What About a Survival Job? 

Most new comers come to Canada with all the zeal and expectations when they arrived – to get a good and stable job, be able to have their own home, to buy a new car and provide a comfortable life for their family. Though I also have high expectations when it comes to getting a better-paying job, a part of me was also prepared with the possibility of not getting the job that is inline with what I used to do when I was still in the Philippines.

Whenever, I talk to new immigrants who will tell me that they can’t seem to find a job in their field because they are given the excuse that they have “no Canadian experience,” I always go back to how my husband and I started, we were on the same boat when we just came to Canada.   For 2 months, all our days and nights were spent in front of the computer, looking for job opportunities.

Photo credit to www.nationalpost.com
Photo credit to www.nationalpost.com

We both started with a “survival job.” My husband and I took this route before we got back to the track that we wanted to really take wit regards to our career. I actually got a job in my line of expertise in one of the government offices in Winnipeg, that was my very first job. Unfortunately, I had to give it up after a few weeks, because I cannot get a day care for my then 4-year old son and a year old daughter. My husband on the other hand, whose into IT was often asked about his “Canadian experience” and various certifications whenever he tries to get a job in his field, he then decided to accept the job of a warehouse assembler in Canada’s largest retail company.

For a family who’s just starting a life in Canada, having one bread- winner in the family is not enough, especially if there are lots of things that you want to accomplish for your family… This is the reason why after  2 months from giving up a full time job in a government office, I decided to work as a part-time storefront staff in Canada’s most popular quick service restaurant chain known for its coffee and doughnuts. Since I am only working part-time and we want to save money needed for the down payment for our first home, my husband also took a part-time job in a small janitorial services company.

With the way my husband and I started – I will really say that taking a survival job is also a good option for new immigrants, bringing your education and professional experience from your home country will not guarantee that you will land to the job that you want as soon as you arrived in Canada. With the increasing number of educated immigrants from different regions — competition is really tough. In addition to this, we cannot also disregard the fact that there is also discrimination and complexities around recognizing a foreign degree.

If you will ask me, there is no doubt that a survival job is a solution to new comers who need to earn a living to settle their monthly bills while waiting for an opportunity to get your career back on track. Also, a survival job will provide you with the “Canadian experience” that some employers require, moreover, if English is not your first language, it will be a good venue for you to practice your English.

Here in Canada, there are various jobs that a new immigrant can start doing while waiting for a good career opportunity for them, some of these typical “survival jobs” are:

  • Storefront staff in Coffee Shops – Tim Horton, Starbucks Coffee and Robin’s Donuts is among the largest chain of coffee shops in Canada that is always in need of people.
  • Crew in Fast-Food Restaurants – Fast-food chain are always hiring people, among the popular restaurants in Canada are McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Booster Juice, Chicken Delight, Pizza Pizza and many others.
  • Cashier/Store Clerk in Retail Stores – Drugstores and groceries are employers that will not normally require a “Canadian experience.” Among the largest retailers in Canada are Metro, Shoppers Drug Mart, Safeway, Canadian Tire, Sobeys, Rona, Hudson’s’ Bay and of course Loblaw Companies Ltd. banner stores (Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Wholesale Club, Extra Foods, Provigo, Zehrs, Save Easy and others.)  Aside from drugstores and groceries, mall boutiques and stores are also frequently hiring.
  • Store Merchandiser or Warehouse Assembler – Most of these groceries are also always in need of part-time merchandisers who usually works in the evening or warehouse order assembler which gives decent pay but involves hard work.
  • Staff in a Janitorial/Home Cleaning Services Companies – this kind of job involves cleaning offices, building and other business establishments or even houses. There are a number of big and small businesses that provides this service. There are cleaning services companies who pay their employee by the hour while some pay their staff depending on the size of the area that needs to be cleaned and the frequency of days that they clean.

Starting with a survival job doesn’t, mean that you need to build a career on it, instead, use it to your advantage, and use it as a stepping-stone for the success of your career. As for me and my husband, the survival job that we had has been instrumental in getting the job that we have right now, at present, we are both employed by Canada’s largest retail company as a Warehouse Supervisor and as an Office Manager, respectively. My experience as a storefront crew inspired me to persevere even more to get the job that I want and helped me learn about the culture in Canada and more importantly it improved my self-confidence. As for my husband, he did not pursue his IT career (though he does it for friend & family sometimes), instead, just like me his first job in Canada helped him learn about Canada’s culture through his interaction with his colleagues at work and it also made him realize that he can also excel in other field, he used his experience as a warehouse assembler in climbing up the ladder until he reached the place where he is right now.

About Cristina 36 Articles
Cristina, author of momsiecle.com moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2009. She is a B.S. Psychology graduate from the Philippines and is currently working in Canada’s largest retail company. She is also a Settlement E-Volunteer with English Online Inc., wherein she provides supportive counseling to newcomers in Canada. Cristina blogs about her adventures and misadventures as an immigrant working-mom in Canada...

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