Lorena Martinez is a seasoned professional who shares her secrets on overcoming challenges, securing your dream job, and embracing a life filled with confidence and opportunities.

Episode Highlights:

  • “From Coffee Server to Marketing Professional” Lorena Martinez, moved to Canada with a dream of building a successful career in marketing. She talks about her early challenges, including finding her first professional job and dealing with uncertainty.
  • “The Power of Informational Interviews” Lorena highlights the importance of informational interviews in building connections and gaining insights into your desired industry. She also shares tips on how to approach these interviews effectively.
  • “Maintaining Confidence and Positivity” Overcoming self-doubt is a common challenge for newcomers. Lorena discusses how she maintained her confidence and positivity, even during challenging times. She emphasizes the significance of exercise and the support of the community.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Never give up on your dreams; keep pushing forward.
  2. Seek support and the right tools to overcome challenges.
  3. Maintain a positive attitude, even in the face of uncertainty.
  4. Engage in informational interviews to build connections and knowledge about your industry.
  5. Conclusion: Lorena’s journey serves as a reminder that success in Canada is achievable with determination, the right mindset, and the support of the community. No matter how challenging it may seem, you have the ability to overcome obstacles and reach your goals.

Where to find Lorena

Where to find Miguel


In this episode, we cover:

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 05:06 Personal Journeys and Challenges
  • 08:00 Finding Support Groups
  • 13:15 Applying for Professional Jobs
  • 17:54 Educational Programs and Success Strategies
  • 22:03 Navigating Career Advancement
  • 29:35 Maintaining Positivity and Wellness
  • 37:07 Never Giving Up and Final Advice
  • 38:33 Connect with Lorena Martinez

AI-generated Transcript (Click here)

Welcome to the newcomers on fire show with your host, Miguel Abascal. Listen to people like you sharing their journeys, struggles, and their breakthroughs. Be ready to be inspired to take control of your time, career, finances, and future. Fulfill your potential, become the person you’re meant to be and make your dreams a reality.


Miguel Abascal
Welcome back to another episode of Newcomers on Fire. Today we have Lorena. Her story is amazing. She’s a newcomer that has been with us for the last 20 years. And over the last decade, she has been helping newcomers. So that’s why I’m super excited for you to hear her story. And without further ado Lorena. Super happy to have you here.


Lorena Martinez
Thank you, Miguel. Thank you for the invitation. It’s great to share my experiences with your audience. And as we mentioned, I’m sure our stories are going to help newcomers. Let’s rock.


Miguel Abascal
I’m sure about it. I’m sure about it because I was talking with you just before we started recording, and I was like, oh, wow, I wish I knew that before I came to Canada. So let’s jump into who is Lorena? If you can tell us more about yourself and also when you came to Canada, why a little more of that story?


Lorena Martinez
Yes, of course. As mentioned, I’ve been in Canada for 20 years and came in 2004. And I came with a group of students or recent graduates through the holiday working visa that it was a special visa that is given to recent graduates from some specific countries. At that time, Mexico was part of those countries, and I believe it still is, but sometimes the number of states are. So I came as a recent graduate with no working experience in my home country or in Canada, but I came with a lot of enthusiasm and ready to explore the city and the country and find a way to immigrate permanently. Because I came the day one I wanted to apply for permanent residence. I didn’t know how, and I didn’t have any of the requirements to do it, but I was very persistent on my dream of what I wanted.


Lorena Martinez
And 20 years later, I’m here. So what do I do? I’ve been helping international students for more than ten years. In 2009, I started an international student agency because I went through a process in which I immigrated through the studies, and it was very challenging. I learned a lot, and at that time, there was not a lot of information online, just as it is now. So I had to figure out everything by myself. I had to do my own research. I did the whole application process. And so I was like, okay, why people need to reinvent the I? Why not sharing all my experiences and knowledge with other people, other international students who want to immigrate to Canada? So that’s how I started canada is and recently, actually, last week, I just received the license to be an immigration consultant, a regulated immigration consultant license the RCIC.


Lorena Martinez
So it’s a big accomplishment indeed.


