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Oscar Cecena

Oscar Cecena is a writer, podcaster, customer on boarding director, and producer & host of his own podcast show, ‘Immigrants of Toronto.’


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Recent episodes featuring Oscar Cecena
Ep #18: Experiencing life in a new country
My guest today is Sidharth Iyer, he moved from India a couple of years ago and, even though he has been here for a short period of time, he has an interesting story that he’ll be sharing with us. Was Toronto your first choice? “My first exposure to North America was Montreal. […] That inspired me to pursue immigration. Canada was always the first choice.” Why did you decide to migrate? “Life is all about experiences, and those experiences help you to live. For me was all to have that experience of travelling to a foreign country, understanding how things work there, understanding the people, the language, the food, the culture, even the economy.” How did you feel when you arrive? “[Canada] is pretty systematic, so processes are already in place. It’s more you coming and understanding how you fit in. Rather than you trying to change those.” Would you say you changed when you moved here? “The biggest realization I had was to be a little more grateful, and more helpful as well. Because I could see from people all around me, that people always acknowledge that you’re there. That was a cultural shock, in a good way.” Do you share your experience with others? “It’s always good to share your knowledge and experience on how you got a job, how can you make your profile stand out, or what can you do differently for a role that everyone could be applying for.” What advice would you give to a newcomer? “It’s all about building the right relationships, as well as being out there as genuine and open as you can be. And continue to contribute not only as a professional but to the community.” What is the best thing about Toronto? “The best thing about Toronto is that I can’t be a day without seeing something that is new altogether. Like the CN Tower, yes it’s the heart of the city and you can see it from everywhere. But each time you look up, you’ll have a different perspective.” About Sidharth Sidharth (aka Sid) is passionate about all things digital and content. He began his career as a Business Journalist covering the Indian Media and Entertainment industry, before transitioning into a Digital Marketing Specialist. In his own words, he is the right-brained guy who has trained to be an ambidextrous thinker to create disruptive ideas while collaborating with like-minded folks. His ease in adapting to different situations has been instrumental in his professional and personal growth. In his free time, Sid can be found at the movies or sipping on Tim Horton’s French Vanilla while listening to rock and hip-hop tunes. He also loves to experiment with different recipes in the kitchen and spending time with his friends or exploring the sights and sounds of the beautiful city of Toronto.   Learn more about Sidharth LinkedIn
Ep #17: I’m not done yet
In this episode, I’m interviewing Norma Marin. She moved from Mazatlan, a city on the west coast of Mexico to Toronto in 2002.. Why did you decide to migrate? “I came to Canada because I wanted to explore, you know, other cultures. I wanted to see how it was outside my bubble.” After Norma visited the first time, she decided to migrate. “During the time I was here [in Toronto] I realized all the great things I could do, not only as a young person but also as a woman and I decided to come back and explore a career.” Was it difficult to adapt to the new culture? “When you’re an introvert and you’re not that confident, you’re always thinking, what could they possibly want from me? How can the possibly look at me if I don’t have anything to offer?” She explored different paths, including sales and marketing. “I went into Sales and Marketing which taught me quite a few things, it actually gave me that confidence to sell and helped me to get that confidence to network. “As an introvert, it was really hard for me when I was given the direction of “ok, you have to sell more.” I didn’t feel comfortable just selling, selling, selling.” Did you find any challenge validating your degree in Canada? “I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t been taken as seriously as other professionals because back then they didn’t really value that I had a bachelor’s degree. “They were like ‘oh, it’s Mexico, it should be equivalent to a high school diploma.’ So, I faced that challenge as well, so I had to prove myself that I was as good as any other university graduate here.” What advice would you give to a newcomer? “One thing I would recommend to people is to come and visit. Not to work, just to see what it’s like. Try to pursue a hobby here, try to make some friends here. It will tell you more about the city and about the country. “Pursuing a hobby here is the easiest way to connect to other people because it’s something you like at the core. Because at least you have something in common from the get-go.” It’s also very important to meet new people and start networking as soon as you land. “Don’t be scared to say hi, don’t be scared to network. Because the good part of Canada and especially about Toronto it’s so multi-cultural that is a very open society.” What is the best thing about Toronto? “Toronto opens a world of new