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How I got three job offers while being outside Canada

Discussion in 'Express Entry / Expression of Interest' started by axolotl, May 11, 2017.

  1. Unfortunately it seems rather difficult to talk about the job duties without revealing the actual identity of the company that I am joining in Toronto.

    Instead, I will try to explain what data science means in general at different companies. There are typically four types of data science jobs.
    • Data analytics 2.0: It can be very similar to what a management consultant does, except that you use Hive, R, or Python instead of Excel, Access, or SPSS. You try to answer business- or product-related questions such as
      • How to segment our users (by country, age, acquisition channel, usage, etc) and which segments are the best for our business?
      • There is a sudden drop of usage in a certain country. What happened?
    • Product data science: Mainly A/B testing. You work with a product manager to decide which features are worth testing and run the experiments. You may need to calculate yourself things like sample size, statistical significance, etc., if there is not an already established framework.
    • Machine learning: Logistic regression, random forest, neural networks, etc. For example your company does personal lending and they need a smart credit scoring algorithm.
    • Hardcore research: Think about self-driving cars or go-playing machines.
    tobs likes this.
  2. In retrospect, one reason why I got no response through those career websites was probably that I answered "no" to the question "are you currently authorized to work in Canada?" Probably my applications got deleted automatically due to this answer.

    I expect the response rate will be much higher if you are already a PR living in Canada. The demand for software engineers is very high in Toronto.
    doverraja likes this.

    Eventually I managed to gather all the required documents (of which the most time consuming was the FBI clearance) and submitted the e-APR on 26 June.

    To get me onboard as soon as possible - the PR process takes about six months - my future employer decided to first get me a work visa through two routes in parallel: a) the regular LMIA route and b) the new Global Talent Stream launched on June 12. Unsurprisingly, route b) proved to be faster. It took in total a bit longer than the 10 business days as promised by the Canadian government. The whole process was officially finalized on 5 July. The end result was essentially an LMIA.

    I will still need a work permit, which will be issued at the airport upon my landing in Canada, after an interview with an immigration officer. The only thing that I need to do prior to the start of employment, apart from gathering some supporting documents for the interview at the airport, is apply for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization), which cost 7 CAD and took less than a minute online.

    I am flying to Toronto on 15 July.
    Cyfa, tobs, Judsywudsy and 1 other person like this.
  4. Congratulations! I have a *somewhat* similar background (international BA and an MPA degree from Columbia University). I`ll follow your route and focus my job search efforts in tapping the alumni network/reaching out to people directly on LinkedIn, instead of relying on job posts on Indeed.

    One question: How well-recognized do you think are US top schools in Canada? I wonder if I should "sell" that or focus more on my skill set...
  5. Columbia should be well recognized. But I doubt an MPA degree would be of much value, unless you are actually looking for a related job.
  6. #21 axolotl, Jul 17, 2017 at 12:45 AM
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    Someone asked me for advice. I think what I shared with him/her may be also useful to others. Below is what I wrote.

  7. #22 axolotl, Jul 17, 2017 at 12:56 AM
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    I plan to update this thread from time to time, when I feel that there are interesting things to share.

    I landed on 15 July in Toronto. I told the immigration officer that I had an LMIA and needed a work permit. I was re-directed to a big hall. The whole process was very smooth. No weird questions that would make people feel they were treated as potential illegal immigrants or terrorists. It took five minutes for me to get the work permit and cost me 155 CAD.

    I was picked up by the CEO. A nice surprise. He drove me to the hotel and we had sushi for dinner afterwards. During the dinner, he shared with me his life story. How he moved from one country to another and then finally to Canada; how he survived with only 700 CAD in his pocket, etc. He behaved more like a friend rather than a boss. It was a very positive experience.

    I spent my second day (a Sunday) walking around the area where I plan to find an apartment/house. I saw an old lady disposing of her rubbish and asked whether I could ask her a few questions. I explained to her that I was considering renting an apartment there. She was extremely friendly and even invited me in her apartment to take a look. She said "Sorry it's so messy. I did not expect you would come. I am so sorry." When I told her that it's my second day in Canada and I had already applied for PR, she seemed so happy and said "If you decide to live here, please knock at my door. It is not always easy to move to a new country. I want to be your friend." I hope she is representative of how nice Canadians are! She also mentioned she never bothered to lock her door.

    I was very impressed by the fact that there were more rainbow flags in the city than the national flags. I even saw a rainbow crossing instead of the traditional zebra crossing.

    I was also happy to find out that it takes only a 10-minute walk from my office (in Midtown Toronto) to get on a hiking trail, where I was surrounded by trees and saw very few people. The weather was great and the temperature was around 26 degrees Celsius. I walked 16 kilometers and yet was less tired than when I had walked 2 kilometers in Singapore.

