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Andrew Chaudhry

Andrew Chaudhry

Faculty of Applied Health & Community Studies

Degree: Social Service Worker

Year of graduation: 2015

Social service worker grad Andrew Chaudhry reflects on the challenges and lessons learned in coming to Canada

Many graduates have memories of their hectic final semesters in university or college: the sleepless nights, and the deadline-filled countdown to the day they receive their diplomas. Social service worker alumnus Andrew Chaudhry’s memories are a little more intense. “When I was doing my degree, I was also on OSAP, and my wife was in class with me,” he remembers. After a full day of classes, Chaudhry would pick up his nine-year-old son and four-year-old daughter from school, drop them off at home with his wife and then leave to work a 40-hour per week job lifting 300 kg boxes at a local foodservice business (on weekends, he held down a second job in mutual funds in the financial sector). Returning home at 2 a.m., Chaudhry would work on assignments until the children needed to be dropped off at school in the morning. “I only slept every third or fourth night,” he says. “I will never forget those days, but a family man has to be able to provide.”

A former marketing professional in the advertising industry, Chaudhry came to Canada from
Pakistan in 2013. “I faced what all newcomers face in terms of challenges,” he says. When he needed to choose new career path, he turned to Google to review the top 10 professions in Canada, and social work spoke to him. “I’ve always had this social service aspect to my personality,” he says. “I wanted to start a non-profit at home before I emigrated, but I wasn’t able to do it at the time.”

Enrolling in the social service work program at Sheridan, Chaudhry found that he was learning about elements that would shape his future job search. “The first class, I was in shock. I was a numbers guy that was now in a very different field, so it was a big shakeup for me,” he says. “As I started progressing into academics, I started gaining knowledge into Canada and its issues. I come from a Third World country, but there are areas of Canada that have Third World characteristics still.”

As part of the program’s required volunteering hours, Chaudhry began working at the Brampton Multicultural Community Centre — a position that turned into a full-time contract role as an employment development specialist. Today, Chaudhry shares his experience with newcomers to Canada as part of a youth job initiative funded by the Ontario government. “I work with troubled youth to help them find employment, gaining experience and a sense of responsibility,” he says. “Working in marketing and sales for a decade, I gained all the confidence to walk in and speak to companies about how these youths can be a benefit and not a burden.”

He enjoys his ability to help families coming to Canada, such as new Syrian immigrants, and help them navigate their way through the system. “I would say that an accidental thing such as my Internet search through Google that led me to social work has led to a genuine desire to help people. I can relate to their struggles in so many ways.”
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