Newcomer Story: Prabaharan Balasubramanian

Praba’s family immigrated to Thompson in 2014. Read how his positive mindset played a big role in his smooth settlement and getting employed within the first month of his arrival in Manitoba. Be inspired by his commitment to lifelong learning as it continues to propel him closer to his dream career.

Praba is brimming with positivity. I met him over Skype but one could feel the warmth and enthusiasm through the screen. I thanked him profusely for speaking to us on a Tuesday morning. You have to understand, many of our clients choose to learn online precisely because of their tight schedules. Praba is no exception. What was exceptional though was his willingness to share his story so that he could inspire other Manitoban newcomers.

From South India to Winnipeg (via Thompson)

Initially, Praba was not interested when a close friend offered to sponsor his family to come to Manitoba. He thought that he was already at a higher level in his career and didn’t really look forward to starting over. However, when he talked to his wife, she was all for it. The family discussed the possibility and eventually applied through MPNP. Their application went smoothly and in about a year’s time, the couple and their two children were bound for Thompson.

They landed in Thompson in 2014 and found the small town welcoming. Praba liked that there were a lot of Indian families there and in a small town, everybody knew each other. What was lacking, however, were social and educational opportunities for his kids. This led to him to set his sights on a bigger city. He started researching about Winnipeg and found some contacts there. In 2015, they eventually moved to Winnipeg.

Discovering settlement assistance and career opportunities

Praba connected with Manitoba Start immediately after moving. He was referred to the Entry Program, a settlement orientation program which he attended for four weeks. “Entry Program taught me so many things I needed to learn not only about Manitoba, but about Canada as a whole. I have attended pre-arrival seminars before we left but Entry Program provided more complete information,” Praba said.

Meanwhile, with the help of Manitoba Start, Praba learned how to craft a Canadian-style resume and cover letter. The Electrical and Electronics Engineering graduate had worked as a sales and marketing manager in his home country but when he saw a want ad for sales and marketing representatives from Shaw Communications, he didn’t hesitate to apply. His career counsellor registered him and coached him through the application process. In the same month, Praba got the job and started right away.

“I am truly thankful to Manitoba Start for their help. They really guide you and coach you from the time you create your resume until you get a job. In fact, they also helped my wife. She is now back in banking, working for Cambrian Credit Union. My wife is now the most motivated person in my family,” Praba said with a smile.

“I am a firm believer in the MPNP program. They give you all the tools to succeed. They hold your hand to guide you through the steps to fully adapt and integrate,” he added.

“When Praba joined English Online his CLB listening skill was 6, speaking at 8, reading at 7 and writing at 5. After a year, his CLB level moved  to 7 in most areas. Now he is working to reach level 8 so that he could start on his path towards earning his Engineering licence.”

99% attendance

Praba has impeccable English speaking skills. This is made more impressive based on the fact that back in his home country, they only spoke Tamil. He said he learned English by watching TV and movies. And now he is continuing to hone his English in preparation for his Engineering licensure. Because of his tight schedule at Shaw, he chose to enroll in LINC Home Study (LHS) with English Online. LHS is a language training program available to ESL learners who cannot attend a face-to-face class in Manitoba. Learners use both the EO and LHS platforms to practise language skills. Students receive a CLB certificate upon completion of the course.

“Learning with English Online has been great. First of all, it’s at zero cost and instruction is delivered to you at home via online means. If you ask my e-facilitator Yuliana, she’ll say that my attendance has been 99%! What I like about learning English with her is that I don’t only learn the basics, like spelling and grammar, but the hidden aspects of language as well, for example using the proper tone of voice, and writing in short sentences,” Praba said.

“Learning with LINC Home Study is enriched because of the available resources on livelearn.ca website. It provides information for every aspect of settlement and integration that newcomers need. It does not only teach you about English, it tells you how to live your life well, how to manage your family. Everything is there. All you need is to do is read and learn,” Praba added.

When Praba joined English Online his CLB listening skill was 6, speaking at 8, reading at 7 and writing at 5. After a year, his CLB level moved to 7 in most areas. Now he is working to reach level 8 so that he could start on his path towards earning his Engineering licence. He is optimistic that after his licensure journey, he’ll be able to get his dream job and become a practicing Engineer. With Praba’s commitment and positive attitude, we have no doubt that he’ll realize these goals.

“I meet many newcomers who are content with their English. After they get their first job, they settle in. They don’t know that having less English skills make them underemployed. Continuously improving your English leads to better career opportunities. It will lead you to have a better life in Manitoba.”

Great, great tips

Praba’s tips to newcomers:

  1. In life, many people will tell you that to be successful you have to be somebody else. But when I came here to Canada, they will tell you to be yourself. That’s important. Just be yourself and everything will work out fine.
  2. When looking for a job, don’t think about levels. The important thing is to get your foot in the door. I started as a sales and marketing representative at Shaw and now I have moved on to Technical Support. This is getting closer to the technical side of things which is my line. I am enjoying my job because I am learning new things every day. Open your mind to possibilities.
  3. Networking is important. Get to know people. The hidden job market will open up to you.
  4. Just as our bodies and brains grow new cells every day, we should always keep growing and learning. For example, I meet many newcomers who are content with their English. After they get their first job, they settle in. They don’t know that having less English skills make them underemployed. Continuously improving your English leads to better career opportunities. It will lead you to have a better life in Manitoba. So keep on learning.
  5. Hang on and don’t lose hope. Just keep on persevering.

Please login to comment or view discussion.