My name is Sibghat Usmani. I landed in Canada on 7th May 2019, with a PhD in social work and almost 7 years of experience in research and training. Just as most newcomers, I started navigating my career options with enthusiasm but within a couple of months, it was gone as I was unable to understand what exactly the employers were looking for and what was it that I was missing on. Nonetheless, as I was a social work graduate I decided to continue with the same career path and joined the bridging program for Internationally Educated Social Workers at Ryerson University. It was an alumnus of the course working at Toronto Public Health, who told me about the Immigrant Insight Scholar (IIS) fellowship at Access Alliance. I was delighted at the opportunity, applied for it and got it too. I joined as a fellow in November 2019 and started working on a project at the Institute for Work and Health (IWH). I also joined the Immigrant Researchers Support Network (IRSN) as a member and got my first opportunity to present my research work at the Coffee Chat- an informal forum for researchers’ Knowledge Mobilization opportunity. The presentation built my confidence as a new immigrant.
I got excellent opportunities at IWH and Access Alliance for learning and growth. I received N-Vivo training and Knowledge Transfer Professional Certificate as a part of my professional development opportunity. I was able to publish a blog on Knowledge Translation at the IRSN portal, which boosted my engagement. By the time the COVID-19 pandemic started. I observed that members of ethnic communities are facing the issue of trust in published information. I worked on this access issue for utilizing the COVID-19 information and prepared an article (sent for publication) with my supervisor at Access Alliance, Akm Alamgir.
In last one year, I received extensive support in understanding research methodologies, protocols, literature review frameworks and manuscript development as an IIS fellow. It has also contributed to my growth and provided me with excellent networks to connect professionally. I also started working with other researchers who were associated with Access Alliance on manuscripts. Currently, I am engaged in two more manuscripts which are under development for publication. The blog and publication have added credibility to my work and build in my confidence as an immigrant researcher.
I learned from my supervisors the value of networking and how to do that. My enhanced skills, Canadian work experience as an IIS fellow, and boosted confidence brought me opportunities at the end of the fellowship. I was offered an opportunity at IWH for working on a separate project, and simultaneously I got a full-time position as Field Education Manager at Ryerson University. That is exactly the type of job I was looking for. I give the credit to the fellowship that helped me understand the intricacies of Canadian research fields and gave me an excellent platform to bridge my skills to be integrated into the mainstream Canadian labour market.