What are Smart Connections?

What are “Smart Connections”? Well, from my perspective, “Smart Connections” are relationships that bring benefits to all the participating parties.  At ERIEC, “Smart Connections” are integral to everything we do.  We make “Smart Connections” by:

  • Creating mentoring relationships between local and internationally-trained professionals through our Career Mentorship Program and Speed Career Networking programs;
  • Building bridges between various immigrant-serving agencies, professional associations and employers in the city of Edmonton and the foreign-trained workers who are here, ready and eager to contribute their skills and experience to benefit our marketplace and our communities.

A New Pilot Project for ERIEC

Last Thursday afternoon in the conference rooms at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, ERIEC staff hosted an exciting, new pilot event we’ve called “SmartConnections”, a concept that was birthed in Calgary by CRIEC (Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council) that we have adapted for Edmonton.  We designed this event with the intent to provide internationally-trained professionals with the opportunity to explore career options in the retail sector in Alberta, beginning at the supervisory level rather than the typical cashier/floor clerk positions often attained by new immigrants.  ERIEC functioned as the catalyst by bringing together the people, organizations and the learning essential for establishing productive, beneficial relationships, or SmartConnections, for everyone who takes part. This innovative, integrated approach involved:

  • An overview of the retail industry in Alberta presented by Kent McLeod, Business and Industry Liaison, from Human Services, Government of Alberta;
  • Practical instruction and insights about identifying one’s transferable skills, how to formulate effective responses to behavioural interview questions and how to know if you have what it takes to be successful in retail presented by Human Resources and store management from the rapidly-expanding retail chain TJX Canada (Winners, HomeSense and Marshalls).
  • An inspiring testimonial by Chris Taban, a recent immigrant and now the Store Manager of the Winners Skyview location in Edmonton, who shared his success story of coming to Canada in 2008, deciding to change his career direction by pursuing employment at the supervisory level at Winners and how continuing to ask “What’s next?” has led to his successful career in a Management role for that company.
  • Opportunities for foreign-trained professionals currently enrolled in immigrant employment programs at NorQuest College, Bredin Institute, the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and ERIEC’s Career Mentorship Program to engage with an enthusiastic employer in the retail industry to ask and receive immediate answers to their questions about the hiring process and career path options.

I watched excitedly as the presenters and participants remained actively engaged for the entire event.  Many SmartConnections were being facilitated right before our eyes!  One attendee wrote, “I really loved all the things I learned today.  I know this is going to be a part of my success in the retail industry.”  And another added, “This was very educational and informative.  I learned a lot about the work from a different field and I now appreciate more of the fashion industry.”  TJX Canada representatives received several applications for supervisory positions at their Winners stores here in Edmonton.  The participants expressed appreciation for the practical instruction about transferable skills and behavioural interviews and the opportunity to learn more about the retail industry in Alberta as a whole.

And we at ERIEC, well, we are carrying on with catalyzing more CONNECTIONS any way we can between the new immigrants, employers, professional associations and immigrant-serving agencies we are here to serve in the Edmonton region!

In which sector should we catalyze SmartConnections next?  Tell us what you think …

It's Time to Connect

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