Finding Resilience in my Search for Meaningful Work: One International Student’s Story

Finding Resilience in my Search for Meaningful Work: One International Student’s Story

By: Alireza Mogharrab
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As an international student who moved to Canada from Iran almost a year ago, adapting to a new culture and handling the feeling of being homesick were some big challenges I faced. But successfully finding a job that supported me with finances for living and school costs turned out to be the hardest challenge to overcome.

I struggled a lot to find a job—and not just any job that paid some bills. I wanted a job that I enjoyed, and one that would help me to develop skills for a career that I like and want to pursue. 

Without having any previous Canadian work experience and very little work experience as an international student, it was difficult. My first strategy for job hunting in Canada was to translate my old resume into a new resume. I applied for multiple jobs—maybe 50 postings—and I waited… for weeks… and nothing happened! Not even a phone call! It was devastating. What was wrong?! I tried and tried and tried and for 4 months, nothing happened (except 2 interviews with some recruiter companies that didn’t end up anywhere)…

So, I took some action. I booked an appointment with SFU career services, and I told the career peer “What is wrong with me?! I’m applying for jobs and I’m getting nothing!” A tip that the career peer gave me during that session changed the whole game for me: I learned how I should target the resume to each job posting. 

And then that was what I did. One day, I saw a job posting on a bulletin board at Surrey campus, I applied, I got called for the interview and I got the job. That’s it! Easy peasy. When you know what to do. 

Here are my top three tips for handling rejection, for getting resilient and for focussing on what you want: 

1. Find out what isn’t working, and change it

When you aim for something and you consistently don’t get it, something should probably be done in a different way. If other people are achieving something that you want, find out what they are doing to get their results and do the same, or something similar. I know this sounds simple—too simple, but sometimes we think it should be more complicated than it is!

2. Ask for help, and empower yourself with knowledge and self knowledge

No one said that achieving something and coping with all the difficulties in your path is easy.  Asking for help when you need it will give you guidance and knowledge from other people's experiences. I’ve been through lots of advising and counselling hours in SFU Career Services and Health and Counselling Centre, and it has made a big difference for me. Consider getting a coach, or booking appointments with these centers at SFU. It’s not a sign of weakness to seek help.

3. Do your best, get it done, and don’t worry about being perfect

As a perfectionist, I wasted huge amounts of time in my life, through my education and work experience, trying to make things perfect instead of trying to do my best. This ended up with some unfinished assignments and work that never got me the result that I wanted. I was too focused to make it perfect that I forgot about finishing it! So do your best and get it done! It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect or not. 

I hope this will be helpful if you are in the same kind of situation as me. I wish you the best in your journey. 

TopAlireza is a first year student, studying Interactive Arts and Technology and is a Career Peer Educator at SFU Career center. He enjoys volunteering in career related events and helping individuals to make a positive change for themselves and their campus community.


Beyond the Article 

Posted on May 27, 2016