If you have recently graduated in Canada or are about to do so you are likely already on a path towards exciting life and employment opportunities. If you are hoping to remain and start a career in Canada after you graduate, you need to be fully prepared. Read on to learn how to kick-start your career.
Canada recognizes that international graduates can be a great addition to the country’s workforce, and there are various options in place that encourage you to stay after you graduate and start a career in Canada, one of the world’s strongest and most diverse economies.
Even if you are not planning to remain in Canada long-term or are unsure about where you may end up, it’s worth exploring your options for getting valuable work experience which could help you later in your career in Canada or abroad.
During your studies
It may be easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and challenge of your classes and student life, but it’s important to keep thinking about life after graduation even while you are still studying. Proactive students who take steps to improve their career in Canada options are often the first to get the job they want upon leaving university or college.
- Network: Networking is crucial in the Canadian job market. Many graduates find a job through people they know, and employers are often likely to consider hiring someone based on a recommendation from somebody they know and trust. Some jobs are never even advertised, as employers already know who they want to hire through their network. More on networking later.
- Use the career centre: Most universities and colleges in Canada have a career centre where you can get advice on the Canadian job market, opportunities within your specialization, and more resources for starting a career in Canada. These centres may have connections with employers who are looking for graduates in your field, or they may be able to connect you with a mentor or internship opportunity. If you have any more general questions about a career in Canada or the job market more broadly, the career centre may have the answers to your questions.
- Find a mentor: A mentor is someone with experience in your field who can offer you advice about achieving success in the career in Canada that you are most interested in. A mentor may be an older student, a professor or lecturer, a family friend, someone you meet at a conference or industry event, a manager or other staff member, or anyone who is willing to chat with you about how you can reach your career in Canada goals. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who have a strong presence in your desired industry, even if you have never met in person.
- Linkedin: When you start a career in Canada, it’s more than acceptable, even encouraged, to reach out via LinkedIn with a quick, polite message to ask some questions about working in a particular field., The person you are contacting maybe enthusiastic to share their experience with a keen graduate (that’s you!) looking for an opportunity.
- Go to events: University and college life can be about much more than your classes. Canada’s universities and colleges are centres of research and development as much as teaching, and consequently they may often host conferences, events, workshops, and lectures by top professionals and academics from around the world. Students are often allowed to attend these events, and there are probably student discounts on ticket prices if the event is not free. Major research universities in Canada such as University of Toronto, McGill University, University of British Columbia and others have the influence and impact to host major visiting speakers and internationally-recognized conferences. Even if you are not a student at these universities, you may be able to attend anyway. Even better, try to volunteer at a larger event – you could stand a better chance of meeting the people that matter (and you’ll probably get a free lunch too, there is such a thing).
The main takeaway message here is: put yourself out there. You never know where or when you will meet the person who may be able to connect you with your next big opportunity.
As mentioned already, networking is key in the Canadian job market, particularly if you’re looking to start a career in Canada. The key here is to keep your options open, and stay in touch with the people you meet. Follow up with your lecturers and teaching assistants (TAs) after you have finished their classes and send a follow-up email to anyone you meet at an event. If you undertake an internship, work placement, or volunteer opportunity as part of your study program, keep in touch with people from your workplace – they will remember the impact you made during your placement, and you could be first in line when an opportunity opens up.
If you are going to a larger event or conference, consider getting some business cards made. Companies like Moo help you make professional-looking business cards with small minimum orders – if you are still a student, choose a simple text-based template and include your contact information and social network platforms only (it’s a good idea to use your non-university or non-college email address, in case someone tries to contact you after you have graduated when the address may no longer be active). Offering a business card to a new acquaintance will make you seem professional and prepared, and gives them the chance to reach out to you later without pressure. Feel free to ask for business cards as well.
LinkedIn deserves a special mention here. The employment-oriented social network has become almost indispensable as a networking tool for students, workers, and employers alike. Even if you are not looking for a permanent, full-time job while you are still studying, the connections you build on LinkedIn while you are a student could help you later on. You may also find events near you. It is acceptable, and even encouraged, to add lecturers to your network.
Get hunting for the dream career in Canada
After graduation comes the real work – job hunting. The first step is to ensure that you are able to continue working legally in Canada. If your university or college is eligible, you could work for up to three years after graduation with a Canadian Post-Graduation Work Permit.
There are many places to start looking for jobs.
- Your university or college may have its own job listings site for students and graduates, and this is a great place to start as the employers who post on such sites are explicitly looking for recent graduates from your university or college.
- The Moving2Canada Jobs Board hosts listings from across Canada.
- Websites such as Monster, Indeed, and Craigslist are all commonly used by Canadian employers – though bear in mind that Craigslist is more popular for part-time and temporary or lower-paid jobs.
Learn more about finding a job in Canada.