How the Right Program Leads to Employment in Canada for Newcomers

Janelle Pagnucco | October-16-12




ECO Success Stories

Michaela Pop, Environmental Scientist
Mihaela Pop


Calgary, AB

Environmental Scientist at Summit Environmental Consultants, a member of Associated Engineering Group of Companies


Mihaela Pop came to Canada almost 2 years ago from Targoviste in the historical province of Valachia. She went to the University of Bucharest where she studied a broad range of subjects, from math to GIS, in order to earn her environmental sciences degree.

Mihaela’s journey to finding work in her sector as a new immigrant was shorter than most newcomers. After arriving in Canada she quickly became aware of ECO Canada’s Environmental Immigrant Bridging (EIB) program being offered in partnership with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS). At the time, the EIB program was in a pilot phase thanks to funding provided by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).

The EIB program was instrumental in giving Mihaela the knowledge and skills needed to find a job in Canada’s environmental sector. Learn more about her story and how she found her way into Canada’s environmental sector in the following interview.

Why the Environment & Why Canada

What (or who) first interested you about the environment?

My parents were instrumental in raising me to appreciate nature. I am originally from Targoviste in the historical province of Valachia. My father took me out hiking from a young age and my mother explained to me why nature is so important. 

What did you take in college or university and why?

I always wanted to be environmentalist, so I applied for the Environmental Science program at the University of Bucharest. The curriculum included a broad suite of classes including: mathematics, biology, monitoring, GIS, hydrology, topography, chemistry, and pollutant technologies. The courses I took were a wide range of topics but I knew that being an environmental scientist was about finding connection between different earth sciences for a better understanding of the environment.

Did you work in the environment industry before coming to Canada and if so, what was your job?

Before coming to Canada I worked as an environmental consultant for Halcrow Romania, now part of CH2M Hill. The Environmental Department I was a part of had many challenging projects especially in the areas of oil and gas. 

When did you come to Canada and why did you choose Canada?

I visited Canada twice before immigrating here. Why Canada: for the people, the challenge, and most of all the educational system. Canada is a great place to raise your children, learn and explore.  It's been a long journey and a beautiful one. 

Landing a Job in the Canadian Environmental Workforce

What is your current title and what are your job responsibilities?

Currently, I’m working as an environmental scientist in the area of Environmental Management Practice, for Summit Environmental Consultants, a member of Associated Engineering Group of Companies. My main responsibilities are project design, execution and reporting regarding contaminated sites and environmental assessments.

What has been your most important learning in the past year?

I’m learning that Alberta regulations are numerous and complex! It’s been a real eye-opener.

How do you think your journey to finding a job in the environmental sector compares to other people (both Canadians and immigrants) that you have talked to?

It’s such a personal journey. I’ve heard of people looking for a job in their occupation for a long time. You just have to have faith and guts, and be open to receive help because there are many people and organizations that offer help to immigrants. I encourage newcomers to consider going through ECO Canada's Environmental Immigrant Bridging program as it is helpful.

What specific skills/knowledge did you gain from the Environmental Immigrant Bridging Program that you feel helped you find your environmental job?

The EIB program is very focused on building soft skills and this was really important for me as there were so many things I didn’t know about when I first arrived, for example, how to present myself to employers. I enjoyed being in class with the other students. Our class discussions were always interesting and enjoyable.

Looking back, how important was the EIB Program, ECO Canada, and the host immigrant serving agency in helping you get your foot in the door?

The program was really important in getting me my first job in the environmental sector. I had wonderful support from CCIS and ECO who welcomed me and helped me integrate into Canadian society.

Environemental Immigrant BridgingIf you could refer someone to the EIB Program, would you?

Yes, I’ve already been approached by several newcomers about the program. I would definitely refer people to the EIB program as it got me off to a great start in Canada. I learned a lot of things that I could not learn online.

What advice do you have for other newcomers looking for an environmental job in Canada?

Take it step by step; find programs like the Environmental Immigrant Bridging program. Most of all believe you can do it… it’s not impossible to find a job here in Canada.

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We thank Mihaela for sharing her journey to successful employment in Canada's environmental sector. The feedback we receive on the Environmental Immigrant Bridging program helps us ensure the program provides newcomers with the resources they need.