Ask yourself these four questions to find out if a mentor can help you achieve career success in Canada

Published January 10, 2023.

Take Windmill Microlending’s Newcomer Mentoring Self-Questionnaire to see if you can benefit from a mentoring relationship and reach your career goals 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

In summary: 

  • Study after study shows mentoring can help immigrants and refugees in reaching their career goals in Canada including income growth and professional advancement. 
  • It is important to carefully consider what your professional goals are as well as the qualities and characteristics you want in a mentor. 

  • Across Canada, there are a number of immigrant and refugee-focused mentorship programs to help you move forward in your career development. Refer to the Canada-wide list at the end of the blog post. 

The impact is unquestionable. 

Immigrants and refugees to Canada benefit from mentors and mentoring relationships to supercharge their careers, expand their professional networks, grow their incomes and reach their fullest potential. 

Study after study shows this play out for newcomers, in every part of the country, in a variety of different professions, from IT and health care, to financial services and truck driving. When you are supported in your career development by a mentor who listens, shares their experiences and provides advice as you familiarize yourself with the Canadian job market, new possibilities and opportunities can follow.  

But how do you know if you are ready to explore a mentoring relationship and how do you find a mentor as an immigrant or refugee in Canada?  

The Windmill Microlending blog connected with Lisa Fain, CEO of the Center for Mentoring Excellence and co-author of Bridging Differences for Better Mentoring and The Mentor’s Guide, 3rd Edition.   

Fain says the data on the power of mentoring is worth paying attention to. She agrees newcomers can use mentorship as a tool to help their career advancement, empowering them to build new professional connections and even support their personal development.  

Lisa Fain headshot
Center for Mentoring Excellence CEO Lisa Fain says mentorship can help immigrants and refugees to Canada expand their professional networks and increase their career opportunities. 

“Mentor-mentee relationships can help you have powerful and transformative conversations. The best of these relationships are co-created by mentor and mentee and enable you to build deeper connections between one another. These relationships encourage and enable continuous feedback, not just from the mentor to the mentee but the other way, too.” 

Windmill asked Fain to share a list of questions immigrants and refugees should ask themselves as they decide whether a mentoring relationship could help them reach their Canadian career goals. Below, you’ll find Fain’s newcomer mentorship self-questionnaire. 

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A Newcomer Mentorship Self-Questionnaire

HubSpot Video


Mentoring Question #1: What are my learning goal(s)?  

Lisa Fain (LF): A great starting point, as you think about pursuing a mentoring relationship, is to figure out what you’re trying to learn, accomplish or get better at. Finding the answer to this question can be more difficult than some might think. To do this, think about your strengths and how you can leverage those, along with your weaknesses, and how you might improve on them. If that doesn’t help you determine what you want to learn, you can use visualization to picture your ideal work environment and think about what you would need to learn or develop to make that visualization a reality. Think about the tools you need to get to that ideal state. Is there someone with the life or professional experience(s) who can help you reach that vision?  

Mentoring Question #2: What do I need to learn about working in Canada to be successful?   

LF: Now that you’ve thought about your goals for the future, take some time to think about what you may need to learn about Canada and its workplace culture, to achieve those goals. Are you looking to understand what education or training options might help you succeed in Canada? Or maybe someone to help hold you accountable as you complete a new professional certification? Do you need help connecting to a professional network in your new city or community? Are you looking for advice on understanding what Canadian workplaces are like or how to better promote yourself on LinkedIn? Giving serious thought to what you need to achieve your goals can help you decide if a mentor is the right resource for you.  

Mentoring Question #3: What does a successful mentor-mentee relationship look like to me? 

LF: Understanding your own vision of an ideal mentoring relationship is really important. It’s a lot like understanding what a successful friend or partner relationship looks like. You want to think about what’s most important to you in this relationship. Go back to your learning goals and what you think you need to succeed. Should your mentoring relationship be one in which you meet formally, with an agenda, on a monthly basis? Are you looking for a relationship that is more informal, and in which you call on this individual when you need advice on a particular issue? Is the mentoring relationship you’re looking for a mutually beneficial one in which you listen to the other person as much as they listen to you? There is no right or wrong here. The important thing is when the time comes to establish this relationship, both parties agree to the ground rules.  

Mentoring Question #4: Who is my ideal mentor and how do I find them? 

LF: Are you looking to find a mentor who will push and challenge you? Someone who will ask you questions and enable you to consider different perspectives and improve, professionally? Are you looking for a mentor in a completely different field to help you decide if a career change is right for you?  

As you identify potential mentors, you’ll want to make sure that this person can help you meet your learning goals.    

What is the ideal professional and educational background of your mentor? This may take a bit of creative investigating. For example, a helpful exercise might be to take to LinkedIn and find individuals, based in Canada, achieving a level of career success you truly admire. Are they an immigrant or refugee, too? Even, if you don’t reach out to them to inquire about mentoring opportunities, this may still give you a picture in your mind of the kind of person you’d like to serve as your mentor.     

Sometimes, the only way to find out if a mentor is the right fit for you is to have an introductory conversation or meeting, in which you get to know a prospective mentor’s areas of knowledge and their own goals for a mentoring relationship.    

Depending on whether you’re looking for a formal mentoring relationship or an informal one, you can choose from a number of different options. Explore a local mentoring program, designed for newcomers, like some of those listed in this blog post (see below). You can also contact local professional networking groups and associations. Alternatively, you can start closer to home, by asking friends, neighbours, those within your local community or place of worship, if they have people they recommend that could serve as a mentor for you. 

Looking for more career development strategies? Download Windmill Microlending’s Skilled Immigrant Career Success Guide for interview and networking tips, mentoring and financial planning advice.   

Finding a mentor in Canada 

How can you find a mentor as a newcomer to Canada? There are several mentoring programs, including the Windmill Microlending Mentorship Program, designed specifically to support Windmill clients in achieving career success. 

Other mentorship programs for new Canadians, include: 

AXIS Career and Employment Services (Newfoundland) 

Business Immigrant Mentorship Program (Fredericton) 

Career Foundation Mentorship for Job Seekers (Toronto and surrounding area) 

CJE NDG Mentoring Program (Montreal and surrounding area) 

CRIEC Mentorship Program (Calgary and surrounding area) 

ERIEC Career Mentorship Program (Edmonton and surrounding area) 

IRSA Employment Assistance Service (Prince Edward Island) 

isans Professional Mentorship Program (Nova Scotia) 

MOSAIC Mentoring Program (Vancouver and other communities in BC) 

National Connector Program (Across Canada) 

Profession-specific mentorship programs in Quebec (Across Quebec) 

SAGE Mentorat (Quebec City) 

Saskatchewan Intercultural Association Mentorship Program (Saskatchewan) 

TRIEC Mentoring Partnership (Toronto and surrounding area) 

Windmill Microlending Mentorship Program (Across Canada; available to Windmill Microlending clients and alumni only) 

Find more mentorship articles on the Windmill blog as well as through the Fain’s Center for Mentorship Excellence. 


Categorized in: Career Success and Planning, Mentorship, A Newcomer's Journey, Settlement and Life in Canada,