By Stella Igweamaka
“Have you considered pivoting to nursing and medical care?”
“I still don’t understand what you mean when you talk about market research.”
“You should really think about changing fields especially one in the medical care field.”
“You mean you’d leave all you have owned and migrate to a new country, and you still want to remain in the same field, doing what again you said?”
The above are some of the unending questions and comments I received from friends, acquaintances and friends of my parents as everyone learned of the big decision that my family and I would be migrating to Canada. While these were all genuine concerns, my friends and family had no idea what fear and anxiety they placed in me as I kept rethinking my decision to continue my career upon moving to Canada.
October 24th, 2022 marked two years exactly since my family and I arrived in this beautiful country as permanent residents. As I reflect on my journey in the past two years from my last days in Nigeria up till now, I feel grateful for the experiences and things I have learned along the way, some of which I am sharing below. The learning never stops, and the journey is continuous, which is why I have termed it “Purple Bliss”. I am big on my Christian faith, and I would definitely acknowledge that my faith has been a significant factor in helping me thrive in my new country.
Now, here are some learnings I have picked up on my journey and would love to share with you. I believe you will find important nuggets that you can take out of this piece:
The Sky is Big and has Room for All
You can be anything you want to be. If you were a journalist in your home country and you wanted to be an actor here, you should definitely go for it. A dear mentor once told me; your skills and experiences are valid anywhere regardless of the location. Don’t let that limiting belief stop or impede you from chasing your dreams. Those limiting beliefs could take shape in different forms; either you’re a parent or expectant, BIPOC, woman or man, whatever those limitations are, don’t let those limiting beliefs stop you. Rely on and make use of the support from the government and supporting associations. Go for them! Go for them big time.
Get a Community or a Support System
Leaving your home country and everyone you have known for a long time can be really daunting. A community to rely on would be extremely helpful. Information such as the best places to shop for affordable items, or courses to take as you gear up for that interview, are some of the wonderful things you gain from a community. Some newcomers are fortunate to know people in the city where they first landed, and such support is usually immensely helpful, but those who don’t have any contact in such locations and may find it difficult to settle. I usually advise searching online for settlement organizations in your city or non-profits and communities targeting newcomers in your city. You may or may not find everything you see helpful, but grab what you can to make the most of it. Reach out to these different organizations and groups and let them know you are a newcomer. Don’t be shy to ask for support and seek out communities that could be beneficial to you. Canada is a multicultural society and there is definitely lots to benefit from this diversity.
Use LinkedIn. Build your Brand
LinkedIn is a powerful tool to get your brand and accomplishments out there. Remember a win is a win regardless of your location. Now that you are in a new country, remember to update your location to reflect the city you are in to connect with others in the city. Consider also changing your job alerts to the types of roles that you want. Have you tried asking for recommendations from colleagues you have worked with in the past? How about those awards you won in your home country, have you highlighted them in your profile? All those changes go a long way in building your brand. It gives you confidence in talking about yourself to people and allows for your work to be made known beyond the shores of your home country. These recommendations definitely tell hiring managers that you are an asset to them and go a long way in promoting your achievements and brand to the world.
Whether it is through volunteering or being more vocal about the things that matter to you, get involved. You may be wondering – why bother? It is by getting involved that you truly get to enjoy the journey. Have you considered participating in that competition you saw in your field? Or nominating yourself for something? Or supporting that nonprofit with your skills and time? Whatever it is, get involved. Don’t be too quiet. Talk about the things that matter to you. Have an inquisitive mind to keep learning about your new country.
Trust your Faith
I won’t lie to you that those tough days won’t come. They surely will. Those days when you received that rejection letter for a job, or you got a higher bill to pay, or you stood outside in the cold waiting for the bus. Yes, those tough days will surely come. You need something to keep trusting and believing in when those days come. For me, it was my Christian faith and Jesus Christ – praying and trusting my maker to intervene and help me. And he sure did, better than I thought. So, whatever it is you trust and believe in, you need to keep relying on that for those tough days and trust that those days will pass, and you’ll have your purple bliss.
Stella Igweamaka, MBA, CAIP, is an award-winning marketing research and consumer insights professional based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is passionate about using research to create meaningful impact.