My Steady Steps into the Future
Ranim Fahham (+Video)
Told upon arrival that her credentials are useless, a newcomer refuses to believe it. Instead, she listens to her inner voice and takes steady steps toward success.
“If I received a resume like this, it would definitely end up in the shredder,” the woman said sarcastically.
I had asked for her advice, and now I replied with a broken heart, “Why? What’s wrong with it?”
“You have to understand that in Canada, none of your degrees matter because you don’t have any Canadian experience. You have to start from zero, an entry-level job.”
“I don’t mind how simple or basic a job is. I can do it. But I also can’t forget about my experience. In Syria, I studied civil engineering. In the middle of the war, I managed a training centre and helped a lot of people. Even when I went to Turkey, in less than one month, I got a teaching position—despite my limited knowledge of Turkish.”
She interrupted me. “Canadian experience is different. Don’t waste your time. Accept reality.”
All my dreams about my new country vanished into thin air. But then a voice inside me said, “Ranim, don’t give up! Nothing is impossible in this life as long as there is hope.”
I started searching for jobs. I joined a lot of nonprofit organizations that help immigrants. I began networking with people and talking to them about life in a new country. During my first four months in Canada, I applied for more than 200 jobs. Only five companies called me for an interview. Each time, I wore my best business attire, including my black high heels which I had bought in Turkey. They are sturdy and comfortable yet stylish.
Although I wasn’t hired after four months, my self-confidence wasn’t ruined. I persevered. I wasn’t alone in my search, however. Many of the people who sponsored me to come to this country helped me by sending my resume to companies. One day, it reached a retired CEO of a big consulting engineering company. He was a wonderful and kind person who agreed to meet me. His body language was very reassuring. Despite my limited English at the time, I understood that he was willing to give me a chance.
I didn’t understand all of what he said, but I answered with one sentence. I gave him a serious look full of hope and said, “I came here with nothing, but I will do anything to achieve my dream. If you put your confidence in me, I will never let you down.”
I was true to my word. A few days later, I started work at an engineering company downtown.
On my first day, I couldn’t sleep! I woke up early and put on my business clothes and high heels. From that first day, I spent about thirteen hours a day at work and took courses to develop my skills. Many days I was overwhelmed by fatigue and despair while on my way to work. At six in the morning, most of the streets were deserted, and the only sound I could hear was the sound of my high heels hitting the pavement. I would look at my shoes and think to myself that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and one day, I’ll reach my potential.
That day came just one year later when I got a promotion at my job!
After this experience, I felt the need to help other newcomers who, like me, have fled a war-stricken country. I went on to create a catering company called Food Story Cuisine. It offers refugee women a chance to be independent and to be the creators of their own destiny. Each woman has her own shoes to reach her own goal. We are taking these steps together into a brighter future.
Ranim Faham was an instructor in a civil engineering university in Syria. When she immigrated to Canada with her two children, she not only managed to establish a professional career but also to start a catering business to help other newcomers achieve their goals