview with Syed Hashir Sher.
Like most young people, Syed Hashir Sher was a dreamer, imagining how life might turn out in his future. Then things changed. He shifted his energy from thinking about success to researching and planning to make it a reality. Before coming to Canada from India in 2018, he learned as much as he could about opportunities in the energy sector, Canadian universities, co-op programs and drew up a short list of companies he wanted to work for. Along with his Bachelor’s degree in Technology, Electronics, and Telecommunications, he brought experience and passion for the industry, a solid plan for his future in Canada, and a commitment to help other newcomers and international students. Inspired by other Arrive newcomer success stories, Syed shares his own.
Newcomer stories can be inspiring and motivating – and every one is different. When you are moving to a new country there’s always uncertainty and risk involved. If you read stories about people like you taking those risks and doing well, it can give you the kind of confidence you need.
I wanted to ensure that the country I chose was going to be the place for my future. I read articles from many sources, including Arrive. The stories are oriented towards newcomers and can really help if you are having feelings of doubt. Arrive was there with information about Canada when I was making my decision.
Stop dreaming. Start planning and doing.
I used to be a dreamer. I dreamed about coming first in class, winning competitions, and impressing everyone. But I wasn’t really sure how to plan or achieve things. Then I started listening to entrepreneurs, business people, and motivational speakers. They were all successful, so I thought maybe I could learn from them and get some ideas. One of these entrepreneurs explained how he stopped dreaming and started doing. That really stuck with me. Dreaming alone doesn’t help. You have to do your research and you have to have a plan.
With this attitude change, I decided to stop spending time thinking about whether I would win or if I would be successful. Instead, I set aside an extra fifteen or twenty minutes a day to research how to be more organized, how to plan things, and what other people who have been in my place have done. I decided I wouldn’t just dream about being successful, I’d research and plan and really start doing things.
If you’re not sure about what to do, go on LinkedIn profiles and search people who have already followed the path that you are on now and see what they have done. Following those leads, you can understand what kind of career you can make for yourself.
I am an electrical, electronics and telecommunication engineer, and I worked in the energy sector in India. So, when I was researching countries to move to it was crucial for me that the country has a strong energy sector: electricity, distribution, renewable energies. I wanted a country where there is a real future in those sectors, so my own future would look bright. According to my research, Canada was number one.
“Dreaming alone doesn’t help. You have to do your research and you have to plan.”
Plan ahead. It’s your future.
It’s important to look beyond the current status and into the future. You don’t want to make a decision because a place is popular right now and everyone is going there. I met many people who were coming to Canada without a game plan thinking, “Okay, let’s complete this course and see what happens. Maybe I’ll stay, maybe I’ll return home.”
I was not that kind of a person. I was leaving my comfort zone and it would cost me a lot of money to move to a new country, so I did my research and saw that there are so many investments happening in Canada. I thought, “Okay, so even big industries, big businesses are also looking at Canada as an investment base, and they’re looking 20 to 25 years ahead.”
I made a plan for two years – what I’d do after MBA – then I made a plan for five years, and ten years. I didn’t convince my parents, but I convinced myself. You take such a risk and invest so much money when you leave home to study in Canada. I felt that if I make this kind of investment there should be a proper return.
I researched the Canadian job market, industries, different roles – even the companies. I had already shortlisted companies that I wanted to work for before even landing in Canada. These plans really helped me because now I had the whole script, I just had to follow it step-by-step. According to my research, the future looked very good. No other country seemed to offer this return on investment.
Despite all your planning, there will be challenges.
I received my Canadian student visa very late, so I was a week late arriving at Brock University. That had a huge impact because ideally you want to arrive a week early so you can get yourself settled before classes start. The MBA schedule was hectic: the courses are very rigorous and you have to be on your toes. It’s a packed course. Along with managing the first semester (the most difficult semester), you have to plan your academics, extracurricular activities, and community involvement. Of course, as a newcomer and international student, you also have to find a place to live, adjust to the culture, and the weather.
I am very thankful to my university. They have a group called Brock International, dedicated to helping Brock International students. They have seen people facing the same hardships and struggles you might be facing, especially in the first semester. Also, through networking I built relationships with seniors and alumni. They really helped me. You feel better knowing that others have been in the same situation and are trying to help you.
Knowing what you want helps in interviews too.
If I’m talking to newcomers or international students I always recommend at least having some kind of a plan – even a rough sketch. Beyond helping you navigate your journey, this will also help you get places, maybe even get the job you’re after.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a common question in job interviews in Canada. “I’m not sure, but I want to work here. And we’ll see,” is not a very strong answer.
Someone who has planned and organized their future might answer, “In five years I see this industry growing. I can bring my own skills and help this company, this organization, and indirectly help the community.” This is a much more convincing answer for employers. It tells them that you are organized, you know your skills, and you have a plan.
When you have a clear plan – even if you face challenges and uncertainties that may cause you to take a few steps back – you know a direction to go. If there is a restriction along the pathway, you’ll deal with the restriction and then follow your direction. On the other hand, if you don’t know where you want to go or you have no plan, it may be difficult for you to find success in the end.
Turning a co-op into a career: Planning pays off.
One reason I chose Brock University (and Canada) was because of the co-op opportunities (also known as internships) available to international students. Getting a job as an international student can be difficult, especially your first job. Co-ops really helps you get your foot in the door with gaining Canadian experience.Then if things go well, to get a chance at a full-time job. In my case, my background was all related to energy, electronics, electrical, which was key to me landing a co-op position with Hydro One.
It was a one-year co-op and I was so happy to have found a co-op with an energy related company – this was my plan! After two months the COVID–19 global pandemic hit and I suddenly became an essential worker. People saw me on the job with my Hydro One helmet and would say, “Thank you for your work.” It made me proud. Two years earlier, I was in India, and now I’m helping the people of Ontario.
I was offered a full-time position just four months into my co-op, and with the university’s permission I completed my degree and started my career eight months sooner than I had dreamed or planned. I said, “Okay, I’m in!”
Success stories help.
I have been in a place where I was uncertain about my future, where I really didn’t know what to do. With the help of others I have been able to tackle these challenges and do well for myself. I really believe that these sorts of success stories, especially in these challenging COVID times, can give people positive energy and motivation. Success for me isn’t just about my own story, it’s helping others too. Remember, do your research, make a plan and reach your goals.
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