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After coming to Canada, a lot of immigrants find that their qualifications and skills are not recognized here and that they cannot have the same career they pursued back in their origin country. Most newcomers consider a career change instead and start looking for new areas to apply their expertise. The field of immigration offers legal professionals a natural transition. Karen Klouth, a former lawyer from Mexico, chose immigration consultant program and found her new passion: helping newcomers and refugees settle in Canada.
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in the immigration field?
Before coming to Canada, I worked as a lawyer in Mexico. I put my legal career on hold for several years to take care of my young children, but at the back of my mind, I was always planning on going back to my profession.
From a friend of mine, a Canadian lawyer, I found out that without having to go to law school all over again, I could become a Regulated Immigration Consultant by taking an immigration practitioner training program. I chose Ashton because it’s been an industry leader in immigration education for over a decade.
2. Could you please share more about your experience of settling in Canada? What was the most challenging aspect of it?
For me, the toughest part of looking for a job here was the lack of professional connections. I also often had a feeling that my English was not “good enough” to flourish as a legal advisor, as there are high expectations regarding our language skills.
But once I took that first step of enrolling myself into a professional program and started doing well, I realized I can succeed even without any connections. My English language skills also continued to improve as time went by. By doing well for myself I wanted to prove to my daughters that nothing was impossible if we put our mind and heart towards achieving our goals.
3. Why did you decide to go to Ashton College? Why did you choose it among other colleges?
I did thorough research of educational institutions offering an Immigration Consultant program. I recall sending numerous emails requesting information from other schools and colleges. However, only the admissions officer at Ashton College not only contacted me immediately to speak over the phone but also took a lot of time to listen to all my questions and concerns and to explain me the details of the program. I liked this approach as it gave me the peace of mind and comfort to see the approachability of Ashton staff, should I ever need their help in the future.
4. What did you like the most about the program at Ashton College? What can you say about your instructors?
I liked the fact that even though it was an online program, there was a high level of commitment expected from the students. I really enjoyed the full-time study experience. We were required to do a lot of assignments, do research, prepare essays and present in class. All my instructors were knowledgeable, easy-going and friendly. I have great memories of them from my time there.
I feel if I had not been made to work so hard by my instructors, I would not have acquired the tools to survive in this competitive profession. We certainly needed to invest 100% of our efforts, not only to do well in class but also be able to succeed outside of it.
5. How did Ashton College help you achieve your goals?
I think that one of the best things about the program was its practical nature. The instructors shared with us real-life cases for deliberation. This enabled me to come up with my own criteria on how to analyze such cases based on law, manuals and case law. I loved this aspect of my course. Currently, I work as a Senior Immigration Consultant at Di Leone Group Inc., and I’m very proud of this achievement.
6. What is the best part of your job? What are you most passionate about?
I love challenging, complex cases that require study and research. I find it rewarding to help clients who find themselves in difficult situations.
I think the job of immigration consultants goes beyond filling application forms, which can be done by anybody. The main task of an immigration consultant is to provide legal solutions to complex problems and, ultimately, to assist the clients in their Canadian immigration journey.
Thus, the best part of my job is to see the positive results of my applications, cases and appeals and to deliver the good news to my clients that their process was approved, and their status has been granted. However, for me, there’s no greater joy than listening to positive decisions in refugee hearings in-person. I have always been passionate about human rights protection, and I wanted to specialize in refugee and humanitarian processes, and that’s what I do now.
7. What are some of the key skills you need to have to be successful in your field?
On the human side, you need to be a good listener and have a passion for resolving problems, which also implies investing a lot of time and effort in researching, studying and presenting your cases.
On the professional side, you need to continuously update your knowledge and be familiar with the diverse immigration paths that Canada offers.
8. What are your future goals and career aspirations?
I want to continue representing refugee, humanitarian cases and appeals and also to complement my career with teaching. I see myself passing on my knowledge and experience to the new generation of Canadian immigration consultants. I would love to teach at the educational institution that provided me with the foundation for my successful career – Ashton College.