New Country, New Career.

How this newcomer reinvented herself in her new home.

Are you hiring? Indira is actively seeking her next meaningful opportunity as an HR Generalist.

Indira used to consider herself a “micro-level planner.”

However, after leaving everything familiar in India—her home, family and a stable career at a Fortune 500 company—to start a new life in Canada during the pandemic, “A lot of my plans haven’t turned out the way I wanted,” she says calmly. “So now I’m more of a big-picture planner.”

That big picture is still very detailed. Practical and organized, she loves making lists—everything from the groceries to buy to the meals she’ll make every day of the week—and setting goals (she wants to learn French this year or next).

And when it comes to her career? “In 3 to 5 years, I’d like to be in an HR generalist role with a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.” It’s a very specific goal and highly likely she’ll achieve it given how driven she is.

A recent grad from the Altis Newcomer Program, she’s currently working on contract as an IT recruiter with our excelITR team while looking for her first permanent role in human resources. We chatted with Indira to learn more about her journey here and her path forward.  

The pivot: From learning and development to human resources

Indira came to Canada because of a wager with her husband. A data scientist, he was keen to explore opportunities here, and Indira gave him three months to find a job, agreeing to make the move only if he was successful in that time. Within one month of settling in Etobicoke, he landed a job in his field, so Indira packed up her life and moved in May 2019.

Initially, she wasn’t keen to move. She was happy living close to her parents and was up for promotion as a Learning and Development Facilitator, training IT professionals in basic Spanish and Portuguese (she also supported the company’s Talent Acquisition team with screening and hiring activities).

But upon arrival in Canada, she saw an opportunity to pivot and began thinking of what she really wanted to do next.

While mulling over options, she set about making connections, joined some municipal programs for newcomers, signed up for meetups and volunteered at a number of non-profits, including the Women’s Habitat in Etobicoke and Ten Thousand Villages in Toronto. “It was all for a good cause, which I find motivating,” she says.

A highly energetic person, she was also motivated to find a job, “Winter was approaching, and I didn’t want to be stuck home all day without work.”

Step one: Customer service

She started applying for full-time customer service roles, thinking it would be a good first step into the Canadian labour market. In January 2020, she landed a full-time role with Booking.com, which turned out to be more difficult than she thought, especially at the onset of the pandemic when so many people were forced to cancel travel plans. “I learned a lot about myself because I didn’t think I had that amount of patience,” she says.

While working there, her career path started to take shape. She decided to pursue a career in human resources and arranged to study part-time to get her CHRP certification, with the goal of making a lateral move from customer service into human resources at Booking.com.  

Then, her plans took another turn. The pandemic spurred the closure of the Booking.com Toronto office, and she and her co-workers were laid off.

Step two: HR certification

With more time on her hands, Indira worked hard to get her CHRP certification as quickly as possible, completing all courses and exams by October 2021, when she launched her search for an HR role.

Even with her certification and Canadian experience in customer service, she was finding a lot of closed doors: Employers were looking for Canadian experience in HR specifically.

While trying all angles to land a role—networking, connecting on LinkedIn, coffee dates—she came across an ad for the Altis Newcomer Program and decided to apply because of its focus on HR.

Step three: Altis Newcomer Program

“When [program lead] Katherine Soler called to say there was an opening, I was thrilled because I wanted experience in a staffing firm,” she says.

Since finishing the program in November, she’s remained on contract as a Recruitment Partner with our excelITR team, where she helps with everything from sourcing to interviewing candidates for federal government IT roles.

“Working with the IT team has been amazing,” she says. “They’re all very approachable and they’ve made me feel like I was part of the team.” She also appreciates the opportunity to do real work: fill orders, work on roles and screen candidates.

However, she still has her sights set on a landing a full-time role as a recruitment coordinator or HR assistant and is using all the job search tips she learned in the Newcomer Program.

Ultimate goal: HR generalist with a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

When asked why she wants to work in DEI specifically, she says, “I understand as an outsider what it’s like to not be considered for roles. To be able to contribute in that space and make an impact would be huge.”

To move one step closer to her goal, she’s registered for a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace certificate program at George Brown College, and would like to finish it this year.

When asked if she thinks it was it a good idea to come to Canada, she hesitates. “I’m glad I came because I’ve had different experiences and probably wouldn’t have pivoted my career,” she says. “In the long run I think I’ll be happy with my decision to come here, but during periods of struggle, you have moments of doubt.”

One thing is certain: she’s highly motivated to succeed, keen to put her skills and experience to good use and would be an asset on any team looking to hire an HR generalist or someone to help with corporate talent acquisition.

Apply now

Are you a newcomer looking to gain Canadian experience in Accounting or Marketing? We’re looking for candidates with experience in either of those disciplines to join our team in May on an 8-10-week paid contract. If you have experience or interest in Accounting or Marketing, and meet the following criteria, Apply Now.

Ideal candidates:

  • Haven’t yet had the opportunity to gain work experience in Canada
  • Currently reside in Canada and are legally able to work in Canada
  • Have access to a personal computer and WiFi connection
  • Are passionate about building a career in Canada
  • Project positivity and are open to coaching and feedback

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