Miguel Abascal


Lorena Martinez
Thank you. This is just going to help my students and people just to have everything in one and to assist them better. Right. Because studies and immigration, they go together. They come hand in hand. So I want to do things right for them right, as well. This is me.


Miguel Abascal
Wow, that’s incredible. Let’s unpack a little bit about your story. So after coming here, you faced a lot of challenges, and also you were puzzled in terms of like, okay, what should I do? But now you’re helping people to alleviate the pain of trying to discover that information, because you’re right. Myself, my story, it took me a long time just to figure it out. Things, in fact, five years to find a professional job. But if I hire a person like you, it will be like, okay, you know what? You’re like a GPS that helps people connect and go faster from point A to point B. More questions for you. What were those kind of challenges that you faced at the beginning?


Lorena Martinez
Well, yeah, I think the main challenge, and I mean everybody’s challenge, is to be fluent in English. When I came here, my high school, it was a bilingual high school, and my tofu score was very high. So I came with the idea that my English was good and I wanted to have a professional job. I studied marketing. My background is in marketing. And then when I came here, and then I started to listen all these different accents from different nationalities. I was like, Whoa, that’s like, okay, my English is not that good. My English is not what I was expecting, or at least the first three months. And I always tell that to my students and to my students, don’t worry. The first three months, you probably need some time to adjust to the different accents, because when we study back home, you have the professor who has the same accent than you, and it’s so easy to understand them.


Lorena Martinez
But once you come here, and then you hear all these different accents, especially in Toronto and Canada, that is such a multicultural city. Sometimes you have people from countries that you have never heard, and then when you listen to them, you’re like, okay, could you repeat again? That was one of my main challenges. And also, at the beginning, I was always kind of not always, but I was kind of like, oh, I have an accent. I want to have a fluent, perfect English. And then one day, a Canadian friend told me, don’t worry, everybody has accents, so don’t worry. I love your accent. It sounds very sexy, so don’t worry about it. So sometimes when you were a newcomer, you have those kind of you put your own, sometimes, ideas in your mind or your own barriers. So you need to learn that it’s okay.


Lorena Martinez
It doesn’t have to be perfect. So that was one of my main challenges. And also when I came, I didn’t have experience back home or I didn’t have Canadian experience. So as a recent graduate, it was very hard for me to get into the labor market because of no Canadian experience, no work experience. And I wanted to work in marketing. I didn’t come prepared, like, I didn’t prepare myself. And when I was here the first month, having to prepare my resume into a Canadian style, it took me a few months. It took me maybe like four or five months. At the beginning, you prepare endless resumes and then you send them and no calls, no interviews. So that’s very challenging. And sometimes if you don’t have enough money to pay for your expenses at the beginning of your stay in Canada, it could be very challenging to the time that it takes you to prepare your resume to the Canadian style.


Lorena Martinez
So there are quite a few things that I wish I knew before coming here and to overcome those challenges.


Miguel Abascal
That makes sense. And you know what? Your story is so similar to mine because at the beginning as well, even though I studied English for a long time in Mexico, when I came here, I was puzzled because my English, I was able to understand people, but people were not able to understand me. And I was like, something is wrong with me. And that created a lot of I guess I started to doubt myself and my confidence went significantly down. And without confidence, it’s quite hard to land a job or to go to an interview or to do anything right, because now you’re doubting the ability of communicating. It’s so interesting. And I think we have similar stories because when I was working at usually I used to apologize with people and said, you know what, I’m sorry for my accent, but how can I help you?


Miguel Abascal
And people were like, yeah, it was funny because one customer told me, miguel, please do not apologize for your accent. It’s like I find it quite sexy as well. In fact, I come to this store just for you to take my order, and I was like, completely blown away. And it’s like, okay, my accent is not my weakness, it’s my superpower. And that allowed me to have more confidence as well. But what I’m impressed about your story is that you came without any professional experience and you came here also to study and to start from scratch in a country, in a career. And how did you landed the first professional job? What was that kind of journey?


