Chanda Chilandra – Participant and Connector
Growing a professional network can be challenging, especially if you’re an international student growing your network from scratch in a new city. But the Greater Halifax Partnership’s Connector Program is making it easier for international students, new graduates and immigrants to build their professional network and improve their job search in Halifax.
A simple, yet highly effective networking program, the Connector Program puts job seekers directly in touch with Connectors – local business people, civil servants and community leaders who work in their field. Through one-on-one meetings with several Connectors, participants in the program have the opportunity to learn about their industry and the labour market, enhance their job search and exponentially grow their local network.
Chanda Chilanda, an international student from Zambia, has experienced the success of this program first-hand. “Coming from a different culture, I didn’t know the value of networking because it’s not what we do back home,” says Chilanda, who graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Commerce.
For Chilanda, the biggest learning curve as an international student has been equipping herself with the “soft skills”.
“If I had the skills I have now when I was looking for a job I’d be less frustrated,” she says. “It’s frustrating finding the right job when you feel like you’re not having opportunities in your field or that are relevant to your skills.”
Initially involved in the Greater Halifax Partnership’s Connector Program as a participant, Chilanda quickly became a Connector after finding a job. Today, working as a Partnership Coordinator with Skills Canada Nova Scotia she has connected over four participants in the past year.
“It’s the people who genuinely want to help people and will go out of their way to do so that makes the biggest impact,” says Chilanda.
With experience as both a participant and a Connector, Chilanda is a strong advocate for the Connector Program, encouraging others to share their experience to help accelerate talent retention in the city.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that you had a role in pushing that first ‘domino’ that led to someone getting a job,” says Chilanda.
Today the Connector Program has over 640 Connectors and 1,000 Connectees helping over 447 helps immigrants, international students and new graduates find employment in Halifax.
Nic Fieldsend – Immigrant and Connector
As a newcomer to Halifax, Nic Fieldsend, Vice President and Director of Client Services of Journeyman Film Company, quickly discovered the importance of strong connections.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” says Fieldsend. “I quickly realized that making connections is the way you need to get things done here.”
After rapidly expanding and cultivating his own network, Fieldsend strives to pay it forward as a Super Connector with the Greater Halifax Partnership’s Connector Program - a highly effective networking program that helps immigrants, international students and new graduates build a professional network and improve their job search in Halifax .
Through the program, he works to connect participants with people in industries relevant to their job hunt and passions. Though for Fieldsend, his role is more than connecting employers with employees-it is about tapping into a participant’s passions.
“Employment is only one part of it, it’s about how to get someone plugged into the community in all the other aspects of their life as well,” says Fieldsend, “That’s what will make them want to stay.”
“We’re really going to have to bring new people in, you can’t be locked into the old boy’s network,” says Fieldsend, “We need to maintain the great character of Halifax by bringing new ideas and new voices to the fold.”
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