RODRIGO

What is your story?

I came to Canada from Brazil in April 2017. Instantly we were hit by several unexpected difficulties – these were tough even for us who have lived in Australia before. My wife, my three year old daughter and I were lucky to find a place to live straight away, although the price range in the city was way above what we thought it would be. The next difficulty was to find a daycare for our daughter, once we found a daycare, off she went, and little by little started to lean English. I picked Stella up every day at 02:30 pm since her mother was still in college at the time, I had to find ways to distract her, Every day I would come up with different things for us to do and explore the city. And in parallel, I had to organize our papers and look for a job. Stella started full time in a daycare closer to home in August, and loved it. I started my job search, which lead to yet another frustration. Hundreds of applications, to little or no result. After a course I took which was focused on employment, I realized what I was doing wrong, and finally started to get more traction and more positive responses to my job applications. I found a job this year, at a much lower level than I can perform, but it seemed like a good place to employ my skills and a promising company. In parallel, I have been volunteering at several places, running marathons, and developing an alternative career: I am now a music reviewer/interviewer for several websites. My wife found something also, soon after finishing her course, and almost one year after we arrived, we couldn´t be happier!

What cultural barriers did you face?

One of the biggest challenges we faced was applying for jobs but not knowing how far they were located from our home. It was difficult knowing where to look to find employment, about companies make-up and culture and whether I would be a good contribution to their workforce. As I applied and completed interviews I found that I did not receive adequate honest feedback for employers fear of appearing prejudicial or offensive.

Do you believe your education and professional experience is valued in the Canadian job market?

I felt that some of them were interested in my previous roles overseas, but the lack of experience in a Canadian context played a much bigger role in most recruitment processes I took part of.

Do you believe that being ambitious is perceived as a negative trait for a newcomer?

I never thought about being ambitious being seen as a negative trait but it does reinforce the barriers I have faced in trying to find employment and settle my family.

What did the career program teach you about finding employment in Canada?

I completed the ACCES Employment program which taught me about the importance of creating a resume for a particular audience and position. It also taught me how to demonstrate my soft skills during an interview as they are very valuable.

How did you find out about the employment course?

A new friend I had met since moving to Canada told me about this program and its benefits.

Has volunteering helped you learn about and meet from your new community?

Volunteering has been a great way to integrate into my new community. It helped me a lot with familiarizing myself with my new community, and I’m fascinated by volunteering opportunities. Volunteering has given me a sense of purpose, and it is a great chance to meet interesting people from all walks of life.

What made it difficult to find a daycare for your daughter?

We had no knowledge on the Canadian education system. First of all we learnt that children start school in September and need to be registered before to secure a spot. After we arrived in April, We visited at least 20 daycares until we found one which was part time and we were lucky enough that a child had left so there was an opening.

What would’ve made your integration journey easier?

One of the biggest integration challenges we have faced is finding employment. If I had known earlier about the process of finding a job in Canada, and how competitive the job market is, that would have helped me significantly.

What has been the most memorable moment in your integration journey?

There have been a few: I ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon last October, and reaching the finish line after 42km was rather special. Seeing my daughter say her first words in English and engage in a full dialogue in another language was incredible too. And my first day on a new job was quite a relief, and a sign of exciting times ahead!

Tell us more about your exciting new career as music interviewer and reviewer for online platforms?

This is something I started by accident – I used to write for free in my mother language, and then an online friend of mine offered me a chance to interview a musician who was releasing an album – this friend had a blog, but none of his collaborators were available, so I accepted. Each article in his blog used to have 500 views, and mine got 11 thousand views! So, more and more opportunities were coming, and now I´m trying to develop this parallel to my current employment. It pays ZERO dollars at the moment, but I don´t pay for albums or concert tickets anymore, so there´s that benefit. Click here to read my articles 


How did you meet new people?

 I met a lot of people through volunteering. I´ve always wanted to volunteer, but had never prioritized it. Knowing that this is something embedded in the Canadian culture, I decided to do it extensively, and so it began: I volunteer at the “Really Really Free Market”, a monthly recycling event, I run with people with disabilities, I´m a member of the board of directors at my daughter´s school, and got involved in an NGO called CAMS – Canada, Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council. And now that I found a job, I try to help my friends who are newcomers and are still struggling to find their first role here. I give tips on their resumes cover letters, and how to follow up with potential employers.

What would’ve made your integration journey easier?

One of the biggest integration challenges we have faced is finding employment. If I had known earlier about the process of finding a job in Canada, and how competitive the job market is, that would have helped me significantly.

How did you explore Toronto on your afternoons with Stella?

 I had some idea of where to go when I picked her up, but most the time we played by ear. I took her to each and every possible touristy place I could: The ROM, the Shoe Museum, CN Tower, Ripley´s Acquarium, Kensington Market, Casa Loma, St. Lawrence Market, Chinatown, High Park…you name it, we´ve been there. Being a three year old, she enjoyed some of those places, and others, not so much. Eventually we returned to most of them with her mother, and she showed her around, confident and proud as a local!