Wednesday, October 20, 2010

40 after 40: Mahshid G. and Hooman S.


Like many new immigrants, Mahshid G. and Hooman S. faced their share of challenges when they came to Canada from Iran in 2007.

They had no family or friends in their new country. Despite their education (both are medical doctors), they had no job prospects. At the same time, Mahshid was pregnant with the couple’s son.

“When I look back at that time, I feel like we did an impossible thing,” recalls Hooman. “When we came here, everything is new: the country, the language. Even things like grocery shopping and banking are difficult.”

“It was hard to go from a high level in your society to a situation where you are jobless,” said Mahshid. “It’s worth it in the end, because it’s a better life here for us.”


A lot has changed since then. Shortly after coming to Canada, they discovered the Training Group at Douglas College Skills Connect for Immigrants Program, which helps new Canadians find employment in their field of expertise. Today, they are among 18 new Canadians who are starting medical residencies in B.C. through the Ministry of Health’s International Medical Graduates of British Columbia Program. Hooman heads into a five year orthopedic surgery residency, while Mahshid is working in family medicine for two years.

“Skills Connect was a huge help for both of us,” added Mahshid. “When we began the exams that are part of the licensing process for international medical grads, I was so busy studying and taking care of our baby son that I couldn’t take a job. The program helped pay a portion of the costs of our exams and helped me access a child care subsidy, which allowed us to focus on our studies.”

“We spent a lot of time with our counselors doing mock interviews and learning things like how to dress for interviews and how to shake hands, things that seem simple but were very important for us to learn,” she adds. “They were very experienced and helpful and always ready to help us find a suitable job.”

The couple say they understand the difficulties many other skilled immigrants face when it comes to finding appropriate employment, but recognize that many of these challenges come with the territory.

“It’s frustrating at first, but when you enter the system you can understand how different the society and cultures are and you need to learn those differences,” said Hooman. “It can be difficult, but if you work hard, the opportunity to be successful will open up for you. We’re very grateful to Canada and its people for giving us this opportunity.”

40 after 40 is a series showcasing our amazing grads and employees in celebration of our 40th anniversary. Check back every Wednesday and Friday for another inspiring story. See more about our 40th on our Anniversary page.