Contributor: Gaurav Agarwal

Account Manager, Business and Commercial Banking, RBC

Uprooting your life and deciding to immigrate to Canada is not an easy decision, but the prospects of a better life for my family, coupled with  excitement to work in North American markets, made that decision easier for me and my family.

I had support from friends, family, and my professional network but that didn’t make the move an easy one. Upon receiving my Permanent Resident status, I immediately dove into my job research and started by networking on LinkedIn to help me look for potential job connections through people I knew. I also started to engage with a few pre-arrival support organizations to find resources to help me. I personally felt that though there was an abundance of information available to people immigrating, most of it appeared to be either outdated or irrelevant to me in my journey. Regardless of this, I had a plan for different scenarios upon arrival. I was determined to make it work no matter what and hopeful not to make too many sacrifices.

Earlier this year we landed in Toronto. I knew we needed to feel good about the move and that included good living conditions so we were not settling for a basement apartment, took the first few weeks to explore, and made an effort to get used to the weather. I also focused on not letting the stress of the job search get me down. Even though people were warm and willing to help, what I found most challenging, however, is that Canadian companies were not prepared for the influx of new immigrant talent with quality international experience. In my opinion large emphasis is put on the value of Canadian experience and many employers don’t qualify the value of international experience and education. I felt that talent scouting did not seem to reflect the hunger for international talent that newcomers are promised at pre-arrival.

Back home in India, after graduating from India’s top colleges IIT and IIM, I worked in corporate banking and capital markets, managing medium to large domestic and global corporate accounts. With 9 years of experience behind my belt, including 2 of India’s largest banks, I was on a direct growth trajectory professionally. Moving to Canada meant I had to take a few steps down and work my way back up. Knowing that I was not going to let any opportunity pass me by.

Approach to job search:

I volunteered with Junior Achievement Canada, worked with a local startup, and shortly after got a job as an Account Manager, Business and Commercial Banking at Royal Bank of Canada.

LinkedIn was my tool of choice while looking for a job. I reached out to multiple senior representatives in the banking industry and took those who were willing out for coffee. Meeting people in person did not always lead to a job opportunity but it was helpful for building relationships, understanding the industry, local markets and growing my network. Knowing how important it is to be active on LinkedIn I ensured to be active by posting content, commenting, and being available to a wider audience taking advantage of every LinkedIn tip and trick I could find.  

See: Webinar: Five Winning LinkedIn Strategies for Newcomers for advice on LinkedIn.

I also spent some time looking into working with employment agencies but quickly learned that with my background these were not particularly useful so instead, I joined Leadership Connections program at Access Employment. The program was quite good for building additional off-line connections and understanding Canadian culture. Within the first few months I received 2 good job offers and started one of them. I intend to continue building my connections in Canada in order to establish myself as an expert and expedite my growth trajectory to match one I had left behind back home in India.

Advice to newcomers:

Mentorship is key and the one thing I felt I was missing, professionally and settlement-wise. A good mentor can save you time and propel your career and job search foreword. Try to find one (or few) at the start of your journey, someone who is willing to guide you and help adopt to Canadian ways.

One other notable observations for me was cultural philanthropy: people are willing and ready to help each other, volunteering for a greater cause, outside of work (and within work organizations) is a big part of people’s lives. It is important to find a cause that you can relate to and work towards life objectives outside of work.

Reflecting on the move:

The ability to spend more time with family and on my personal development is exciting. Quality of life is valued here and people respect each other’s time so you can actually have free time to spend with family and friends. People in Canada like to celebrate, enjoy the weather, appreciate nature, and those feelings are contagious. What has been most exciting for me is that life goals are becoming reality and things are moving in the right direction.


About the Author:

Gaurav Agarwal is an Account Manager in Business and Commercial Banking team of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Having a MBA from Indian Institute of Management Indore and graduate from Indian Institute of Technology Dhanbad both of which are premier institutes of India, he is also certified FRM. He carries 8 years of corporate banking experience from India having worked with 2 largest Indian Banks managing large domestic and global corporate accounts for their financing needs.