The power of networking: A testimonial to the success of the ELT program
By Karen Alinas
I am pleased to share my story that occurred within 9 months of my arrival to Canada. I am a medical doctor from The Philippines and worked as a General Practitioner for almost two years before coming to Canada. I moved here to start a family with my naturalized Canadian citizen husband. I spent my first few weeks like a tourist, then I started researching on how to become a licensed doctor in Ontario. I attended Health Force Ontario information sessions to get acquainted with the application process and I also read a lot of materials online – Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Exam (MCCEE) details, forums, etc. –anything that I saw to be relevant to the licensing process. It was overwhelming, to be honest. However, I did my part on my end. I submitted the requirements, I bought reviewers, and then I studied for three months.
At the end of the third month, I thought deeply about the career that I wanted. "Is this path to medical licensing worth the time and cost? What do I really need right now?" These were not easy to answer at that time. Later, I realized "I need a career in the healthcare field right now and I don't want to wait four or more years. I want it now." It doesn't necessarily mean that I have to be a doctor again for me to work in health care. According to The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), physicians account for 8% of health personnel in Canada. That means, there are more opportunities to get into the health care industry!
As I browsed through a variety of government and non-government agency websites, I came across a program called Enhanced Language Training (ELT). I did an inquiry over the phone and was invited to talk personally with Alana. She introduced the program and talked about the success of previous students that were in health care field as well. I felt optimistic during and after the talk. While waiting for the program to start, I worked part-time at McDonald's to keep myself busy, to earn some income, and to practice talking to the community in order to increase my confidence and more importantly, improve my listening skills.
April came and I started the ELT program. The teachers were awesome. My classmates were all kind and friendly. It felt like a home after only two weeks of being together. As the course progressed, every one of us was getting their placements. During a manager's meeting, Alana connected with Dane Record with The AIDS Committee of Durham Region and recommended me to apply to a recently advertised position. On June 1st, I received a call from the AIDS Committee of Durham Region and I underwent a telephone interview and before we ended the discussion, I was offered the job. I am now working as a Rural Community Outreach Intern at AIDS Committee of Durham Region. My main goal is to closely communicate with migrant farm workers (e.g. Jamaican and Mexican farmers) in rural and suburban areas, identify their health care needs and connect them to the available resources within the Durham Region. I also work with volunteers, researchers, community health centers, and faith leaders - as they play a big part in implementing most of the planned programs and activities.
All my experiences were not planned. Everything happened by chance; it started by finding information, followed by meeting person A, then person A brought me to person B. Person B introduced me to person C, so on and so forth. This is how my network expanded, and this is one of the things that I learned from attending ELT. Networking is an opportunity to meet people, get connected with companies (could be your next possible workplace), or just simply a way to increase your professional contacts -- which is something important for a newcomer like me. The last thing that I would like to share is that I believe in the saying "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. - Seneca"
ELT is one way of helping you prepare so that when the opportunity comes in, you are all set and ready to grab it.