Kate Kripak: A Mentee Story

The Career Mentorship Program (CMP) matches newcomer immigrant professionals (mentees) in the Edmonton region with established professionals and local business leaders / employers (mentors) who share a similar occupational background and creates networks through real-life connections and experience.

Kate Kripak immigrated to Canada during the first months of 2020 from the Ukraine. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Law in the Ukraine and was able to work as a legal assistant.

“I won’t change my occupation when I arrive to a new country and will try to jump into the legal field as soon as possible”, she thought to herself. “Boy, was I wrong!”, she recalled. “Like many other immigrants, I didn’t have a language barrier and my education level was more than enough for any intermediate position”. The challenge for her was in the licensing process. Ukraine is not a common-law country so she had to take more exams through the NCA (National Committee on Accreditation) in order to qualify for the bar admission. This realization and disappointing news would not end there.

“As soon as I arrived in Canada, I started to apply for legal assistant/paralegal positions and I didn’t get much feedback. It seemed to me that every employer was hesitant to hire a new immigrant due to my lack of Canadian work experience. I decided to temporarily put my dream of becoming a lawyer in Canada aside”, Kate states.

“I began exploring various settlement agencies in Edmonton and the programs they offered to new Canadians. ERIEC stood out for me right away because of the Mentorship Program. I am a strong believer in the art of ‘schmoozing’. One should never underestimate the power of networking”, Kate says.

“I was instantaneously matched with a great mentor who works as a Senior Executive Assistant at Deloitte. During the four months of our mentorship relationship, we have covered many important and relevant topics such as Canadian workplace standards, mock interviews, tips for successful networking and many others that would come to mind during our time together”, she recalls. Her mentorship didn’t end once the program was completed. “It has been almost two months since the mentorship program ended and we keep in touch even up to this day!”

“ERIEC is a living proof that any connection can last a lifetime. Oh, did I forget to mention that I found a full-time job after two weeks of mentoring? It was not a job in my preferred field but it got me through the challenging times of COVID lockdown. But my happiness would be short-lived. In the middle of August, my employer told me the sad news that, unfortunately, due to the lack of government supports, she wasn’t able to keep me in her company. Once again, I was back at the job search. Countless resumes, cold calls and applying for every single job I saw online which in the end didn’t help me much. Until one day, I noticed that someone had sent me a message to my Indeed profile”.

The message read, “Your resume stood out to me and I would like to interview you for a position at our office. We are currently looking for a full-time paralegal. Please let me know if you are interested, and I would be happy to set that up.”

Kate remembers that message very well. “Boy, was I pumped! What do you think was my next step? Of course you would think click the button that says, “I am interested” or send an email with your contact information!”. You do remember that I am a believer in the art of schmoozing? I decided that I would go one step further and call the law office that sent me a letter of interest. Yes, that simple! The phone number was relatively easy to find so I simply dialed it. Do you think my call was picked up by the receptionist? No, it was the lawyer himself from the office. He was quite surprised that I would call him in the middle of his busy workday, but he stayed on the line with me and this conversation would actually be my preliminary interview. To be completely honest, I didn’t think he would call me back. I was wrong again. The next day, he called me to set up a second interview and the following day I was working as a paralegal at his firm”.

“I spoke to many immigrants afterwards, and all of them asked me the same question, “What’s your secret? There is no secret. Pick up the phone and market yourself. Yes, it will make you a little uncomfortable at first, but trust me, the result is worth the hassle”, Kate says.

“What if I can’t just summon up my courage and call a stranger?” Well, I guess someone else will get your job. It is an open competition out there and the ‘bold’ one gets the prize!”

Kate’s key messages to others who are looking for work in their fields:

  1. Be adamant about your belief in yourself
  2. Go the ‘extra mile’
  3. Use any help you can get!

For that third point, I would like to thank ERIEC and staff for being mindful of the challenges new Canadians face and their desire to accommodate our needs. ERIEC’s commitment to its mentees is above exceptional and if I were you, I would not hesitate to connect with them for any difficulties along my path to success.”

If you are an immigrant professional, Permanent Resident, currently in Edmonton, and interested in ERIEC’s Mentorship and / or Connector Program, please contact the Program Assistant- Gustave Gatabazi at [email protected]
If you are an established professional or business leader looking to volunteer as a mentor or establish corporate partnerships, please contact the Program Director- Azumme Degun at [email protected]