Rachna was a senior manager in India’s banking industry for 18 years before moving to Canada in 2014. She took a month to settle in with her husband and two sons in Surrey, BC, and then she started the hard work of looking for work. Like most newcomers, she quickly discovered it would be a challenge to find a job with just international experience on her resumé.
“When I started job searching, I realized how it would be quite challenging. But I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to just stay at home.’ I wanted to work,” she says.
Rachna was doing some research at a Surrey Library branch when she saw a poster about National Volunteer Week, held annually in April in Canada.
“I realized that volunteering in Canada was quite common, especially to help jumpstart your career,” says Rachna. “That was not the case in India.”
She also came across some news about DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society and its CEO, Neelam Sahota, who had just received a Women in Business Award – Not-for-profit Leader, from the Surrey Board of Trade.
“I was quite impressed by that. To see someone from the [South Asian] community getting to that level, it made me feel like this should be a place I should go and visit,” she says. “I didn’t know agencies like this that help immigrants even existed!”
Rachna became a DIVERSEcity client, signing up for settlement program to help her integrate into the Canadian workplace.
Volunteering at DIVERSEcity
After a brief return to India, she came back to Canada in 2016 and once again came to DIVERSEcity’s doors, this time as a volunteer. She remembered that poster she saw about National Volunteer Week when she first arrived in Canada, and registered for DIVERSEcity’s Volunteer Program. She was accepted and began volunteering at the DIVERSEcity Community Campus on the reception desk.
“I got to meet lots of people and I learned so much. It was a great way to get to know the non-profit industry, too,” she says. “Volunteering helped me to better understand the cultural ways here in Canada and how to get along with people. The work culture is very different here.”
She adds that volunteering also gives you a chance to figure out what you are looking for. “When you volunteer, it’s a great opportunity to give you direction on what you want to do in Canada.”
This experience led Rachna to her first job in Canada — a six-month maternity replacement as a program services officer for Community Airport Newcomers Network (CANN) at the Vancouver International Airport. She also did some freelance work for DIVERSEcity’s Interpretation and Translation Services, which is one of the largest interpretation and translation providers in the province.
From volunteer to staff
Then when she came across a DIVERSEcity full-time job posting in its finance department in 2017, she thought: “This could be the one!”
Rachna had the financial experience for the job and applied. With her professional background and her volunteer experience at DIVERSEcity, she easily got the job. She couldn’t have been happier to join the agency full time.
“I was really very attached to this place by my heart,” says Rachna. “It’s meaningful work that we do. When people come to Canada, like I did, they need someone to support them. Not just find them a job, but to build them up in all areas — settlement, employment and integration. That’s what DIVERSEcity did for me, and I am now proud to be a part of it.”
Interested in volunteering with DIVERSEcity? Contact our volunteer coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about our next Volunteer Orientation Session.