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VideoCast Episode 12: From Mexico to Canada: Josue’s Journey with Tamwood Careers

In this episode, we’re joined by Josue Cordova, a recent graduate of Tamwood Careers. Originally from Mexico, Josue shares his journey of studying and working in Canada. From his initial interest in Canada sparked by a university exchange program, to his decision to study digital marketing at Tamwood Careers, Josue’s story is a testament to the opportunities and experiences that studying in Canada can offer.

– This is Study and Work in Canada, Tamwood’s podcast on all things international students want to know about co-op education programs in Canada. I’m Tamsin Plaxton, Tamwood’s Founder and President, and an avid member of the Canadian private education sector. Hi, welcome back to Study and Work in Canada. I’m Tamsin Plaxton, host of the show, and I’m really excited to be joined today on the show by a guest who is a recent graduate of Tamwood Careers. His name is Josue Cordova, and he’s from Mexico originally, but still here in Canada with lots to share with us. Welcome to the show, Josue.

– Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.

– We talked a little bit before the recording and you shared with me that you’re originally from Mexico. Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing in Mexico before you chose to study and work in Canada?

– Yeah, so I’m a marketing graduate in Mexico. I have my bachelor in marketing, and I always went like lean into content creation, advertising side of marketing. I was doing video productions, marketing, and content for a couple of, I worked in a couple places there.

– So, you had already finished studies and were already working in Mexico when you decided to go back to school?

– Yeah, I mean I didn’t have like tons of experience, right. I was maybe less than a year after graduated when I decided to come here, but I have been working like since I was studying so that’s why it was a little bit-

– [Tamsin] Both, yeah.

– More experience. Yeah.

– A lot of people in Latin America do both, work full-time and study. Yeah, it’s a way to get through school. So, what made you decide to come to Canada? What was your main reason for choosing to come here?

– That’s a really long story. But long story short, when I was in university, there were a couple of programs in my university for people to come here to Canada for a term, four months. And I applied to that program, like exchange kinda stuff, but I couldn’t get it. When I applied to that one, we have like government change in Mexico. So, all these resources that were, like for students to go abroad and study in Canada, they also had a couple for Europe and stuff, they really cut them down. So, out of like 50, 60 people that used to go to Canada from my school, only from my school, they cut it down to 10, something like that. So, like more 80% of people like didn’t do it. So, that was my first attempt to come here. And as I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have the support from my school, I would have to look for my own means to try to make this happen, right? So, that’s basically the reason why I chose to come here to Canada because my sister, who is studying the same school, she did apply for that, like scholarship, and she came here and she shared like pictures and stuff, and she actually inspired me to come here and that was like my first like interaction with Canada.

– And so, you ended up in Canada studying digital marketing at Tamwood Careers in Vancouver. At that time when you joined Tamwood Careers, did you have any idea you might wanna stay longer or stay permanently in Canada? Or is that something that sort of came to you as you were here?

– No, I did have an idea of how. I did my research, like before coming here. I know Canada is really open to bring people to the country. So, I knew that like the study part will be, like, my way to do it. This is because of my personal position, right. I was like early graduated. I didn’t have like tons of experience, so it would be hard for me to go just by the work means. Right? I knew that if I do a co-op program, I could have the experience of working and studying here. And maybe that, for me, it was like, “If I like it, I’ll stay. If I don’t, I’ll leave.” So, that was for me the tryout period if you wanna say like that. I’ll go and see if I like it, and fortunately, I really like it so I just continue here.

– Yeah, that’s great. How did you find Tamwood? What was the process that got you to Tamwood?

– I did the research again. There were a couple of different colleges. But actually, like the agency that helped me to come here, they had like different options, and basically I chose Tamwood because you guys have like really good programs, and digital marketing was something that I was like into before coming here, and I wanted to have more knowledge in that area. And also because I haven’t been to Vancouver before. I’ve been to Toronto and Montreal, but it was like too cold for me. I don’t love winter stuff, so that’s why I said Vancouver seems to be like the best way to go.

– Right. Yeah. I grew up in Ontario and Toronto and I moved out here, and I don’t think I’ll move by.

– Yeah, everyone says the same, right?

– Yeah. It’s pretty nice. Okay. So, you took a digital marketing program, and how did you find the experience of studying in Canada compared to studying in Mexico? Were there any differences? Anything you thought was unique? Or anything you would share about that experience?

– I guess I liked the way of how do you separate the different terms. It’s a little bit different ’cause the university that I studied in Mexico, they have the same systems in Mexico. These type of universities were like the early adopters of like American way of teaching. We also have terms of four months. That’s how I did my whole university. So, I was used to that pacing of learning. And overall, also my school was a bilingual school, so the part of English was also something that I was used to. It was like a really challenge for me because even though I had a, kinda like the basics, it was coming here and everyone speaks English and stuff so it was quite hard at the beginning. But yeah, I think I really liked that we have school aides here in Canada.

– Right. And did you have any friends in Vancouver when you first moved here? Like before you got here?

– Not at all. It was me with my backpack and all my my willing to come here.

– Yeah. How did you make friends when you first arrived? And how easy was that for you?

