Coming to Canada: Immigrating to Toronto as a .NET Developer
In January 2017 I immigrated to Toronto, Canada with my wife (a Canadian citizen born in Toronto). We met in Glasgow, Scotland where she was studying as an international student and after dating for a few years, we married in Edinburgh in January 2016. A year later we’d been told by the Canadian government that our visa application had been successful and we were given a prompt deadline to land in the country.
I had been working as a web developer in my early career, later on choosing to specialize in .NET development after dipping my toe in PHP and deciding it wasn’t for me. When I’d travel to Canada to visit family and friends, it was always on my mind to immigrate one day, and I was hopeful my experience as a .NET developer would be enough to work in the land of maple syrup and ice hockey.
Working in Lockheed Martin’s technology and software department in Scotland (subsequently acquired by Leidos), I was confident that an international company would look good on my resume. What I didn’t know was how long it would take to find a job to continue my career in .NET development once I moved to Canada.
We’d sold our apartment, donated our possessions and shipped the few remaining items we wanted to bring with us to our new life across the pond. It was time to board the plane and make the journey to Pearson airport!
Upon landing in Toronto, I was unnecessarily concerned that officials at passport control wouldn’t let me in, that somehow there had been a mistake. I hadn’t have worried. All my documents were in order and it was just a case of waiting in the gruelling two hour line at the immigration desk to be permitted to enter the country as a permanent resident.
We made it! Being effectively unemployed and with very few (if any!) job prospects; I remember not wasting any time in connecting to Wi-Fi in pursuit of my new role.
My first day as a permanent resident in Canada was also my first day as a Bell Canada customer. We had to say goodbye to our long held (British) phone numbers before we boarded the flight, so before submitting any job applications, I became the owner of a new Samsung Galaxy S7.
Because we had immigrated in the middle of a Canadian winter, it was actually a blessing in disguise. In the midst of snow and ice, there was nothing to do but apply for jobs (and hike to the nearest Tim Hortons, of course). We had intended to apply for jobs in nearby Kitchener, Ontario, partly due to the technology companies in the area (Google amongst them), but mostly due to the cost of living.
Whilst several .NET developer positions were being advertised in our preferred location, it is no exaggeration that for each job advertised in Kitchener, there were a handful more in downtown Toronto. With my newly acquired Canadian phone number, I began researching companies and applying for jobs in the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Blue Jays and the CN Tower.
One of these companies was DAC Group, a digital marketing agency with a head office in North York, Toronto. I had already worked for a digital agency in Scotland and learnt a lot, so this seemed like a good opportunity. I submitted my application and eagerly awaited their response.
I got lucky! The technology department at DAC Group recently went through a restructure and were hiring a few .NET developers to build out their REST API services. I went through the common HR telephone interview, followed by a technical Skype interview and was fortunate to make it to an in person interview at their head office.
Driving the 2 hour journey to Toronto, I rehearsed what I planned to say and tried to remember what was on my resume. When I got seated in the meeting room, the software architect said something along the lines of “Thanks for coming! This should only take 15 minutes of your time.”. Sure enough, he was right!
On the journey home I heard my new smartphone start to ring and I was offered the job! Once we found an apartment to rent in Toronto (two weeks later), I started as an “Application Developer” at DAC Group, continuing my career as a .NET Developer in Canada.
Thank you to everyone at DAC Group, and thank you Canada for making a Scotsman feel so welcome!