By Shabana Ansari

When her husband’s company transferred him to Canada, Kiran Thapar Otto did what every supportive spouse does – she encouraged him to not miss the opportunity.

“I was overjoyed that he was getting a chance to gain international experience and grow in his career,” she says.

At the same time, Kiran felt apprehensive about her own employment prospects in a new country where she had no social support or professional network.

“The thought of being unemployed so far away from home was terrifying. Also, there wouldn’t be any family or friends around to lend moral support.”

Despite her misgivings, she quit her job back home in India, packed her bags and landed in Ottawa along with her husband.

“The first few months just flew by. There was so much to do – set up a new home, explore a new city, it was amazing,” she says.

Once the young couple settled in, Kiran decided it was time to get back to giving some thought to her own employment.

“It was a completely new set-up for me. I didn’t know how to go about getting a job. But I was pretty sure I had to go beyond looking for vacancies on job sites.”

So, one of the first things she did was to reach out to immigrant serving organizations in Ottawa.

“I got some fabulous advice and tips on a lot of things – networking, building contacts, writing targeted resumes, exploring the hidden job market, and even on how to conduct myself during an interview!”

Kiran met people from all over the world, including immigrants looking for work just like her and those who had managed to establish themselves in Canada after years of struggle and hardship. She made some new friends, too, and suddenly the new country didn’t feel as intimidating as she had previously thought.

Since she had some time on her hands, Kiran started volunteering at a not-for-profit organization.

“I had both the time and skills to contribute and it was a great way to get out of my head and stop worrying about being unemployed for at least a few hours each day.”

As her social and professional network grew, so did her confidence. Though she was turned down for a few jobs she had initially applied for, Kiran did not lose hope. She started reaching out to people in her network and sending out feelers about needing a job. And one fine day, someone she knew told her about a vacancy, she applied and was hired after a few rounds of interviews.

“It was unbelievable! It was as if the months of self-doubt and self-pity were completely erased to be replaced by a sense of relief and gratitude.”

Kiran concludes that, thanks to everyone who helped her in her pursuit of employment, she can now finally share her “Canadian dream” with her husband.