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Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Old Nov 14th 2011, 2:29 am
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Default Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

On Sep 12th I flew into Toronto Pearson to join my OH who moved out a month prior to find us a rental apartment. I was really surprised about the lack of organisation at the immigration area where myself and others were "herded" though- no lines or taking a ticket, just a bunch of seats that we sat at until an officer was free and then whoever spotted the opening first dashed to the cubicle. There were only 2 officers working whilst at least 6 others were sat in a cubicle drinking coffee and eating Timbits. Lol. Everyone's entitled to a break I suppose

Since that day we've thrown ourselves into Canadian culture and my OH is overjoyed at being back in Canada after 5 years in the UK. I love it over here and although many people say Hamilton is ugly/industrial/dull I love the city and enjoy the time I spend with my friends hiking around Dundas and other areas on the outskirts and spending time by the bay.

My main gripe has been employment over here. When I arrived I knew about the difficulties faced by many immigrants and I didn't expect an easy ride. I don't think I was prepared for the responses (and lack of) from employers. I have a degree and over 5 years experience working in student support roles in colleges in the UK and tried to apply to similar posts here but to no avail. I had a couple of interviews for education jobs that amounted to nothing. In 1 particular case I was openly laughed at by the interviewers for applying for a university job within my first month of being in Canada because I was "straight off the boat" before they entirely belittled my prior work experience. I was pretty gobsmacked by that one actually! I eventually got a retail job through a friend of a friend and I think it cannot be stressed enough that networking is key to finding work over here. I am glad to be in work and continue to look for a job in a field I enjoy more and one that maybe doesn't include customers asking if I'm Australian at least 5 times a day...lol. Not that I'm complaining, it makes a talking point and talking points mean sales in my business!!

Having said that, however frustrated I get about work and finances (still trying to sell UK house), I love our new life over here. We are lucky enough to have a network of friends and family over here who have been incredibly supportive and I rarely feel alone or have time to brood on missing the UK. I read so much on BE about Canadians being standoffish and dull but I have found them to be on the whole very warm and helpful (although a little impervious to sarcasm). I like the pace of life here and really enjoy the fact that despite being on minimum wage and my OH bringing in a modest income, we can still live the lifestyle we want. We recently got engaged and I'm absolutely loving wedding planning over here, money just goes so much further...wedding dress shopping has kept me going through the tough times

All in all, long story short it's been an amazing and amazingly challenging 2 months but it's all about being realistic in your expectations and remembering why you came here.

But how about the price of cheese, eh?!
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Old Nov 15th 2011, 8:53 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Congratulations on your successful start and your engagement.

Happy planning.
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Old Nov 15th 2011, 12:42 pm
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by Joolschweetie
On Sep 12th I flew into Toronto Pearson to join my OH who moved out a month prior to find us a rental apartment. I was really surprised about the lack of organisation at the immigration area where myself and others were "herded" though- no lines or taking a ticket, just a bunch of seats that we sat at until an officer was free and then whoever spotted the opening first dashed to the cubicle. There were only 2 officers working whilst at least 6 others were sat in a cubicle drinking coffee and eating Timbits. Lol. Everyone's entitled to a break I suppose

Since that day we've thrown ourselves into Canadian culture and my OH is overjoyed at being back in Canada after 5 years in the UK. I love it over here and although many people say Hamilton is ugly/industrial/dull I love the city and enjoy the time I spend with my friends hiking around Dundas and other areas on the outskirts and spending time by the bay.

My main gripe has been employment over here. When I arrived I knew about the difficulties faced by many immigrants and I didn't expect an easy ride. I don't think I was prepared for the responses (and lack of) from employers. I have a degree and over 5 years experience working in student support roles in colleges in the UK and tried to apply to similar posts here but to no avail. I had a couple of interviews for education jobs that amounted to nothing. In 1 particular case I was openly laughed at by the interviewers for applying for a university job within my first month of being in Canada because I was "straight off the boat" before they entirely belittled my prior work experience. I was pretty gobsmacked by that one actually! I eventually got a retail job through a friend of a friend and I think it cannot be stressed enough that networking is key to finding work over here. I am glad to be in work and continue to look for a job in a field I enjoy more and one that maybe doesn't include customers asking if I'm Australian at least 5 times a day...lol. Not that I'm complaining, it makes a talking point and talking points mean sales in my business!!

