By Saeed Mirshekari

Oct 28, 2023

Embracing Change: A Mother's Journey into the Canadian Tech Landscape


Moving to a new country, especially one as vast and diverse as Canada, brings a myriad of challenges. Imagine the story of a mother, a tech professional with a decade of experience in Iran, who arrived in Canada with two kids just three months ago. Now, standing at the crossroads, she faces the crucial decision of either diving headfirst into the competitive tech job market or opting for a temporary detour through a more general job like a cashier at a grocery store.

The Canadian Tech Landscape: A Mosaic of Opportunities and Obstacles

Challenges in the Tech Job Market

  1. Credential Recognition: One of the primary hurdles for newcomers is the recognition of foreign credentials. Despite a wealth of experience, our tech-savvy mother may find her qualifications needing validation in the Canadian job market.
  2. Cultural Adjustment: Adapting to the work culture in a new country is no small feat. The nuances of workplace dynamics and communication styles can be overwhelming for someone fresh off the plane.
  3. Networking Dilemma: Establishing professional networks is vital, but newcomers often lack the connections that native professionals have cultivated over time. This can be a significant barrier to breaking into the tech scene.

Advantages of General Jobs: The Pitstop Perspective

  1. Immediate Income: Taking up a general job provides quick access to income. It's a practical choice for covering immediate living expenses while navigating the complexities of settling in a new country.
  2. Cultural Integration: Working in a more general role offers a smoother transition into the local work environment. It provides an opportunity to understand Canadian workplace norms and etiquette.
  3. Reduced Pressure: The tech industry can be intense. Opting for a less demanding role initially can alleviate the pressure of job hunting, allowing time for the newcomer to explore the Canadian job market at a more relaxed pace.

Disadvantages of General Jobs: The Detour Dilemma

  1. Skill Erosion: Tech is an ever-evolving field. Spending too much time away from it might lead to skill erosion. The longer one stays in a non-tech role, the more challenging it can be to re-enter the tech workforce.
  2. Career Misalignment: If tech is your passion and forte, settling for a general job might feel like settling for less. It's crucial to weigh the long-term consequences of deviating from one's career path.
  3. Missed Networking Opportunities: The tech industry thrives on connections. A detour in a general job might mean missed opportunities to build a network in the tech community, potentially slowing down the journey into the desired field.

The Tech Leap: Preparing for Launch

Advantages of Tech Pursuit: The Career Accelerator

  1. Industry Relevance: Staying in the tech loop ensures continued relevance in the industry. The tech landscape values up-to-date skills and experiences, making a direct entry more seamless for those who have recently worked in the field.
  2. Networking in Tech: Directly engaging with the tech community allows for networking opportunities that are specific to the field. Industry events, meetups, and online forums become accessible, facilitating connections with like-minded professionals.
  3. Career Progression: For someone passionate about tech, resuming a career in the field offers the prospect of career progression, skill enhancement, and the pursuit of professional goals.

Disadvantages of Tech Pursuit: The Uphill Climb

  1. Job Market Competition: The tech job market is fiercely competitive. Breaking into it requires persistence and strategic efforts. Newcomers might face rejection initially, adding emotional and psychological stress.
  2. Time and Patience: Landing a tech role takes time. The process of resume preparation, portfolio enhancement, and job applications can be lengthy. A newcomer must be prepared for a period of uncertainty and financial constraint.
  3. Potential for Burnout: The pressure to secure a tech position quickly might lead to burnout. Balancing the demands of job hunting, networking, and adapting to a new culture can be mentally and emotionally taxing.

Decision-Making Factors: Weighing the Scales

1. Financial Situation

  • General Job: Offers immediate income for daily needs.
  • Tech Pursuit: Requires financial preparedness for a potential period without income.

2. Long-Term Goals

  • General Job: Provides stability in the short term but may divert from long-term career goals.
  • Tech Pursuit: Aligns with career aspirations, setting the stage for long-term growth.

3. Skill Maintenance

  • General Job: May lead to skill erosion if not tech-related.
  • Tech Pursuit: Ensures continuous skill development and relevance.

4. Networking Opportunities

  • General Job: Facilitates general networking but might lack industry-specific connections.
  • Tech Pursuit: Offers targeted networking within the tech community.

5. Mental and Emotional Well-being

  • General Job: Reduces the pressure of immediate career success.
  • Tech Pursuit: Involves a more intense job search, potentially leading to stress.

Conclusion: Forging a Personal Path

Choosing between a general job and diving directly into the tech job market is a profoundly personal decision. It requires a careful evaluation of immediate needs, long-term goals, and the resilience to navigate the challenges ahead. Our tech-savvy mother must reflect on her financial situation, consider the importance of staying true to her career aspirations, and gauge her readiness for the rollercoaster ride of the tech job hunt.

Ultimately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Each newcomer's journey is unique, and the decision to detour through a general job or take the direct route into tech is a pivotal moment in shaping their Canadian adventure. What matters most is the courage to make a choice that aligns with one's dreams, aspirations, and the promise of a brighter, tech-infused future in the heart of North America.

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About O'Fallon Labs

In O'Fallon Labs we help recent graduates and professionals to get started and thrive in their Data Science careers via 1:1 mentoring and more.

Saeed Mirshekari, PhD

Saeed is currently a Director of Data Science in Mastercard and the Founder & Director of O'Fallon Labs LLC. He is a former research scholar at LIGO team (Physics Nobel Prize of 2017). Learn more about Saeed...

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