    A great experience so far!
  8. #23 axolotl, Jul 17, 2017 at 11:44 PM
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    After a great Sunday, came a not so great Monday.

    I planned to do the following.
    1. Get a SIN number;
    2. Open a bank account;
    3. Get enrolled in the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).
    Note that 1) has to be done at a Service Centre Canada while 3) has to be done at a ServiceOntario, because the first is regulated on the federal level while the second on the provincial level. I can achieve 2) only with a SIN.

    Around 8:40am, I was at the ServiceOntario at 839 Yonge St, and after a 30-minute wait, I was told that they did not handle it for people on a work permit and that I had to go to another ServiceOntario at 777 Bay St.

    Around 9:15am, I arrived at the Service Centre Canada at 25 St Clair Ave E. Again, after a 30-minute wait, I was told that their system was not working and was advised to come back in the afternoon.

    I went back there around 2:30pm, and their computer system was still down and I will have to go there again tomorrow and see if my luck turns any better.

    Finally around 4:10pm, I was at the ServiceOntario at 777 Bay St, with a letter from my employer as "proof of residence". I waited about 15 minutes and was told that the letter was not good enough, because it only had my employer's address, not my residential address. The funny thing is that they suggested that I should first get an ID card, for which I would be able to provide any random address without any proof, and then use that as the "proof of address" for the OHIP. So essentially they were teaching me how to circumvent their stupid rules. But alas, it would take at least a few days for me to receive the ID card so it is much easier for me to ask for a new letter from my employer.

    The only thing positive was that I used the opportunity at Service Centre Canada to practice my French for free, as all government employees are required to speak both English and French.
  9. Enjoyed reading your experiences :) keep them coming.
    tobs and axolotl like this.
  10. #25 axolotl, Jul 19, 2017 at 5:33 AM
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
    Tuesday. Finally managed to do the following.
    • Registered for OHIP. 20 minutes in total. Helped by a very friendly lady. A new immigrant (or temporary worker) will become eligible only three months after landing. So I need to figure out a way to get myself covered for the next 89 days.
    • Got the SIN number. 60 minutes in total. Helped by another very friendly lady.
    • Opened a bank account and applied for a credit card at CIBC. More than 60 minutes due to their IT issues. Helped by a third very friendly lady. As I am a new temporary worker, both the bank account and the credit card are free for the first year. Also, assuming that I will have already become a PR by July 2018, I can get another year for free. So in total I will have two years of free full-service banking. (After that I plan to switch to an online free bank such as Tangerine.) The credit card will arrive in a week. This is super important to build up my credit history. Buying houses and renting them out can be very profitable (with 40% - 50% annual return assuming zero property appreciation) if one can avoid the 15% foreign buyer tax (by becoming a PR) and get reasonable mortgage rates. Hopefully I can start buying houses in January 2018.
    • Found an affordable low-rise apartment (1,700 CAD including heating and water) in an affluent neighbourhood with a lot of green (Leaside). Only 35 minutes away (on foot) from work. It will become available on 1 September so I will unfortunately have to stay at some AirBnb for more than a month.
    As you can see I am extremely calculative on financial matters. Many commercial institutions would go out of business if all their customers were like me.
  11. Hi,

    Congratulations axolotl & Welcome to Toronto !
    I liked the positive perspective in your every post in this forum.
    Serendipity1084 and axolotl like this.
  12. Such a refreshing post Axolotl... will keep following for as long as you update us. good luck!
  13. #28 axolotl, Jul 21, 2017 at 9:49 PM
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
    Friday 21 July 2017

    Now I am really using this thread as my personal journal.

    Remember the super nice lady whom I met on Sunday? I went there because I had seen an advertisement for an apartment there. I had called the agent before I went there and had already learned that there was one person who had already submitted his/her lease application. I was hoping his/her application would be rejected. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for him/her), I learned on Tuesday his/her rent application was approved.

    It was a disappointment. But the flip side was that I found a bigger apartment in the same area for less money. (1,700 CAD for a 2-bedroom instead of 1,800 CAD for a 1-bedroom). I managed to submit my application on Wednesday and will hear back next Monday.

