Toronto Section Mentors New Immigrants

Partnership pairs members with newcomers to coach them on IEEE-related disciplines

6 April 2009

It was John C. Crosby, a little-known Massachusetts Congressman elected more than 100 years ago, who perhaps put it best: “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” And that’s what engineers who’ve immigrated to Toronto are being offered thanks to the new mentoring partnership between the IEEE Toronto Section and the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

IEEE Senior Member Fasih Masood, who chairs the committee, has been a mentor with the TRIEC since the spring of 2008. After seeing firsthand the benefits of the mentoring program for new immigrants, he proposed the partnership to IEEE’s Toronto Section Executive Committee in the fall. Formally, the section’s Industry Relations Committee is working with the TRIEC Mentoring Partnership Program. TRIEC is a collaboration of community and government organizations and corporate partners in Toronto and several nearby cities to obtain mentors, who are established professionals, for skilled immigrants.

This year the goal is to recruit 10 IEEE members from the Toronto Section to coach new immigrants in IEEE-related disciplines and provide them with local-market regulatory, licensing, and business information. In doing so, the section hopes to help the newcomers create career development plans for themselves.

Masood says such strategic partnerships help the Toronto Section align itself to the core purpose of IEEE—which is to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity through helping local communities.

BENEFICIARY Masood immigrated to Toronto in 2005 from Karachi, Pakistan. Although he didn’t have a formal mentor, he says, he received guidance from many people in his professional and social circles. He points out that most new arrivals hold a university degree or higher and have years of technical experience, but they face barriers to employment that mentors can help break down.

“These immigrants possess tremendous knowledge of international and regional markets, as well as the language skills needed to excel in the workforce,” Masood says. “All they are missing are the connections in the local employment market and knowledge that can be gained only from real-life coaching experience.”

Mentors can help them gain those skills by encouraging them to earn certifications or accreditations, he continues, as well as helping them improve their professional terminology and identify employment and job training opportunities.

Masood also is working to pair up IEEE section members and mentees from similar technology backgrounds such as engineering and information technology.

Mentors are required to volunteer 24 hours of their time during a four-month period to help their mentee navigate the job search process. In turn, mentors earn benefits for themselves, he says. They learn to develop coaching, communication, and leadership skills; work with people with different backgrounds and cultures; motivate and support others to reach their potential; and become more aware of the job market and industry trends.

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