Citlalli Rios, Director of Alliances
I'm Citlalli. I'm proudly Mexican-Canadian; I landed in Canada with a bachelor's and a master's degree and over ten years of experience in a middle management position.
Since arriving in Canada, I have participated in several volunteering projects. With Hispanotech, it started with me being a mentee and volunteer, then became a mentor. I finally decided to take on a board member position, leading the Membership Committee and, later on, the Alliances Committee.
My journey has had its ups and downs. It took me some years to get to a salary and seniority level that were aligned with my experience. It has also involved lots of learning and adapting to new realities. I feel proud of my journey and grateful to everyone who has supported my integration.
For newcomers, finding a job in their field or seniority level is especially tough, primarily due to the hassle of building new local professional networks. That's what networking is all about! Other reasons are employers not recognizing international experience and education credentials, lack of transparency or access to vacant positions, contradicting or confusing information, cultural fit and unconscious biases, to name a few. On top of the added stress of caring for their family, multiple administrative errands to secure a home, car, health insurance, school, and even wayfinding are overwhelming in a new country.
Cornered, newcomers grapple with finding "survival jobs" to comply with the Canadian experience (archaic) requirements. Hispanotech is essential in assisting new Canadians in the challenging integration into the Canadian labour markets. We also help professionals already working in their field who want to advance their careers navigating the Canadian corporate culture.
We do so by organizing networking events, providing learning and development opportunities, and showcasing our member's achievements with the occasional social gathering. We also offer ongoing volunteering opportunities, which can become a first referral to the most committed volunteers when applying for jobs.
Hispanotech also facilitates a structured mentorship program that pairs up experienced individuals with newcomers who need help integrating into the job market, transitioning into a new position, or advancing their careers. I've had the opportunity to mentor three brilliant, talented, kind and resourceful professionals through this program so far.
Our membership comprises experienced professionals willing to give back and help new immigrants navigate the intricacies of the Canadian job market. Everyone learns in the process. I see our association's positive impact on our members and the community. It is a challenging task, balancing our volunteering efforts with personal and professional priorities, but it's worth it.
As a Director of Alliances, I've effectively connected several dots with stakeholders that have helped us build bridges and find new, meaningful collaborations. I'm a lifelong learner, constantly identifying new ways to leverage our current partnerships and innovative ways to reach potential partners. I always consider what our members need at the different stages of their immigrant pathway.
What else can we do then? The first step in solving any problem is identifying and being aware. The Canadian government, employers and several social advocacy groups know these issues. Many associations are avidly working towards achieving a truly diverse and inclusive job market where everyone can thrive regardless of age, gender, nationality or personality type. Hispanotech is doing its part in closing several of these gaps. We partner with other associations to cross-promote events and benefits. We also work closely with multiple corporate Latin ERGs and maintain contact with all Latin American Consulates and several bridging programs to know of new collaborations and perks we can offer our members.
A final message: be curious, adaptable and take care of your health, including your mental health. Connect with intentionality and understand your strengths and limitations. At Hispanotech, we are there for you. There are plenty of ways to get the support you need to overcome your professional challenges.
About Hispanotech and the author
Federally incorporated in 2008, Hispanotech is a 100%-volunteer-led and run not-for-profit corporation that aims to help Latin American professionals integrate and advance their careers in Canada.
Our programs and activities target Latin American STEM professionals; however, everybody is welcome to join. Please become a member, volunteer with us, and connect with us on LinkedIn.
Citlalli is passionate about diversity, equity, women empowerment, and sustainability. In her current role at eCampusOntario, Citlalli is promoting digital transformation for businesses in Ontario through innovation and collaboration. In addition, she loves networking, mentoring, and supporting the Latino community in Canada through Hispanotech as their Director for Alliances and a few other associations.
Connect with Citlalli https://www.linkedin.com/in/citlalli