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Monday, January 16, 2006

Should I tell a lie that I stayed in Canada? 

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Dear Ai,
Ten months ago, I quit my company to come to Canada as a Working Holiday student. I went to several ESL schools for three months, but after that my money run out, so I worked as a waitress in a Japanese restaurant. My visa will be good for two more months and I am getting worried if I can get a good job when I go back to Japan. Friends told me that many Japanese companies have negative image towards Working Holiday since many Working Holiday students don’t really work or study. It is true that some of my friends come here not to study and have parties every week. But some come here to challenge themselves to change their career or search their identity like me. I am not ashamed working as a waitress, but don’t want to be viewed as “Lazy” Working Holiday student. Should I tell a lie that I stayed in Canada in job interviews? Yuriko – Japan


Hi Yuriko!
I hear similar comments a lot from my students. It is sad to hear that you think your Canadian experience might be seen as negative in your career. I don’t think you need to lie about your life in Canada at all!

Living in a foreign country by yourself takes lots of courage and patience, and is a great opportunity to learn about yourself. Your family and friends will notice your positive changes when you go back to Japan. They will be proud of you. However, as you said, in the job interview, they don’t know you as a person. They might have a stereotypical image about Working Holiday students. But if you know what they might be asking you, you can prepare the answers for them.

People like to hear stories like overcoming difficulties or success stories with happy endings. If the interviewer makes a comment like “Oh, you had been in Canada as a Working Holiday student, so you don’t really have a serious job in Canada.” Then you can say, “I saw some Working Holiday students who come to Canada to relax. I was working as an engineer before in Japan. It was always a problem for me to deal with customers. I was very uncomfortable surrounded by people. I wanted to change myself, so I got a Working Holiday visa to replace my weakness with strength. Working as a waitress challenges me everyday; I had to communicate with Canadian customers in English and also learn how to give great customer service. I gained valuable experiences in Canada. I am glad that I took the opportunity to come to Canada.”

If you are asked a question that you think they will view negatively, use the “sandwich” technique which I learned through my excellent instructor at Immigration Service Society of British Columbia. The formula is “Start with Positive + Sandwich the weakness + End with Positive”. You can also prepare answers to typical questions like “What were the challenges during your Working Holiday time in Canada?” “How did you overcome the challenge?” Your interviewer will be impressed with your thoughtful answers!!

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