Pursuing a better quality of life is what drove Marta Recinos to move to Canada from El Salvador in 2016. She and her family chose to settle in Ottawa. She knew being close to government and non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) offices there would help her continue her career in international trade and development.
“The course helped me prepare for meeting potential employers and how to effectively present my expertise and experience.”
Recinos had significant training and professional experience in the field. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a master’s degree in international trade and development which she completed on a Fulbright Scholarship in the United States. For a decade, she worked at the Salvadoran Government and at a U.S. international development company that implemented a USAID’s development project to help Salvadoran businesses expand their operations in the local and international market. Now, she is applying her previous experience in Ontario, Canada.
“There are many cultural aspects to employment that a newcomer doesn’t know, as well as all that inside information that Canadians know about the labour market,” Recinos says.
A way forward emerged when Recinos discovered a course called Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT). The free business communication course helps newcomers gain the language and cultural competencies to integrate into Ontario’s workforce. Recinos saw that the knowledge and skills she would gain could prepare her for workplaces that handle international trade-related and capacity-building projects.
Taking the OSLT course part time at Algonquin College in the spring and summer of 2017, Recinos learned about the Canadian business culture regarding interacting with customers, colleagues, suppliers, financial officers and government officials.
Throughout the course, she had many opportunities to practise the core types of workplace communications in Canada, such as writing emails, making phone calls, delivering presentations and even making small talk in the workplace. The course also helped Recinos strengthen her career-building communication skills, such as preparing for a job interview, and developing an elevator speech to summarize her professional focus.
“I didn’t know I needed an elevator speech, because that’s not something people do in El Salvador,” Recinos says. “It helped me prepare for meeting potential employers and how to effectively present my expertise and experience.”
An additional benefit of the course was getting to connect with the other professionals in her class from countries such as Bangladesh, Iran, Peru and Russia. Those classmates are now part of her LinkedIn network, and they encourage each other through their career journeys.
Towards the end of her time in the OSLT course, Recinos started job searching, and felt quite confident thanks to her workplace language training. A couple of weeks after the course ended, she landed a job at the Trade Facilitation Office Canada, a non-profit NGO that promotes sustainable economic development worldwide. As a project manager, she implements projects that enhance the trade capacity of businesses in developing countries in Asia and the Middle East.
“This is exactly the job I dreamed of,” Recinos says. “The course worked. My life has changed. I feel very empowered as a woman.”