Lorena Martinez
Yes. When you say we have similar stories, I have to admit that my first job, it was an epimote. It was also at a coffee shop in the first Canadian place. So it was like this coffee shop, and this is like high tower building that everybody dresses so fancy. And then you have these executives at that time, everybody who walk in the coffee shop with their blackberries. Do you remember? Yes. So my first professional job so I remember when I was working there, because I mentioned that to you before coming here. I came with the idea that I wanted to apply for permanent residence, and I wanted to land a job in marketing. So that was my idea. My idea. And then I had roommates or you always find that people that tries to bring you down or push you down, oh, no, Canada is very hard.


Lorena Martinez
You will never land a professional job. And those people that probably they are frustrated because they haven’t been able to do it or God knows I was working in the first Canadian place in a coffee shop in the first Canadian place, and I was like, one day I’m going to be working upstairs in both offices. That was like my dream. Imagine things like that. But after a year when I didn’t have any experience back home, I didn’t have Canadian experience. I started to create experience in a coffee shop and a clothing store. And I always tell my international students who come with experience from back home, please apply to professional jobs. Don’t start your career in survival jobs, because then one year, two years, three years are going to go by, and then it’s going to be harder for you to move into that professional job.


Lorena Martinez
So don’t be afraid. Trust your experience back home because it’s useful. Companies here, they recognize their experience. So I said, don’t be afraid. You apply, you go for it. Don’t be afraid. Don’t spend time on jobs like customer service jobs, because I did it. And it was probably, I don’t know, mistake or less destiny. But after a year, I noticed that I was building experience in the wrong field, right? Because I didn’t want to serve coffee for my entire life. So I was like, okay, I need to do something to change gears and get into marketing position. So that’s when my holiday working visa was coming to an aid, and it was expiring soon. So that’s why I was like, okay, so what am I going to do? I don’t have a marketing job, and I’m going to go back to Mexico. And in my resume, I’m going to put that I work in a coffee shop and I will be in store in Canada.


Lorena Martinez
So I was like, no, I cannot go back to this experience in my resume. I have to do something. So that’s when I thought about like, oh, what about becoming an international student? Why not going into do a postgraduate program or improving adding something in my resume if I stay in Canada is going to help me. If I go back to Mexico, it’s going to help me. So that’s why I decided to join, to do a postgraduate diploma in marketing. And then after studying the year, my program had a co op. So a co op is like a cooperative education in which the college connects you with companies. So that’s how I landed my first professional job after studying a postgraduate diploma or during my program had a co op and then I landed a job in a property management company as a marketing coordinator.


Lorena Martinez
So that was like my first official job.


Miguel Abascal
How did that happen? Just through that co op. You landed that job as well?


Lorena Martinez
Yeah, because the college, they teach you how to prepare your resume, how to prepare for an interview. They do mock up interviews and that’s what I always tell my students. Go to that department, like every college and university has that department. Go to the career department and ask them to help you to polish your resume, to do mockup interviews. So then they can tell you what you’re doing right, what are you doing wrong. They can even tell you about your expression because if you are afraid of tense or if you are scared in an interview, you pass that on to the hiring person. So when a mock up interview, sometimes they can record you and then you can see yourself and then they can tell you what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong. Through my college, I had an interview with property management company and then they choose me and it was a paid call, so I was paying them while I was gaining professional experience.


Lorena Martinez
And it was my first Canadian experience or the Canadian experience that a lot of newcomers need because sometimes companies they don’t want to hire if you don’t have previous Canadian experience.


Miguel Abascal
Exactly. Or Canadian education or many more things. But again, your story, we have so similar journeys because I remember also walking downtown Toronto looking at the big towers and say like one day I’m going to be working there as well and look similar to you. Funny enough, I applied thousands of times for those companies for to those jobs. Nothing happened. It was until true coffee meetings, by the way things accelerated and I was able to get referred and getting some to. Another thing that is also very similar was education. I remember also we took a program and it’s called Business Edge from Rodman. Was that program something that helped you?


Lorena Martinez
Yes, it was very useful. I learned many things that I didn’t know, actually. Sometimes I go back to my notes, for example, the informational interviews. That’s very useful to do informational interviews because some of the industries you get into the industry or you get into the company through connections. A lot of positions are based on your experience, based on what you have to offer to the employee, to the company. But some other industries is through connections. So informational interviews are very useful. I don’t think that something is that in Mexico or Latin America we use I don’t remember hearing about it. I think it’s more informal. You talk to your friend, it’s a little bit more informal, but here in Canada it’s more formal. You need to request an information, an interview, go for a coffee and talk about, I don’t know, careers or it could be an exchange of things.