– To be honest, it’s not… I didn’t find it that hard, but it wasn’t easy. I consider myself extroverted person sometimes. It depends on like where I am. But for me, it was easy to make friends once I started working. I got my first job as a bartender. I had a little bit of experience in bartending and serving stuff in Mexico, and I knew that was my safe way to start because I knew I have the skills, and I knew like the first steps for people who come to a new country is like, those are the type of of jobs that you can get like quite easy and you can make a living out of that. That’s what I was looking for when I just started. So, I just got my job there and that helped me because I was… You have you speak with tons of people, right. And also, that helped me also with my English and stuff. So, I was working, like with my colleagues and everything, so I just started making more connections and having a little bit more friends.

– Okay. So, at work, you made a lot of friends, and at school, it’s a little different. It’s a very diverse school, but I know digital marketing tends to attract maybe less diversity because people interested in those fields tend to be from certain cultures. But did you eventually connect and make friends at school as well?

– Yeah, of course. Once you start, like in the first, I don’t know, the first term, people are a little shy also because we are all in the same situation of you’re still learning the language, just started getting used to like, all like things here in Canada like way different like from most of the countries that people come from. So, the first time is like people don’t really speak, but then after that, like eventually, starts speaking with everyone and start hanging out with everyone. Yeah, that’s really cool.

– That’s great. And through the program, you study for six months, and then you’re expected to do a co-op term for 480 hours. How was that process for you in terms of finding a co-op job and what did you land on for your co-op term?

– It was a challenge because even though you have like the basics of how digital marketing works, it’s not easy to like the market, labor market. It’s like really challenging. So, I had to find a nice place that I liked. So, I applied in tons of places, right. And what I did was, we had a really good teacher at school, Rick, and he always encouraged us to make things different. So, he said, “If everyone is just like applying through, like, in LinkedIn and all that kind of stuff, why don’t you just go or why don’t you just call the company and ask them? Why don’t you just go and say something like, ‘Hey, my name is Josue. I’m from Mexico and I’m looking for this.'” Right. So, that’s basically what I did. I just went like literally like door to door, asking people. This strategy, Richard’s started with us bringing donuts. So, I had donuts, and I go to like different like branding agencies or like marketing agencies or whatever, just with a couple of donuts and my resume on top and say, “Hey, my name is Josue and I’m looking for a place to do my internship.” And nothing happened from there actually, but it was a really nice experience. And at the end, I ended up in a branding agency. Also because of a connection from work. So, I was working at the bar, and then a colleague, he had a friend who had a friend who actually connected me to that agency. And I had like the interviews, and people that are really nice, and they gave me the opportunity to do the co-op there.

– Yeah, that’s wonderful. We always teach that at the school, right? That a lot of times jobs come through networking. They don’t come from applying to an ad because you’re just one of many in the pile if you apply through an ad. But if you let people know what you’re looking for, friends, people you meet at the gym, wherever you are, and you just closely let people know what you’re looking for, someone will eventually say, “Oh, I know someone who knows somebody who’s looking,” and usually that’s how jobs are-

– Yeah. It’s really true.

– And I know we teach that. We teach networking.

– Very impressive. Yeah. There is a statistic, I think it’s, I don’t remember where I read it. But 80% of jobs don’t actually get to the platforms because 80% of your, it’s just like by networking. Like I know people and I know people. Oh, I recommend this person that I know. And because if our recommendation is way more likely for them to actually accept it. So, it’s crazy how networking can help you here.

– We think students often ask us about is, “How am I gonna find my accommodation? And how does that work?” What happened for you? How did you find a place to live?

– So, I first came here with a homestay. So, the first three months, I was in a in a homestay just with a family. It was his name. He’s really nice. So, it was nice to have that because I would recommend doing it maybe for the first month if you don’t wanna stay there for three months. ’cause sometimes finding a place can be hard in Canada. For the first month, you can have something for sure, like that it’s gonna be there. You don’t have to find something because I knew people that came here just with a one week booked in Airbnb, and they have to find a place, and sometimes the places that they found was like the best, but they have to find a place, right? ‘Cause you have to move like right away. So, I would recommend just maybe just one or two months depending on how comfortable you feel doing it. But yeah, homestay is a really nice option. And then from there, I just moved. I just found a roommate. Actually, it was my classmate. We both were in a homestay and said, “No, we want to move already. We want to like see how it’s like by yourself.” And yep, we just rented our place. We became roommates and we’ve been staying at that since.

– Oh, that’s great. They’re still together in the place.

– [Josue] Yeah. Yeah.

– And the homestay, was that a Tamwood arranged homestay for you?

– No, I’m not pretty sure because I did everything through my agency so I’m not pretty sure who was in charge of that.

– [Tamsin] Most likely, when students come in through agencies, they book the accommodation and the homes, the course through an agency, but it’s reached by Tamwoods. Yeah. Tamwood does homestay place for students. Yeah. And longer, students often do what you chose to do, which is start there. They have a place to land and really look from and it’s their base, and then find something to share that’s usually common. Great. That worked out for you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And do you love Vancouver? What do you do for your free time in Vancouver?

