A Career in Software Development From an Immigrant’s Perspective
Jinal Shah is a Software Developer. She has been a loyal AlphaKORian and an integral team member in the design department for the past 3 years. Born in India, Jinal immigrated to Canada where she has been exploring new cultures with her husband.
Jinal is a proud Canadian and hopes to inspire other’s looking for careers in the programming field. She is grateful to have been given the opportunity to work for AlphaKOR, which has helped her gain confidence as a software developer and a part of the Windsor community.
What does an average day look like for you?
Once I start my day at 8:30, the first thing I do is check e-mails for unaddressed inquiries from clients, team members or any emergency situations. I then continue with a team discussion where we discuss our objectives and tasks for the day. Finally I move forward to completing those tasks.
The software design department is team focused; we all rely heavily on one another.
How many Jobs have you had as a programmer before AlphaKOR?
Before AlphaKOR I had a few jobs. I started in India as a software developer for 2.5 years. After that I moved to Michigan where I worked as an offshore developer for a year, working on a project for a company in Canada. I then moved to Canada where I started working with AlphaKOR.
If any, what is the biggest difference between your previous jobs and working at AlphaKOR?
When I was working in India, I had limited department resources and there was no direct client communication. There was a designated team member who communicated with the client, then passed on the information to us. AlphaKOR has provided me with my first experience working directly with our clients.
I find it challenging and exciting. It’s very rewarding being able to form relationships and build trust with our clients. Due to fewer communication errors, the client receives their final product with reduced revisions from a clearer process.
What have you learned at AlphaKOR that has helped you grow as a person?
The cultural difference between customer communication and customer relationship is very noticeable. I am a technical person, and I had to learn that it doesn’t matter how much experience you have or how technically savvy you are; if you’re not meeting your customers’ expectations, they will never be satisfied with the service you provide them.
One of the key benefits from direct client communication is that I am now much more invested in the project. It pushes me to be a better developer and deliver a strong and reliable product I can be proud of.
What is your favourite part of programming?
The coding is one of my favourite parts. The daily challenges in the coding provides me a great sense of satisfaction. The problem solving is fun and it is a daily boost for my technical confidence.
I also enjoy the testing stage. When something does not work, it is a fun challenge to find out where I went wrong. When it does work you get such a great sense of accomplishment and success.
What brought you to Canada?
My husband! Once I was here, I found more opportunities for work and the living standards are much higher here. Being a technical person, all the cities in Canada have great opportunities for growth in the software development industry.
India has a population of 1.3 billion, so there is more competition. I didn’t have any Canadian education or experience, so I found I received fewer interviews, but luckily AlphaKOR gave me the opportunity to prove my technical skills.
AlphaKOR has a very diverse staff, so they are more understanding with new immigrants since they have hired so many already. They understand education may not translate seamlessly, and with technical tests they can identify if the skill sets that person offers will benefit the team.
You immigrated from India, what was that process like?
The process took about a year and I was on spousal sponsorship. Once I landed, I was eligible for permanent residence for the next 5 years. I can apply for citizenship because I have been a landed immigrant for 3 years. I am planning to apply in the near future after the pandemic.
What were some surprising obstacles you discovered trying to find employment in Canada?
If you were to do it again, what is something you would do differently about finding a job in Canada?
After working here, I now have experience and have built some confidence. If I were to do it all over again, I would find any way I could to help build that confidence before finding a job. I would try to meet new people via online groups and just get used to the style of communication and learn from other immigrants’ experiences.
Do you have any advice for programmers looking for a job in Canada?
My first piece of advice is if you have sufficient industrialized expertise in your field, then try to integrate to the Canadian culture and improve your communication skills. When I first landed, I enrolled in the governmental programs offered to immigrants to help improve my English communication skills. They helped me improve my confidence and I was able to meet many people in the community.
There is one quote I really love by William Edward Hickson “If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try, try again. ” I would tell programmers looking for a job to take this quote to heart and really believe in yourself. Eventually you will have a chance to prove yourself, do not give up, do not lose confidence and do not get frustrated.
What are your favourite cultural differences in Canada you have discovered?
I miss the festivals and celebrations in India, and Canada does have plenty to offer that I enjoy. No matter your age or your gender, there are activities for everyone. It is really inspiring to see people constantly being social and active.
I had never done outdoor activities until I came to Canada. I now enjoy camping, pontoon boating, skiing, biking and hiking. Those activities are available in India, however, you have to travel far to get to them, whereas here, they available basically everywhere. I also really enjoy ice skating in the winter which I learned at the AlphaKORians’ skating outings for our families and friends.
I love learning about the different cultures and traditions from other immigrants. They offer variety, especially with food. I love Mexican, it is my favourite discovered food in Canada and I have started incorporating it into my home cooking.
How would you like to grow in the programming field?
I would like to lead some projects and enhance my skills with new learning opportunities. I would love to further build my communication and management skills by leading a group of software developers as a project lead. Every day is a new opportunity for improvement and I wake up ready to face that challenge every day!
Thank you Jinal
I want to thank Jinal for her participation and willingness to share her experience as both an immigrant and as a software developer. As business leaders, we owe it to our community to embrace a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture. We need to be mindful of our unconscious biases and open doors of opportunities to create a more enriching community.
My goal is by sharing our diverse working culture, it inspires more business leaders, whether from a well-established company or a small business, to look past the cultural differences and language barriers and feel confident that individuals from around the world chose Canada as their home and we can benefit greatly from their skills and diversity of thought.