When Parminder Singh arrived in Toronto last December to study at Yorkville University, he had one goal on his mind: to one day own not one, not two, but six of his own liquor stores.
Just five months later, the 32-year-old Punjab, India native is proud to say he’s now several steps closer to achieving that ambition.
Not only has he successfully completed his first semester of studies towards a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Yorkville, but he also just landed his first Canadian job with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).
“It’s been good – very good,” Singh said of his first few training shifts at the two-storey LCBO store at 1838 Avenue Rd.
“Everyone else (in my class) started working anywhere they could get a job when they got here, but I really wanted to work at the LCBO. And my family – even my brother – they supported me in that. They said, ‘Keep trying, keep trying.’ That’s why I waited so long, that’s why I kept applying, and that’s why I was so happy to finally get the job.”
Also delighted by the news of Singh’s long-awaited new part-time dream job was Krystal Jiang, his International Student Advisor at Yorkville.
Citing a recent Conference Board of Canada study, Jiang said she strongly hopes Canada will continue to welcome “young and capable” students like Singh to participate in its labour market.
According to that study, Can’t Go it Alone: Immigration Is Key to Canada’s Growth Strategy, Canada’s “best path” towards ensuring the country’s economic growth and high living standards over the next 20 years lies with continued immigration, combined with efforts to improve the participation of under-represented groups in the labour market.
That reality, Jiang said, will hopefully open many doors of opportunity for Singh and his fellow Yorkville international classmates as they strive to make their Canadian dreams come true.
“Like our university’s mission statement says, our rigorous and flexible BBA programs allow students to integrate career advancement studies with their personal and professional lives,” she said.
“I think Parminder’s story is an inspiring one to other international students. They all come to YU with a dream, and here he is – someone who is working hard to make his dream come true.”
Singh said his aspirations of liquor store ownership were first born while he was living, studying and working half a world away in New Zealand.
It was there, in the small town of Rotorua, where Singh received a two-year diploma in Business, before going on to work as an assistant manager at a local liquor store for two-and-a-half years.
“I learned so much from my boss in New Zealand. He started with the one store 10 years ago, but he worked very hard seven days a week, and now he owns five stores,” Singh said.
“Now that’s my dream, too. I want to start with one, and then my goal is to keep working, keep working, and eventually open five or six stores.”
To get there, though, Singh knows he first needs to complete his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Yorkville – a goal he’s confident he’ll be able to achieve by 2021.
“Yorkville is a really nice university. It’s not too crowded, the classes are small, and the way they divide the study up is good – it’s very flexible,” he said, noting that he’s certain he’ll be able to juggle his 20 hours a week at the LCBO with his BBA classroom work.
Following his graduation from Yorkville, Singh said his goal is to gain full-time, managerial employment at the LCBO while still on his visa.
Then, with a few years of work experience under his belt, he plans to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) in Canada. Once successful in that pursuit, Singh said he expects a whole new world of opportunities to open up for him.
“Once I get my PR, I can start on my plan to open my own liquor stores,” he said, acknowledging that, to fulfill that dream, he’ll need to relocate to another province where beer, wine and spirits can be sold in private stores – preferably Nova Scotia.
“I know it won’t be easy – it’s not easy to start any business, but I know this is what I want to do with my life.”
Singh’s advice to other Yorkville international students who are likewise pursuing their dreams in Canada is to “stay focused on what you want to achieve in your life.”
“First study, then work – that’s my thinking,” he said. “And always keep in your mind what your parents have sacrificed for you. They have invested so much money in you, so you need to make sure you complete your schooling because if you don’t, there’s no chance to move forward.”