Having lived in Jamaica all his life, Leroy arrived in Canada with his wife and kids in 2014. With a bachelor’s degree in computer studies management and ten years of experience as an Information Technology professional, Leroy imagined it would be easy to find a job in his field.
Leroy left behind a tropical island and some of his relatives to start a new life in Mississauga, Ontario: a much colder climate than he was accustomed to. Soon after he arrived, Leroy tried looking for a job in IT, but he didn’t have much luck.
With his career situation uncertain, Leroy had to find a “survival job” – a circumstance that many internationally-trained professionals find themselves in upon arrival to Canada. Due to the time of year – the holiday season – there were a number of warehouses searching for seasonal employees. However, Leroy was competing with many fellow job searchers vying for the same roles. Eventually, he was successful in obtaining a part-time warehouse position.
Leroy continued working in the warehouse role for eight months before being hired by a large office retail company. It was a part-time position, and his shifts occurred late at night. However, he longed to continue working in his field. Knowing he would have a better chance of securing a job in IT with some support, Leroy enrolled in the IT Infrastructure Bridging Program at Humber College.
It was through Humber College that Leroy learned about Windmill Microlending. “The loan helped me cover the tuition fee for the bridging program. So, I didn’t have to dig deep into my pockets to come up with that money.”
“The experience with the Windmill team was awesome,” remembers Leroy. “The process was pretty easy, and the processing time very quick.”
While in the bridging program, Leroy attended an event where former students shared their experience. Many students suggested volunteerism as a way to gain experience, and Leroy took note of that advice.
For some time, Leroy’s days were tough, long and busy. He volunteered during the week for approximately six hours and attended classes in the evenings – including weekends – all while balancing his part-time job. “I volunteered to get Canadian experience. For five months, I worked from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a Service Desk Analyst at an IT company,” he says.
After finishing the bridging program, Leroy secured a government position at the municipal level in a neighbouring city’s Corporate Security Section. A few months later, there was a job opening for an IP Video Administrator. He applied and got the job.
Today, Leroy is working in a position that he considers it’s at the same level to the one he previously held in Jamaica. Still, he has more goals to achieve. He wants to pursue a certification in project management for IT. “I recently moved to the project department within the City. I’m still an IP Video Administrator, but I’m taking on an additional role in project management,” he explains. “All of this experience will be valuable towards my certification.”
If there is one thing Leroy wishes he knew before arriving in Canada, it’s this: even though Information Technology isn’t a regulated profession, Canadian experience and credentials are crucial to securing employment.
Leroy’s advice to fellow newcomers involves patience and persistence: “You’re not going to land your dream job right away,” he says. “You have to start from the bottom and work your way up. And even when you have the qualifications and certifications, you still need Canadian experience. So, volunteering is a good option because it increases your chances of getting the job you want.”