Renan Orquiza, originally from the Philippines, arrived in Canada on March 31, 2013 after working in Singapore for a few years. When he started job searching after he landed in Ontario, he realized that online applications weren’t the best avenue to obtain the job that he was looking for. He then decided to pursue a different approach, so he joined Career Edge which is a non-profit organization that helps internationally trained immigrants with their job search. This decision helped him get his first job in Canada, and he was hired by a Geo-Environmental Consulting firm based in Markham, Ontario as an Environmental Project Manager. He was grateful that he was able to land a job in his career within 4 months.
While employed, he also participated in a 4-month Engineering Bridging Program offered at Humber College which helps engineering students with networking, resume preparation, interview skills, software skills, etc. He learnt that networking and volunteering were important elements, as well to obtain a job in Canada. Furthermore, considering all blessings that he received since he landed in Canada, it made him want to also give back to the community.
With that in mind, he looked for non-profit organizations that he could help. He started volunteering at the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) Mississauga Chapter as a committee member, as well as one of the facilitators in the bridge building competition for high school students. Because of his dedication, he was asked to assist in other events within the PEO, such as Mathletics, Licensure Programs, Conferences and/or other technical seminars. In the early 2015, he was elected to become one of the Executive Board Members and is currently appointed as the Environmental Committee Chair. He gives his time to PEO since he understands firsthand the challenges of internationally trained immigrants and/or engineers, because he has been in their shoes and has been able to overcome those same types of challenges. Through volunteering he was able to share his experiences and help in any way he can.
At the same time of Renan being involved with the PEO, he found out that Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) Authority needed an Events Ambassador to promote their environmental programs and to share information with the public about maintaining and preserving the Conservation areas, as well as to promote the various programs of the organization within the areas of the Credit Valley Watershed (which include the portions of Oakville, Mississauga, Milton, Halton hills, Brampton, Erin, Caledon, Garafraxa, Mono and Amaranth). Renan wanted to give back to the community where he and his family were living in, as well as to help conserve the environment for future generations. Thus, he applied for this potential volunteering designation, since this was an opportunity for him to accomplish the aforementioned two goals. Because of his efforts, he became one of the recipients who received a long hours service recognition from CVC. The organization also submitted a nomination for him to Volunteer MBC’s 5th Annual Volunteer Recognition Awards Program held in April 2015 and he was selected as the 2014 recipient of the Newcomer Gem Volunteer Award. He is still actively involved with CVC and is now in his 2nd term of being an Events Ambassador for the organization.
Whenever he is contacted via LinkedIn or is asked about professional development tips through classmates from the Humber College program he participated in, as well as through the events he organizes via PEO, he willingly shares his experiences. It gives him the opportunity to give hope and boost the morale of others and simply motivate them to reach their goals.
As a member of the grad panel and an alumni of the Engineering Software Skills Enhancement Program at Humber College, he spoke to recent candidates of the program about what he has done, sharing tips regarding the job market and always mentions that volunteering is important to the work culture, that we must be flexible and that to succeed we must try to be open to change. Yes, he knows it is not easy but it is manageable.
One of his proudest accomplishments is mentoring others, which provides him with the opportunity to touch people's lives personally and to get to know others better. He is amazed at the variety of backgrounds he has come across. Even though he is mentoring others, he realizes that he, too, is learning and growing through the experience. It has made him who he is and enables him to share his passion for the environment with others. Recently, he decided to take this passion to another level by officially becoming a Mentor within “The Mentoring Partnership” program by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).
Through volunteering he has reaped many benefits, namely, mentoring others has helped to develop his skills and it has enabled him to expand his networks and to help others to fit into the culture they are working and living in. His goal is to benefit future generations, including his family.
The advice he gives others is this: "People think that volunteering is 'free'. It is not and will never be considered as free because you are actually reaping more out of it. It helps with your personal growth, the community including your family and the environment that we are all living in. On a side note, we should never expect anything in return while volunteering; however, if some things come in your way, you will be extremely surprised with all the positive returns”.
Volunteering has also helped him become more visible with employers and/or other organizations, which differentiates him from others and is a gauge of who he is - it shows that he is responsible and better integrated with the industry.
He goes on to say, "Whenever you volunteer, pick an organization which focuses on what you are passionate about. An organization where you will be willing to commit your personal time and wherein you will also enjoy every experience you gained". That is why he volunteers with the PEO, CVC, Humber College ESSE Program and now The Mentoring Partnership with TRIEC. The only return he is expecting in sharing his experiences is that others use the skills and advice he is giving them and they are able to put it to good use.
At present, he is a registered Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) within Ontario and working as a Project Manager at Watters Environmental Group Inc., an environmental consulting firm based in Vaughan, Ontario. He credits his volunteer work, aligned with determination, faith and love of his family, with getting him to where he is today.
Written by: Lisa Dantas