In this “Life as a Canadian Immigrant” Series, we spoke with Femi Shine who always refers to himself as the ‘Proud Bariga Boy’. Having completed the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), he decided to set his sights on migrating to Canada. He shares with us his experience and the journey leading up to him becoming a robotic/automation technician.
Hello, tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Femi Shine and Indigene of Ondo state Nigeria but born and raised in Lagos. I attended the first secondary school in Nigeria; CMS Grammar School and I bagged my BSc Computer Science from Ekiti State University in 2012, completed the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and decided to set my sights on migrating overseas in search of the golden fleece. I have been in Canada for 7yr, having arrived in the fall of 2013 to study Interactive digital media at Centennial College Story Arts Center.
How long have you been living in Canada, and how has the experience been so far?
I have been in Canada for 7yrs, having arrived in the fall of 2013 to study Interactive digital media at Centennial College Story Arts Centre.
What part of your city is the most interesting for you?
I have always loved the East end of the city; Scarborough to be precise. This is mostly due to the fact that it was where I lived when I arrived. It has a youthful appeal to me and this is because the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus and two Centennial college campuses are located there, and most importantly it has beautiful trails all the way to Lake Ontario. It also has the beautiful Scarborough Bluffs, it has the Toronto Zoo, easy access to the Danforth, and its array of amazing restaurants and coffee shops. If you hunger for the urban downtown appeal, you can hop on the GO train and head downtown for a night in the city.
Did you set out to immigrate to this particular city? If yes, what inspired the move here?
I didn’t set out for Scarborough; it was a twist of fate that landed me there. When I arrived, I lodged in a hotel for a few days while searching for a room to rent that’d be close to my college in East York. I ended up finding a room for rent in Scarborough, which would take 1hr 20mins travel time (2 buses and a train ride) to get to campus, but due to the pressing need to move out of the hotel, I paid and moved in. I ended up loving it even though the travel times during the winter were brutal. The city does have an efficient transit system, which includes buses, and trains so if you’re thinking of accessibility to other parts of the GTA for work or leisure, the commute might be a stretch but it does the job.
What would you say that you miss the most about your home country?
My beautiful country Nigeria! What do I not miss? The culture, the cuisine, the nightlife, and overall the genuineness of being surrounded by people who share the same values as you just to mention a few.
You are doing very well in the robotic space in Canada. If you were given the opportunity to lead an industry in Nigeria, what industry would you be interested in leading so that you can automate and apply your robotic experience?
I didn’t set out into robotics and automation. As I mentioned earlier, I studied Interactive digital media on arrival in Canada, which was basically 360 online media; creating content, social media management, etc. After college, I quickly realized I needed a career change to fit into my technical side. So I took a few courses and set off as a field service technician working on different payment devices from ATM machines to Presto card machines before finally landing a job with an engineering solutions company as a robotic/automation technician working on one of the most advanced FMCG robots.
Hint: be flexible with your career choices.
Back to the question, a lot of ambiguous engineering processes can be automated but people are very resistant to change because once automation is introduced a lot of jobs will be lost. The best approach would be to educate people on new processes and create a mindset that sees simplifying processes as a norm. If given any choice of industry to automate, it would be the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) especially due to the impact of COVID, people are ordering almost everything online and instead of working people to death in getting the goods out to the customers, one can minimize labor and increase efficiency by deploying robots to handle the sorting, packaging, and shipping thereby reducing human contact with orders especially food items. I have seen how effective the process is firsthand and the opportunities are endless.
What advice do you have for those looking to move to Canada?
Set realistic goals and work towards them, the move is a journey, not a race so pace yourself. Research your chosen career field as it relates to the qualifications you currently have and the skills you lack then draw a road map/timeline on achieving them. Register for online courses and start networking before your arrival. Harness the potentials of LinkedIn and connect with professionals in your chosen field. It helps soften your landing. Let go of any preconceived stereotype and be open minded. Be open to learning about other cultures, trying different cuisines, and making friends outside your community. Don’t build walls, build bridges.