Lorena Martinez
It’s not also about asking things. You never know that maybe you can possess something that you can help the other person and vice. So that’s something that I learned about through the business age program in and I think in Canada there’s always a culture of constant learning that you always need to be learning and upgrading your skills. And Business Edge was one of those programs that helped me.


Miguel Abascal
Yeah, totally. I also took that program and it’s amazing. It helped me a lot. Totally. I have so many stories about that program. Potentially I want to do an episode just on that because it was so fun. I joined the program because it says like, oh, it’s going to be amazing, you’re going to get promoted, or the rate of success is quite significant. I was like, I do not believe that’s marketing funny enough. Long story short, take the program and I get promoted because of information interviews. And I was like, oh wow, it really worked. So yeah, I totally recommend it. Another thing that now I remember another thing that we have a very similar background, potentially our cultural background that is the same is when I was not doing that well because it took me five years to land a job in my profession.


Miguel Abascal
I said to myself, I’m not going back to Mexico with looking down in shame. I’m going to go back to visit my friends and family proud and happy and satisfied. So for many years I was like, yeah, I guess we have that sense of not being vulnerable or something, right? It’s different. Until later I discovered that actually asking for help, reaching out and to your point, asking what should I do? It works a lot. And you’re right, information interviews is something that I never did back home. That’s something I had to learn here. And in fact, I was talking with a mentor and the mentor told me, just go on coffee dates with strangers. And I was like, is that a thing in like, who wants to go to a coffee date with a stranger? And then especially when you’re going to ask questions about their work, it’s like, yeah, that’s a thing in Canada that works.


Miguel Abascal
And then of course you need to practice and do great at these information interviews or coffee Millies, because the first ones are not going to be that great, but then eventually it’s just like amazing and yeah, totally. I also recommend information interviews as skill that you should master.


Lorena Martinez
Yes. And that’s something that you can do constantly, not even when you’re happy with your job. Probably you’re not looking to be promoted or to change companies. That’s also to keep yourself up to date, what’s happening with the industry. Like, let’s go for a coffee shot. Let’s go for a coffee and talk about new things in the industry or things that you perceive or things like that. And it doesn’t need to be necessary in a moment of your career that you are desperate of finding a job. Like, it could be an ongoing thing. And I think that’s what they taught us in the program in the business age. I think that’s what they say, keep doing this. It’s a constant work or homework that you need to do.


Miguel Abascal
You got it. Because the best time to find a job is when you are relaxed and when you have a job that you can go and say, like, hey, I’m just meeting new people. Let’s see. I’m exploring my options. I want to learn about the leadership style of this department, this company. I agree completely. And actually, some of the things I do personally is that if I want to move or if I want to get promoted, I start doing information interviews, like, six months ahead of time. Because you need to understand who are the key players, who is doing what, how long specific people have been in their job. When are they going to get promoted? So once you understand all of that information, then it’s quite easy to start being more strategic. And we’re going to be covering more about this. Potentially, we can do other episodes.


Miguel Abascal
Lord now just information interviews, what to do and how to do that, because they work and it’s quite there.


Lorena Martinez
You need to know how to ask.


Miguel Abascal
What to say, how to say it, manage the time, because, of course, it’s always been like, okay, 1520 minutes and what. Yeah, exactly. I have a question for you. How is life or how was life in Canada after landing your first professional job? Did something change? Did you feel different?


Lorena Martinez
Definitely, you feel different because definitely after a year or so, being in Canada, of course it feels different. It feels great to be applying what you learn in schools and universities. So it definitely boosts your confidence because I’ve mentioned at the beginning, when you go and knock doors and they close the door in your face, you’re like, your confidence starts. A couple of instances. The first year, I had a couple of instances that my confidence dropped. I thought I was just the first job. You’re like. Okay, I can do this. And of course, it gives you more confidence of what you’re capable of, and you’re starting to show your employee. Actually, when I did my co op, so my co op was like a three, four and the company, after those three, four months, they could have said, okay, thank you so much, Warina. Your co op is over, and see you later.


