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Meet Chihiro - Student of the Month

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

The pandemic has changed people's lives in many ways. If you were not an essential worker, you were either laid off or working remotely. And with many jobs, once you strip away the social and travel aspect, you are left with something no longer fulfilling. That's when many of us made life-changing decisions.

The first paragraph was a little too intense. 😅 But it was also a setup for Chihiro’s story. A story of change and career challenges. Chihiro was born and raised in Ehime, Japan. After high school, although she loved her hometown, she moved to Osaka for the big city college life where spent four years of her life. During this time, Chihiro got an itch for travel as she flew to Australia and the US to study for a few months.

This need for travel became so important for Chihiro that after college, she applied for a job that would let her travel to work across Asia and communicate in English. That was her contract, work from different countries for the same company, two months in Thailand, two months in Singapore and four months in Malaysia. To nobody's expectation, the Covid pandemic hit, and Chihiro was back in her small and remote town, Ehime, working remotely. "It sucked." Chihiro said!

"I wanted change. I needed to change my reality. Actually, I could have quit that job earlier, but I still had hope that Covid was going to end and I could go to South East Asia."

That's it! It was time for a change. Chihiro explored her options, and it was down to Canada and Australia. Obviously, Canada won.😉

Initially, she wanted to come to Canada on a Working Holiday Visa, but to her surprise, she discovered that she also wanted a career change. While working at her remote job in Japan, she had to design a few posters for her employer. That's when Chihiro realized that she wanted to pursue design. Therefore, her plans changed. She was now looking for a college in Canada where she could learn to design. With the help of an agency, she enrolled in a UX UI Co-Op program in Vancouver. It made sense. She loved drawing and creating designs.

"Maybe I wanna study design, but I didn't know what to do. I started by talking to some agency, a Japanese agency that helps students study in Canada. I asked them what kind of program I could study. They had options. They recommended a Digital Marketing Co-Op program. Digital marketing was maybe the most popular thing here. I actually was gonna take that one. But I wanted UI design, and the agency kept telling me if I didn't have experience in UI or UX, I was not gonna learn. Well, like if you are inexperienced, you're gonna fail or something. But I had confidence. I don't know why, maybe because I love to design."

So, one student visa application later, Chihiro, was in Vancouver. And she faced the same struggles that many of us have. She couldn't find affordable accommodation in a reasonable amount of time. She had to do everything by herself and be by herself. And her course was in the evenings, so she couldn't socialize with her classmates after class. Making friends in Vancouver is generally hard for international students.

"For a newcomer, it's a little lonely. It's sad. And yeah, I think meeting friends or having supportive people is difficult when you live here. Like I don't know why. Everyone must be feeling the same way as me, but we don't know how to communicate or how to become friends."

Despite all the challenges she faced as an international student, Chihiro still never failed to see the good and kindness in people. She focused on the positives as she discovered the world around her tackling her problems.

The biggest challenge that Chihiro faced was finding a job so that she could fulfil the Co-Op requirement. She realized that It was important when applying for a Co-Op program for her to inquire about the school and the resources available to her in order to find a job. Chihiro eventually managed to use her time spent with Thrivve Magazine to fulfil the requirement to graduate.

This brings us to the next point. Chihiro worked at Thrivve during her Co-Op. She supported the magazine by spending her time to design and deliver to Thrivvers two issues! Her work with us elevated the quality of the Magazine, and she has that valuable experience to claim and share as her success. When we asked Chihiro if she saw value in volunteering, she said, "Yeah, I think so. I can, of course, put my experience on my resume, LinkedIn and portfolio. At least when you are volunteering, you are doing something. You can show your passion for doing something, even if you don't get money from it."

Finding work in Canada that is relevant to what you are studying most times is challenging. It's even harder when you have no experience in that field. Therefore, the volunteer opportunity can help you boost your resume with relevant Canadian work experience.

We also asked Chihiro if she had any advice to give our readers or herself.

"I feel like I'm not there yet to give out advice to the students, but I want to say that there are a lot of students that feel exactly like you. Don't give up. It's okay. You don't have to get a job. You don't have to succeed here. Moving to another country in itself is amazing, and it's hard, so I want you to keep trying but not push too much. Take it as it is. Enjoy it and live in the moment. I'm doing my best every day."

These are kind words from Chihiro.😇 You can see why she is our student of the month! What is next? Well, she will continue doing her best, and we will continue supporting her.

You can connect with Chihiro on our Slack community and learn more about her experience.

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