My name is Varun Chandrasekar and I’m from Chennai, India. I moved to Toronto in 2016 to pursue an MBA from the Rotman School of Management. Back in India, I graduated with a Communications degree and worked in advertising for four years. Currently, I work with RBC as a Marketing Manager.

This is my story.

My experience with the Canadian job market was as an MBA candidate seeking a role in marketing. Unlike India, post-secondary education isn’t a precursor to employment, and marketing opportunities are extremely competitive to secure.  

Initially, I hadn’t considered working at a bank due to a lack of prior experience in the sector and the stereotypes associated with a banking professional. However, the more people I met, the more intrigued I became, and in the process realized that I had the transferrable skills to do well here. Every person who went out of their way to help me — through new connections, referrals, or reassuring me that I was doing all the right things — left a mark. In retrospect, the most compelling reason for me wanting to work at RBC were the people. 

The search for employment can seem endless and negatively impact any progress you’ve made. By staying organized, volunteering, and working part-time, I built the resilience required to continue pursuing that elusive marketing role.

Six months after graduation, several coffee chats, applications, rejections, and interviews later, a Christmas present arrived in the form of a job offer at RBC.

My job search advice to newcomers

Understand the networking culture

Be specific about your expectations so the person you’re reaching out to knows how to help you. Show up on time, make them feel important by letting them share their story, and don’t exceed the scheduled time slot.

Break your job search into smaller parts

Structure your job search by setting smaller, achievable, and measurable goals such as the number of coffee chats per month, positive feedback received, or the number of interview calls. Take pride in small wins. Maintain a schedule, exercise, eat right, and volunteer. Even if these individually won’t lead to a job, they’re contributing factors that keep you at your best when an opportunity presents itself. They’re also great icebreakers in conversations as they showcase your personality in ways your resume can’t. 

Begin by knowing that you’ve already arrived

Don’t let your worst fears and insecurities get the better of you. Start by saying and doing those things that make you feel like you belong – even if you don’t fully believe it yet. The more you say it and act on it, the truer it will become.

Don’t take rejections personally

You can be the best candidate and still not get the job. There are many factors influencing a hiring decision and the system isn’t perfect. So, cut yourself some slack and stay in touch with the interviewer. Remember that a ‘yes’ means yes, but a ‘no’ only means ‘not now’. It took me a few redirections at RBC before I eventually landed my role. 

Find strength in numbers

The process of getting your first break may sometimes make you feel like walking in the dark, but you don’t have to walk alone. Find people who are going through a similar journey and help one another through trying times. 

The path to where I am today was challenging but in my current role, I get to do some cool work with incredibly talented people. So, if you’re reading this at a time when you’re feeling lost, afraid, or dejected in your job search, remember that nothing worth having comes easy.