The Ottawa Connector program is a formalized networking initiative that helps broaden Internationally Educated Professionals’ networks through one-on-one meetings with established business leaders who work in the same field. It is a simple yet highly effective referral process that helps local businesses and organizations connect with talented newcomers who want to build a career and settle successfully in Ottawa. We are proud of being a member of the award-winning National Connector Program, which was developed by the Halifax Partnership, and has been replicated in 13 communities across Canada.
The Connector Program matches Internationally Educated professionals (Connectees) with successful local professionals (Connectors) who have well-established professional networks. They are matched based on industry experience, professional backgrounds, or the Connectee’s interest in a specific sector. Once the match has been made, the project coordinator sends an introduction email to the Connector and the Connectee to set up a meeting.
The Connector and the Connectee meet face-to-face to discuss topics like:
- Professional backgrounds
- Skills and areas of expertise
- Sector related news
- Ottawa labour market
Connectors are asked to refer the Connectee to one people in their network.
These referrals may be potential employers, influential leaders within their industry or other people who will benefit from meeting with an internationally educated professional.
As Connectees meet with business and community leaders in the region, they gain a better understanding of the local job market, learn about the community, and are exposed to business and career opportunities available in Ottawa. This simple, yet highly effective process significantly increases the Connectee’s chances of finding meaningful employment in their profession.
Connectors are successful professionals with well-established professional networks in Ottawa, who:
- Enjoy making introductions and connecting people
- Have listening skills and can give supportive and effective feedback
- Have a desire to support internationally educated professionals to build their network
- Meet with a Connectee for a one hour informational meeting once or twice per year
- Listen, ask questions, and share up-to-date sector knowledge and trends
- After the meeting, provide the Connectee with one relevant contact in their industry within two weeks.
It’s then up to the Connectees to follow up with Connectors and begin to develop their professional networks
While we encourage Connectors to build relationships beyond the first meeting, this is not a mentoring program. The goal of the Connector Program is to create networking opportunities. If you are interested in mentoring opportunities, please visit the Career Mentorship web page.
Benefits of being a Connector
- Gain the sense of achievement of helping newcomers succeed in Ottawa
- Be seen as a professional or organization who values and supports international talents
- Bring value to your network by connecting people who could benefit from knowing each other
- Increase awareness about your organization and industry
- Contribute to a program that leads to greater community engagement and encourages a culture of inclusion and collaboration
Significance of being a Connector
Through your meeting and referrals, newcomers will
- Gain professional suggestions from different perspectives
- Improve their understanding of Ottawa’s labour market
- Grow their professional network to accelerate the job search in their chosen field
- Most importantly, regain their self-esteem and confidence
Your connection will absolutely ignite the hope of newcomers’ profession, and even light their career and life. You have the power to make Ottawa a more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community by supporting the integration of newcomers and retaining internationally-educated talent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the commitment to be a Connector?
- You will only be asked for a one time informational meeting for one hour and one referral. The intention is to give the Connectee an understanding of how their industry works in Ottawa, and help them build a professional network here.
Who are “Connectees”?
- Our Connectees are Internationally Educated Professionals who come from a variety of backgrounds. They are all screened and comprehensively trained to be part of this program. They are aware that the goal of the Connector Program is to enhance networking skills, not to ask for employment. They are aware that they are not allowed to ask for job opportunities through the program.
How does the referral process work?
- As a Connector, you are required to provide one referral to the Connectee within 2 weeks after your meeting. The basic business network created from this program will better connect them to the opportunities available in Ottawa.
Who is the referral I provide to the Connectees?
- Referral is anyone within your personal or professional network who would be a good resource for the Connectee.
- These could include: executive, managers, human resource, connected or influential business leaders, or members of industry associations, even someone who is looking to fill a job vacancy.
- Inviting the Connectee to a local networking event with them or attending an association networking event with the Connectee could also be counted as one referral.
We trust that you’ll do your best in coming up with at least one good person for your Connectee to meet. There is no ‘perfect’ match but we know that expanding contacts based on similar interests and backgrounds works well for new professional immigrants.
Do I need to keep in touch with the Connectee?
- For this program, we don’t expect a ‘mentor connection’ where you would routinely keep in touch. If you would like to be connected on LinkedIn or through e-mail, that is up to you but it is not expected. We do hope though that the Connectee will share good news with you when they secure employment, etc.
Do I have to be able to offer a job to the Connectee?
- Absolutely not. Connectees are aware that the goal of the Connector Program is to enhance their networking skills and current job search strategies. They are aware that there is no guarantee they will find employment through the program.
Is this program unique to Ottawa?
- The Ottawa Connector Program is also a proud member of National Connector Program.
The Ottawa Connector Program supports you to build a professional network within your sector to gain more information from different professional perspectives. By building a professional network, you make new contacts and become informed. This will help you build a successful career in Ottawa.
The success of Connector Program comes from your willingness to establish new relationships and maintain contacts with other professionals and business leaders. It gives you the chance to engineer your own success.
Who can participate?
Ottawa Connector Program is open to individuals who meet the following criteria:
- Permanent Residents and Convention Refugees
- Live in Ottawa and have arrived in Canada within the last 10 years
- Have international post-secondary education and/or professional work experience
- Have Canadian Language Benchmark 7 or higher
- Are currently unemployed or working in a role that does not match their skills and education
Benefits for Connectees
- Gain access to successful professionals with well-established networks in Ottawa to expand and diversify your professional network
- Understand your sector, field of interest, and the local job market better
- Share details about your experience and expertise
- Gain valuable feedback about your job search strategy and career path
- Establish connections to help you develop your career in Ottawa
Connectees are advised that the Connector Program is not a job search program. It is simply a tool to assist you in growing your professional network. You should not expect an offer of employment as a result of the informational interviews with the Connectors.
Resume workshop for Connectees
Connectees have the opportunity to participate in a resume workshop if needed. Resume workshops are held once a month at OCISO.
Workshops for Connectors
We offer optional cross-cultural communication workshop for Connectors, which is facilitated by Karima Kara the President of iexpressions.ca
Networking events for Connectors and Connectees
Networking Events with speakers are held a few times a year. They include topics such as how to use LinkedIn for Job Search, How to look for jobs in the Federal Public Service, etc.
Speed Interviewing Event
We will have 4-5 Speed Interview events a year. The speed interview event will start with an interactive industry panel of 3-4 experts and a Q & A with Connectees. This will be followed by the Speed Interviewing sessions where employers meet with job seekers for a quick interview and then the organizers send in the next round of job seekers to repeat the process. After all the rounds are finished, then Connectees and industry representatives proceed to a networking reception for refreshments and follow up conversations. The aim is to connect highly skilled immigrants with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in key growth sectors that have current labour needs. A speed interview lasts between 6 and 8 minutes and allows the employer and potential employee to engage in a brief introduction and screening process.