Lorena Martinez
But after those three, four months, they decided to hire me permanently because obviously I did something good. Actually, an episode. I don’t know if you want me to go in deep about that, like what you can do to show your skills. Because also your attitude, once you get the job, there’s a lot of work that it needs to be put into, that they need to show your employee that you have the skills, that you have the aptitude, that you are a problem solver, that you can do many things. And then they are like, oh, okay, so we’re going to keep Miguel or we’re going to keep Lorena, because they do so many amazing things. But the first job is just the beginning of all those things. Like, you need to continue working on your resume, on your communication skills, on your informational, interviews and so on.


Lorena Martinez
So things change. For sure. Things change, especially after then of my first job, I was still under a work permit, so I was not a permanent resident. And the fact that you don’t know if you’re going to be able to stay permanently or not, it also doesn’t give you a lot of confidence because you’re like, oh, maybe the embassy is not going to call me. They’re not going to give me my permanent. So it’s a lot of uncertainty that the first years, I’m not sure if you came to Canada with a PR or if you had a PR already, or if you went through the process of also obtaining your PR while you were in Canada. But those years, there’s a lot of emotions and a lot of, yes, it’s not easy, but once you pass that stage, you have your permanent residence, you land your professional job.


Lorena Martinez
Things are way different now. You feel more relaxed. You’re like, okay, I got this. Life is good. I always tell my students, don’t mix up Canada with the US. Because they’re very different. Like, probably people who go to the US. Or I personally don’t know. The impression that I have is that people who go to the US. Or even the US. Is much easier to make more money or to make money faster. But Canada is not a country that it’s a country that you’re going to have a good life, decent life, but money is not going to fall off from the trees. You’re going to have a good life.


Miguel Abascal
Exactly. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. Exactly. It’s a lot of work.


Lorena Martinez
It’s a lot of work. Yes, ongoing work.


Miguel Abascal
A couple of things I want to talk about is about your confidence journey, if you have any strategies or how did you manage to stay positive, how you kept up, pushing through. Because as we know, uncertainty, stress, being overwhelmed, exhausted, all of that are just ingredients for a recipe of disaster. But if you push through and you are consistent and you are positive and have great attitude with good mindset, then you can move mountains. So if you can tell us more about your journey there, that would be great.


Lorena Martinez
Yeah, that’s correct. The emotional aspect, it could either help you or it could make things harder for you. I have different challenges, and that’s something that sometimes people in wintertime, they tend to like the weather. Sometimes people sometimes people tend to feel a little bit sad or depressed because the sun in Canada. Many of you know, or many who listen this podcast from other countries that haven’t experienced life in Canada during winter, we have months that from November, December up to February, there’s not much light. And after like four, five p. M. Everything is dark. I remember those days when I used to before COVID when I used to go to the office in the morning, it’s dark, and then you leave the office and it’s dark. To me, my main secret is exercise. I am always exercising, like run, swim, whatever type of activity that helps your mood, your immune system, that always helps.


Lorena Martinez
It’s going to help you physically, and it’s going to help you mentally finding support. And that’s also how we met, finding support groups. The Toronto Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In my case with Exatec the Monterey Alumni Association. I think if it wasn’t because of those two groups also live. I’m not sure if I would have last or if I would endure as much as I did because I was here for five years, and after five years, my permanent residence came. So having the right people, the right support groups, exercise, and having a positive attitude overall, if you are a person in your company, if you’re a person that has a positive attitude, willingness to do things, like, your employee is going to notice that at least. And I think especially like, Latin American people were always kind of happy and goodbyes, or at least people who I met at the beginning when I used to say, like, oh, I’m from Mexico, like, Canadians are like, oh, nice, yes.


