A networking experience for internationally-trained professionals

By , , on February 1, 2014

On the Move

The  Immigrant Services Society of BC through the Skills Connect Program held a highly informative  networking session at its Terminal Avenue office last August 29  intended for new immigrants who are internationally-trained trades/architectural and engineering professionals. Filipino interior designer George Verdolaga and Geoff Sale, Manager of Applied Science Techonologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) were the main speakers.

George moved to Vancouver in 1999 after having worked successfully in Manila, New York and Milan as an interior designer. He established Flowform Design Ltd. in 2002, a kitchen and bathroom design company  and his works have been featured in “Spectacular Homes of Western Canada” which showcases the creations of Canada’s finest designers and decorators.

George is also a prolific writer and one of Canada’s top coaches who is  passionate about teaching and helping people reach their personal and professional objectives “as quickly and painlessly as possible”. From his vast experience of finding jobs in the international market, he has created the Sitting Pretty Home Study Course to help people find jobs by going “through the backdoor” and has co-written “The Contractual Lifestyle: How to be Highly Sought After  by Employers and Develop a Career that’s Immune to Lay-offs”.

During his talk, George shared that networking enables a job searcher go through the backdoor and knowing your way around the backdoor is important because the Human Resource Department which initially screens  applications and the Technical Department which has a need for the advertised jobs are not always on the same page. Your resume is just one among the thousands. You are nameless and faceless but with networking, you have a face to match your resume. A key to networking is knowing how to make small talk and in making small talks, you should know the triggers or the right questions. George also sees the need for skills upgrading and getting the right education to get the job you want but he emphasized that education should be something that you pick up along the way while working to land the job of your dreams.

For many  technologists and technicians  in British Columbia, the way to attain professional recognition in their field and to land top jobs is to be accredited by the Applied Science Technologists  and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC), the self-governing association for these professionals. Internationally-trained engineers, architects and technical specialists who are members of ASTTBC enjoy rewarding careers in design, project management and applied technology fields such as architecture; civil, bio-medical or environmental or electrical engineering; fire protection, house inspection and other related disciplines.

Geoff Sale, an Applied Science Technologist; BCIT teacher and past president of ASTTBC is currently the manager of ASTTBC’s  Internationally Employed Professionals (IEP)  Program. In his talk, he mentioned that too many professionals are driving cabs, doing survival jobs or worse, cannot find work. Internationally trained engineers, architects and technologists could see themselves getting employed as building designers or project managers and being accredited by ASTTBC is a way to land these jobs. An ASTTBC accredited professional means one who has met the minimum requirements for his profession and possesses proven work experience in his field.  ASTTBC is working to simplify the registration for internationally employed professionals who could now access the fast-track registration process. ASTTBC also offers a one-year provisional membership for those with equivalent educational qualifications/degrees but lack Canadian work experience. In closing, Geoff gave this advice to  internationally trained professionals: “Don’t be afraid to work on a low-level job to get the job you want in your field. Once you’re hired, start networking within the company.

One of the participants, Arnold Quiddaoen shared his experience as a new immigrant. Arnold who arrived in Vancouver 2 years ago as a federal skilled worker is an engineer from the Philippines with many years of experience in the housing industry. An internationally-trained professional, he had a lot of technical  skills but realized that it was important to get the “right education” along the way. Thus, he enrolled for courses in BCIT, aided by Skills Connect funding and is now employed with BC Hydro as a scheduler. He is working towards getting his accreditation from ASTTBC.