– So, I’m a really active person so I live in, it’s really close to a lake. So, every morning, I just go out running like around the lake which is like waking up and having those views like it’s beautiful. And also, in the afternoons, where, sometimes, when I’ll have like too many things to do after work, I just go to the beach because I’m working downtown. So, English bank or something. Just spend the night that the afternoon there before getting home. It’s really nice, that part of Vancouver like nature and stuff. Like you have the mountains. You have the beach. And yeah, like, in the weekends, you can hang out with friends if you like hiking as I do is perfect.

– So, I know that’s a big part of the career workshops at Tamwood Careers is teaching people about networking, and the idea that your teacher taught you which is going out and just cold calling on companies to let them know what you’re looking for, what your skills are, and sometimes it produces an opportunity because sometimes the employers aren’t even looking until they meet someone and then they think, “Oh, wow. With you on board, I could do this and this, and yeah, we should create a job for you.” So, what did you end up doing in the branding agency? What was the nature of the job that you took?

– I was just like marketing intern kinda stuff. And I was taking care of different, basically digital marketing duties. They have different clients, and I was in charge of migrating the Google analytics, some Google ads as well, some marketing plans, eCommerce marketing plans, like developing them.

– And what was the workplace like compared to Mexico? Were there any differences that you noticed in the environment or the way Canadians are at work ethic?

– Yeah, I don’t know if it’s just because of the company that I was, or it’s if it’s general, but I had the opportunity to work in Mexico in a like a real company, 9 to 5 job as I did here. And they’re like way more relaxed. And for me, it was like as long as I did my job, they didn’t care if I was like, I don’t know. Sometimes, I’m not even in Vancouver. I’m right here in Montreal and I’m still working. Yesterday, I was working here. So, they don’t care as long as you do the job, that’s okay for us. But again, I don’t know if that’s something like general here in Canada or just the company that I ended up with. But yeah, I really love that. It’s nice.

– You can work remotely and work in any city as long as you’re getting your work done and showing up for meetings remotely.

– Yeah. They’re pretty flexible, so.

– Yeah, that’s right. Well, you’ve continued to work for them following the break, following the end of the program, and your intention is now to continue your studies as we talked about earlier. Can you share a little bit about how you landed on that? So, you’ve told me you’re gonna be going to another college, and what’s your plan?

– Yeah, so basically, what I want is just trying to brush up my skills in marketing in general. So, I know that for Canadians is way more valuable having like a Canadian experience, also Canadian like study background. So, that’s why I did apply to Langara College in marketing program. So, that will eventually lead me to stay a little bit longer and then apply for a PEPP to be able to work after my study term, and then just trying to make my way a good job.

– And so, will you continue working at the branding agency as you start your studies at Langara? Can you do both?

– I don’t know. I’ll have to see ’cause I don’t know how Langara’s… like schedules are gonna work, but yeah, I hope I can make it.

– Keep both going, and that’s great. So, are you doing a two-year diploma at Langara Public College?

– Yep. Yeah, that’s a two-year.

– Yeah. That’s great. So, that’s in Vancouver. Wonderful. Any words of advice to our listeners who are maybe thinking about like you coming to Canada to study and work?

– Oh, that’s a really nice question. Be prepared ’cause sometimes, you don’t really assimilate how it’s gonna be until you’re here. But I think if I had to do it again, I will prepare like mentally prepare myself to do it because studying and working is not easy. It sometimes can be… But if you have that in the back of your mind, saying that it’s gonna be like that, but eventually it will stop you. You’re gonna do only working, for example, during the co-op term. You will be able to enjoy it way more. And also be open to know people, be open to know other cultures. ‘Cause at Vancouver, for example, you have people from all over the world, so you meet people from different cultures and knowing what they do. Everything is really interesting. So, you have to be open-minded in terms of don’t be like judging what people do because everyone is different, right? Every country has different cultures and everything. So, if you are open to that, you will have a way better experience here.

– Great advice. And you said it’s hard at the beginning and it is, right, to study and work at the same time in Canada while you’re adjusting to cultural changes, you’re missing maybe friends and family, but the payoff is so good and it really is that case in life. Like when you want something big, sometimes you have to work hard or do hard things, right?

– Yeah, of course. You see thing is, in life, you have to work hard.

– Yeah, but the reward is always much bigger for the effort-

– Much bigger. Of course.

– Oh, that’s great. It’s been so lovely chatting with you, and thank you so much for joining today and sharing your experience, and I really wish you all the best in your next phase of your, on your path to Canadian immigration. And yeah, I look forward to hearing more about what happens in your life.

– Of course. Thank you. Thank you for inviting me. My real pleasure.

– That’s all for this week’s episode of Work and Study in Canada brought to you by Tamwood Careers. Tamwood is a private education company operating career colleges in Toronto, Vancouver, and Whistler, Canada. Tamwood offers popular work and study programs in fields like business, hospitality, and tourism, digital marketing, web design, UX, UI, and entrepreneurship. International students who study with Tamwood gain valuable work experience in Canada and start on a pathway to a successful career and immigration in Canada. If you’d like more information about Tamwood and its programs, visit our website, You can also check out our videos on YouTube, and connect with us on social, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.