NWPB’s Immigrant Mentorship Program: A Closer Look

Posted in News, Mentorship Spotlight

NWPB’s Immigrant Mentorship Program: A Closer Look

In Canada, the word “mentor” is described as an experienced and trusted advisor. “Tanácsadó”, “dǎoshī”, or “mshauri” are just a few ways in which other languages might refer to a mentor, and there are many ways this word may be defined. For example, in Punjabi a “mentor” or “ਸਿੱਖਿਅਕ (sikhi'aka)” is defined as a “wise and trusted guide and advisor”. Regardless of language, one of the foundational commonalities in understanding this role is that a “mentor” is someone who can assist and guide a mentee in advancing toward their goals in a variety of ways.

In NWPB’s Immigrant Mentorship Program, a mentor is a local professional who is established in their field, who volunteers to be paired with an internationally trained professional for an 8 week mentoring program. This program is designed to introduce immigrants to Canadian workplace culture and their industry in Niagara.

Often, mentors and mentees can find themselves uncertain as to what to expect from this program. Here, we offer some insight into the kind of experience our Mentorship Program has to offer:

The first meeting can take place anywhere the mentor and mentee agree upon, such as (but not limited to) a coffee shop, the mentor’s workplace, or NWPB’s office.  During the initial meeting, Josie Faccini will be present. As NWPB’s Mentorship Manager/ Coach, Josie can assist in breaking the ice, and help guide the conversation between the mentor and mentee. Mentees are encouraged to think about and prepare a list of their goals beforehand, and be open during the meeting.

It doesn’t end after the first meeting; the mentor and mentee will continue to meet over the next 2-3 months for a minimum total of 12 hours. There is no specific time limit or place for meetings; whatever works best for both parties is acceptable and encouraged, and should be planned between the mentor and mentee at the first meeting. A mentor may want to bring their mentee to a networking event if they believe it would be beneficial for making connections.

Networking and connections are an important part of this program. This is what will help a mentee in finding a career. Mentors can help a mentee find the right connections and resources. This may mean suggesting volunteer opportunities that could possibly lead to job opportunities or bringing them to network events to help meet the right people.

This program is one step towards finding a job. If you are someone who has signed on to be a mentee, you should not expect your mentor to give you a job, nor should you expect your mentor to find you a job. Rather, NWPB’s Immigrant Mentorship Program is designed to give you enhanced tools and resources to use in your own job search. This program is beneficial because it allows newcomers to Canada to gain a deeper understanding of how the Canadian workplace operates, as it may differ from the workplace culture of the mentee’s country of origin. It is important to understand potential nuanced differences in things such as dress code and professional manner, which mentees can ask their mentors about. Often, finding a job isn’t the only battle – understanding how to succeed in your Canadian career is one of the many ways a mentor can assist a mentee.

Successful mentoring means having conversations, sharing knowledge and experiences, opening doors, providing inspiration, building confidence, and validating experiences.

There is no question that is too insignificant to be asked. Just because you may think a question is insignificant doesn’t mean it’s not important. No matter the question, don’t be afraid to ask it. Mentees may surprise their mentors with certain questions, but this is also an opportunity for both parties to learn from it.

This program is beneficial for mentors, too. Mentees have the opportunity to share their culture and experiences outside of Canada. This is a way for mentors to gain a greater understanding of our world and gain global insights into their industry. It also allows mentors to enhance their leadership and coaching skills while making deeper connections with their local community. In the end, both mentor and mentee learn from each other during their time together.

However you understand a mentor to be, it is undeniable that the mentor’s role is to help a mentee succeed. When entering this program, keep an open mind, make connections, and have an open mentor/mentee relationship. As a mentee, come prepared to meetings and networking events and be open to advice. As a mentor, be open to giving advice and to allow yourself to grow in this opportunity.

For more information about our Mentorship Program, please contact josie@niagaraworkforceboard.ca