My name is Paulo Mattos and I moved to Toronto in 2018 as an international student from Brazil. I am a business development professional with over a decade of experience working in the real estate and tourism industries. I graduated with a degree in international business and business administration from Brazil and pursued a specialization in leadership and global commerce from Denmark. As a student in Canada, I completed a post-graduate program in sustainable business management in August 2019 and have been working ever since. Although I had the skills, experience, knowledge, and relevant connections, getting the coveted job offer letter wasn’t easy!

This is my story.

Back in Brazil, I was well-settled professionally and didn’t have a strong reason to leave the country. However, after my child was born, the political scenario and the crime rate there got my wife and I thinking about moving to another country that offered a better quality of life.

We initially thought of moving to Denmark but the immigration process there is filled with uncertainty which made us consider Canada. Applying directly for Canadian permanent residence (PR) was challenging as I lost some points on age as a factor (I was 39 at the time). Hence, moving on an international student visa seemed like the best option to get on track for PR.

I was fortunate enough to meet people from my industry through the course I took, and one of those connections provided me with a co-op placement. At the end of my co-op, my supervisor (impressed with my hard work and commitment) circulated my resume among his network to help me get a full-time job.

I met the CEO of the organization where I currently work through my supervisor’s connections and we instantly connected because she happens to be from Denmark. She asked for my ‘elevator pitch’, and after I told her my story, she asked me if I was interested in joining her organization. Although this might seem very effortless, networking only helped me get my foot in the door! Getting the actual job offer was harder than I thought because I had to go through three very long interviews.

My experiences with job search and settling in Canada taught me:

  • Connections are valuable and they help you build the bridge, but you still have to sell your skills; especially as an experienced professional. It helps when you’re referred by people who are trusted sources but the employer will still want to know if you’re a good fit.
  • It’s essential to customize your resume to the role you’re applying for. At times, if you are overqualified for entry-level roles, this may mean stripping your resume of some of your qualifications or professional experiences.
  • Budget for unforeseen circumstances such as medical emergencies and have enough funds to support you and your family for at least six to twelve months beyond your graduation date if you’re on a student visa.
  • Spend quality time on researching about Canada and the Canadian way of life before you arrive; it will help you adapt better and possibly even save some money.
  • Plan accommodation expenses closer to your moving date since rent in cities like Toronto keeps rising every month.

Uprooting your life in one country and moving to another is tough, especially when you have to give up the comfort, luxuries, and professional accomplishments. It’s a constant process of adaptation and effort to rebuild your life.

I’ve recently started my job and feel confident about being on a steady track to apply for PR. At this time, I don’t know what the future holds for me and my family but we would definitely love to call Canada, ‘home’ someday!