Armando Rivero: Community outreach assistant, Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples, North York

I work as a community outreach assistant. We provide services for immigrants from Latin America. Im in charge of internal.


I work as a community outreach assistant. We provide services for immigrants from Latin America. Im in charge of internal and external communications and marketing.

Im an immigrant from Mexico. I did a bachelors degree in marketing at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, so my education was marketing, but my background is in sales. In Mexico I worked for big companies like Maytag and Gillette doing business-to-business sales and a little marketing.

I came to Canada on a work permit, but it was for non-skilled jobs. In Alberta I worked at McDonalds, and a year later moved to Toronto, where I did a lot of survival jobs, some of them good. I worked with a bat biologist chasing bats in Muskoka for three years. It was a great job, but not what I wanted.

Eventually I realized I had to go back to school to succeed in Canada. There are cultural differences between the way they do communications business in my country and in Canada, so I had to understand and apply that. I pursued project management at Ryerson Universitys Chang School and then took the workplace communication in Canada program through continuing education.

The instructors really understood my desire to relaunch my career in Canada. The Chang School creates a setting thats close to the real workplace environment. I did presentations in a professional way I did all the research and then had to sell my ideas. We also studied conflict management. An actor would come in and create a real situation, and sometimes the right way to react wasnt what I expected.

I was always worried about my accent. As I get older its more difficult to get rid of it. I always believed that was an issue, but its not a barrier in Canada thats what I learned. The program taught me the importance of learning how to speak proper English employers expect you to be able to communicate your ideas and your feelings in a clear and proper way. Forget about the accent, because you have to live with it the rest of your life. Start thinking and speaking as Canadians do.

At the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples, we have six programs: one for men, one for women, a legal clinic, HIV prevention, a youth program and a volunteer program. All these programs have activities and workshops. I am the liaison between the client and the centre. I do all the posters and all the internet efforts, including Facebook. I promote the services. I see myself in the clients theyre like me when I came here.

The worst experience as an immigrant is the survival jobs. Its frustrating because you know your skills are higher. What I say to people is Never give up. It is difficult at first. I took more time than other people, but I didnt want to start learning something entirely new just to go into a trade with more jobs.

Go back to school. I was able to elevate my credentials, but that is not enough. The program taught me how to understand the things people are saying between the lines. In order to get the job you want here, you need to understand the Canadian context.

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