ERIEC Smart Connections: an Eye Opener!

by Elena Chernaeva, ERIEC Project Coordinator, Special Projects

If you are a Canadian-born and you graduated from NAIT’s Accounting program, you are probably taking it for granted to get a job as an Accountant.  But for the internationally trained professionals (ITPs) in Accounting and Finance, this opportunity is out of reach. Credentials are not recognized, there is always a lack of Canadian experience and most importantly ITPs do not have connections. Most of them have over 10 years of experience in their countries of origin and succeeded in various supervising roles, many managed branches and departments with over 100 staff. They know that in Canada they need to start all over again, unfortunately, they have difficulties in getting any entry-level positions in the accounting or finance field.

ERIEC’s programs in Career Mentoring, Speed Networking and Smart Connections are trying to fill this gap.

Six months ago when I was preparing for the job interview of my current position with ERIEC I was amazed by how an organization can do so much with only four staff.  Now I know, it is just hard work, and I am so proud to be part of it.

Last Thursday on September 19th was a real challenge for all of us organizing the Smart Connections event.  60 ITPs attended the event at the World Trade Centre in Edmonton and had the opportunity to meet with over 15 major employers and guest speakers from the Edmonton Business community.

Our schedule for the day was tight and included presentations from Javier Vinsome, Diversity Advisor from Certified General Accountants (CGA), Patti Walsh of Grant Thornton, Tony Bencivenga from BDO, and Ryan McGregor from Scotiabank, just to mention a few.

What the participants said:

90 % of the participants provided ‘positive’ feedback:

  • “Very great presentation and is good to see this type of event to help immigrants”;
  • “It gave me more information about how it goes in recruitment in Canada and how is the selection process”;
  • “It increased my networking” and
  • “This was just an eye-opener”

Many participants liked the skilled immigrant success stories presented by former mentee clients Akram and Pretzel which were very inspiring. I could feel the positive energy lift in the room and many participants shared with me how they felt empowered by those stories.

ITPs had the opportunity to choose to attend two out three offered breakout sessions in the following sectors: Banks & Commercial, Oil & Gas and Consulting.  Participants had the opportunity to talk to representatives of these sectors and learned what is required to be hired in a specific field and in any of these companies. They learned about the interview process and as one attendee put it: “I learned more “tricks” about how to do interviews”.

Participants felt comfortable networking with the employers and I am glad that we at ERIEC succeeded in creating a “friendly organized environment” as one of the evaluations reads.

I’d like to express my gratitude and admiration to all employers who volunteered their precious time and made this event possible: Grant Thornton, BDO, Ernst&Young, SunLife, Enbridge, PCL and EPCOR.   A special thanks as well to CGA for sponsoring the food and beverage provided for the event.

Let me finish with some additional feedback from the participants:

  • “Great job on connecting immigrants to employers“
  • “Thank you to give us this great opportunity“  and;
  • “Just have more of this!”

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