How international students can find a job in Canada

Credit to Author: Margaret Jetelina| Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2019 19:44:36 +0000

5 strategies for international students to successfully enter the Canadian job market

Many of Canada’s universities are seeing a record number of international students on campus. The number of international students in just the first three quarters of 2018 already surpassed the 2017 total levels, with 174,155 in Toronto and 114,260 in Vancouver, according to federal government statistics.

Students enroll in Canadian universities to gain world-class education and cross-cultural experience. Upon graduation, most then return to their country of origin, but many international students then apply for a post-graduate work permit or permanent residence status to apply their education in the Canadian labour market.

READ MORE: Post-graduate work permit for international students

Those students, when preparing to enter the workforce, face fierce competition when they apply for jobs. As a co-operative education co-ordinator for graduate students in the faculty of applied sciences at Simon Fraser University, I have coached many local and international students on how to effectively compete in this extraordinarily competitive employment market.

Here are five of those strategies.

1. Gain work experience

It can be a brutal cycle! No work experience–no job—no job–no work experience!

Employers prefer to hire candidates who can prove that they have applied their education, skills and knowledge to a real workplace. It is widely accepted that work-integrated learning opportunities have value and produce benefits for students and employers (Kramer, M. and Usher, A., 2011). Work-integrated learning refers to various types of student work experiences that are related to their field of study and are geared toward linking classroom learning with on-the-job experiences.

Students who participate in work-integrated learning opportunities are more likely to:

  • be employed in fields more closely related to their studies
  • develop technical and work-ready skills (for example, strategic thinking, problem solving and teamwork) sought-after by employers

While studying, students can gain valuable work experience through the following:

  • a co-operative education (co-op) program alternates periods of academic study with periods of work experience in appropriate fields of business, industry, government, social services and the professions. The co-operative education student is paid for their work experience, which is supervised and evaluated by both the employer and the co-operative education institution, according to CEWIL-Canada.
  • internships offer usually one discipline-specific (typically full-time), supervised, structured, paid or unpaid, work experience for academic credit or practice placement.
  • applied research projects engage students in research that occur primarily in workplaces and include consulting projects, design projects, community-based research projects
  • a professional practicum involves work experience under the supervision of an experienced professional in a discipline that requires practice-based work. These experiences are generally unpaid.
  • volunteering is one of the greatest ways to expand your network of connections and gain new skills in your relevant industry while giving back to the community

2. Enhance your English language and intercultural awareness

Employer: “Get the ball rolling on this project, eh?”

You: “Umm, say what?!”

Translation: “Could you please start working on this project?”

Language and lack of intercultural awareness play a significant part in international students’ struggle to gain skilled jobs in the Canadian job market. Most post-secondary institutions have EAL (English as an additional language) and intercultural awareness resources and programs that could enable students to develop their language and intercultural competencies.

3. Customize your resumé to the type of jobs you are seeking

Your resumé is your introduction to the employer. Finetune it to ensure that you are portraying your most relevant skills, academic projects, qualification, education, paid/unpaid work experience and your personal projects. Contact your post-secondary institution’s career services or co-op office for trends and guidelines on how to develop your resumé.

4. Leverage social media

Social media is a powerful tool to present your experience to various HR professionals and employers. Consider enhancing your LinkedIn profile.

5. Network

The more industry contacts you connect with, the better your chances of landing that ideal position. Participate in as many industry events (information sessions, employer events and career fairs etc.) as possible. Join professional networking groups and clubs on campus.

I encourage you to use these strategies to gain successful entry in the Canadian job market.