Connector Program Interview: Cheryl and Jingyang

Jingyang Gao (L) and Cheryl Wang (R)

The ERIEC Connector Program is a simple, formalized networking process that matches Connectors with job ready Connectees to help them gain professional networking experience and “connect” to the local labor market.

Cheryl Wang is the Employer Engagement Coordinator with the Autism CanTech! Program at NorQuest College. As a Connector, she is passionate about supporting newcomers and introducing them to potential opportunities. Jingyang Gao is one of her Connectees. We had a brief interview with them.

Q: What motivated you to volunteer as a Connector?

Connector: Cheryl Wang

As a newcomer to Edmonton myself three years ago, I brought with me 10 years of professional experience as a hotel manager in BC. Shortly after I arrived in 2019, the pandemic hit and I made the decision to transition my career from the hospitality industry to the public sector. I realized that given my limited connections and work experience in Edmonton, I felt I needed to expand my local network in order to get more exposure for future opportunities. As an immigrant myself, I understand the challenges new immigrants are facing, especially during the time of the pandemic, when lots of Canadians also experienced various challenge in their careers.

The Connector Program at ERIEC provides newcomers with valuable connections and potential opportunities with established business leaders who work in the same field. After arriving in Edmonton, skilled immigrants are able to access professional networks through this wonderful program in a relatively short period of time. Through conversations with local professionals, they can obtain first-hand information about their industry and professions. This opportunity can be considered a “shortcut”, since sometimes we might not be able to find these insights and knowledge even if we were to spend a lot of time doing research on these topics. Many new immigrants have great experiences and skills to contribute to our community. As a Connector, if I can provide them with helpful information and connections, and support them to be successful, I know I am doing something meaningful.

Q: Can you describe the benefits of the Connector Program for you during the job search process?

Connectee: Jingyang Gao

Finding a job during the time of COVID 19 was very challenging. That's why I am so grateful to have had an opportunity to join the ERIEC Connector program. By participating in the Connector program, I was able to meet Cheryl, an amazing professional who actively devotes herself to community activities. She not only helped me in my search for new job opportunities, but also invited me to participate in cultural events and social activities. Her warm heart and kind words encouraged me to try new things and meet new people. Which eventually benefited my job search journey and led me to my new position! I would like to thank April, the Connector Program Coordinator for introducing me to this wonderful program and connecting me to Cheryl.

I sincerely hope more and more people can benefit from this program!

For more information on the Connector Program, please reach out to April Zhang, Connector Program Coordinator, at [email protected]riec.ca.