Three years ago, Renee Ji left her established life in Beijing and immigrated to St. Catharines with hopes of settling into a new career and life in Canada.
Ji visited the local YWCA Employment and Immigrant Services Office shortly after her arrival and discovered a mentorship program that would teach her all about Canadian life and the workplace culture through the lens of a professional.
A few months into the program, Ji landed her current role as Student Advisor with Brock International Services. She’s now using her experience to become a mentor herself and is hoping other members of the Brock community will consider doing the same.
The University is offering its employees the chance to help newcomers to the region through the Niagara Workforce Planning Board Immigrant Mentorship Program.
In September, Brock University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB), formalizing the long-standing collaborative relationship between the two organizations.
The mentorship initiative pairs established local professionals with internationally trained professionals who are looking to enhance their career and expand their knowledge. The program aims to bring the talents and skills of immigrants to enrich the local community, with the help of a network of professionals.
After a successful experience as a mentee, Ji hopes to make a difference as a mentor with the program.
“My mentor brought lots of hope to me by discussing what to expect while job searching and resettling,” she said. “He gave me feedback on my resumés and cover letters and answered my questions about the workplace culture, which I could not find on any websites or in any books. The mentorship prepared me for entering my profession in Canada and supported me in many other aspects to be able to settle down.”
Through the program, Brock employees have the opportunity to become a mentor and leader to their mentee. After the initial match of the two professionals, the mentor and mentee will meet for 12 hours over three months.
“For a new immigrant, mentorship is a bridge to connect them with a new life,” said Ji. “Your mentee might become your future friend, neighbour or colleague. Your life experience can make a positive impact on a new immigrant’s life and together we will make our community better.”
Scott Johnstone, Senior Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management, became a mentor last year for the first time with NWPB.
“I was a little apprehensive about the idea at first because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to answer all of their questions and wouldn’t be able to give the mentee the guidance a professional employment service provider would,” said Johnstone. “In the end, I learned it was more about listening to their experiences and concerns and helping them make new connections that will help get them to the next steps of their professional journey.”
Johnstone echoed Ji’s excitement in being a mentor this year. He explained that Brock’s diverse career opportunities offer tangible examples and experiences of the professional workplace culture in Canada, which can be helpful in providing information to the mentee.
“I look forward to participating in the program again and encourage my colleagues to do the same,” Johnstone said. “It’s a great opportunity to lend a hand to someone and learn something new in the process.”
To learn more about the program and to apply to be a mentor, visit the NWPB website.