How Ruth found confidence – and her dream job
For Ruth, immigrating to Canada in 2002 was an opportunity to better her family’s life, especially for her young son.
“Growing up in China, the competition in school was too much,” Ruth says. “I did not want him to grow up with that pressure, and I wanted the opportunity to pursue a career that would pay me well and help support my family.”
After Ruth graduated from university in China, she began working for the government as an accountant – a placement coordinated through school. She worked there for eight years, never having to compete for a job.
In 2006, Ruth received her professional accounting diploma from Algonquin College and was working at a small, private company, but she was looking for more responsibility and better pay. When she began the process of trying to find work, her lack of knowledge and experience around resume creation and interviews proved to be a huge hurdle.
“After graduating, it was hard for me to find a job. I had bad experiences on my interviews. I got a lot of opportunities, but I always lost them,” she says.
Though she knew the answers, Ruth’s ability to communicate them was a challenge. She felt ill-prepared, struggling to answer questions succinctly in English under the pressure of an interview.
Ruth’s lack of confidence brought her to Ottawa’s World Skills Employment Centre, a leader in the support and promotion of newcomer talent. With support from United Way Ottawa, World Skills has helped thousands of immigrants integrate into the local labour market through language training, cultural competency building, and job search support.
On average, immigrants earn 40 per cent less than Canadian-born workers with the equivalent level of education. Nearly 80 per cent of Ottawa’s population growth comes from immigrants and new Canadians. For our city and country to flourish, we need to put their skills and education to work.
It was at World Skills where Ruth would get help re-vamping her resume, and take part in a mock-interview process called “Interview Roulette.” These programs helped Ruth gain a one year contract, but she had her mind set on continuing to move forward.
By 2015, fresh from acquiring her professional designation as a Chartered Professional Accountant, Ruth returned to the centre, with a posting for the dream job that she’d been waiting for in hand. Having already secured an interview, she felt she needed support.
“I’m a professional. My current job gives me everything I want. This has given me a better life and I’m so happy because my son is happy too. I’m a success in Canada now.”
With help from her counselor at World Skills, Ruth began to prepare. Questions were given to her that would likely be asked, to which she would answer and receive feedback, essentially getting trained on how to navigate what was still a foreign experience to her.
She would go through the process twice before being interviewed for her dream job. This time, Ruth said she felt ready and confident.
“I was scared to interview, scared to answer, always thinking that my answers were wrong.”
“World Skills gave me the chance to compete,” she says. “The face-to-face training was very important and when it came to the real interview I was confident, I didn’t get nervous, and I knew what to expect. I got the job.”
Ruth’s dream to help support her family and help her son thrive is now a reality.
Originally published by United Way Ottawa.