1st class from Calgary Catholic Immigration Society's Technology Bridging program graduated Friday
In her home country of the United Arab Emirates, Nidaa Aljebur was a computer software engineer, electrical engineer and a business analyst.
She immigrated to Canada three years ago, and has been volunteering since then.
On Friday, Aljebur graduated as part of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society's Information and Technology Bridging program. She now has a job with Community Natural Foods, which is where she interned in the program.
"When I came here, I found myself [needing] to start over again," said Aljebur. "This program gave me a big chance and opened the closed door for me."
Aljebur is one of 14 graduates from the IT program. Each of them is a newcomer to Canada, and each has education and experience in IT from their home countries.
The 24-week program is divided into three portions — 10 weeks of "soft skills training", which includes communication skills and specific Canadian quirks in the job market, followed by six weeks of technical training, and then an eight-week internship with an IT company.
"[This program] is just that, [a] helping hand to make sure that these individuals, who are coming here with these great backgrounds and great experiences, are able to get into the workforce a lot quicker," said Chris Thomas, one of the instructors in the program.
The goal is to bridge cultural barriers in labour markets. The participants learn the ins and outs of Canadian corporate culture, differences in writing resumes, and what Canadian employers are expecting in job interviews.
"Once people are here, there are lots of challenges in getting into the labour market, connecting, understanding corporate culture, understanding language and new software," said Fariborz Birjandian, CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. "This program is designed to capitalize on the prior learning that they have and prepare them to integrate into a Canadian work environment."
Femi Alli is determined to stay in IT while in Canada.
"I make a joke that if I wasn't doing IT, I would still be doing IT," he said.
Alli worked as an IT network administrator in Nigeria before immigrating to Canada last November. As part of the program, he interned at F12.net, and they offered him a job that he'll be starting soon.
Birjandian said immigrants to Calgary, including himself, "without exception, come here for starting a new life, finding a job and getting social capital."
"Joining the labour market is one of the fundamentals of successful integration," he said.
Thomas said one of the most common barriers participants face is understanding that in Canada, they need to put themselves out there for jobs.
"Because they're so highly educated, they were sought after right out of universities in their own countries," he said. "So when they come here, it's a bit of a different methodology," in researching jobs, finding jobs, and putting your skills into a resume and cover letter.
Aljebur says that was one of the most important things she learned in the program — making sure people know your experience, and putting yourself out there.
"We have the confidence from our countries, but we still need to have the confidence to share our experience with the Canadian workspace," she said.
Nearly half of graduates from the program have secured employment from companies where they did their internships and Birjandian says he's confident that the others will find jobs within two months.