Sheridan alumni, experts prepare international students for life beyond graduation
At Sheridan, international students are supported both during their education and beyond as they build their careers after graduation. They are an integral part of the Sheridan community, and they continue to have access to many Sheridan resources after graduation. They can also seek guidance from the College’s vast network of alumni and learn from their experience of navigating success in Canada.
This was the message at the heart of Life After Graduation, a conference held on April 26 for Sheridan’s international students and recent international alumni to prepare them to launch successful and fulfilling careers in their new country. The virtual conference, which was sponsored by TD Insurance and co-hosted by Sheridan Alumni and Sheridan’s Career-Integrated Learning and Student Affairs teams, was attended by international students in Canada and in countries across the globe such as India, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.
“I’ve crossed the oceans to get here. And remembering that really fires me up with determination, that I can go a little bit further and put in that little bit of extra effort.” - Tale Linh Do (Animation ’18)
Throughout the conference, the students had informative and productive dialogues with expert panels to gain a deeper understanding of the Canadian workplace, get tips on finding employment after graduation, and learn about the pathways to permanent residency if making Canada their permanent home. They also had the opportunity to learn from the experience of Sheridan’s accomplished international alumni who shared their own journeys as students, the challenges they encountered as they progressed towards their goals, and how they achieved success in the workplace.
Post-Graduation Work Permit and next steps
Victoria Rodrigues, a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor at Sheridan, and Elena Shik, Sheridan’s Associate Director, International Services, Student Affairs, guided the students in the processes they are required to follow as they transition to work after graduation. In a highly interactive session, they addressed students’ questions relating to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), graduation letters and transcripts, social insurance number, and the temporary resident visa.
“After my graduation, I was able to get job after job. I also got my permanent residency within two years with the help of the support and services at Sheridan. I utilized different sources even during my IELTS preparation, getting help from ESL at our library services, and career counseling.” - Luvraj Tyagi (Business ’20)
Tips on finding job opportunities and LinkedIn
The conference recognized that international students face unique challenges in their search for job opportunities in a new country after graduation due to cultural differences in the workplace, and often lack guidance in deploying job search tools. To help the students overcome these hurdles, Joseph Conrad, an Employment Consultant at Sheridan, gave students cultural tips and practical job search strategies to land a job in Canada. LinkedIn expert Jeremy Schifeling took the participants into the back end of the recruitment process to help them understand the hiring methods used by employers, and how they can use LinkedIn to maximize their chances of getting a job, develop their networking skills, and reach out to Sheridan alumni.
Sheridan Alumni share stories to guide and inspire students
Sheridan’s international alumni shared with the participants their own journeys as students and working professionals, and the supports they received from the College while building their careers in Canada. “After my graduation, I was able to get job after job. I also got my permanent residency within two years with the help of the support and services at Sheridan. I utilized different sources even during my IELTS (International English Language Testing System) preparation, getting help from ESL at our library services, and career counseling,” said Luvraj Tyagi (Business ’20), who came to Sheridan as an international student from India in 2018 and is currently working in Student Affairs at the College.
Tyagi said despite the precarious job situation the world over due to Covid, he was able to find a part-time job in sales while still studying at Sheridan. Upon graduation, he started working as sales supervisor at a local furniture store in Oakville, got promoted as a store manager, and had two locations in his charge in Oakville and Mississauga. “I was able to get advice from international student advisors at college so that I could apply on my own for my work permit. We have so many resources at Sheridan, and we don't need to go to different advisors and lawyers to get a work permit,” he said.
Tyagi has just completed a leadership training course at Sheridan and says it helped him to further improve his communication skills and build on his earlier education in sales. He said to be successful, students need to focus on networking. “(Many of my jobs) came to me because of referrals from people who knew me and recommended me for the position,” he said.
“As immigrants, we all left behind a world of comfort and knowing, and we plunged into this new world that can be scary at times. We have this urgent need to fit in and to assimilate into this new culture. But I don't think that should come at the cost of losing yourself.” - Sunaynna Venkatesh (Advertising and Marketing Communications Management ’15)
“I’ve crossed oceans to get here, I can do more”
Born in Germany and raised in the Czech Republic, Animation alumna Tale Linh Do (Animation ’18) came to Canada to study at Sheridan and pursue her passion for animation. For the last two years, she has been working at Netflix as a story artist and is currently in the process of moving to the US to join the studio in person.
