Interview With Chris

FindWRK Team

Categories: Worker Interview

November 16, 2022

Chris Isaac is a dedicated IT professional and a new Canadian who left Ghana to study information technology at Seneca. Presently, Chris works in a sales position and he hopes to find work in Canada in IT after graduation. Chris joined me to discuss the challenges of moving to Canada, securing work, and the struggles students face when finding work under restricted hours.

Chris came to Toronto from Ghana in June of 2022. In his first week, he met Alpa, a fellow student at Seneca. They were classmates in a business and information technology program, and Chris had rich experience from back home. In that first week, he says he can’t imagine life without new friends. A determined optimist, Chris says it would have been possible but more of a struggle. Instead, he navigated the things that many Canadians and Torontonians, specifically, take for granted: lining up in person for a SIN number, getting a Presto card, and navigating to the Lakeshore.

Chris cites the biggest challenge of the job industry for new Canadians is related to the cap on working hours for students. He tells me it’s 20 and that for many students, the fluctuations of their schedule prevent them from finding the right fit. Chris thinks that flexibility is essential and that by offering workers the opportunity to work from home when possible, employers save funds in a city where the cost of living is a roadblock. In Ghana, IT workers can also work from home, as Chris says, although some jobs require in-person employment.

Chris is uncertain of his plans after graduation. Right now, he works a telephone sales position from home, which works with the flexibility of his schedule. “It can’t always be rigid,” he says, “8-4, 9-5, or 10-6. A student may work a few hours, take a class, and continue to work into the evening.” But the work gets done, backed by high-level skillsets, work ethic, and intelligence, like Chris. According to Chris, it’s the flexibility that makes it work. If Chris can get a job here post-graduation, he’ll join the Canadian workforce. Otherwise, he may return to Ghana.

No matter how much I press him, Chris won’t concede to inequalities in the job market for new Canadians, nor can he number any hardships or challenges about coming to this country. The line to get his SIM card is as far as he’ll go to admit stress or struggle. He maintains that the major roadblock for students and employers is the number of hours they can work. “Employers want you to be available.” In the summer, Chris successfully progressed through many recruiting processes, but he believes his availability got in the way. “I think that after my program, it will be a different story,” he says, and as he does, he is calm, cool, and especially humble, someone anyone would be lucky to hire.

By the time I speak to him, Chris has connected with several members of our small but mighty team for one reason or another. As a developer, he likes the platform. “It’s easy to sign up, and anyone can navigate it,” he says. Aside from a brief difficulty changing his hard-won SIN number, Chris hasn’t come across any trouble, and he’s felt supported and seen by the team. “It’s not so hard to find work,” Chris says, a smile passing over his face. “It’s harder in Ghana.”

Please Note that since our conversation, the legislation on working hours for International students has changed.