From Newcomer to Academic Director: An Interview with Henry Gomez
- October 19, 2023
Reading Time: 3.5 Minutes
Originally from Colombia, Henry Gomez made the life-changing decision to relocate to Canada in 2016. Nearly six years later, he became FCT’s academic director. His journey demonstrates the transformative power of education and self-belief. In this interview, we will explore Henry’s path to success and gather practical insights for newcomers seeking guidance on their own journeys.
What challenges did you face as a newcomer to Canada?
When I came to Canada, I came alone. I didn’t know anyone; I arrived without family or friends. I also didn’t have too much savings, to be honest. I will say that although I knew English, when I came to Canada, I realized I was a beginner. So, studying English cost me a lot of time and effort. When I started working as a teacher, I was scared to my bones. I didn’t even know what to expect from a classroom in Canada.
How did you secure your first job?
I went on Craigslist and found a posting for a job as an economics professor. I already had a degree in Economics and an MBA, so it was a good fit for me. I applied, and to my surprise, I got a call. I told her [the interviewer] that I’d been in Canada for less than 10 days, and she was very understanding.
One week after the interview, I followed up, and an hour later, I got a message from the director, saying, “Henry, you’re accepted. Your first class is November 21st.” I think my experience shows why its important to follow up after an interview. Many people forget this step, but it can help you land a job.
How can students strike a balance between working and studying?
Having to balance academic commitments with job requirements is a common challenge. Have an agenda for the things that you need to do, outline what you’re expected to do on certain days, and manage your time effectively. Identify which activates are fixed and which are variable. Try to balance things and include time to rest.
What are some qualities and skills newcomers need to excel academically and professionally?
Number one is to build relationships, make friends, and make professional contacts (networking).
Number two is to cultivate your communication skills. Some people say that communication is a soft skill, but I’m telling you that without communication, nothing can be done. Develop your communication skills as much as you can, talk with friends, improve your English, don’t only talk with people from your own country. Try to expose yourself to new cultures. Read books; books can help a ton as well.
What are some resources you would recommend to students?
One key resource is career services. Career services is organizing a lot of workshops and provides a lot of things that will definitely help students on their journey. When I first came to Canada, I didn’t have the chance to travel or do many things that students now have the chance to do at FCT. These workshops and events will make their transition to Canada smoother, and the culture shock easier to manage.
What message of motivation would you like to share with our students?
Trust in yourself. Trust in yourself that you can make it. Defeat the ghost in your head, and don’t be hard on yourself. Right now, you’ll have to take some time and trust in yourself that all the steps you are taking now will have positive results in the future.
Listen to Henry’s podcast Viva Canada for inspiring stories of individuals who have successfully made their way to Canada from Latin America, all in Spanish.
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