It is easy to see that Globalme has a passion for languages and cultures. Our plethora of multicultural employees is a reflection of our respect and love for diversity. Our Vancouver office alone is home to 16 different ethnicities; from Indonesian to Italian, Syrian to Hong Kong-nese, German to Korean, and more. As it happens, our two co-founders are immigrants themselves; Emre Akkas, CEO, is originally from Turkey, and Hanna Golota, COO, is originally from Poland. Needless to say, many of us in the office are well-versed with the Canadian immigration process, and the daunting feeling that comes with moving to an unfamiliar place.
When the Canadian government began accepting and welcoming Syrian refugees in November 2015, Globalme wanted to support our new neighbors in some way; to make even a small impact and give them a running start to their life in Vancouver.
With the help of MOSAIC Vancouver, Globalme became involved in various programs and events aimed at helping ease the transition of Syrian refugees into Canada; specifically, to help provide exposure to and give advice about Canadian culture and working style. One of the biggest disappointments for immigrants moving to Canada is the realization that their professional credentials, their education, training, skills and experience are not often recognized by employers.
MOSAIC Vancouver: Hope2Work
As of 2016, Globalme launched a new Globalme Involved initiative in which we provide three-month internship opportunities at our company. In November of last year, our co-founders, Hanna and Emre, attended and presented at MOSAIC’S Immigrant Professionals Conference.
Last month, Globalme had the privilege of joining MOSAIC’S Hope to Work (H2W) program. H2W is a two-week program that helps refugees to Canada set career goals and plan how to achieve them. Participants are able to learn new skills, improve their job search strategies, and connect with four employers by touring their offices and finding out about their hiring needs. Globalme was one of the businesses that gave office tours; we had a wonderful time meeting and talking with the participants.
We hosted an open-panel style discussion in which Globalme employees answered any and all questions our visitors had for us; what it was like immigrating to Canada, what the job interview process and work culture is typically like at a Canadian company, how to overcome the fear of speaking a new language in a day-to-day basis, and so on. Here are a few of the questions and answers we discussed:
How Did You Overcome Your Fear of Speaking a New Language?
For any newcomers to Canada looking to improve on and practice their English, we highly recommend checking out Meetup. It helped a number of our employees become more comfortable and confident when speaking English, and is a fantastic way to make connections around the city. There are Meetup’s for just about any topic; language learning, ultimate frisbee, movie-enthusiasts, and even bitcoin-lovers.
Was it Easy to Adapt to Canada’s Work Culture?
They say that Canadians are some of the nicest people on the planet, and it is easy to see how that translates in the workplace. Furthermore, Vancouver is prided on its diversity, its culture of health, its love of nature, and community; all of which lend a hand in making it an easy place to acculturate to. Of course, it all depends on the type of company, the size of the company, and the people who work there. But, in general, Canadian companies value equality in all their employees, regardless of sexual orientation/preference, gender, or race. They value autonomy, friendliness, initiative, curiosity and creativity.
Another thing that will help anyone adapt to a foreign work culture is simply to be open to learning new things. You must be aware that you may be starting in a role that doesn’t 100% fit with your background knowledge and experience; especially if you are migrating from a culture that is very different from your home culture. Your new colleagues will, in most cases, be understanding and happy to teach you a thing or two. In situations like these, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It will show you are interested, honest, and will allow you to learn the ropes much more quickly.
So, if you keep an open mind, are eager to learn, and take initiative in the workplace, adapting to a Canadian work culture will not be too difficult of a task.
How Did You Find Your Job in Canada?
Many companies in Canada (Globalme included) post job opportunities on Craigslist or Indeed.ca. In fact, that is where the majority of our team found us. Indeed allows you to look for and apply for jobs online; you are given a detailed overview of the job requirements and upload your resume all without ever leaving the website. It is a great tool to get to know what kind of qualifications and qualities Canadian companies are looking for in their candidates. One thing to keep in mind: don’t be picky about your first job. Any kind of job experience is more valuable than no experience at all. You simply can’t buy it.
What Were Some of the Challenges You Faced When First Arriving in Canada?
Many companies prefer hiring candidates who have already accumulated some in-country experience. This is because they can assume these candidates will require less training; they might already have some knowledge of what to expect in terms of work culture and office do’s and don’ts. In other words, many of our employees faced the challenge of somehow gaining Canadian work experience even though they had just immigrated from somewhere else around the world; Italy, Holland, Germany, Taiwan, and so on.
Ultimately, this led to some people in the office to look for part-time work outside of their field of expertise. Erik, our Marketing Manager, originally applied to become a QA Tester for Dutch at Globalme; even though his background was in digital marketing.
Our advice in this scenario is to do exactly what Erik did. Newcomers immigrating to Vancouver already have an advantage; the ability to speak multiple languages. Even if your background is in quantum physics or astrology, broadening your scope to other fields such as localization/translation will allow you to gain some Canadian experience and will broaden your network.
It was an honor to have the group visit, and we wish them the best of luck! Thank you to MOSAIC for putting so much effort into helping new immigrants acculturate to Canada. We thoroughly look forward to continuing to be involved in MOSAIC’S amazing wealth of programs.