Earlier this year, our Transportation and Logistics Division’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee became involved with the Atlantic Canada Study and Stay New Brunswick Program, a province-wide mentoring program connecting graduating international students to the local labour market.
Participating students were provided with one-on-one mentoring and group supports through their final year of study to ensure they have the tools and connections needed to launch a career in NB.
Brittany McGraw, an HR Business Partner with RST Sunbury, signed up to participate and was partnered as a mentor with Precious Ileh, a graduating Bachelor of Business Administration student from UNBSJ. As the year progressed, Brittany and Precious cultivated a friendship and she was able to secure him an interview with Chandler Sales, a leading business to business supplier based in Saint John. Precious was successful and began working with Chandler as a Sales Specialist early in September.
We connected with both Brittany and Precious to learn more about their experience with the program.
Can you tell me a bit about yourselves?
PI: My name is Precious Ileh and I currently work as an Inside Sales Support Specialist for a renowned company in the Atlantic Region. I am originally from the Southern part of Nigeria, in West Africa. In 2015, I moved to Canada to pursue a degree in Bachelor of Business Administration at UNBSJ and recently graduated with a major in Human Resources. My interests lie in Organizational Resource strategies and development; hence my goal is to advance in this field and match businesses to the best fits locally and internationally. Beyond the corporate world, I'm a seasoned musician, Music Director and Composer and enjoy volunteering with Charitable Organizations.
BM: I joined JDI after graduation in 2014 as a Marketing Coordinator. I spent two years in marketing and communications and during that time I was exposed to and worked closely with different HR groups in the organization. It was during that time I realized I had an interest in the HR world and I haven’t looked back since. Currently, I work as an HR Business Partner with the Transportation Division – primarily supporting RST Sunbury and Universal Truck and Trailer. I also lead the Divisional Diversity and Inclusion Committee which includes representatives from each of the businesses within our Transportation & Logistics team.
Where did you hear about the program, and what made you want to be involved?
BM: I received an email from Steven Therrien, Program Lead for the Atlantic Canada Study and Stay Program in December 2019. The more I investigated the program, the more I felt it aligned with my values both personally and professionally. Not only is retaining and recruiting youth in NB a mandate of mine professionally, but I also volunteer with the YMCA Youth Leadership Council whose focus is to retain youth in the province and equip them to enter the workforce post-graduation. It seemed to be perfect fit.
PI: While rounding up my Summer job in 2019, I received an email from the International Students Representative at UNBSJ requesting that Senior year students enroll for the Atlantic Study and Stay Program. I read up on the program, developed some interest and decided it was worth applying for to increase my chances of kick-starting my management career in Atlantic Canada. International students need as much counseling and exposure as they can get to help them face the unique Canadian labour market and that is exactly what the program was created for and more much.
Brittany, what did you gain from being a Study and Stay mentor?
BM: Oftentimes when someone hears of a mentor-mentee relationship, you assume the mentee is learning from the mentor, but it can often be just the opposite. Having moved to New Brunswick for school less than four years ago, I was interested to better understand what motivated Precious to stay in NB. So often we hear stories of folks leaving our province that we forget to focus on the many reasons people stay. I was able to learn about his move to New Brunswick and how he developed friendships and connections through joining a local congregation. As a business, we are recruiting folks to our province from all over, and need to better understand how we can assist them when it comes to networking and connecting with others and planting roots in our community.
Precious, what did you gain from being a Study and Stay mentee?
PI: The program matches selected final year students to great mentors with similar professional pursuits. It allows students benefit from a significant amount of guidance and valuable career development tips not taught in the four walls of a classroom, helping them prepare for the future. I was indeed blessed to have been paired up with an amazing Mentor, Britany McGraw who guided me throughout the program, from resume reviews, skill assessments, job selections, applications, mock interviews and especially sharing her invaluable personal insights on organizational cultures, career building challenges and navigating through these roadblocks. In the end, Britany provided an excellent recommendation that contributed to landing my current job in a remarkable organization. As I recount my experiences with the program, I realize that having a well-rounded mentor like Brittany has equipped me with worthwhile life-long lessons such as open-mindedness, optimism, patience and diligence.
To conclude, Brittany, as Chair of the Committee, how does participating in this Study and Stay program further the Transportation Division’s D&I Mission?
BM: The D&I Committee focuses on four major pillars: communication, training and development, workplace culture, and recruitment. JDI’s motto keep them home, bring them home, make it home really explains our recruitment focus. We are eager to retain young professionals in our province and to help them succeed professionally. This program enabled us to connect with international students and learn their perspectives, suggestions, and challenges, while helping them start their careers here in New Brunswick. It’s really a win-win for all involved.
J.D. Irving, Limited is currently hiring across our operations. To view openings, please visit careers.jdirving.com.