architecture & design blog
Sojourn Of A Nigerian Architect in Canada #3

2 months and 3 weeks gone and Proof Of Fund (POF) doesn’t know I am still awaiting my certification from the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). It is fast depleting and as it stands I am yet to get a permanent job placement in an architectural firm, which is more pressure on the POF.

In fact, at the beginning of August, I decided to stop putting out job applications to architectural firms untiI I have my CACB certification so as not to send multiple applications to the same firm when I am fully ready. 

So the reality is POF is depleting, I have temporarily held back on making architecture job applications thus halting my chances of getting a foot in the door in any architectural firm and earning. It doesn’t sound like a smart move, Right? Yeah, sometimes I feel that way.

Encounter with an Immigrant Architect

Early August, I met a foreign-trained architect who came to Canada nine years ago. Before relocating to Canada, he worked as one of the architects who supervised the construction of the Burj Khalifa where he garnered vast experience. He told me his story of how he began his journey in Canada in a top architectural firm in Alberta four months after arrival.

He was employed as an architectural technologist. Shortly after his employment, he acquired his CACB certification and thereafter informed the firm that he wanted to convert into an intern architect position. He was told that he was doing a very good job as a technologist and besides that, it would cost the firm money to convert him into an intern architect. They congratulated him on being CACB certified but retained him as a technologist for four years until the firm had to downsize when the economy of the province of Alberta went bad. Today, he is a Project manager building for himself a great Project management career. His name is Firas Al Saidi. You can connect with him on LinkedIn for Mentorship.

About Firas Al Saidi.

Graduated from BAU (Beirut Arabic University) with a Bachelor of Architectural Engineer degree 19 years ago and have worked in different architectural directions, Design, Construction, Coordination In Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Canada. Pride project is Burj Khalifah Tower in Dubai, the tallest tower in the world, was the senior architect from the main contractor side responsible for the shop drawing coordination.

Firas

I also spoke with other intern architects, in fact, several of them who started off as technologists and metamorphosed into interns. One of these interns will be writing his Canadian professional exams this year’s November. They had a different and somewhat successful story in the pursuit of architectural licensure. What I learned, though my opinion is that smaller firms are easy to convert from being a technologist to being an intern than bigger firms. This may be because bigger firms have more complex and structured departments such that moving people to and fro could negatively impact efficiency, operations, and even revenue.

So when making job applications to big, well-structured architectural firms you may want to be more specific or upfront with what you want (intern architect position) and not simplyy settle for anything just to get a foot in the door as you may be tied to that career line or department for years. Similarly, in a smaller firm, you could be more flexible and start off as a technologist or drafter if you don’t get an intern architect position from the start. I personally would love to work for a big firms thus the idea to hold on on my job applications until I am CACB certified to apply as an intern architect in Canada.

Temporary Jobs

So, how have I being surviving this waiting period? For me, it’s a temporary wait till I get my architectural job.

I came across a recruitment agency called Randstad Inc at a job fair. They offer temporary job placement and recruit for various companies such as FedEx, Amazons, etc and deploy employees to work for these companies for a specific period of time mostly months. They offer various types of jobs ranging from blue-collar jobs to white-collar jobs, full-time and part-time jobs depending on what is available and what fits your skills and experience as stated in your resume and during your interview.

Randstad Inc. has competitive pay starting at minimum wage ($15 per hour in Alberta) and pays employees weekly. Your skills, experience and the position you are assigned determines how high your pay goes. I have personally seen between $15 – $21 per hour for jobs in the industrial sector. It took them about a month to get me a full-time 2-month placement as a Team Lead. They have offices all over Canada, you may want to contact them through their website Randstad.ca, call them to schedule an appointment and visit. 

Below is my Timeline in Canada so far. Though, I wish june was spent on more lucrative activities. I am ok with July, August and September as I await CACB.

Timeline in Canada

June: Arrival and acclimatization. You can read more on this here.

July: 1-Month unpaid Internship at an architectural firm (Farmor Architecture) in Calgary. You can read more on this here.

August – September: 2-Month Temporary job to preserve POF and maintain a healthy cash flow.

Mid September – October: Hopefully, CACB Certification is fully approved and Job hunt in an Architectural Firm re-commences.

Randstad Offices in Calgary

If you are in Calgary Canada, Randstad has 4 offices, each based on the job type you are searching for, I started off by visiting the office handling Industrial jobs because I didn’tt know better. Now I know, I should have gone to engineering arm which is more related to architecture and construction. Their offices based in Calgary based on required job type are;

  1. ADMINISTRATIVE: 311 – 6th Avenue S.W., Intact Place Suite E1640 (East Tower)T2P 3H2 Calgary, AB.
  2. ENGINEERING: 11012 Macleod Trail Suite 103 T2J 0P9 Calgary, AB.
  3. INDUSTRIAL: 495 36th Street NE Suite 140 T2A 6K3 Calgary, AB.
  4. TECHNOLOGIES: 321-6th Avenue S.W Suite W940 (West Tower) T2P 0B2 Calgary, AB.

At my temporary job, I met Nigerians, Indians, Central Americans, etc who just arrived in Canada (very recent immigrants) already working and raising the required funds for their degree certifications, rent, and daily expenses. Which I thought was a smart way of saving your POF and earning as soon as you get here while making more permanent and long term plans.

Permanent Jobs

However, you may ask why not a permanent job? I am not so keen on getting something permanentt in another career field just yet. This is because from my observation of immigrant architects in Canada who switch careers, they develop new competencies and experiences which which keeps opening doors in their new career line they can’t resist, within a short period of time the get great opportunity and job security and become comfortable and never get to leave. But again, follow your heart.

So, that’s it for August, I wish you all the best in your plans. I hope you’ve learned something. The major thing is to have a plan, be steadfast and keep trying. Stay tuned for more blog posts on the journey of a Nigerian architect in Canada.

ou may want to read Sojourn Of A Nigerian Architect in Canada #2

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