Mentorship: The Story of Reem and Golam
Reem is a recently settled refugee from the Middle East. Golam is a seasoned professional in the banking industry. They recently became mentee and mentor in the Greater Toronto area. We asked them both about their experiences and mentorship. This is their story!
*Reem is a pseudonym. Her name was changed for this story to protect her privacy.
REEM | MENTEE AND NOW IN THE BANKING INDUSTRY
I was content back in my home country. After fleeing, I became a refugee with little rights and living in constant fear. With no family or friends to support us, moving to Canada was not easy. The system here is quite different. You must work extremely hard and always be prepared. On the other hand, I achieved more here, than I achieved my whole life back home. Since I came to Canada, I had two different jobs in two different sectors, which is something I would not be able to do back home. Back home, we [typically] get stuck in one career path our whole lives. But here, if you want something, the system will support you to achieve what you want.
I went to a lot of organizations to get support with my resume. I did not know how to do my resume in a way that fits the Canadian work culture. Then I heard about Jumpstart Refugee Talent. With Jumpstart, the team followed up with me and checked on me all the time. They first put me in a mentorship program. I believe a mentor can help a lot, even during a pandemic. Golam is amazing and very smart. He has the personality of a leader. One can rely on him and trust him to guide you in the right direction. I had a great experience with him. He shared with me a lot of stories and examples about what could happen in interviews. If I had not done this mentorship, I would not have gotten my current job at the bank.
I used to listen to people’s advice and ask for support. Through prayer, I would keep calm and keep moving forward. After three months of my arrival to Canada, I got enrolled in a course and graduated with honors, even though my English was not good at the time. I received a little amount of help, but I was able to do it by myself. I want to continue working in the bank sector and grow there to become a financial advisor in the future. I would love to live in financial freedom, where I can help my family and others.
My advice for refugees is to keep pushing and not to give up, if you keep working hard, you will reach [your goals] one day. Sometimes, you will feel depressed and want to give up, considering everything we went through back home, but the doors will open for you one day.
GOLAM | MENTOR AND COMMERCIAL BANKER
As a newcomer myself, I did not want other newcomers to go through what I went through. Mentorship is a great opportunity to help others and to meet newcomers. A mentor needs to be specific and give lots of examples from their own experience to help the mentee understand what they might face in an interview or at their job. A mentee might be coming into a completely new work culture. Refugees coming to Canada need to understand how different the legal path they follow is from the path of an immigrant. Every person faces different challenges when coming to a new country.
Most refugees come with good qualities and a lot of experience, but they also come with a lot of harsh experiences, and they probably lost a lot on the way. We need to understand this loss and take it into consideration. We must be very mindful of our wordings with refugees; it is all about how we approach the situation. Being open, more understanding and listening are all important skills to have. You must be very sensitive, more patient, and more supportive with a mentee from a refugee background.
During our first call, Reem and I talked about the challenges she was facing and what was the approach we would like to follow. We decided on the communication style we wanted to use and strategics we wanted to follow. From my experience, the key to a good mentorship is to be flexible and give the mentee a safe space to express themselves and improve their interview skills. We practiced some interview questions together. Whenever she struggled with an issue, we had a three-step process to solve it: First, what was the situation? Secondly, what was the action? And thirdly, what was the result. I shared with her my experience to help imagine how her interview would go. Reem is an extremely passionate, dedicated, and hard-working professional.