Moving to Canada at 21: How this English literature grad switched to public relations

University of Delhi
Yadav completing her work placement at GCI Canada. Source: Parul Yadav

As an Asian child, life can be hard. 

Parul Yadav, who hails from Delhi, knows this well — having experienced the pressure to pursue “typical” Asian careers like doctor, engineer or lawyer. 

But she pushed through.

Yadav would find herself at Gargi College, a place affiliated with the University of Delhi, one of the nation’s top institutions.

“My interest always just lied more on the communication, personal branding, and just the leadership side of things. And English literature was more on critically analysing the social issues around the world,” Yadav tells Study International.   

delhi university

Yadav speaking during the annual cultural festival at Garci College as the Student Union’s Vice President. Source: Parul Yadav

The impact of the University of Delhi’s strong women students

Gargi College had two things that Yardav was looking for: sisterhood and mentorship.

” I [can] do a lot of unconventional things because of the number of opportunities I got in that college and the leadership positions I took throughout my three-year undergrad,” she shares.

Yadav served as a vice president of the student union. She would host workshops and invite speakers to talk on different social topics.

What’s more, she founded We Believe India, a community organisation that nurtures female leaders through its mentorship programmes. 

Gargi College was also where she started freelancing — which laid the foundations for her to transition into public relations.

“The opportunities in terms of the connections I built let me get a job through referrals. That was how I got my first US-based gig. I was also interning as a public communications intern for a Texas-based agency,” she enthuses.

At the University of Delhi, Parul Yadav found sisterhood and mentorship. Source: Money Sharma/AFP

Moving to Canada: Pivoting towards public relations

For Yadav, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

Wanting to pivot into the North American market, she started connecting with entrepreneurs who were leading their own businesses in public relations. 

“We started talking about different aspects of public relations, such as social media, marketing and influencer relations. That’s how I started getting more gigs,” says Yadav.

In this, the English literature graduate knew she needed a postgraduate degree to secure full-time roles in the North American market — and that is when she discovered Humber College‘s public relations graduate certificate programme. 

It had everything the Indian native needed to succeed in the field.

“Within Canada, it’s like every agency; go find a Humber grad,” she laughs while sharing during the interview.

“The assignments were intense — a lot of group projects, real-life client-based activities that you actually get to put on your portfolio. Humber College also had partners through the Canadian market, so we could do a mandatory co-op with them for four months.”

Yadav did her co-op at GCI Canada, an agency focusing on health and wellness, consumer marketing, and content creation. 

Soon after, she would pivot into her full-time role at Paradigm Public Relations, where the Humble College public relations graduate would monitor social media, handle relations with various media, and execute influencer programmes. 

Parul Yadav crossed thousands of miles to switch careers. Source Geoff Robins/AFP

Dealing with the challenges of moving abroad

Leaving it all behind to pursue your dream might seem like a shot out of a Hollywood movie — but Yadav’s story is a reality for many international students.

In particular, the Indian-Canadian immigrant struggled with loneliness and the guilt of leaving her parents behind when she first came to Canada.

“At the end of the year, I did go back home to see if I missed out on anything. Then my parents were like: ‘This was your decision and then you went. We are all okay here.’ It was just accepting that this is my life and I should be grateful and privileged to have this life right now,” the Indian native shares.

Apart from working at her day job, Yadav is still very much focused on creating a positive impact in her community.

She is part of the Board of Directors at IGNITE, representing the voices of over 30,000 students across Humber College and the University of Guelph Humber.

On top of that, she is a Community Outreach Coordinator for the Lakeshore Affordable Housing Advocacy and Action Group, which advocates for the housing crisis in Etobicoke — an issue plaguing many international students.

“My personal experience last year was crazy. When I first arrived, I was sharing the room with a girl because of monetary issues,” Yadav shares.

“The rooms were dirty, the rates weren’t nice, and you can’t afford a private room.”

For many international students, Canada is the land of dreams — but some downsides remained, as Parul Yadav discovered. Source: Geoff Robins/AFP

“Don’t settle for less”

Asked for advice to international students who are planning to switch careers, she says: “Create your personal brand, advocate for yourself, and get out of your comfort zone.”

“Go to conferences or workshops and build a better presence within your industry. You can start small by freelancing or getting a part-time job — they really help you go a long way. Also, get as much mentorship as possible.”