By Lucía Gallegos – Guest Contributor
When I arrived in Canada ten years ago I was not sure how things will go for me. I had to create a new personal and professional version of myself and this was a scary process. Constant questions came to my mind such as, how am I going to survive in this new environment? Would I be able to find a job in my area? Different emotions were triggered as a response: anger, fear, stress, anxiety. However, after some strategic planning, I realized I was not asking the right questions and this was keeping me in a loop: paralyzed and terrified.
In Mexico, I worked in the Public Relations and Communication industry, but I was not sure how to continue with that professional path here. After some ups and downs, I started to think outside the box and asked myself instead: How can I redesign my objectives in a new professional environment? What tools do I need? What tools do I already have? Who can help me to design a clear map? Bingo! That was the moment when I realized how badly I wanted to redesign my career, and this was the perfect opportunity to accept the challenge.
With a new professional vision I was ready to take some action. I went back to school and completed a Master´s Degree in Counselling Psychology. Once you know where you are heading to, it is easier to get there. The only piece that I was missing was finding someone who would help me to surf the waves. It is not the same to have an objective when you are familiar with the environment, than to start a journey in the unknown. Leaving the comfort zone is a challenge full of high doses of adrenaline and cortisol that affect the nervous system and our performance and personal life.
I struggled to find a mentor in the beginning. There were different options outside, but finding the perfect one for me was like finding a dancing partner who could understand my rhythm. Once I found the right match, things looked clearer and I started to feel more confident to the point that I was able to achieve my objectives. This was such a rewarding experience, that when I realized that Hispanotech was providing mentors and mentees with the opportunity to develop their potentials, I did not hesitate to become a mentor and share my experience and knowledge with the community; keeping in mind that I also wanted to learn from mentees and other peers.
Mentorship is a win-win situation. It is a strong relationship with another individual who has different areas of growth and strengths. It is a commitment that involves discipline, creativity, passion and humour, tons of humour. It is about the opportunity to share challenges with empathy and sympathy. It is not only a place where professional development occurs but also healing and empowerment. In addition, this program also provides mentors with the opportunity to discover and work new skills and interests in an environment that supports professional development.
Anna (her real name is kept confidential) was the first mentee I worked with. She had professional experience in the health area in her country of origin, and since I have experience in the mental health industry in Ontario, we were aware of the different certifications and registrations that these types of professions needed in Canada, and how these requirements can make someone feel unmotivated and disappointed.
Together we designed goals and strategies for the next weeks. When you have an objective in mind, good intentions and energy are not enough; work, planning and action are needed. Anna and I identified the tools she had, but it was important to make sure she understood that she was the artist of her own project. My job was to share my professional experience, to provide her with a different perspective, direction and empowerment techniques.
It was important to be on the same page, so we agreed on the following:
Create SMART goals
Learn from each other
Enjoy the journey
Those weeks working together with Anna were a rewarding experience. She was able to build a strong professional network, develop clear goals, and design her professional and personal vision for the next five years. She also realized that to become a certified professional in mental health is not impossible once you know what steps to follow.
To be a Hispanotech mentor is an experience full of compassion and gratitude. It also involves self-knowledge and achievement. The more we commit with our community, the more we grow together.
Lucía Gallegos. MA, R. P. (Q) offers Psychotherapy and Counselling Services, including helping immigrants to successfully adapt to a new country like Canada.
Contact her at www.luciatherapy.com – email@example.com – luciatherapy on Twitter and Instagram