Having said that, however frustrated I get about work and finances (still trying to sell UK house), I love our new life over here. We are lucky enough to have a network of friends and family over here who have been incredibly supportive and I rarely feel alone or have time to brood on missing the UK. I read so much on BE about Canadians being standoffish and dull but I have found them to be on the whole very warm and helpful (although a little impervious to sarcasm). I like the pace of life here and really enjoy the fact that despite being on minimum wage and my OH bringing in a modest income, we can still live the lifestyle we want. We recently got engaged and I'm absolutely loving wedding planning over here, money just goes so much further...wedding dress shopping has kept me going through the tough times

All in all, long story short it's been an amazing and amazingly challenging 2 months but it's all about being realistic in your expectations and remembering why you came here.

But how about the price of cheese, eh?!
Congratulations on the successful integration so far!

I know what you mean about work - I have taken a job in retail back where I was 18 years ago to get a foot in the door.

I think that it pays to network, as you say, but not knowing anyone here I had no-one to network with

If I have any advice to add it is that being rather more humble than your experience and skills warrant is the best way to get work if you are without contacts, as I was.

Although the role I am taking on is a most junior one in a business where I have previously been a manager, I found that being very humble at the interview was respected and appreciated.
My acceptance of the perceived need to start lower down the tree while I got a grip on the differences in the two countries really seemed to smooth the way and I was given every reason to believe that in a little while the company will certainly be offering me an opportunity to move up.

It seems a drag, I know, to have to go cap-in-hand and play the innocent abroad, as I am sure that both my skills and those of many UK immigrants such as the OP are perfectly well able to transfer across here and there isn't actually any need for a sort of renewed apprenticeship.
But on the other hand it is not surprising that it is frowned upon by the locals that an immigrant can just drop from the skies and expect to go straight into a plum role.

(By the way, I am not at all defending the behaviour of the University interviewers for the OP. If they found your experience laughable, then why did they call you for interview in the first place? Very unprofessional indeed )

I felt that showing some humility wouldn't cost me anything and couldn't do me anything but good and so it proved.
I suppose we all just have to play the game here at the beginning

BTW, I have been here for just over 6 weeks. All good so far.

Last edited by helcat12; Nov 15th 2011 at 12:46 pm. Reason: Adding my time here
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 1:54 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by helcat12
It seems a drag, I know, to have to go cap-in-hand and play the innocent abroad, as I am sure that both my skills and those of many UK immigrants such as the OP are perfectly well able to transfer across here and there isn't actually any need for a sort of renewed apprenticeship.
But on the other hand it is not surprising that it is frowned upon by the locals that an immigrant can just drop from the skies and expect to go straight into a plum role.

(By the way, I am not at all defending the behaviour of the University interviewers for the OP. If they found your experience laughable, then why did they call you for interview in the first place? Very unprofessional indeed )

I felt that showing some humility wouldn't cost me anything and couldn't do me anything but good and so it proved.
I suppose we all just have to play the game here at the beginning

BTW, I have been here for just over 6 weeks. All good so far.
Thanks for the congrats and the same to you on a successful first 6 weeks.

I agree it's about showing a little humility sometimes, it's very easy to get flustered by taking something on a lower rung of the career ladder (or totally unrelated to your career), so to speak, without sounding arrogant, which I hope this doesn't come across as!
I am glad to be working in retail for now because I imagine it may be something I'll stay in for a while whilst I find my feet here and this gives me my first taste of retail experience.

I think having worked in the public sector in the UK, I'm used to a very inclusive and progressive employer (yes, I was very spoiled I guess!) so I think I need to just be more realistic. Lol.

And if you asked my bf he'd tell you I need to just suck it up and stop chuntering about it.
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 3:39 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Welcome to Canada!

