Re-Entering Your Profession: A Former Refugee’s Story
Tuesday | July 30, 2019 | by Alyona Kalachova
Loae Al Mously is a computer network engineer from Syria. He now works as a network administrator in Canada. But at one point, he was a refugee without a home or country.
He has had to work hard to achieve success and build a new life. Here, he tells his story.
Seeking Safety, and a New Start
When the conflict in Syria started, Loae worked at an internet service provider.
“As the violence levels in my country rose day by day, I was exposing myself and my family to life-threatening dangers. So I decided to seek peace in a neighboring country—where I found myself displaced and jobless,” Loae says.
As a refugee, and displaced person, he could not work. But Loae found unemployment challenging; he liked being productive. His previous employer had promoted him to a supervisory role in the project management department.
Expectations and Challenges
One of the thousands of Syrian refugees sponsored to settle in Canada, Loae found the transition to his new country challenging. Language barriers, financial worries, and culture discrepancies were just some of those difficulties.
“I believed that eliminating those obstacles requires a lot of work and determination, so [I] started to improve my language skills and [get] the required knowledge to fit into the new IT job market.”
Loae provided for his family but also clung to the idea of reentering the information technology field.
“I had to work in a survival job which was not related to my profession and expertise, but I always had the hope for a better future.”
Remaining Persistent Is Key
Loae got a job in a community centre that serves newcomers to Canada. Although it was a survival job, it taught him more about Canada’s work environments and workplace standards. He was also able to pass on what he learned as a refugee to other newcomers.
“Through my work in the community centre, I was so fortunate to find out about the pilot project that WES started to help Syrian refugees to get their academic documents assessed and receive a Canadian equivalency. I’ve helped many people with their applications and [followed] up with WES regarding these applications. I also got my certificates’ equivalency through the program.”
Getting Back Into the IT Profession
Determined to get back into IT, Loae ordered a credential evaluation. He learned about local work environments during his first two years in Canada. He then felt confident enough to apply for jobs in his field.
“Now I am working as a network administrator,” Loae says.
Today, he works for ACCES Employment. It is an agency that helps people of diverse backgrounds to integrate into the Canadian job market. The company’s mission means a great deal to Loae.
Advice for Other Newcomers
For other refugees, and those who arrive in Canada under similar difficult circumstances, Loae offers the following advice:
- Get friendly with the natives.
- Take advantage of volunteer opportunities.
- Join any available immigrant integration programs.
“Although the journey of resettling and integrating in Canada is not easy, I found it very helpful to ask about anything you do not know,” Loae says. “Even when you are not satisfied with your language skills, always encourage yourself to communicate with locals and ask questions.”
Loae believes that volunteering brings newcomers a step closer to employment by expanding their professional and social networks. Workshops and bridging programs also help skilled immigrants integrate more quickly into the workforce.