Lorena Martinez
And I really kind of, like, got into this kind of I don’t know why they connect kind of like Latin people with things like it’s just having the right positive attitude and to never give up. Don’t give up your dreams. Don’t let that person to bring you down to say, oh, no, you won’t be able to do it. It’s very hard. I remember before coming here, I was writing in some blog or somewhere on the Internet, like, oh, I have a work permit. I’m going to write in May. I don’t have Canadian experience, and I just graduated. And then I started to receive a lot of messages like, you will never find a job. It’s going to be very even. I didn’t even put a step in Canada, and I started to receive those.


Miguel Abascal
What kind of group was that? Like bullyme.com or something?


Lorena Martinez
Something like that. I don’t want to say the name but I was like, what? But don’t listen to those people that they try to bring you down. Never give up. Just keep planning for your dreams and trying to find the way. What is the thing? When there is a will, there is a way. So if you want to be successful in your professional career in Canada, just find the right people that is going to help you accomplish 100%.


Miguel Abascal
You nailed it. Because before trying to arrive from point A to point B, we are from a generation that we used to have maps and I used to get lost all the time. Now we have a GPS, and it’s way easier because it’s like, turn left, turn right, avoid this traffic. And that’s having a mentor, that’s having a coach that’s going to help you just to avoid all the time and energy that is going to be wasted in trial and error. So I 100% believe in that. Just a couple of things to unpack you’re. So right. Finding your first professional job is like climbing a mountain. It feels like a huge accomplishment because you know what? The first time that somebody trusts and believes in your professional capabilities, and it’s like, yes, come in. But the moment that you get a job, you feel like, wow, amazing.


Miguel Abascal
I did it. I made it. Finally, my first step in Canada. Next day happens, and it’s like, I have probation, which could be three months or six months, and that’s another month. And it’s like, okay, well, are they going to select me? Are they going to keep me, or are they going to let me go? And then, of course, within the first 90 days, how you’re going to communicate your values? What are you going to do, meet the team and so on. Then you pass probation. And then the next phase is like, okay, another mountain. It’s like, okay, how can I get promoted because I’m a junior at this job that I have 20 years of experience. It’s like, I think I actually know more than that person being a senior or a director or the boss of Boss Navigating. That is also another mountain, and there are more mountains.


Miguel Abascal
So to your point, and thank you for sharing your insights and your secrets for success. It’s like, okay, exercise finding your people, finding your tribe, connecting community and things as simple as like, yeah, in winter, we receive so little light that even your body gets sad in a way that is like, you know what? Yeah, there is something missing, especially for people. That sun is almost like 24/7, where you will receive so much. So I love all of that. Just before we finish, what would be your message for all the newcomers out there? If you have a billboard of all the newcomers and people that are planning to come to Canada, what would that billboard say?


Lorena Martinez
Well, I would say never give up. Seriously, it could. Seem like when the first years are the most challenges. And it could see that you say a mountain and you could feel that you’re like climbing Everest because sometimes you’re like, why am I doing wrong? Why do I don’t get any phone call? Why do I don’t land any interviews? Like you send resumes, resumes, and then crickets. So just never give up. Find why you’re doing wrong. Find the right people or support groups, tools such as the programs that the city has or the government has for newcomers. There’s so many resources that just never give up. You’re not alone. Everybody went through this. And you need to find the right tools, the right people, and you will succeed.


Miguel Abascal
Amazing. It’s not a matter of if you’re going to succeed, it’s a matter of when you’re going to succeed. Once you have the right people, the right tools, and the right opportunity in front of you as well. Lauren, I love it. I love it. For people that want to connect with you, how can they reach you? How can they know more about what you’re doing?


Lorena Martinez
Yeah, so they can reach me. So my website is canada. My email is you can find me. Those two ways of connecting with.


Miguel Abascal
Love. I love talking to you always. Lorena, thank you so much. This was incredible. I think we need to another one just to go more into details, but I appreciate it so much and yeah, I just have words of appreciation for you.


Lorena Martinez
Thank you. Miguel, thank you. And congratulations for all the nice work that you’re doing. I’m sure a lot of people will benefit from all the efforts that you are putting into these projects. Thank you.


Miguel Abascal
Amazing. Thank you. Thank you so much. To your success. Thank you.


We hope you enjoyed this show and that it helps you to find your way or make your way. If you found value, share it with someone who needs it.


Miguel Abascal
Until next time.


To your success.