More thoughts on survival jobs–Career Services Blog


I love what I do.

Writing about newcomers to Canada feels really great, even though the difficulties in integration sadden me. My job satisfaction, I suppose, comes from the position of constantly being in touch with people who demonstrate “nobility.” Whether it is immigrants themselves or the people working to support their integration to Canada, I feel proud to know them. It’s like being inside a novel where the characters constantly perform admirable acts.

The comments on this blog reminded me of that. Looking back at a posting on the benefits of survival jobs, I noticed the total number of comments: 38. Re-reading them, I was touched by the nobility I see: newcomers migrating to Canada with exceptional skills and talent, facing hardship finding jobs in their fields, studying English with enthusiasm and commitment and often, accepting low-skilled, low-status survival jobs with patience and optimism.

Wow. You guys rock.

Ok, so it’s not only you. Well-educated Canadians work in low-skilled, low-status jobs, too. A recent article here details the difficulty of an educated 26-year-old surviving on a minimum-wage job and some freelance work. He demonstrates the same nobility, patience and optimism.

Being successful is hard. So much harder than simple proverbs suggest. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Yet with most of us in the Metro Vancouver, we have to multiply the number of “tries” to a number much larger figure than we ever expected.

The comments from readers of the survival job posting are like a textbook in positive thinking and healthy optimism. Here are a few:

Although I have more than 10 years’ work experience in my homeland, I found a survival job in a supermarket for selling food. Every day, I had to finish a lot of physical work. I did not like that job, but I had to do it. Every day I thought how to find a new job, what did I need to do? It was that time I decided to improve my English and find a profession job. It was survival job make me clearly know what I should to do. (Cong Long Yu, who wrote the comment at 3:10 a.m. November 23, 2014)

There are lots of benefits to the work and remembering them can improve my spirits. (Andy Li, November 26, 2014)

I’m working one of the low prices store in Canada and I’ve learn to love the job that I have….The work is too physical but to think that I am in the gym working out help me lessen the heavy of work task. Anyway, there’s a benefit to work too physical, it makes you alert and energetic… (Lilia A., November 27, 2014)

The comments also contributed an important element to the discussion: how long should someone stay in a survival job? Here are some of the thoughts expressed:

I always encourage the workers… not to stay long with their survival jobs, which should be regarded as stepping stones for attainment of higher goals. Just believe better prospects are in our hands, and miracles are going to happen with fire burning in our hearts. (Matt, November 28, 2014)

I agree that survival jobs help newcomers….Just being in survival jobs too long damages your self-esteem. You need to find a professional job as soon as you are ready. (Keiko, December 1, 2014)

I think doing survival job for some reason is good…and for some reason not…many highly educated immigrants also stuck in survival jobs. Survival jobs take your time, energy and skills! If you stay in it you may not find a professional one…(Barzan H., December 5, 2014)

Thank you for your comments, which remind me that there is more to the issue than my postings describe. Please continue commenting. Your nobility encourages all of us.

Gwen PawlikowskiAbout the Author:
Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.


5 thoughts on “More thoughts on survival jobs–Career Services Blog”

  1. I read the article twice. I felt as if it exactly described my situation.
    In my opinion, there are many other obstacles that should be cleared at the same time. As a new comer, you don’t know much about Canadian culture, so it’s important being in touch with people and learning from them. The survival jobs fortunately bring this opportunity to you. Besides you can build and improve your network. The more people you know, the higher the chance you can get a professional job.

  2. Great Gwen!Your article made me more decisive about finding a job related to my profession.However, to reach a valuable goal ,one should use all means. so,survival job is the first step to reach my main goal.

  3. The Career Services Center provides personal guidance in career development and planning to help you make satisfying, informed career decisions. Our services include individual assistance and extensive resources to assist you in creating an efficient job search and effective personal presentation. We serve prospective and current students, faculty, staff and employer partners.

  4. Great article Gwen. It’s really nice to hear for your readers and their determination work through their survival jobs experiences.

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