*Mai is a pseudonym. Her name was changed for this story to protect her privacy.
Mai arrived to Canada as a refugee with her family, leaving her life in Sudan including her career. She applied to our Welcome Talent Canada program, and was paired with a mentor who supported her secure a job she wants. This is her story!
“Two weeks into the mentorship, I got a full-time contract with SS&C Technologies as a developer.
My name is Mai and I’m From Sudan. I have two kids, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and previously owned a natural stones jewelry business.
In 2018, I moved to Canada with the family. My biggest challenge was language. I could read and write a bit, but I wasn’t able to speak much English. Like many refugees, my husband, whose English was much better than mine, couldn’t find a job in his field. He had to settle for a warehouse job, and drove Uber for a while. At the time, I realized I needed to support my family and settled for a general labor job as well.
When I applied to labor agencies in Toronto, I had a case manager assigned to work with me. I set off with the intention of finding any job, but my case manager advised me to apply for jobs in my field since I have a bachelor’s degree. She also introduced me to an academic advisor for tips and guidance.
Upon meeting with the academic advisor, who was from Egypt and spoke Arabic to me, I explained my plan to her; that I needed to support my family and then go for school. She advised me not to do that. Instead, she thought I should go for a career shift; study a diploma, something related to my field, and then I’d be able to find job easily and support my family. I hesitated since my English was not good, I’ve never spoken English before coming to Canada. She asserted me that I’ll improve with time, and that I should focus on finding a college and a career that is related to my field.
On the same day that I spoke to the academic advisor, I took an online career test. The result was: software engineering. I immediately started searching for a collage and enrolled right away. Two days later, I got a call from the Canadian Business College, where I got my diploma.
Shortly after finishing my diploma, I started a YouTube channel to teach simple coding for games. Then I started working for a company that was developing a website to manage their social media accounts in one place. Three months after I joined the mentorship program of Jumpstart Refugee Talent. My husband encouraged me to apply since he also took part in the program and found it especially useful for securing a job. I also joined the Women in Technology program, which helped improve some of my skills.
The mentorship was so helpful. My mentor provided guidance and helped me prepare for my technical interviews. We set six technical questions, I did some research to answer the questions and then we practiced mock interviews. This helped boost my confidence; I relaxed and was ready for the interview.
I didn’t think I would be getting a job in software engineering in such a short time. I thought it would take me a few years. All the positions I was interested in were looking for someone with a minimum two-year experience. I almost went for a volunteer position to gain some experience, but the Women in Technology group and my mentor advised me otherwise. I was incredibly happy when I got the job offer and signed the contract. It even exceeded my salary expectations!
When you achieve something, you don’t notice how big a deal it is. It is usually noticed by others. I feel very proud of my achievements over the past three years. When you work hard, and I worked very hard, the results speak for themselves.
For more information about Jumpstart’s mentorship program visit: https://jumpstartrefugee.ca/programs/wtc