Tale, who attributes her career success to embracing her neurodivergence, inspired the students with her grit, determination, and radical acceptance in the face of adversity. “I found out that I had a limit on my abilities and my visual memory was quite impaired, which is a problem if you are an artist. And at first, I was a little bit shocked. But with time, I realized that this is actually really awesome because how often do you get a manual to your own brain? When I started leaning into my constraints, unique and new solutions started working for me because I had stopped being ashamed of taking the path nobody else was taking. I understood what worked best for me with my limitations,” she said.
Tale also advised the students to find out what exactly they were passionate about before diving into a job. “Whatever you love, put it forward, put it out there online and find your community,” she said. Quite often, she needed to remind herself of her own strengths to continue pushing for success, she said. “I’ve crossed the oceans to get here. And remembering that really fires me up with determination, that I can go a little bit further and put in that little bit of extra effort,” she said.
Know your worth when asking for salary
Sunaynna Venkatesh (Advertising and Marketing Communications Management ’15) said while students should do their research to find out market trends and salary ranges, they should know their worth and not lowball themselves, particularly if they are women, persons of colour, or both.
Venkatesh, who came to Canada from India to pursue higher education, is a Senior Graphic Designer at Marks and has won several awards over the past 13 years. After graduating from Sheridan, she started out in the creative department of an advertising agency, but she felt the agency wasn’t the right space for her and switched to pure design. “That's when I felt I could be my authentic self and be accepted for who I was,” she said.
Drawing on her experience, she advised the students to know the difference between wanting to fit in and truly belonging. “As immigrants, we all left behind a world of comfort and knowing, and we plunged into this new world that can be scary at times. We have this urgent need to fit in and to assimilate into this new culture. But I don't think that should come at the cost of losing yourself,” she said.
“We want to apply for a job, but then we don’t, because we think we won't get it or that it wouldn’t work for us. Don't get scared. Just go out there and apply for it. Also, you’re not going to get the first job that you apply for. So don't get disheartened because of it.” - Shubham Aggarwal (Computer Engineering Technician ‘15)
Persevere, don’t get disheartened
The students received similar words of advice from Shubham Aggarwal (Computer Engineering Technician ‘15). “Definitely learn from everybody. But at the end of the day, be yourself. That's the most important thing and that's the key to success, at least for me,” Aggarwal said.
Aggarwal, who moved from India to study at Sheridan, has gained wide recognition for his work in the community. He is currently the Vice President of Mississauga-based computer and electronics company Creative POS. He has been an active member and past president of Rotaract Club of Brampton, and last year Deepak Anand, MPP Mississauga-Malton honoured him with the Remarkable Citizen Award for his outstanding leadership in initiating positive changes in his community.
Echoing Venkatesh, Aggarwal said new international graduates underestimate themselves. “We want to apply for a job, but then we don’t, because we think we won't get it or that it wouldn’t work for us. Don't get scared. We are good and that’s why we came to this country. Just go out there and apply for it. Also, you’re not going to get the first job that you apply for. So don't get disheartened because of it. Just be yourself,” he said.
‘There is a lot of work out there’
“Believe you me, there is a lot of work out there. There is so much work, it's crazy. You just have to be willing to work,” said Jason Ross (Electrical Engineering Technician ’19). Ross came to Canada to study at Sheridan, leaving behind his wife and three children to find a better future for the family. It was tough for him to live away from his loved ones, but he was determined to succeed and always looked for opportunities to find work.
Currently working as an electrical apprentice at the Toronto Transit Commission, Ross said Sheridan’s professors, who have jobs in their own fields, can be an important resource for students looking for employment.
“You have just got to keep pushing through. You came to a foreign country and you graduated from Sheridan. And that is an accomplishment in itself.” - Jason Ross (Electrical Engineering Technician ’19)
“The professors know what's going on with the real world. They keep themselves up to date with technology and they also have an ear to the ground about possible job openings and can recommend their students,” he said. “My professors saw the potential in me and were able to recommend me to colleagues in the trades for summer jobs.”
He advised the students to find opportunities to work while at College so that they could get the experience employers look for in new hires and at the same time strengthen their professional network. “You don't get the perfect job right away. May be, this job doesn't pay well and perhaps it's not what you want it to be. Don't let that discourage you. You have just got to keep pushing through. You came to a foreign country and you graduated from Sheridan. And that is an accomplishment in itself.”
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