July 12, 2023, by Jackie Thompson
One Way Ticket to Toronto
By Ryan Stanley, Spanish and Contemporary Chinese Studies graduate
Like most students, university was a great time to travel and explore what the world has to offer. But after doing my year abroad, I became more attached to the idea of getting to know a country by living there, rather than trying to check it off a bucket list. Canada had long been a place I wanted to move to for its quality of life, and so one week after my graduation I made the plunge and jumped on a flight to Toronto.
Where it all started, my year abroad
While at Nottingham, I studied Spanish and Chinese and spent an incredible year abroad in Spain and China. When I came back for my final year, I faced reverse culture shock and yearned for another adventure. This time, I wanted to live in a country culturally closer to the UK, but with its own flair. Canada seemed like the right fit.
Wrapping up my final year
I applied for the Working Holiday Visa two months into my final year, which would let me work for two years in Canada once I arrived there. I’m a long-term thinker and heard that many people who do a working holiday experience want to stay once it’s finished, but end up having to go home because they didn’t meet the eligibility requirements. So I read up on transitioning to permanent residency after the working holiday visa was up and learned I’d need at least one year of professional work experience in Canada.
Getting into marketing
Not quite sure what my professional work experience could look like, I met with the careers adviser on campus. I quickly realised I didn’t feel much for the traditional language graduate options of going into translation or teaching, both of which are very competitive in Canada and would need further study anyway. So instead I explored marketing, where the writing skills I picked up from my degree in languages felt pretty transferable.
I then spent several weeks getting entry-level skills in marketing, like Google’s Digital Marketing certificates and doing an internship through the Nottingham Internship Scheme. I was partnered with a local Nottingham business and was sent on an intensive SEO (search engine optimisation) training course on their behalf, which got me into the field I’m in now.
Getting to Canada
Fast forward to the week after graduation and I arrived in Toronto with no job and just enough cash to keep me going for a few months. I spent three weeks applying for jobs and had no luck. Much of this was because I had no Canadian work experience and my degree on its own didn’t separate me from the very highly-educated Canadian workforce.
I knew I needed to just get my foot in the door and so I started reaching out to marketing agencies asking for shadowing roles and luckily landed an opportunity as an SEO intern about a week later. This turned into a full-time paid role after one month and I quickly learned a ton on the job about SEO and content marketing.
Six months into my adventure, COVID-19 hit and became a real curveball. It meant I couldn’t visit home for another 18 months without giving up my immigration status until I had my permanent residency. So I chose to stay and many months later, I am now a permanent resident and will be applying for citizenship soon.
My career has gotten off to a great start too, I received three promotions and now work as the SEO and Content Manager for an excellent EdTech company, Prodigy Education. There’s plenty of opportunities here and I’m looking forward to advancing my career into more strategy and leadership roles.
My advice to you if you want to move to Canada
1. Research, plan and stay on top of your paperwork. Getting visa permits and dealing with immigration involves a fair amount of paperwork that you’ll ideally need to have before you start any application process. Research the process as soon as you can and plan accordingly so that you won’t miss out on your opportunity.
2. Don’t just rely on job boards, reach out directly to employers and recruiters. Generally, the easier it is to apply for a job, the easier it is for someone else to get it instead. Making the effort to put yourself out there can do wonders, even if it’s short coffee chats with people in your industry.
3. Use the university network to get internships or work experience. I’ve met interns here who came out with some really solid job skills and opportunities that set them apart from the regular graduate. UoN has plenty of internship opportunities, short professional courses and networking events so don’t be afraid to take advantage while it’s easiest to do so.
4. Build your people skills and try hybrid work if possible. As an introvert, I love remote working for getting stuff done but also have found it much harder to navigate corporate culture and build valuable relationships with co-workers. Get comfortable chatting with people in your class, your lecturers, and leverage as much in-person time as possible.
5. Use your degree for its skills rather than just its content. I received some raised eyebrows when I said I wanted to move to Canada rather than somewhere more related to my degree like Spain or China. But it was the skills I practiced through my degree that got me into a marketing career. Don’t be afraid to go a different path if it’s for something you really want.
P.S. If you’re looking to get into marketing or want to chat about moving to Canada after graduation, feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn!
If you’re looking to work outside the UK, check our webpages on working abroad and use Passport Career, our international careers information database for over 80 countries. For advice on moving into marketing, check out our career paths page and network with employers through our events: job and sector insights, employer presentations, and recruitment fairs.
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