Stepwest Stories – Liliana from Mexico and her Study & Work in Canada

October 17, 2018
Posted in Stepwest Stories, Study & Work


Wanting a break from your career path? Studying and working abroad gives you the opportunity to leave your routine back home and do something exciting and rewarding, both personally and professionally!

This is exactly the journey our next Stepwest Stories star is on. Meet Liliana, a 27-year-old from Mexico who landed in Vancouver last August 2018. She arrived with the goal of getting the best experience in Canada while studying and working to pay for her expenses in the city!

Liliana graduated at the University of Zamora in 2014, and started working right away after graduation. She had a job as a Social Communication Director, doing Public Relations and Communications at City Hall, which she loved. Although she liked her job back in Mexico, she always thought about how amazing a work experience abroad would be, so she could improve her English.

This idea led her to discovering us at Stepwest! She wanted a change in her life, so she hopped on a plane to Vancouver, BC with a study and work permit. She embarked on a new journey that was everything she ever wanted to do, but also completely terrified her: moving to Canada!

Arriving to Canada over two months ago, Liliana is completing her six month College Co-Op program in Vancouver. She’s studying Hospitality and Tourism at a local Vancouver College while working in customer service. Liliana wanted to have a short experience, something that would allow her to improve her language skills, but without living abroad for too long as she needed to come back to work in Mexico.

This is why she decided to do our short College & Internship program in Hospitality program, which includes 3 months of study, while working up to 20 hours per week, followed by 3 months of just work experience (co-op) in Vancouver. Liliana knew she had to work while being abroad and since Working Holiday in Canada is not an option for Mexico, the combination of study and work was the perfect solution for her!

Canada, her destination to study and work

Liliana really wanted to step out of her comfort zone and experience something different from her daily life in Mexico. However, in the beginning she had so many questions: “I don’t want to spend my savings going overseas”, “I would love to move abroad but should I go alone?” and “How am I going to work abroad if I can not get a working visa?” were just some of the concerns she had. That’s when Stepwest came to help! Liliana sent us an email and shortly after, we set up a call to answer all her questions. Our job was to make the process of living and working abroad super easy for her.

Her main goal coming to Vancouver was to improve her English skills and by studying and working in the city, she’s doing just that! Her classes allow her to interact with people from all over the world and practice English through other students, and her customer service job allows her to interact with a diverse set of customers everyday.

Studying while working in Canada

The great thing about the program Liliana is participating in is that it’s only for six months, so if you can’t commit to a long-term trip to Canada, this might be perfect for you! Since the program allows people to attend school for three months while working part-time, and then work for another three months in customer service or hospitality, it is the perfect opportunity to explore Canada while improving English and getting paid to do so!

She is studying Hospitality and Tourism through our College & Internship Co-Op program at a local college and takes three different classes each month which gives her the opportunity to learn lots of different subjects. Currently, she’s learning about sales and marketing, retail management, and front office operations in Canada.

The program focuses on how to give a good customer service experience in a hotel or store, which Liliana says is really helpful because she can apply it to her career back home. Even though the program is mostly focused on hospitality and she studied journalism, it aligns with her previous work experience at City Hall where she dealt with clients on a daily basis. Her knowledge of customer service has expanded by learning about it in class and she gets to apply this knowledge to her work experience in Canada as well!

Getting work experience in Canada

While studying, Liliana works part-time at a local gelato shop in downtown Vancouver. She is a barista, but also helps the owners improve the customer experience. She is pushed out of her comfort zone to talk to customers on a daily basis and has already seen a huge improvement in her English skills. At the beginning, she admits it was a bit overwhelming to talk to customers in English because she didn’t always understand their orders and couldn’t always express herself in the language as best as she could in Spanish, however, she says it’s getting easier and easier each day. Her co-workers and customers make her feel so comfortable that now she is training new staff, in English! When starting a job in a new city and cultural environment her advice would be to:

Work your way up and be open to learning different skills that will make you a better professional!

She was open-minded when coming to Canada and this has led her to expand her career experience and learn new things that she would have never done back in Mexico. The skills she is learning working in Canada is already making her a better professional for the future!

Living in Canada

When Liliana is not in her classes or at work, she enjoys walking around the city and exploring around the city with the friends she has made from all over the world, not only at her college but also from work. She has already taken advantage of her free time and made a trip to Whistler where she says it is even more beautiful in person. She can’t wait to explore more of Canada and really wants to travel to Banff soon! She knows visiting the Canadian Rockies is a must do on her study and work adventure in Canada!

Once she travels back home, Liliana says she isn’t sure what her long-term career goals will look like, but is taking this opportunity in Canada to learn more about herself. Funny story, Liliana is realizing how short her experience is, so she is already considering extending her study and work experience in Canada. We love that Liliana is enjoying her study and work experience to the fullest, so much so, that she might be thinking of staying longer! We are sorry Mexico, me might keep Liliana for a while in Vancouver!

Living abroad is never a wasted opportunity and if you’re wanting a change in your life as well, consider taking the chance to live somewhere new as it will open the door to new possibilities. If you ask Liliana what she has learned and gained during her work experience in Canada, it is nothing short of growth, new skills, adventure, friendships, and unforgettable memories!

Thank you, Liliana for sharing your story with us! We can’t wait to see what else you get up to during your time in Canada!

If you have a passion to work overseas and experience something different, just do it! We are here to help if you’re dreaming of working in Canada! Even if your country is not part of an IEC country, you can still participate in one of our programs. Our study and work programs are designed for you to improve English, gain professional experience, and explore Canada. Contact us now and let us help you get your Canadian adventure started. We are excited for you to experience what Canada has to offer, just like Liliana!

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