Creating community connections: Connector Program helps newcomers build networks and find jobs

Posted: February 23, 2023

The universal rule of job hunting is, you’ve got to get out there.

It’s the best way to meet potential employers, see what’s growing and changing in your industry, and put yourself forward into conversations with people who may be hiring or know someone else who could be.

So, how does someone who just moved here, from another country, get out there when they don’t know many people?

It’s a tough transition. Halifax Partnership’s successful Connector Program exists to help immigrants, newcomers to Halifax, and soon-to-be and recent graduates just launching their careers to make the leap.

Oluyemi Olaniyi

In 2021, Oluyemi Olaniyi, 48, moved to Halifax from Nigeria with his wife and two children aged 11 and 13-years old. He’s one example of an educated and skilled professional with business experience who used the Connector Program to help him learn about and prepare for a successful career in Canada.

“Everyone knows it’s harder for immigrants to land jobs,” says Olaniyi. “I would encourage anyone immigrating to Halifax or seeking support for their job search to use the service. They can help you understand different industries, the Canadian work culture and how best you can fit in.”

After settling his family in Halifax, Olaniyi attended a few networking, training, and virtual recruiting events through the Connector Program where he met leaders from local IT and finance companies, including his eventual employer RBC. In addition to providing valuable funding, RBC also co-hosts events with the Connector Program to foster networking amongst business leaders and job seekers, and its employees deliver workshops aimed at helping Connectees build skills and learn about the local labour market.

“I landed a job with RBC within a year of moving to Canada. I’ve been with them for nine months and I love it,” he says. “As a Business Account Manager, I advise small businesses on how to grow, hire more people, and add to our community. There’s a few people who really helped me get to where I am today including Craig Bannon and Nathan Laird. They taught me about the Halifax job landscape and how to align my interests and skills with the available job opportunities. I thank them both.”

Craig Bannon is a Senior Manager, Regional Financial Planning Consultant with RBC. “I get as much or more than I give from being a volunteer,” says Bannon. “I am always proud to support newcomers like Oluyemi to help them to build a future in Nova Scotia.” Bannon is a mentor with ISANS Professional Mentorship Program where he has been connecting with newcomers for more than 10 years.

Nathan Laird is the Manager of the Connector Program and says he loves his job for all the great stories, like Oluyemi’s, that result in changed lives. “I’ve been bringing new people into this program steadily for five years now, partly because it feels so good to help make that difference,” says Laird, who now counts several next generation immigrants as friends and supporters of the Connector Program.

“Immigrants I worked with years ago are now in senior hiring positions and working with me to help other newcomers or new grads get their foot in the door at their first job. It’s wonderful example of Halifax cooperation and generous spirits at work for sure, and we can always use more Connectors!”

Connectors are local business and community members that connect with newcomers and local and international graduates (Connectees) looking to build their professional network. Connectors introduce Connectees to others in their network. As a result, Connectees are able to rapidly build their professional network and gain insight into the local labour market, which increases their likelihood of finding jobs in their field and staying in Halifax. About 400 job seekers are assisted each year with networking support in industries like IT, engineering, finance and human resources. To learn more or become a Connector, click here.

Halifax Partnership has supported Halifax’s economic and population growth for over 25 years. Through innovative programs like Connector and by promoting Halifax’s quality of life and career advantages to global talent, the Partnership is helping to attract, welcome, and retain thousands of newcomers to the city every year.



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