    Regarding my lease application, there were several points worth noting.
    • I had to provide "proof of income". It could be a problem for those who move to Canada without a job.
    • I was asked to pay the first and the last months' rent by either check or money order. (They would not accept cash.) But a checkbook at ICBC costs more than 60 CAD and a money order costs 7.50 CAD. I eventually managed to get two money orders for free but in retrospect, I should have negotiated for a free checkbook before I opened an account.
    • Since I did not want to convert my USD to CAD and pay FX fees, I asked my employer for an advance on my salary. This saved me at least 34 CAD. (Even the cheapest option, Transferwise, charges about 1%. Interactive Brokers is technically much cheaper but it would take at least two weeks.)
    I use my US credit card (Chase Sapphire which has zero FX fees) for my daily expenses in Canada. This saves me quite a bit of money. Also, my employer has agreed to cover any medical costs for the next three months before the OHIP kicks in. It is important to ask for more and negotiate.

    A funny thing is that for the first time in my life, I met someone who thinks in exactly the same way as I do on financial matters. This colleague of mine has bought five or six houses outside Toronto where rental yields are much higher. With 70% of the property value financed by mortgages, he manages to get a return on equity greater than 40%. Yet, he rents a basement apartment for himself for only 1,000 CAD a month. It was a such a pleasure talking with him about personal finance as we could immediately understand each other's reasoning process. He showed me his spreadsheet for his property investments and I showed him my ETF portfolio.

    My medical was passed yesterday and nowadays IRCC seems to be really fast. It seems not unlikely for me to be able to start buying houses in September without having to pay the 15% tax for foreigners, instead of next January as previously envisaged.

    Tomorrow finally some time to visit Downtown Toronto!
  14. #29 axolotl, Jul 26, 2017 at 10:00 PM
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
    Eventually I did not visit Downtown Toronto on Saturday. On Friday night, I got a text message from the Jewish colleague who does real estate side business, inviting me to hike with him at Hilton Falls on Saturday. (Let's call him L from now on. It is also interesting that half of the tech team, i.e. data scientists + software engineers + product manager, are Jewish at the company.) The nature was beautiful. He brought some tenderloin for barbecue and I found some wild oyster mushrooms on a dead tree. Including the walk from my hotel to the meeting point where he picked me up by car, I walked almost 22 kilometers. After that we had dinner together at a nice Lebanese restaurant. Despite my protest, he insisted on paying for everything, from gasoline, to park entrance fees, to the dinner.

    To save hotel/Airbnb costs, I slept on a couch at the company on Saturday and Sunday. To reward myself for the cost saving, I had lunch on Sunday at Korean Grill House, where their All Day All-You-Can-Eat barbecue menu costs only 20.99 CAD (excluding tax). Obviously, I was the first employee who "arrived" at work on Monday morning. This amazed another colleague who's usually the first in the office every morning.

    I moved to my Airbnb place (for a week from 24 July to 31 July) on Monday evening. Somehow I hurt my back when taking a shower and walking became rather painful. On Tuesday, we had a company offsite that included treetop trekking. I hesitated whether I should go and called the CEO, who sent an Uber to pick me up. Overall, it was a great day with fun activities.

    My colleagues were super nice when they knew about my back injury. They gave me not only medical advice, but also patches for muscle pain.

    Today when talking about relocation-related stuff, the CEO mentioned that I could sleep in the office during the weekend, without knowing that I had already done it :) My colleague L offered me to sleep on his futon for free, until I move in my apartment on 1 September. I think I will take advantage of one or both offers.

    The apartment application process turned out to be a huge hassle. I provided all the required documents last Wednesday, only to hear on Monday that the manager (who's a different person than the caretaker of the apartment complex) wanted also my US credit scores and my bank statements. I sent her my credit reports with excellent credit scores, without bank statements because the caretaker said the latter would not be necessary. But then on Tuesday, the manager insisted on having my bank statements, despite my credit reports listing all my US credit cards with a combined credit limit of more than 50,000 USD and a current debt of zero. After some arguments I made concession and sent my US bank statements and heard today (Wednesday) that my application had been approved. The manager is in my opinion an idiot but fortunately the caretaker has promised that I will not have to deal with the manager ever again after the application was approved.

    For publicity (potentially useful for future HR efforts), my employer arranged an interview with a Wall Street Journal journalist for me and another colleague who moved to Toronto from Israel on 17 July. The journalist wanted stories about "tech talents who have chosen Canada over the US since Trump was elected President". We had the interview today and I am curious whether I will soon read about myself on the WSJ.
  15. Welcome to Toronto! Was fun reading through your "advice/diary entries". Always fun to read about people choosing to settle in Toronto. Just wanted to comment on your plans for real estate investments. The Toronto housing market has been very lucrative as an investment but I would imagine that your colleague started investing over 5 years ago and perhaps at the pre-construction phase. I have a hard time believing that if your purchased today the returns would be that good unless you create a rooming house. Just wanted to temper your expectations. Also given all your hard work and your savings I would treat yourself to a $20 meal a bit more often:) Trust me you never know what can happen!

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