Building connections in the community is one of NWPB's foundational mandates. Our Mentorship Program gives us the opportunity to connect with some of Niagara's best and brightest, both among our mentors and mentees.
Today, we're celebrating the success story of one of our mentoring partnerships: mentee Jazz Clemente (full name: Micaella Jazz A. Clemente) who is a certified public accountant from Manila, Philippines; and mentor Justin De Caire, Manager of Assurance and Accounting at MNP and one of NWPB's board members. We interviewed both members of this mentoring partnership to find out about their experience in the Mentorship Program.
(UPDATE: Notice anything about Jazz's photo above? NWPB is excited to announce that Jazz Clemente has earned a position at Crawford, Smith & Swallow in Niagara Falls! Learn more in our Mentee Update!)
1. Thanks for joining us, Jazz. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Jazz Clemente and I’m from Manila, Philippines. I graduated from De La Salle University, Manila, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy, and I'm a Certified Public Accountant.
2. What kinds of challenges have you encountered trying to find work in Canada?
Finding employment in Canada was a challenge. I am a student of CPA Ontario, and I have all the credentials necessary for an entry-level accounting position. I applied to more than a hundred job postings from different companies, and I could not land an interview. I came to the conclusion that I must have been doing something wrong.
Here in Canada, connections and recommendations are everything. Coming from a foreign country, I did not have any of those when I started. Recruiters read my resume, and already rejected me before even having the chance to meet me. My biggest struggle was getting myself in the door and creating necessary relationships to move forward with my career here in Canada.
3. How has working with your mentor helped you overcome some of these challenges?
My mentor, Justin, has helped me a lot to prepare for a career here in Canada. Although I was already in the same field back in the Philippines, I recognize that there are different practices here. He made sure to orient me with everything I needed to know. Further, he continuously gave me advice on how to adapt in my new environment. From giving me exam advice to helping me with my job applications, my mentor has been guiding me through and through. From the start, he supported me, and he made me believe that I would succeed in my endeavors as long as I didn't give up.
4. What advice would you give a new mentee in this program?
I would tell new mentees that they are definitely on the right track. Just be patient and persistent. I would tell them to keep striving until their goals are reached. Sometimes, we don’t know what we are capable of, and we might just surprise ourselves.
5. Would you suggest the NWPB mentorship program to another newcomer to Canada?
I would definitely suggest the NWPB mentorship program to other newcomers here in Canada. It has helped me progress in my career here in Canada. Further, it made me realize that there is definitely potential for growth here.
When I applied for the NWPB mentorship program, I was really struggling in my career. I was questioning myself whether moving to Canada was the right choice. I left my whole life in the Philippines. This program gave me hope and strength. It was what I needed at that time. Josie, the Mentorship Manager, was really kind and helpful. She was so accommodating and genuinely caring. I feel really blessed to have met her.
6. Thanks, Jazz. Now, we have some questions for your mentor. Justin, Can you tell us a little about yourself, and your professional and educational background?
My name is Justin De Caire, and currently a manager of assurance and accounting at MNP with 4 years in public accounting experience in the Niagara Region. I completed a Bachelor of Accountancy and Master of Business Administration at Brock University, and am a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA).
7. What made you decide to get involved in the mentorship program?
I was looking for a way to give back to my profession and to help fellow accountants trying to land their first career opportunity. Everyone in the accounting profession knows what it is like to go through the recruiting process and understands how tough and competitive the process is. The current process is heavily focused on recruiting at the post-secondary level and I could only imagine the barriers to employment for someone not in the post-secondary system in Canada.
8. What advice would you give a new mentor starting out in this program?
Get to know your mentee and understand their backstory and employment/education history. Sometimes there is quite a bit of hidden, relatable experience that can be put in a resume or cover letter to help your mentee get an interview. Secondly, try to understand what barriers exist for your mentee. Sometimes it can be as simple as potential employers not understanding their background or how it relates.
9. Would you recommend this program to other professionals?
Absolutely, it was a very rewarding experience, and I couldn’t be happier for Jazz for finding a job that will kickstart her career.
10. What would you consider to be something valuable you learned from this program?
It was surprising how difficult it is for someone outside of the normal recruitment and hiring process to get their foot in the door. It was an eye opening experience that made me realize that there is a lot of great people and talent that may be overlooked and not given a chance because they do not come from the conventional hiring route.
We thank Jazz and Justin for sharing their story with us. If you would like to learn more about Jazz, please visit her LinkedIn Profile.
Are you a newcomer to Niagara interested in finding a mentor to assist you in establishing your career here in Canada? Alternatively, are you a local professional interested in contributing your expertise to the growth of Niagara's workforce by mentoring an internationally trained professional in your field? We invite you to connect with our Mentorship Manager, Josie Faccini, to start your mentorship journey today.