Jo Anne Ocampo is living her dream in the beautiful city of Calgary. “Despite arriving during the pandemic, I was able to adapt quickly because of the time spent in pre-arrival preparation. I found a professional job after a month and it’s going great,” says Jo Anne.
Country of origin: The Philippines
Immigrated to Canada in: June 2020
Currently lives in: Calgary, Alberta
Occupation: Business development
As a single woman, I was looking for opportunities for myself and to grow in my career. I have worked outside of the Philippines. I did consider the UK and Singapore, which would have been closer to home, but Canada is a dream country for any immigrant. It’s a land of opportunities and is so beautiful! So, I put together my documents and started my Do-It-Yourself (DIY) PR process. I was confident that I could handle the process without the help of an agency, and here I am living my dream now.
Canada welcomes immigrants like no other. And it also has an amazing education and health-care system. I’m a provincial nominee so I need to be in Alberta for two years. And I’m so happy for that because Calgary is beautiful. I fell in love with it from the moment I saw Calgary in pictures online. I love being so close to nature.
Well, this isn’t so much of a dislike, but it’s about the unfortunate situation we’re all in. Because of COVID-19, when I landed, this wasn’t the Canada I had always imagined it would be. I landed in summer when it’s usually festival season, but everything was closed or shut down. I did, however, manage to do some sightseeing as I explored regions in Alberta.
I think the challenges were mostly pandemic-related. Everything was online; one couldn’t socialize in person or travel much. But luckily, I was prepared for this and I adapted quickly. I made job search my main goal and am glad I found employment soon enough.
I attended Planning for Canada’s (PfC) sessions towards the end of January 2020 because I was supposed to fly to Canada in March. But I had to reschedule that to June 2020 due to the pandemic. In a way, this was better because it would’ve been really cold here in Calgary in March. June was warm and the job market and economy seemed to be opening up. Now that I look back, I think I got a lot of time to prepare and follow what I had learned in the PfC sessions and that has helped me a lot in Canada.
I was lucky that the COVID-19 situation wasn’t as bad in the Philippines back in January 2020 and I was able to attend PfC’s sessions in person. Planning for Canada sessions helped me learn so much about searching for jobs, accessing services, and finding an accommodation online during the pandemic. They also shared resources and helped me plan my job strategy.
I learned so much about Canada and that was extremely useful. Besides that, in the initial Group Orientation, I met many other immigrants, and another person who, too, was moving to Calgary. He was one of my first contacts here. We’re still Facebook friends. It helped to know that someone else is also on this journey and we could reach out to each other if need be. In the orientation, some of the speakers were immigrants who had moved to Canada a long time ago, so they shared their stories and advice that we could follow. PfC also connected me with agencies such as the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) that supported me further. I attended their classes and was able to network with other immigrants like me.
I was lucky because I was able to quickly find a professional job where I could apply my skill set. A month after landing in Canada, I found employment. I’m working as the Head of Business Relations at the Canadian Distribution Network – I’m a liaison between our company and our key accounts and customers.
It can be overwhelming to move and settle in another country. Being prepared is the best that you can do. I strongly feel that all immigrants should take advantage of the services such as PfC because the information and resources can really help you in your transition to life in Canada, and the services are free. So, do plan ahead but also believe in your dreams and stay dedicated. Your hard work will pay off sooner or later.