It's great that you have found employment, even if it is not in your field. It is better to be earning cash, especially early on in your immigrant adventure, than to be spending your savings on ski-lift tickets and trips to the States -- something that a lot of new arrivals seem to do. And you never know where it may lead: I arrived with 25 years experience in the printing industry; my first job in Canada was in a rubber-stamp factory! When that went "south", I applied to the local education board for a cleaner position, after all, you need to earn a wage to survive; I am now a Facility Operator, responsible for the day-to-day maintenace and running of the building's heat, light and HVAC systems, and supervising a cleaning staff. The board provided training through SAIT to obtain a Power Engineer's certificate, and is also paying for me to obtain a professional management qualification through the same institution (and, yes, sometimes I have to unplug a toilet or replace the toilet roll -- no disrespect, but is there something about having a degree that prevents people from doing simple tasks like putting the spare loo roll on the holder?) So even what seems like a menial job, can open opportunities you never thought of. Good luck in your future endeavours.
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 12:03 pm
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Hi. I've been over in Canada 5 weeks now and am still looking for that elusive job . It makes me very annoyed to hear that because we are immigrants, we aren't even given a chance to prove ourselves and to use the skills we have aquired. I'm hoping that someone out there may appreciate what I could offer their company and will give me a chance - or am I being too optimistic
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Old Nov 16th 2011, 2:46 pm
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by Jackie Shep
Hi. I've been over in Canada 5 weeks now and am still looking for that elusive job . It makes me very annoyed to hear that because we are immigrants, we aren't even given a chance to prove ourselves and to use the skills we have aquired. I'm hoping that someone out there may appreciate what I could offer their company and will give me a chance - or am I being too optimistic
I am a teacher by profession and don't get me started on the way they make UK teachers jump through silly hoops to be able to practice here.

To be told here that I have to take more qualifications to be able to teach here after 10 years of extremely successful teaching in the UK in a range of teaching environments including academically demanding ones and also challenging ones behaviour management wise is more than a bit annoying.

I'll let that go on the back burner while I get on with earning a living any way I can and getting on with my life...
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 1:04 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by Jackie Shep
Hi. I've been over in Canada 5 weeks now and am still looking for that elusive job . It makes me very annoyed to hear that because we are immigrants, we aren't even given a chance to prove ourselves and to use the skills we have aquired. I'm hoping that someone out there may appreciate what I could offer their company and will give me a chance - or am I being too optimistic
I do sometimes feel that our skills are somewhat disregarded. It took me nearly 2 months to get this job, which is in no way ideal...but believe me I was chuffed to bits to get it. Lol.

I think we maybe just have to work harder than the locals to prove ourselves, that's all...it might be a longer slog for us but just stay positive and go for as many jobs as you can even when they might not be in your field. One way I like to look at it is that if I was jobseeking in the UK I'd probably be struggling just as much, if not more to find work right now. Even having quals over there, situation is just as bad if not worse!

Try not to get too demoralised, frustrating as it is! If you don't mind retail, try popping into malls and superstores with resumes as they're hiring lots of seasonal staff atm and you never know where it can lead - it also buys you some time to apply for jobs you'd maybe rather do! Good luck!
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 1:10 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by YoshiPal2010
I am now a Facility Operator, responsible for the day-to-day maintenace and running of the building's heat, light and HVAC systems, and supervising a cleaning staff. The board provided training through SAIT to obtain a Power Engineer's certificate, and is also paying for me to obtain a professional management qualification through the same institution
It's great to hear success stories and that's fantastic to be able to work you way up like that. Like you say, you never know where something will lead!

Originally Posted by YoshiPal2010
(no disrespect, but is there something about having a degree that prevents people from doing simple tasks like putting the spare loo roll on the holder?)
None taken
Coincidentally that's something I always get told off by the OH for not doing at home, so fair point. Lol
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 5:01 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by Jackie Shep
Hi. I've been over in Canada 5 weeks now and am still looking for that elusive job . It makes me very annoyed to hear that because we are immigrants, we aren't even given a chance to prove ourselves and to use the skills we have aquired. I'm hoping that someone out there may appreciate what I could offer their company and will give me a chance - or am I being too optimistic
Do you know what IDMS is?
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 5:32 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by dbd33
Do you know what IDMS is?
Don't know about them, but I don't know what it is.

Go on then, enlighten us!

Will it help me now I have a job, or is it just for those Desperately Seeking....?
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 6:10 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by Jackie Shep
It makes me very annoyed to hear that because we are immigrants, we aren't even given a chance to prove ourselves and to use the skills we have aquired. I'm hoping that someone out there may appreciate what I could offer their company and will give me a chance - or am I being too optimistic
The very worst thing you can do is to get annoyed. You have the power to do something about it.

However, first imagine you are in the UK and hiring a new employee. You have two candidates who, on the face of it, have equal qualifications and experience. One is a local and the other is a new immigrant who has only been in the country for a few weeks.

