It’s fall again, and Opportunities NB welcomes international students from across the globe as you settle into New Brunswick communities to pursue your education in our province. As you consider your long-term goals, we hope that you consider making New Brunswick your permanent home.
Mohammed Chekkouri, or Mo as his colleagues call him, student recruitment officer at Université de Moncton, knows better than most the value international students are bringing to the province and its employers. A graduate of the school himself, Chekkouri came to New Brunswick in 2002 from Morocco. Nearly 20 years later, he is helping international students recognize the many opportunities the province offers.
“What’s great is that there is so much opportunity for international students now compared to when I was a student 20 years ago,” says Chekkouri. “More resources and people are available to help you get settled and started, work permits are easier to obtain as is permanent residency, and more employers are waiting for you.”
A Record Semester
Chekkouri says this fall’s semester has seen the most international students ever enrolled at U de M. It’s an impressive number given COVID-19 is still making international travel complicated for many.
“It’s exciting to see, and I hope more people recognize that New Brunswick offers the great Canadian experience,” he says. “This is the largest francophone university outside Quebec, that’s why I chose it myself. In Montreal, I would have been surrounded by Moroccans and Moroccan culture, which is great. But I wanted something truly distinct from back home. And New Brunswick is a bilingual province so it’s equally easy to learn both French and English here.”
A Proud New Brunswicker
It’s not just the day-to-day work with international students that makes Chekkouri proud to be a New Brunswicker. He has developed a reputation for being a tremendous volunteer in the community over his 20 years in Moncton. Most notably, he devoted a tremendous amount of time to organizing the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, which saw him recognized as CTV’s Maritimer of the Week.
“There are so many opportunities for a student to volunteer and become a bigger part of the New Brunswick community. I recommend it to the students I work with as it not only feels good to give back, but it helps you build the network of friends and professional contacts you will want to start a career here.”
He notes that New Brunswick’s size makes it easy to connect with people, including potential employers. “Yes, we’re a small province but we offer big opportunities. Programs like the Atlantic Immigration Program are making it easier than ever to come here. The resources are here, like ONB, ACOA, and my team. We are now known in places like Morocco, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal for a reason. Our school and this province are committed to bringing great people from these places to study and stay in New Brunswick.”
What Employers Should Know
When asked what employers should keep in mind in terms of recruiting international talent, Chekkouri says it’s important to look beyond the local diploma or degree. “Most international students have plenty of experience and education even before they arrive here. These are ambitious people that can bring all sorts of skills to your company.”
In today’s increasingly globalized world, hiring people who speak the language of your target market(s) can make all the difference. “Yes, the U.S. is still our biggest trading partner, but there are plenty of countries around the world looking to do business with Canadian companies. The students I work with every day aren’t just great employees, in many cases, they can serve as ambassadors for your company abroad. At the end of the day, they want to succeed, that’s why they came here.”
Be sure to check out our interviews with Shippagan Mayor Kassim Doumbia and ONB Population Growth’s own Nicole Grechi for their perspectives on what employers should know about welcoming international students.
Organizations looking to hire international students in New Brunswick should visit welcomenb.ca.
If your company is interested in learning more about the benefits of hiring international students, contact ONB Client Engagement Specialist Kim Webb at email@example.com.
If you are a student considering New Brunswick for your studies, read more about the available immigration programs here.
Université de Moncton admission page.