Connecting students to careers
In September, 2012 alone, over 1,900 first-year Engineering students flocked to the McGill Engineering Student Centre (MESC), taking advantage of its skilled team of academic and career advisors. “Students think of us as their first stop if they have any questions or issues,” says Judy Pharo, Director of the Centre.
The MESC, launched in 2006 and supported through a seminal gift from Ian Soutar, BEng’58, and Helgi Soutar, BSc’58, addresses undergraduate needs from the time potential students consider applying to the Faculty of Engineering to when graduating students stand on the cusp of careers.
“Our goal has been to establish an integrated approach to academic and career advising,” says Pharo. “By connecting these concerns we can offer full support to students and sensitize them to the idea that preparing for a career starts on day one of their studies, not on graduation day.”
To that end, the MESC links with industry locally, nationally and internationally, organizing two recruitment fairs annually – the largest such events at any university in Canada – and hosting a web site where employers post jobs and internships. Last year saw 850 companies post 1,930 jobs, and more than 400 students participated in internships.
Throughout the year, the MESC brings in industry leaders – often alumni – who share their knowledge with students, and it arranges career-training seminars touching on issues that range from preparing a CV to developing “soft” skills demanded in the workplace. For those students interested in academic research and possibly entering graduate studies, the MESC also coordinates the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering program.
All of the MESC’s activities are supported by gifts from donors, many of them made during the course of Campaign McGill. “We’ve created a sense of community with the students,” says Pharo. “They know to come here for help. And that’s a big achievement.”