Volunteer Story — Peter Frauley
Peter Frauley is a volunteer in the Employment mentoring program offered by OCCSC. We recently sat down with Peter to ask him about his experience in the program.
Q: Tell us about the Employment Mentoring Program.
A: This mentoring program is unique because the mentors and the mentees receive the training together. It’s also designed so that the mentee leads the mentor, after all, who knows their needs better? The program works under the principle that the mentor will assist the mentee to integrate their skills into the Canadian workforce at a level that is appropriate for their experience.
Bruce Switzer, President of Integration Resources Canada, facilitated a series of six workshops: Developing a Clear Objective, Written and Oral Presentation, Hands on Research, Interviewing, and Follow Through. The mentees put together a target list of the companies that they’d like to work for and then arrange information meetings with people who work for these companies. During the meeting they gain industry knowledge and information that is company specific. They also want to learn more about the corporate culture and about the company’s opportunities and needs. If you compare this planned, strategic method of job search to a reactive search only applying to jobs posted on the internet, you’ll see that the strategic approach will land a job that is more aligned with the individual’s skill set, is a better fit culturally and will likely pay better as well.
Q: What advice would you give to mentees?
A: Culture may be a barrier to mentees in relaying their experience. Mentees may only tell their mentor what it is that they think they want to hear. Mentors also need to be patient and not jump in too soon. Building trust is an essential part of the relationship because this is a vulnerable time for the mentee. The outcome is so important to the mentee, so they need to feel comfortable in sharing any cultural or language barriers that could impede their progress. As mentors we always have to test whether the mentee has understood what we are saying, and we may have to use other concepts or words.
Mentees need to clearly communicate their expectations to their mentor. They need to set specific goals and then discuss them together. Mentees want to respect and appreciate their mentor and the time that is being volunteered to them. We all have many other commitments, and time is the most valuable resource there is. Taking initiative is also extremely important for a mentee. The mentor’s role is not to find a job for the mentee or to do their work for them. The mentee must plan to take a very active role in the process. Respecting the boundaries of the relationship is also important. If the mentee has other issues or personal problems, there are counseling services available at OCCSC.
Q: What do you gain from being a volunteer mentor?
A: It has been very rewarding to offer guidance and support to the enthusiastic members of this group.The experience has been really positive for my personal self-development because integrating Internationally Educated Professionals into the Canadian workforce is a rapidly growing field. I think that the skills that I’ve developed will prove to be invaluable to me in my career. I’ve also had the chance to network and make new contacts with established professionals who are also serving as mentors. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many warm and interesting Chinese’ Canadians. My understanding of Chinese culture has improved and I’ve made some new friends.
Q: What stands out for you most in this program?
A: I’d have to say that I’ve been very impressed by the educational backgrounds, professional experience and work ethic of the mentees that are in this program. Let me give you an example. Yuhe Yuan’s objective is to work as a financial internal auditor or financial analyst. He has completed his CMA and MBA this year in addition to 3 other degrees that he earned in China. I had the opportunity to work with Yuhe during our training and noticed that he possesses some very positive characteristics. When we’d give Yuhe feedback or a suggestion, he would immediately make a written note and thank us. The next time that we ran the exercise, he had already implemented the suggestions. Yuhe also has strong interpersonal skills. He’s an active listener and expresses himself well in one-on-one or in a group setting. I think that the organization that hires Yuhe will be very pleased with his performance and will groom him for a leadership role.
Thank you Peter for taking the time to speak to us and for volunteering as an Employment mentor with OCCSC.