From an interview with Irma Ufertaite
Irma moved to Canada from Lithuania, by way of England, where she spent several years. Along with her Canadian-born husband and their newborn baby, Irma brought a degree in economics and teacher’s qualification. She shares her story of inspiration and motivation and finding a new career.
My husband is Canadian and Canada is just an amazing country. It’s very family oriented, so we decided to move here – so our son can enjoy the kind of life you can have in Canada. There is a good sense of balance here, with family and career. You have to work hard, but most companies here treat their employees well: if you need to do something, they are flexible. I also feel like people here are just friendlier. They’re very warm and they’re so happy to help you! Say if you are on the sidewalk, looking from one street to another, Canadians will approach you and ask if they can give you directions.
Canada also has four seasons, just like Lithuania – I missed that so much when we were in England. We live in Toronto, Ontario, where there are lots of playgrounds, lots of parks, lots of hiking trails. I love everything here related to nature and people. I get motivated just looking at my son and saying, “Oh, this is a nice day. We’re going to have so much fun!” I get motivated meeting people. I’m a very positive person and I try to motivate everybody else around me. I want to meet more people and make more friends.
Thinking about moving to Ontario? Read our introduction to Ontario for newcomers
Looking for a job and finding a new career
I was on maternity leave from my job in the U.K. when we came to Canada. The company has offices in Toronto as well, so I thought maybe I could move my role here. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any roles that time, so I had to leave the firm.
Then, I set my goals. I thought, “I’m jobless right now, I’m looking after the baby, but I need to do something – I need to move on.” I found the ACCES Women in Technology Program. It helps newcomer women build essential technology skills in areas like programming, coding and cybersecurity, so they can start a career in IT. I approached them, went to interviews and they accepted me. In the three month course, I learned seven programming languages. I also got a better understanding of the Canadian workplace culture, job search coaching – and I made connections.
I remember sitting down with one of the women who worked there. We put my resume, my goals, everything on the table to build a plan. She eventually introduced me to one of the vice presidents at a major IT solutions company. I just messaged him on LinkedIn, showed him my resume and one day I received a phone call. I went for a couple of interviews and I got the job. Now I’m a customer support advocate at a major IT solutions company. I help my account with software and hardware needs. I am very happy.
Working at an IT solutions company is the first step toward my career goal of working in programming. In addition to the different program languages I’ve learned, I’m now self-learning. My goal is to do work in cloud technology, to help customers, clients, to adjust their businesses to technology that’s changing every day. When I came to Canada, I never thought that one day I’d be working in IT. I just found myself doing something different, which I love.
Network your way through Canada’s hidden job market
I was surprised by just how important networking is in Canada. Everybody said to me, “70 to 80 per cent of the jobs here don’t even get posted on job sites. It’s a kind of hidden job market – you need to network, you need to connect with people.” So I did. I went to technology networking events, connected with so many people. We shared information: what I knew, what they knew. Generally, connecting with new people is the key to finding a job.
Advice for newcomers: People will help, don’t be afraid to ask
My advice is, don’t be shy! There are so many non-profit organizations that can help in so many ways, like training and bridging programs. They have loads of information they are glad to share: understanding childcare options, or even filling in paperwork. You just need to go and search for what you would like to do. You can find many free newcomer services. Communicate with everyone. Research, find information and just connect with people. What I’ve learned being in Canada is that there are support services to help you achieve your goals for the future. There are so many nice people around and they’re always happy to help.
“I know I’m young, but time flies. So, I’m planning our financial future starting now.”
I’m working at the moment, so I have enrolled in a pension plan and it’s way better here than in the U.K. They explain everything online. The way I set it up, I can actually invest in different kinds of companies or stock markets, which is really good. I can see my pension every single month.
It’s also important to choose a good bank, find an advisor, and just learn from there. Banking and finances are different here. Don’t be afraid to approach and say, “Hello, I’m new here. I don’t really understand how banking works.” A good advisor can help you with everything.
“Canada made me feel so welcome. I feel like I’m home.”
Before moving here, I was struggling a little because it was hard to find information outside Canada. When I arrived, I found so much information that I want to share with everybody else who comes here. I meet lots of moms as well. We share information. I want them to feel welcome here.
That’s where I see myself in the future – helping others. Even though I have a family, I will always find time to help people, if that means just sharing the right information. I feel so happy, and I’m happy to help.