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Students in their own words: Helena Pieroni on being an International Student, never giving up, and career success

Picture of Practical Nursing Students

Helena Pieroni is a student in our Practical Nursing program, who plans to graduate in December 2017. She’s already obtained work at ParaMed Home Health Care as a Home Caregiver. Even with the skills practical nursing gave her, it was a long road to getting a career, especially as an international student unfamiliar with the Canadian job market. However, she managed to succeed thanks to the college’s career services, and sheer determination. Here’s how she made it work, in her own words.

On the skills the Practical Nursing program gave her…

“Clinical placements really put me face to face with the reality, but I realized that even little details in class or in the lab gave me the background to test my skills and improve them. For example, in helping a client with ambulation, I have learned  “why," "when" and "how" to ambulate impaired clients with safety and, most importantly for me, the good outcomes of this action for the client. It appears so simple, but it is not simple for who cannot move, permanently or temporarily. It requires sensitivity to support client as they deserve.”

On the challenges of being an international student looking for work, and how the Career Centre helped her out…

“As an international student, I had no idea how to get a formal job in Canada. I got some information from friends and family, but I did not know that there was a professional process to follow.”

“In my first time at the Career Service Department, I brought my resume, as I had done in my country, and it was the first alert that I knew nothing. But it was a wonderful experience, because Sureka was so kind and delicate, and said to me "it does not work in this way". So, we started to work on my resume and cover letter. I did not know how important a cover letter is, or a “thank you” email.

“Actually every single phase of getting a job is important. Proof of that was when I went to my first interview without being prepared for it. It was horrible, a catastrophe. I felt exposed to a situation that could be prevented because I could have booked a Mock interview and be prepared. I know it does not guarantee you get a job, but self-confidence is fundamental in an interview. And you can acquire it through of training, as I did.”

On how the community helped her succeed…

“I have had some angels in my life in Canada, like a senior who took the bus every day with me and a PSW in my clinical placement. They told me the same thing: “Never give up.”

On having the right attitude for career success...

“I am a perseverant person, but many times I almost give up. I had dedicated a lot of time doing a cover letter and resume for each position that I had applied, and I had felt unmotivated after dozens of non-answers. I got to thinking I am not capable of getting a job.

I really did not know what I was doing wrong. Indeed, there was nothing wrong with me. As with fishing, sometimes you pull nothing.”

Some advice for her fellow students…

“My tip for graduating students is to share my angels’ tip, “never give up.” And do visit Career Services, they can help you. It is free, they are receptive and they can give to you chance to do your best. I am real proof of that.”

By Anthony Geremia and Helena Pieroni