S2A helps new immigrants on road to career success

Skills to Achieve (S2A) wants to help recent immigrants to build careers in Calgary’s growing economy.

The group staged a seminar Jan. 22 at Cardel Theatre in Quarry Park, to teach immigrants and other non-citizens on how to use their education and work experience.

Corey Harlock, founder of S2A and one of the speakers, explained how recent immigrants can apply the skills and education they have acquired abroad in the Canadian workplace.

“I consider myself as a ‘career hacker,'” Harlock told his audience.

“I started off as an unemployed disgruntled guy for a year after Sept. 11, 2001, and then I found myself in a job I hated, and another one for three years after.”

“I then started working with and coaching people, and here I am today with Skills to Achieve.”

Two other speakers joined Harlock at the session: Patricia Pedraza Cruz from Immigrant Services Calgary and Ila K. Edgar from Big Change, Inc.

“When I got my invitation from Corey,” Cruz said, “I thought it would be a good opportunity to share my experience and key points to new immigrants to get themselves in the right job.

“In Canada, it’s not just about getting a job but also about building a career, and I want new immigrants to understand this point.”

Cruz took her chances and immigrated to Canada back in 2006, not knowing anything about the country.

“I came from Columbia,” she said.

“After arriving in Canada and while working here for a few years, I passed all of the processes for integration such as looking for a job and learning the language.”

She is currently working as a mentorship program developer at Immigrant Services Calgary.

Having done undergraduate psychology studies in Columbia, Cruz decided to complete her master’s degree at the University of Calgary.

“I’m currently doing my masters in counselling,” Cruz explained, “because of my background in psychology, and I’m working hard to become registered as a psychologist which I what I really want to do.”

Edgar provides career training and coaching, and is a co-founder of Big Change, Inc.

“I care about people, and as a recruiter, I didn’t know that going into the profession,” Edgar said.

“After years of reflection and doing what I do now as a coach, I realize that the most important thing to me is relationships, people, and connecting them with what they want to do with their lives.”

Edgar was previously a director for the faculty recruitment and resources office at the University of Calgary.

“I actively volunteer for places such as the YMCA, and I help out with employment skills workshops and practice interviews regularly.

“I think coming into a new country, let alone a new city, neighbourhood or family, each has its own culture and mood.

“Calgary has a mood, Canada has a mood, my family has a mood. So not only are you coming into a new country looking for a job, you are also uprooting your current life and walking into the unknown.”

Jude Ahajumobi, a professional chemical engineer from Nigeria who attended the seminar, was happy with what he heard.

“The speeches [from the three speakers were] quite awesome,” Ahajumobi said. “They are well experienced in their professions, and their presentations were excellent.

“I have learned a lot,” he said. “I learned how to feel confident in myself, so when I go for an interview, I can make myself more presentable.”

Career Change: Ila Edgar is one of the founders of Big Change Inc. and one of the speakers for the career presentation. (Photo by Leo Aragon/The Press)
Career Change: Ila Edgar is one of the founders of Big Change Inc. and one of the speakers for the career presentation. (Photo by Leo Aragon/The Press)
About Leo Aragon 10 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Leo Aragon worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2013-2014 academic year.