Library Archives

Finding the first job

It’s easier to find a job when you have a job, or so the story goes. When you’re a newcomer to a new country it’s a bit more complicated. Most often, you’re not coming with a job in place.

You have to get a job:

One of the most difficult things for newcomers is getting that first job. You know what you were before you moved here: Engineer or Teacher, Doctor or Lawyer, Plumber or Carpenter and so on. You arrive and find that your qualifications need to be assessed and the process is long and complicated; or you find it difficult to have any response to your search for employment.. You hear: ‘you don’t have the Canadian Experience,’ ‘your qualifications don’t meet the BC professional requirements,’ or ‘you need to take one or two courses to have your credentials articulated as equivalent to BC standards’ (only to find that the one or two courses are near impossible to get). You find that you don’t know what you are anymore, or how you can make your old life fit with the new.

As your dreams of landing a job in your trained career wanes, it’s important to remember that sometimes, you need that first job to then get the job you want. The first job gives you a pay cheque. The first job counters the ‘Canadian experience’ argument as you begin to live Canadian workplace culture. The first job gives enough breathing room to let you figure out the rest.

My advice to newcomers on finding the first job:

Set your ideal target and set your bottom line:

  • Apply for the jobs that you want, and that you’re qualified for. Apply for the jobs you want, but think you’re not qualified for. The worst that will happen is…nothing. You won’t hear anything back from your prospective employer, or you may hear any of the above variations of why you’re not qualified. The best – you’ll get the job.
  • Apply for the jobs you don’t really want (your bottom line), but could do for short periods of time. Plan to accept a job you don’t necessarily want with a goal of continuing your search. Temporary employment provides breathing room to look for new employment, contacts in the community, and experience. It also looks better on a resume when applying for other positions – employers tend to prefer hiring those who are employed.

Talk to as many people as you can:

  • The folks at your BC Public Libraries are well equipped to refer you to the appropriate resources, whether it be employment assistance, translation of documents, language training, online resources and so on.
  • Contact the organization or governing body of the career field that you wish to work for. A simple Google search for Association of _______ (fill in the blank), BC will likely put you in touch with the governing body of your career. Call them. Ask them if to tell you what you need to know. Ask if you can volunteer in some capacity. The more you connect with others, the more you learn what you need to know to transition to your career in BC.
  • Look for a MeetUp group to connect yourself with others with common goals.
  • Connect with current employees and ask if they are willing to provide you with an informational interview. It may seem awkward, but most employees are willing to share insights into what their job entails. This also builds new connections.

Ask for feedback and practice:

  • Have others review your resume and cover letter to gain feedback. Make modifications if you feel a valid point has been demonstrated and you feel comfortable with the advice.
  • If you have been declined for a position, ask them to provide you feedback. A simple question such as ‘do you have any feedback on how I performed in the job interview?’ will let them know you’re motivated for possible future positions. Take notes of what is said and take time to reflect on how you can improve.
  • Research possible interview questions and have prepared answers for as many as you can. The process of thinking through an appropriate response will save you time and energy in the interview and will help you relax.

There are many more steps to securing employment; especially in a targeted career. The keys to securing the first job are to be open to alternatives, understand that this position is not permanent, and use the resources around you. Consider this practice for your move into your ideal career.

My Library, My World

It’s Canadian Library Month. A month to celebrate what libraries mean to you and the rest of us in Canada. The Canadian Library Association invites you to share your story with the rest of Canada in form of a short video, or a written story in English or French, on how a library has impacted you. Submissions can be made online. Here’s my story:

I grew up in a small, farming community called Warner, Alberta. The current population sits at just under 400 people. Set in the middle of canola, wheat and hay fields, among the cattle ranches, this village offered ample time for the imagination to reach as far and wide as the prairie sky. As a child, I got to know every nook and cranny of this village through my daily adventures. As I got older and bigger, the town got smaller. I needed more. Thankfully, we had a library.

Warner Library

The library operated on a part-time basis. When it was open, I would gather my books to return to exchange for new ones. What a treat it was to be the first to check out the newest book that came in. The status and power awarded to the first borrower was akin to being ‘Queen of the Castle’ on the playground that day. I would relish it; knowing I was the first to read what was contained within the pages of that book. It was hard not to spoil it for others. Of course, this was a seldom occurrence – we all had a sixth sense as to when the next book would arrive and competed accordingly.

My favourite thing about the library was that it opened up a world beyond Warner. I read about cities larger than Lethbridge. I learned of countries outside of Canada. I discovered cultures that were foreign to me. I thumbed through pages of the encyclopedia and learned things I wouldn’t have even imagined learning. This small room contained the world.

Later, as I moved throughout Canada, I would discover that libraries have much more to offer. Imagine to my child’s eyes, the discovery of:

  • Read along programs
  • Parent and tot programs
  • Employment programs
  • Language programs
  • eBooks
  • Workshops
  • Speakers series
  • Community engagement events
  • Etc.

It’s astounding how far, for me, libraries have come: from a place of books and self-discovery, to a place of that plus community, interactions, philosophy and dialogue. And now, for you as a new resident to BC, I see libraries are a first contact point in your new community, a place to get your bearings, a welcome place. Libraries are unbiased, thought provoking and growth invoking.

It’s Canadian Library Month. How have libraries inspired me or touched my life? They’ve made me more open. They’ve helped me grow into a better human being. They’ve made me more welcoming, more understanding and more worldly. How has a library touched your life? Leave your response in the comments. Submit your story online.

Culture Days – Create, Participate, Celebrate


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KAG 17

September 26, 27 & 28 will have Culture Days sweeping across BC and the Lower Mainland. There’s really no better way to introduce you to the arts and cultural life of communities in BC. This event is designed for us to participate through hands-on, interactive activities; to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators and designers at work in their community. It cannot be successful if we do not attend. We cannot enhance our community if we choose to not participate.

Information about this event can be found through the Culture Days Website. They have provided the ability to search by community, by organizer and by date. You will find that your BC Public Libraries are also on hand to participate.

A popular activity for libraries is, of course, story-time activities. There is nothing more joyful than sitting in a room with an enthusiastic librarian reading to children. What better way to infuse culture than to introduce children to the love of books and language? Children five years and younger, along with their parents and caregivers, will enjoy stories, songs, rhymes and puppets.

In addition to stories, many libraries offer something in addition related to arts and culture. To list a few, I have added the link to workshops taking place at various libraries. Click on each Library’s name for more detailed information from the Culture Days website:

The Burnaby Public Library

  • Game Face – Boardgames for teens
  • Papercraft Lab
  • Oral Storytelling Circle

The Fraser Valley Regional Library

  • A celebration of Art in Fibre
  • Pom Pom making
  • Multicultural Tea and Treats

The North Vancouver City Library & the North Vancouver District Public Library

  • Culture Cram at the Library

The Richmond Public Library

  • Writer-in-Residence Launch: Meet Mark Leiren-Young
  • Word of Mouth: Local Writers Read

The Surrey Libraries

  • Family Lego Club
  • Scrabble Club
  • Bookslam: Find your next “buzzer beater” read!

The Vancouver Public Library

  • Animate it!
  • Kits House Story Sharing Circle
  • Painting and Photo Exhibition

The West Vancouver Memorial Library

  • Book Some Time for the Crime

Of course, there’s so much more to offer than what’s listed above. Many other organizations are participating. Have a look. Explore. Attend. Be a part of your community. When you’ve finished participating, be sure to share your experience by leaving a comment below! Have a great weekend!