The local went to a university you know and respect and has the recognized qualifications required for the job. You have vaguely heard of the university the newbie went to and, although you don't recognize the qualification they have, the standards should be the same. At least you suppose so.

The local worked for a few years with a company in the next town. You met their manager at a conference a couple of years ago so you give them a call. You chat about the candidate for fifteen minutes and the manager concludes by saying that they did really well and the company was really sorry to lose them. You call the newbie's last employer and get to speak with someone in HR who refuses to give any more information than start and finish dates and job title.

Being a progressive kind of employer you are still tempted to hire the newbie. After all, a bit of fresh blood into the company every now and again can shake things up a little. However, you recall that some years ago you worked with someone else from the same country as the newbie. They were right Billy big b*ll*cks who spent most of their day telling all the other staff they were better than them and that everything was better and more modern back in the country they had come from. They also upset a lot of people by using their own form of humor that the employees and customers misunderstood. In contrast, the local's last manager has stressed how liked and respected the local was by everyone they had to deal with.

Who do you hire?

Canadian employers are human too. Given a choice they will make the "safe" appointment every time. What can you do?

1) Canadianize your qualifications and experience. Use wording that will be easily understood by a potential employer. For example, they won't know what an NVQ is so find out what the Canadian equivalent is. A chief accountant in the UK is called a Controller is Canada. If your university has an international reputation in your field of study then say so. Don't assume the employer will know.

2) Demonstrate you can do the job. Know the Canadian terminology. Know the regulatory environment. Know how things actually get done. Don't expect on the job training that a local would not need. Prove you are a safe pair of hands.

3) Get references. Written references have limited use. If your former employers will not agree to give a telephone reference then find a former colleague who will. Get a Canadian reference. I know this is hard if you have only been in the country but make this a priority. Anyone who will say a few nice things about you is far better than no one.

4) Now that you have nullified most of the advantages a local has you can work on what you can give the employer that a local cannot. I don't know your field or expertise so I can't help with this, but there must be something. You are not a clone so you must have some unique attributes. A bit of brainstorming with friends, family, and industry colleagues might be required here. Though I would definitely avoid saying that it is all done much better in the UK and you can come in and change everything!

You may have read on this site that it is who you know, not what you know, that counts. I don't necessarily subscribe to this but it is certainly true that Canadians prefer personal contact. Getting to know people is important for your career and social life. The notion of networking sounds horribly contrived and self-serving to an average Brit. However, it is a way of life in Canada. Once you overcome the initial fears it becomes easy, natural and very satisfying - you soon reach people that you can help as well as people who can help you.

Look through 1 to 4 again and think how much easier these will be if you have a few acquaintances in your field you can chat to over a cup of coffee. And, if you do get to hear of a new vacancy think how much more powerful a statement such as, "I was chatting to Joe Bloggs and he thought I might be the ideal person for your _______ vacancy," is compared to, "please find my CV attached."

Originally Posted by Joolschweetie
I think we maybe just have to work harder than the locals to prove ourselves
This works as well.

Last edited by JonboyE; Nov 17th 2011 at 7:09 am.
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 7:36 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Originally Posted by JonboyE
The very worst thing you can do is to get annoyed. You have the power to do something about it.

However, first imagine you are in the UK and hiring a new employee. You have two candidates who, on the face of it, have equal qualifications and experience. One is a local and the other is a new immigrant who has only been in the country for a few weeks.

The local went to a university you know and respect and has the recognized qualifications required for the job. You have vaguely heard of the university the newbie went to and, although you don't recognize the qualification they have, the standards should be the same. At least you suppose so.

The local worked for a few years with a company in the next town. You met their manager at a conference a couple of years ago so you give them a call. You chat about the candidate for fifteen minutes and the manager concludes by saying that they did really well and the company was really sorry to lose them. You call the newbie's last employer and get to speak with someone in HR who refuses to give any more information than start and finish dates and job title.

Being a progressive kind of employer you are still tempted to hire the newbie. After all, a bit of fresh blood into the company every now and again can shake things up a little. However, you recall that some years ago you worked with someone else from the same country as the newbie. They were right Billy big b*ll*cks who spent most of their day telling all the other staff they were better than them and that everything was better and more modern back in the country they had come from. They also upset a lot of people by using their own form of humor that the employees and customers misunderstood. In contrast, the local's last manager has stressed how liked and respected the local was by everyone they had to deal with.

