Meet Vijay James, a newcomer to Toronto from India. Vijay completed Skills for Change’s Enhanced Language Training and later volunteered for the organization’s marketing team. He is currently a Program Administrator – Mentoring & Employer Engagement at Skills for Change. We interviewed Vijay to learn more about him and his experience at Skills for Change.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Vijay James. I come from Chennai, India – the city with the second longest urban beach in the world! I received my permanent residency through the federal Express Entry program and arrived in Toronto to fulfill my Canadian Dream.
How did you get involved with Skills for Change?
I did extensive research on programs that support immigrants with job preparedness and settlement in Canada. I also consulted with professionals employed in Toronto. ‘Skills for Change’ kept coming up in every conversation that I’ve had.
Then I met Rosaline, Mentoring Coach at Skills for Change who helped me to understand the various services and bridging programs offered. I first registered for Enhanced Language Training (ELT), an intensive five week program.
Through the ELT program I gained valuable knowledge about Canada’s rich culture and history, and began to better understand professional la nguage and job search techniques. I participated in mock interviews, career workshops, networking programs and more employment services. I received my Canadian Language Benchmark certificate.
My Skills for Change classroom must have looked like the United Nations. We had technical professionals from seven different nations while participating in the ELT program!
Tell us about a project you worked when you were volunteering at Skills for Change.
I volunteered at Skills for Change’s Marketing and Communications department. My contributions included creating marketing materials for many events, such as mentoring workshop with TD Bank and multiple job fairs, including events with Teleperformance and healthcare organizations.
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to contribute, learn and build my Canadian work experience as a volunteer with Skills for Change!
You are now working at Skills for Change. Please tell us about current your work as a mentoring administrator.
In my current role, I collaborate with the stakeholders of The Mentoring Partnership and The Toronto Region Immigration Employment Council (TRIEC) for their public funded mentoring program to support skilled professionals integrate into the Canadian workforce. I drive the program by formulating mentoring partnerships between newcomer professionals and established professionals, based on similar occupational background. Using TRIEC Salesforce, the schedule and the life cycle of each partnership is maintained and tracked for mentoring outcomes.
Mentors share their insights, knowledge and experience, supporting the newcomers with their job search process. Mentors develop their leadership and coaching skills, while exchanging information. Since July 2018, I have established several mentoring partnerships across different lines of businesses and industries, thereby assisting newcomers to reconnect with their career.
Tell us about your previous work experience.
I have completed my Masters in Computer Applications and pursued my corporate MBA. I joined IBM in 2009 with the Branding & Communications team in Bangalore. I was deployed to work as a communication specialist with the global end user deployment team. In the course of time, I was promoted to Project Manager for Internal Communications and Change deployment, targeting 380,000 employees globally. In my most recent role, I worked as B2B Project Manager helping IBM to join multimillion dollar clients into their payment gateway while facilitating digital transactions. I have completed my certifications in Certified Scrum Master and ITILv3 Service Management.
How has your experience been at Skills for Change?
Fabulous! It feels great to contribute my skills for Skills for Change, an organization known for transforming the lives of newcomers through systematic coaching and mentorship. As a volunteer, and now working here, I’ve had first hand exposure in a Canadian work environment and I love it!
My colleagues are simply amazing folks. I am buoyed by their service spirit and impressed with their work ethic.
As a former client, I would like to highlight that the ELT prgram was well organized with a deep dive focus on the learning needs of each individual. The sessions were very practical and real-time scenario based. The mock interview sessions and job preparedness workshops gave me the confidence to communicate with prospective clients and helped to build my brand value in the job market. Based on their guidance, my resume and cover letter went through several iterations and soon enough, I started to receive phone calls from recruiters. I also made a handful of friends here, which I highly value as a Canadian newcomer.
How do you like Canada so far?
Canada is my new home and I love being here! Canada is a cosmopolitan country. Especially here in Toronto with so much diversity. Be it the public library, the transit system, the recreational centres, beautiful parks, breathtaking nature trails, heritage landmarks, museums, science centres, skyscrapers – you name it! The quality of air is clean and the drinking water is top notch.
The multiculturalism would probably make Canada the gastronomical capital of the world. As a foodie, my taste buds are exposed to a wide range of gastronomical delights. Not to forget, Canadian hospitality is truly legendary. People are warm, considerate, and friendly.
What are your hopes for the coming months?
I would like to settle down with my family and grow into my career. I am truly blessed to be here. In the coming months, I would like to give back to the country that has given me the best of what life has to offer, through community based volunteering.