perspectives; it shifts your paradigms. If makes you less judgmental and it breaks ideas you had about different cultures, it breaks stereotypes, it helps you become a wiser person. And that’s something that is priceless.” What is your proudest achievement? “My proudest achievement is that I was able to build a whole life and I was able to get to where I am, although I don’t think I’m done yet. I have a house, I have a family, and friends that value me for who I am.” About Norma Norma Marin moved from Mazatlan, a city on the west coast of Mexico, to Toronto in 2002. Since then she has worked in sales, marketing, hospitality, and holds an MBA degree from Schulich School of Business. She currently works in accounting, owns a Spanish language school named Spanish in Durham, and she’s the co-founder of My 1st Business. She also volunteers in different non-profit organizations.   Learn more about Norma LinkedIn
Ep #16: Understanding that perception is not perfect
In this episode, I interview Marzie Aghdaee. She moved from Tehran, the capital city of Iran, to Toronto in 2015. She shares her story, and the challenges that being a perfectionist can bring to the immigration journey. Why did you decide to migrate? “I felt like I had been living in a box and wanted to know how is life outside the box. […] I have always been curious to see how was life overseas. The social political climate of Iran was a factor, was definitely a determining factor. At some point, I felt I did not have control over anything even in my personal life. I felt everything around me was giving me this impression that I was nothing. they treated as if I was nothing. And that was deteriorating; the sense of nothingness! I was furious!” How did you feel when you arrived? “I was nervous as hell. I was too afraid of making silly mistakes. I was (and still a little bit am) a perfectionist. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be in the know! And I WAS in the know when I was back home. I knew everything and everyone. But here, when I moved to Toronto I felt like I was back to Square One. and it was not a great feeling of course. It was a terrible mix of embarrassment, fear and helplessness. Which did not sound like me! At all. And it took me down. drastically . It depressed me.” What did you do to build relationships? “I think I didn’t take my social life seriusly. I was at work or at school, so I did not spend much time making friends. This is somehting that I know now is important so I’m going to work on that. “ What is the hardest part of immigration? “Well, immigration is challenging. For me, It is like a giant book that I took from the book shelf and I started reading a few yrs ago and I am enjoying it over all. But It is not easy in any sense. I cannot turn a page unless I solve a problem. And some days, in some pages I am given baby problems, but sometimes uh-uh! It is no joke! There is financial difficulty, there is unemployment, under-employment, precarious minimum wage job, being home-sick, there is depression… you name it, I have been through everything!” What is the best thing about migrating? “The best part is becoming a better problem-solver. It’s not easy, it’s costly. After leaving all your belongings behind, I went through emotional detachment. I felt I couldn’t be attached to anything anymore.” What is the best thing about Toronto? “Seeing the world in Toronto. You see food, you see languages, colours, customs, faces, you know? It’s the world in one big city.” What advice would you give to newcomers? “Just loosen up and have no expectations. Allow yourself to explore, make mistakes. I read somewhere that ‘anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly,’ allow yourself to make mistakes.” About Marzie Marzie Aghdaee moved from Iran to Canada in October 2015, just before her 20th birthday. She’s an experienced Research Professional with a demonstrated ability in Program Evaluation Design (Qual & Quant methods), Data Collection, and Analysis and Reporting, with a particular interest in Employment and Settlement service for marginalized communities and international development & sustainability. She has been working to empower youth in developing countries. She recently returned from her latest visit to Peru.   Learn more about Marzie LinkedIn Instagram
Ep #15: The importance of being self-driven
Catherine Chen shares her immigration story on this week’s episode. She explains why was so important for her to be self-driven and how that attitude helped her to settle in Toronto. Was it difficult for you to get a job in your field? “I don’t think I was luck because I was driving myself. Like, ‘I need to get a job.’ So I was pursuing what I wanted to do.” Was it easy to adapt to Toronto? “The first two or three years weren’t easy. I used to work long hours but I made friends at work, and those people really supported me.” “It’s not easy to make friends but if you do not step out of your comfort zone, people will not come to you. […] It takes two to tango, that’s my mentality. If you pursue what you want, nothing is impossible.” How did you react to rejections? “Nothing is perfect in life. If people say no to you, you just move on to the next. Maybe you cry for one or two minutes and then move on. […] I don’t know how many times I cried or got emotional like ‘why this does not work? what’s wrong with me?’ but I’m like, there’s nothing wrong with me, it was not a good match and I move on.” Did having family in Toronto helped you? “Having family members here [in Toronto] made a huge difference. They told me where to go, you need to go to a bank, this is what you need to do, they gave me a whole checklist, it made a huge difference.” Is there anything you would do differently? “I have no regrets of what I did on this journey. Although I have made some mistakes, but life is all about making mistakes and not repeating the same mistakes. So I have no regrets. It has been an amazing life journey.” What is the best part of moving to a new country? “The best part of moving to a new country without knowing anyone, is that I had to force myself to go out and meet new people, make new friends. If I had stay I would hang out with the same people, but now I have a new group of friends from all different countries.” What is the best thing about Toronto? “I really enjoy how multicultural Toronto is. You can just go to different part of the city and have greek food, italian food, chinese food, portuguese food. So living in Toronto, having experienced this multiculturalism is the best thing ever. Moving to Toronto is the best decision I’ve made in my life.” About Catherine Catherine Chen is the founder of a tech startup called MyShoperon. She moved here from Washington DC in 2010 by herself without having a job. Within less than 2 months, she landed a job at one of the largest global law firms and later became the first non-lawyer leading a practice. In 2018, Catherine decided to leave her job to pursue her own dreams: running her own startup — thanks to the Toronto startup ecosystem. Toronto has been home to Catherine ever since. Catherine loves the multiculturalism here and has met people from all over the world. As a foodie, Toronto is so perfect: Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese and Indian. Catherine is a hustler, and nothing can stop her from pursuing her dreams. Her favourite quote is from Michelle Obama: “For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.“   Learn more about Catherine LinkedIn Instagram MyShopperon
Ep #14: Immigrating as a student
On this episode I’m interviewing Etna Rodriguez, a Mexican Sales and Marketing professional that immigrated as a student to Toronto. Why did you move to Toronto? Etna wanted to study a master’s degree for quite some time, but it was until the opportunity to move to another country appeared that she decided to move. “Moving to another country as a student is an opportunity you should take because it may not come back, so just do it. You become an adult though those things and the hardships that come from them.” For her, immigrating as a student allowed her to start building her network and meet new people and make new friends. “Coming as a student gives you the opportunity to network and meet new people. You start having this sense of community, which is very important. You have someone every single day to talk and connect.” Was it easy to adapt to Toronto? She was fortunate enough to have her now husband waiting for her in Toronto. He moved before her and helped her to feel welcome when she arrived. “I think I had it easy in many ways. [My partner] arranged my housing, so when I came here I had all that ready. Even something as simple as having someone to pick up at the airport. That really helped me a lot.” What was the impact of your studies in your professional life? Etna found that the master’s degree helped her to get interviews and that’s how she found her first job in Canada. “The master’s degree helped me to get interviews. It basically validated my experience. It shows that you adapted well because you have this degree from a Canadian institution.” She found out that the Canadian Experience requirement was still there even though she had a master’s degree. Did you face any challenges finding a job? “One company where I was hired, they weren’t even sure which documents they needed to hire me. And it turned out that, of course, when I showed up at work I was the only immigrant there.” About Etna Etna Rodriguez is a Mexican sales and marketing professional living in Canada. She started her career in the chemical and technology industries, but she moved into the cosmetic industry with the hope to help others improve their self-image and self-esteem. She spent several years in this industry, managing: Marketing, Training, Merchandising and Public Relations initiatives for various international prestige brands both in Mexico and Canada. After doing her MBA from Schulich in Toronto, her will to help others was stronger and made her transition to the pharmaceutical industry where she started in a sales role and is currently a trainer for sales teams at her dream company: Janssen Canada. Etna’s immigration challenge and hardship drove her to lead social initiatives to help other immigrants: founding the Canadian Association of Latin Americans in Healthcare (CALAH) and supporting her alma mater (ITESM university) alumni chapter in Toronto with INTEGRATEC assisting newcomers settle professionally and have networking support. She is also a professor at the Humber College Faculty of Business and a proud mom of her 11-month-old son, married and living in Toronto.   Learn more about Etna LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/etna-rodriguez-mba-ccpe/
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Toronto, ON, Canada
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
7 hours, 45 minutes