In Conversation with Rosaline Graham, Mentoring Coach at Skills for Change
Rosaline Graham has been facilitating professional connections and interactions between newcomers and established Canadian professionals to enhance their employment opportunities and career growth. We interviewed Rosaline about the Mentoring for Change program at Skills for Change.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
As a Community Worker, I chose to work in employment and settlement services for immigrants, specializing in mentoring for internationally educated professionals. In my current role as Mentoring Coach, I assess, train and coach job seekers (Mentees), then introduce them to established professionals (Mentors) who support and guide them through the job search process. Throughout my 18 years’ experience in immigrant settlement services, I have facilitated hundreds of mentoring orientation/training sessions to thousands of immigrants, volunteer mentors and community agencies.
Could you tell us about the evolution of the Mentoring program?
The Mentoring for Change (Previously called “Mentoring for Employment”) program was developed in 1993 as an intervention for internationally-educated professionals who were facing multiply barriers to employment in their field. The pilot project was successful, having an employment outcome of 75% within three months of being matched with a mentor. For the past 25 years, Skills for Change has consistently delivered mentoring, facilitating professional connections between job seekers (Mentees) and established professionals (Mentors), with the objective of helping mentees fully access their field in Canada.
How did you get involved with Skills for Change?
I was living in the neighborhood and needed a Community Worker practicum placement. I applied to Skills for Change and was accepted. During this time I worked PT as a Program Assistant in the “Job Search Workshop” program, and later applied for the Mentoring Program Worker position and subsequently held different roles in the program (Mentoring Counsellor, Team Lead, Specialist and Coach)
Can you share an example of a mentor-mentee success story?
Sammy, an internationally educated lawyer from Afghanistan came to SfC, seeking mentoring. He was matched with a lawyer who, although retired, was instrumental in coaching, encouraging Sammy to access his profession in Canada. Sammy encountered many obstacles in his pathway to access his profession; however, with strong determination, a positive attitude, resilience, a committed mentor and an employer who welcomes immigrants, he was successfully employed in his field at TD Bank. When Sammy’s mentor shared the employment story with me, he hastened to say: “He did it on his own, I was just there for him”; however, I gently reminded him that the collaborative work in this immigrant settlement process was crucial to his success. Mentors play a vital role in helping job seekers enter their profession. Even after the mentee found employment, his mentor continues to maintain the professional connection to help with job retention. Mentors are like a human GPS who provides directions; however, it is the mentee who is always in the driver’s seat.
*Name changed for reasons of confidentiality.
What are some factors you consider when setting up mentors with mentees?
For the employment-focused mentoring, job seekers should complete an employment preparation program, so that they have effective tools and interviewing intelligence skills. They are usually connected with a mentor in a similar occupation or industry, in addition to having a positive employability mindset and availability to meet with a mentor during regular business hours.
What are the benefits of mentorship?
I consider the key benefit of mentoring for job seekers is to have the right support and connection. For mentors, it is an opportunity to enhance leadership, expand international knowledge and be part of building a positive community.
How do you envision the coming years of mentorship to look like at Skills for Change?
Mentoring for Change has always and will continue to have a positive growth “mindset” and expand and customize the model to serve youth, women, seniors and focus on their needs.
Who can become a mentor and how can someone become a mentor?
Volunteer mentors are the backbone of our Mentoring program; without their support, we would not be able to effectively sustain the program. Mentoring for Change highly appreciates the contribution of time and resources from the community and welcomes all those who express interest in participating as mentors.
Those who have been established in their profession for over 2 years and would like to make a difference in the life of a new immigrant can contact our agency and also go to our website and complete the Mentoring application form.
What’s your favorite part of your work at Skills for Change?
I believe in the goodness of people. It is a pleasure to see the willingness of volunteer mentors and the receptiveness of new immigrants in receiving supports; however, I am always moved by the reciprocity of mentees who initiate volunteering after they have found employment.