Who do you hire?

Canadian employers are human too. Given a choice they will make the "safe" appointment every time. What can you do?

1) Canadianize your qualifications and experience. Use wording that will be easily understood by a potential employer. For example, they won't know what an NVQ is so find out what the Canadian equivalent is. A chief accountant in the UK is called a Controller is Canada. If your university has an international reputation in your field of study then say so.

2) Demonstrate you can do the job. Known the Canadian terminology. Know the regulatory environment. Know how things actually get done. Don't expect on the job training that a local would not need. Prove you are a safe pair of hands.

3) Get references. Written references have limited use. If your former employers will not agree to give a telephone reference then find a former colleague who will. Get a Canadian reference. I know this is hard if you have only been in the country but make this a priority. Anyone who will say a few nice things about you is far better than no one.

4) Now that you have nullified most of the advantages a local has you can work on what you can give the employer that a local cannot. I don't know your field or expertise so I can't help with this, but there must be something. You are not a clone so you must have some unique attributes. A bit of brainstorming with friends, family, and industry colleagues might be required here. Though I would definitely avoid saying that it is all done much better in the UK and you can come in and change everything!

You may have read on this site that it is who you know, not what you know, that counts. I don't necessarily subscribe to this but it is certainly true that Canadians prefer personal contact. Getting to know people is important for your career and social life. The notion of networking sounds horribly contrived and self-serving to an average Brit. However, it is a way of life in Canada. Once you overcome the initial fears it becomes easy, natural and very satisfying - you soon reach people that you can help as well as people who can help you.

Look through 1 to 4 again and think how much easier these will be if you have a few acquaintances in your field you can chat to over a cup of coffee. And, if you do get to hear of a new vacancy think how much more powerful a statement such as, "I was chatting to Joe Bloggs and he thought I might be the ideal person for your _______ vacancy," is compared to, "please find my CV attached."



This works as well.


I agree that it is a bit harder to begin with to win people round for all the reasons Jon has stated, but I also think that Canadian employers in our experience (limited but nevertheless valid) are keen to hear what you have got to say and in what you can bring - you are different, interesting and exotic
(Maybe for the first time ever in your life, so enjoy it while it lasts!)

They might think that new blood and a different viewpoint could give the department/company a bit of a lift and a new perspective and could be refreshing, but they won't think that if all they get is a superior attitude and a feeling of being talked down to.

I don't think employers are different anywhere, just as the people aren't really.
They want someone with the necessary skills, of course, but they also want reliability, adaptability, trustworthiness and if they can get it, a bit of enthusiasm, a sense of humour and a positive attitude.

I would like to think that anyone emigrating would feel very positive about Canada and would be brimming full of the excitement and possibilities of their new life and career.
(If you are not, then why are you doing it?)

I am (and anyone can call me a simple-minded, optimistic fool if they want to) and I haven't tried to hide my happiness about being here and the prospect of working and getting established, even doing a job which is well below my abilities and pay expectations to begin with.

Enthusiasm is both flattering and infectious and I would just add that to Jon's advice - whatever else you have or lack in other respects, NEVER leave an employer in any doubt that you are very excited about the whole prospect of working for them.
That goes double if you are a foreign immigrant in a new country.
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 9:12 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

Absolutely. Enthusiasm is always good.
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Old Nov 17th 2011, 9:53 am
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Default Re: Our first 2 months in Hamilton, ON

What a great thread. Every post in this thread is most helpful, thank you.

I'm planning to come over soon and was (still am) getting nervous about the whole "work" issue. I haven't been employed for 15yrs. I own my own business but will start all over again in Vancouver. I don't expect it to be easy and I'll have to work for someone to start with. I can't even imagine how an employer will view me, whether they'll even want to consider someone who worked for themselves so has no references (apart from very old ones). I have a degree and just completed a postgrad degree, but I know these count for little when nearly everyone has the same thing... And I don't know anyone in Canada, no family or friends so will be completely on my own, yikes, that feels both liberating and daunting

I don't mind going back to ground zero on the job ladder, to be honest with you I wouldn't mind doing a simple job because I think settling in will be stressful enough without the added pressure of a complicated job. I don't think any job is beneath me and will change loo rolls and go on coffee runs, haha...

Anyway, thanks to those who post their experiences and advice, helps soon-to-be-newbies like me.
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