Desigan was born and raised in South Africa. He worked in the aerospace industry for most of his professional life and moved to Canada in September, 2018, with the hopes of scaling his career to new heights and finding a better quality of life. This is Desigan’s story.
Back in South Africa I studied electronics engineering and was an experienced professional. I worked for over 15 years in the aerospace industry doing software development and simulation work. While working there I realized that the technology development in South Africa was far behind and the career prospects were limited in comparison to developed countries.
My desire to reach for bigger and better opportunities led me to start thinking about moving to Canada. A better quality of life, safer environment, better infrastructure, political stability and the ease of emigrating were some of the factors my wife and I considered when we were planning our move, and Canada emerged as a winning contender.
“Giving up my job, my home, getting rid of most possessions and packing up my entire life in South Africa in a couple of suitcases to move to a new city, a new country, restarting from the bottom and re-establishing myself felt courageous and surreal. It gave me the confidence to trust that I could make it happen and be successful.”
Moving is tough but there are plenty of resources to help you settle in.
After moving to Toronto in September, 2018, I took a few weeks to settle in. At the time my wife and I were also actively looking for work. I applied for a few jobs and went on some interviews but unfortunately, didn’t end up getting the job.
So, in January, 2019, I joined a three-month long cybersecurity program with ACCES Employment. I didn’t have a background in cybersecurity but given the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals, I wanted to explore my options in this field. During this time I also worked on my resume and improved my interview skills. The program was a good way to meet fellow immigrants and build a support network.
“Winters in Canada can be quite depressing, especially when you’re in the job search phase. I tried to stay positive and energetic by imagining what it would be like to work. I would wake up in the morning and take the public transit just to get my mind used to a routine and become more familiar with the city. I would visit the library and surround myself with people to stay positive. Watching motivational videos on YouTube, listening to music, and taking time out to have some fun exploring the city helped too.”
The job market in Canada may be different from your home country — research and be prepared.
During my job search phase, I noticed that the Canadian job market is slightly different from South Africa. Here, organizations prefer individuals who are specialized and experienced in specific roles. In South Africa, you could be a generalist with a wide range of skills and that’s perceived as a good thing because you can fit into a variety of roles in any company — this isn’t necessarily the case in Canada.
My program with ACCES presented an opportunity to attend a networking event where I met the mayor of Markham. We talked about the role I was looking for and he provided a lead — a reputed automobile manufacturing company was looking for software developers and engineers. I applied online, took some assessments, had a few phone interviews and got selected for in-person round of behavioural interview. While I thought that everything went well, yet again, I didn’t get the job. The company informed me that I was too senior for the role and hence they would keep my resume on file for other opportunities.
I was disappointed but didn’t lose hope. I continued applying to other jobs. After a while, I heard back from the same company and they were considering me for some other projects. Approximately, three months after I graduated from the ACCES program, I finally had a job offer! And I started working with the organization as a Senior Simulation Developer in July, 2019, almost 10 months after moving to Canada.
“I found my dream role! It’s a role that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered, possibly because I was lacking confidence. I thought I’d start with a smaller organization, gain some Canadian experience and then move to the role I am in today. but instead ended up at a global company working on cutting-edge technology.”
A good credit score can help you in many ways.
Choosing a bank in Canada can get confusing for newcomers since there’s a lot of information presented. I chose my bank based on the unsecured credit card being offered and the account fees charged. We realized that having a good credit score was very important.
When my wife and I first moved here, we faced challenges trying to find accommodation primarily due to the absence of credit history. Our realtor guided us and helped us secure a place; rather than simply browsing the web for listings, we felt that having a realtor brought real added value.
Be positive. Be confident. Be persistent.
I would recommend newcomers to:
- Have a weekly and monthly plan for your initial time in Canada. Start with the basic formalities you need to get done as a newcomer and work towards your career goals.
- Research the neighbourhood where you would like to settle down. Factor in commute times to work, and how housing costs fit your budget.
- Leverage newcomer services to better understand the Canadian landscape and adapt faster. There are programs that will help you improve your resume and interviewing skills.
- Build a social network. Having people around you for emotional support is important, especially if you don’t have family here.
- Have faith in yourself and be resilient. There will be times when you’ll feel homesick and get disheartened but you have to just hang in there, keep going and it will all work out in the end.
- Don’t hesitate to take up survival jobs. It helps keep your mind busy and gather Canadian experience.
Looking back at my first year in Canada, as much as I’ve faced challenges, I’ve also had moments of unforgettable joy and happiness: the excitement of landing on Canadian soil, my first experience of snowfall, and the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA finals!
As I continue to make Canada home, my goal is to explore different cities and experience diverse cultures. I want to build my personal brand, grow professionally and be able to contribute to Canadian society.
I took a giant leap of faith when I moved to Canada and I’m so glad it paid off!