Program helps foreign students build careers in N.S.

Study and Stay Nova Scotia looks for mentors to help graduating students

A program that helps international students stay in Nova Scotia after graduating is seeking more mentors.

Study and Stay Nova Scotia is in its sixth year. A hundred students attended the program this year, which is the most ever.

The program, funded by both federal and provincial governments, is designed for international students in their final year who are studying in Nova Scotian post-secondary institutions. Participants receive professional training to help them build community connections to have a better career in Nova Scotia.

“The application for students has closed now this year,” Yentl Lee, the program’s project co-ordinator said in an interview.

“But the application for mentors to join the program is open. We definitely need professional people who are interested in sharing their experience to help the international students here.”

The program provides one-on-one mentorship. Mentors are in great demand this year.

“In the past five years, we accepted 50 to 60 students each year,” Lee said. “We have 100 students this year, which means we need 100 mentors.”

The mentor will match with program participants in various fields including IT and computer science, engineering, business and finance.

“There are two main areas for this program this year, which are the community integration and employer connection development. Mentors will share their experience and skills to the students,” Lee said.

“We know that it is important to let international students feel connected to their communities. And we hope to achieve that in the program.”

Yingjun Chen, a recent graduate of Saint Mary’s University, was in the program. “Last year I saw the poster or maybe I saw the email from the program, and I just signed up for it,” she said.

“I felt like it is a great opportunity for me to learn some professional advice from those who are well-experienced and to see what I need to improve.”

Chen graduated in May and works as an international student adviser at Saint Mary’s. She already has a permanent resident card.

Chen’s mentor provided advice to help her get the job she wants.

“I’m very interested in working at a post-secondary institution,” Chen said. “So right after graduation, I was able to be paired with one mentor,” who is now her boss.

“They have different kinds of workshops. For example some of them taught you how to improve your resume and find out what you are good at,” Chen said.

She said the program also invited agents from the federal Department of Immigration to talk about programs available to international students. She found these very useful.

In five years, the program has helped most participants successfully stay in Nova Scotia.

“One of our goals has been achieved,” Lee said. “Over the six years, an average of 89 per cent of program participants have remained in Nova Scotia one year after graduation.”

Lan Jianfu

Lan comes from China

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