Becoming a mentor: Three reasons why experienced immigrants and refugees should consider volunteering as mentors in Canada

Published April 4, 2023.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

In summary:

  • Mentoring can be a beneficial experience for the mentor as well as the mentee. 
  • Experienced immigrants and refugees have powerful knowledge and insights to share with mentees, particularly, newer arrivals to Canada. 
  • Mentoring can offer you the opportunity to strengthen your coaching, leadership and communication skills. 

When most people think about volunteering, they might imagine opportunities like serving food at a soup kitchen or picking up litter at a park. While any kind of volunteering can have a positive impact on one's community or neighbourhood, mentoring can be a unique volunteer opportunity to have a direct and positive impact on an individual's life. 

In particular, mentoring can be an excellent opportunity for immigrants and refugees to Canada to give back to their community and help other newcomers navigate the challenges of settling into a new country. As a mentor, an immigrant or refugee can offer guidance, support and insight into Canadian culture, helping newer arrivals better understand life in Canada, the Canadian job market and providing them with the tools they need to succeed. 

Not only does mentoring benefit the mentee but research has shown that it can also be incredibly beneficial for the mentor. Mentoring can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, as well as the opportunity to develop new skills and make meaningful connections within the community.  

Do you have experience and knowledge that can help a fellow newcomer succeed in Canada? Click here to learn about volunteering as a mentor in Windmill Microlending’s newcomer Mentorship Program.   

In 2018, Amir Fateh (pictured), Ph.D., P.Eng., PMP, C.E.T, CPEM, SMC, arrived in north Toronto with his three-year-old daughter. Before moving to Canada, he worked as a university professor and a structural engineer for six years in Malaysia. Once in Canada, Amir went through many ups and downs in his personal and professional life. For over a year, he was unemployed and became an Uber driver to make ends meet. Amir was often turned away from jobs because he was overqualified, so he sometimes had to remove his hard-earned Ph.D. from his resume. 

AmirFatehLuis Calderon Headshot

Amir Fateh (left) and Luis Calderon (right) enjoyed a mutually beneficial mentor-mentee relationship through the Windmill Microlending Mentorship Program.  

A Windmill microloan helped to change the trajectory of Fateh’s career and life in Canada, enabling him to complete his Canadian certification and pursue career opportunities reflective of his skills, knowledge and experience. Fateh is now a Sr. Project Engineer with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and is currently pursuing his MBA (Master of Business Administration). He is also a Windmill donor and a mentor. 

Fateh was most recently paired with another Windmill client, Luis Calderon (pictured), through the Windmill Mentorship Program. Using his own life and career experiences as a newcomer, Fateh was able to guide Calderon to better understand how to launch his Canadian career. 

“He explained and helped me prepare for interviews, supported me with resume building, explained very clearly some of the [Canadian] industry nuances as well as what works to find employment in a field I didn’t have much experience with,” says Calderon of his mentor-mentee relationship with Fateh.  

“[In Amir], I gained a friend, guidance, time-saved guessing and figuring out how to do it on my own [in Canada] and learned the importance of having guidance in a professional field,” adds Calderon. 

Like many mentor-mentee partnerships, Amir and Luis’s relationship is illustrative of how mentoring can be just as beneficial for the mentor as it can be for the mentee. Luis gained practical career advice and Amir gained valuable coaching experience. 

To help more experienced newcomers recognize the value of volunteering as a mentor, with Windmill Microlending, or elsewhere in your community, the Windmill blog is sharing our top three reasons to consider becoming a mentor in Canada. 

Could an affordable loan help you pay for the costs of accreditation, training, certification or career development in Canada? Find out if you are eligible for a Windmill microloan of up to $15,000 by completing our two-minute loan eligibility quiz. No Canadian credit history required. 

REASON #1: Your experience has value 

Immigrants and refugees who have faced and overcome barriers on their paths to career success in Canada often learn a lot on their journeys. This knowledge and experience have value, particularly, for newer arrivals to this country, unfamiliar with the Canadian job market, certification requirements, networking norms or job interview or resume protocol. Like Amir did for Luis, you can provide and share your learnings with other newcomers empowering them to reach their full potential, like you have. 

REASON #2: You can strengthen your skills 

Many of our Windmill mentors have told us their experience working with newcomer mentees has been transformative and beneficial. It enables them to build their coaching and communication skills. The mentoring experience can boost their leadership abilities and even offers them a differentiator to highlight on their resumes. More than any individual skills, the main benefit our mentors highlight is the social connection they form with another professional, often someone deeply driven to succeed in Canada. This can inspire or reinvigorate your own continued professional development, encouraging you to explore other skills and knowledge you wish to gain on your lifelong learning journey. 

REASON #3: You can help others, like you, succeed 

You have the power transform a fellow immigrant or refugee’s life in Canada. It’s as simple as that. Mentors like Amir share more than career experiences, they are “listening ear” during, what can be, an isolating experience when someone arrives to a new country. The empathy and attention a mentor provides to their mentee can have a profound impact on someone’s experience as they settle into Canadian life.  

Sometimes, the simple act of listening and acknowledging can be more powerful than a particular anecdote or piece of advice. Windmill mentees benefit from this active listening and use the insights gleaned from their mentorship experience to find meaningful employment, grow their incomes and inch closer toward their Canadian dreams.  

Looking to strengthen your career advancement in Canada? Download Windmill Microlending’s Skilled Immigrant Career Success Guide for interview and networking tips, mentoring and financial planning advice.    

Categorized in: Windmill Mentorship Program, Accreditation and Licensing, Mentorship, A Newcomer's Journey, Education and Training,