The #Iam campaign: Victoria Tkachenko

My name is Victoria, originally, I am from Ukraine and now I am the Managing Director for MECHDEMA Mechanical Design and Manufacturing Ltd. I would like to share my story to encourage you on your journey to success in a new country. I would also like to bring greater awareness to the implications of cultural diversity in Canada through my own experiences as a newcomer.

In my early years, I never even thought of the possibility of migrating to Canada. I’ve always planned my career choices based on my knowledge of the Ukrainian labor market and economy. I often think that if I grew up here in Canada my career choice would probably be different. I know some people have to or choose to fully re-qualify when they migrate, but I decided to make the best out of what I already had.

I came to Canada in 2013 and started my PDDB (Post-Degree Diploma in Business) at Vancouver Island University, during that time I was searching for a part-time job. I secured my very first job with one of the departments with the university. After finishing my studies, I faced the real labor market. I would not say that getting my first job was easy and it was not a fantastic job, but it was a start. I understood that for every disadvantage that I might have had starting out on my employment journey in a new country I also had huge advantages playing in my favour.

First and foremost, I was aware that the stereotypes about Ukrainians were present within the employment system, but I also understood that I can use some of those stereotypes for my own advantage. For example, most employers knew that Ukrainians have a track record of being diligent, hardworking and straight to the point kind of people, that was my starting point to capitalize on and gain entry into the Canadian system as I applied for marketing and admin positions. In my experience it takes time to build your network, to learn a new cultural environment, and even more professionally the market you are entering into. But sometimes it all depends on meeting that one right person to propel you to the right place. We all start from somewhere and work our way up. I also would love to add that the right hiring manager always looks beyond the facade and has an eye for talent, skill, and ability. If they don’t, you probably wouldn’t want to work for the company anyways, because you need to be valued for who you are and all the things you bring to the table.

Besides being the only foreigner on my first job (out of the university) I was also the only woman on the team, that didn’t stop me in my pursuit of gaining the Canadian experience that I needed, and I was determined to move forward.

And even though this experience didn’t land me my dream job right away, at the right time I was presented with the opportunity that I was looking for. To encourage you on your journey I would like to say that at the end of every tunnel there is a light. Start from somewhere, get to know the market, work environment, culture etc. Move forward and eventually, you will reach your goals. As an immigrant in another country, I understand that I cannot expect the whole world to be turning around me, I am the one who moved to this beautiful country and I need to take that effort to understand how it works, not expecting the system to accommodate my background. I left somewhere for a better future, so I was leaving my ‘baggage’ behind and learning how to assimilate into this new place. I worked hard, probably harder than everyone else around me but at the end of the day, I got rewarded for my efforts.

Thank you for reading my story and I hope there’s some value for you in it.