Syed Ahmed knows how tempting it is for immigrants to arrive in Canada and head straight for the mall.
“People spend a lot of money on material goods without thinking,” says Ahmed, 44. He recommends new arrivals resist the urge to spend and instead save for the future.
Ahmed knows of what he speaks. Working for Canadian Newcomer magazine, he deals with immigrants daily and shakes his head when he hears their unhappy stories of unemployment and debt.
Ahmed recalls his own experience when he arrived here in 1998 with his wife.
“I spent too much money and ended up taking a factory job to pay the bills,” he says.
Ahmed had earned his commerce degree in his native Karachi, Pakistan and worked for Dawn, an English-language newspaper there, helping build its advertising revenue.
After relocating to Toronto, Ahmed eventually found work with an electronics manufacturer. He moved quickly from the production floor to customer liaison. The job was going well until, after five years, the firm announced staff reductions in 2004.
“Being laid off gave me the time to chart a new course,” he says. “One of the agencies, Northern Lights, invited me to a workshop on career planning, which was excellent. They advised me to get some new marketing skills.”
Soon after, Ahmed enrolled in Centennial College’s marketing management graduate certificate program. In eight months Ahmed learned new marketing techniques, communications, relationship management and other concepts that gave him the confidence to find the job he wanted.
He now works as a sales representative for Canadian Newcomer.
The magazine is distributed to the 240,000 Canadian immigrants annually. It contains stories that inform newcomers about lifestyle, money management, and legal issues.
Despite the fact newcomers are better informed than they used to be, Ahmed says many are still surprised to learn good jobs are hard to find quickly.
Ahmed advises immigrants to rein in their expectations and spend more time planning their career path.
“Prepare yourself for two years of tough times,” he says.
For more information visit www.centennialcollege.ca.