Helping Immigrants Thrive Through Stories

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The Self-Written Story of Katrina Macadaeg

A little over ten years ago, I was a wide-eyed Canadian permanent resident with nothing but hopes and dreams. 

True, I came to Canada with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a Master’s in Technology Management from the Philippines. But, moving to a new country seemed to erase all that, at least momentarily. I quickly experienced the challenges of rebuilding my life in a new country, which felt magnified because I immigrated alone. I felt alienated from the community as I watched others move with a purpose while I sat unnoticed anticipating job interviews. 

The lack of emotional support diminished my confidence as I worked hard on landing the elusive job.  I applied techniques like cold-calling and networking which felt like begging for work in the context of my home culture. 

But I was determined. 

Less than 2 months after landing, I completed the Skills Connect for Immigrants Program from the Douglas College Training Group, where I learned about professional job search techniques in Canada.  I also sought the help of DiverseCity Community Resources Society and SuccessBC to assist in my settlement.  Eventually, SuccessBC referred me to Dress for Success Vancouver for a suiting appointment. These organizations supported me to start all over as an immigrant. 

After five months of continuous job search, over a hundred applications, and endless frustrations, I finally landed a job in my preferred industry.  I realized that it is okay to not see immediate results from my job search.  Though difficult, each rejection gave me an improvement opportunity.  I prepared customized answers to potential interview questions and practiced saying these out loud.  I researched on Canadian employers, industries, and workplaces to learn about their specific requirements.  Also, I expanded my network by volunteering and attending career events. 

After landing my first job, I continued to seize and create opportunities to enhance my career. 

I enrolled in a Leadership Course at British Columbia Institute of Technology to gain Canadian education and searched for learning opportunities to enhance my portfolio of Canadian experiences. 

A year after my initial suiting appointment with Dress for Success Vancouver, I joined their Professional Women’s Group (PWG).  In this group, I found connection, community, and practical knowledge to aid my integration.  My strong affinity to PWG made me begin volunteering for this program after my graduation in 2014.   

I have finally found a community in Dress for Success Vancouver.  So, I wanted to continue to be part of it by volunteering.   

My experience as a regular PWG volunteer sparked my passion for community work.  My positive transformation as a beneficiary of non-profit organizations propelled me to help others experience the transformation as well.   

Eventually, this passion led me to volunteer for various organizations while polishing my soft skills, expanding my network, and learning about the Canadian culture. 

Outside my professional life, there were numerous things that I had to learn while restarting my life.  In Canada, I had to do everything by myself.  I had to be effective and efficient in doing all house chores. I had to learn about the country’s transportation, banking, and healthcare systems. Of course, I also had to understand the nuances of Canadian communication.  Once ready, I had to gain knowledge in making major purchases such as getting a mortgage.  Even after 10 years of living here, I still discover things that add value to my daily life.   

Fortunately, not every discovery along my immigration journey was a challenge.  Immediately, I discovered that resources for new immigrants are abundant, Canadians are truly polite, and Canada’s beauty is spectacular.   

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was home.  

Rebuilding life in a new country is difficult to say the least.  But the hard work, struggles, and tears were all worth it.  I have learned from my adversities and am now living the life that I dreamed of. 

I am now gainfully employed in a multinational company. Three years after coming to Canada, I was able to purchase a humble home in Metro Vancouver.  I now have the means to visit the Philippines or explore the world regularly.  Best of all, I have the opportunity to give back to the community. 

In 2020, I became the Dress for Success Vancouver Inspiration Award winner for outstanding leadership and achievement within the community.  Last year, I started mentoring for Dress for Success Vancouver’s PWG Program.  I have also established a women’s network in my company to empower women employees to become the best versions of themselves. 

When the world came to a standstill due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, I created a blog to safely continue helping immigrants. 

Today, I am writing my first article in Immigrant Muse to help more newcomers thrive. 

Katrina Macadaeg
Katrina Macadaeg

Katrina Macadaeg immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 2011.  She is now a Quality Specialist in the food manufacturing industry.  Katrina was a beneficiary of several non-profit organizations so she understands the impact of community involvement to newcomers.  She now gives back to her community as a passionate volunteer, mentor, and public speaker.
Contact Katrina at katrina@immigrantmuse.ca.

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Series NavigationAcing Your Job Search by Roy Mapleton   >>Women’s Business Hub: Helping Immigrant Women Thrive in Business >>Gender Inequality in Immigrant Service Delivery >>

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