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Undergraduate Students - April 2006

The full version of the April CAPSScoop can be found by clicking here.


Articles in this edition

Ahoy Matey! Summer Jobs on Cruise Ships

Teaching English as a Second Language. What's in it for you?

Young Entrepreneurs: Starting your own Business


Ahoy Matey! Summer Jobs on Cruise Ships

by Alyse Savelson

In the summer of 2004 I had just finished my third year at McGill and did not want to move back home with my parents. I really wanted to find a job in Montreal. My daily routine included waking up at noon and crossing my fingers that something new had opened up on the CAPS job bank. There were a lot of jobs available but nothing that caught my eye right away.

As I was scrolling down the jobs one day I noticed that there was a posting from Miami. This intrigued me, “I love the sun, I love the beach, I have no job, why don’t I see what is out there?” So I looked into the job. The position was for a youth counselor on a cruise ship. The job position sounded really exciting. I took the chance and sent in my C.V. to the agency.

A couple days later I was called for the job. I had to do a physical, police check and a month later I was off to Miami for my training! I didn’t know where the destination of the ship was but I was ready for an adventure. My adventure sent me from Miami to Vancouver and then went back and forth between Vancouver and Alaska for 3 months. Not exactly what I had imagined when I had first applied but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.

When I came back I really missed ship life. I called head office whenever I had a break from school and they sent me to work in tropical places for a week at a time. I have now graduated university and this summer I am working full time in order to pay back some student loans. I will start in Bermuda for three and a half months and then head off to the Panama Canal and into South America.

To be honest, the cruise ship life isn’t for everyone. You live in small quarters with another roommate, have a very hectic schedule and the food isn’t always the best. However, if you think you can look past this and enjoy yourself no matter the circumstance than this is the position for you. It is an experience that many people only dream of doing!

In my opinion this is a perfect job for anyone looking to travel. You have the opportunity to see the world and get paid for it. It’s especially great when you are young and have no real commitments. It is also an easy way to save money since you don’t have to pay for rent or food. I have learnt that it is important to take chances; you never know where your next choice might lead you!

Teaching English as a Second Language. What's in it for you?

by Leila Peacock

The demand for English teachers is rapidly expanding. An article entitled ‘The World’s 10 Most Influential Languages’ (Language Today, Vol. 2, Dec 97) George Webster placed English at the top of his list of languages which was followed by French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. He rated the languages based on six factors: number of primary speakers, number of secondary speakers, number and population of countries where the language is used, number of major fields using the language internationally, economic power of countries using the language and socio-literary prestige. It is little wonder that the English Teaching industry is in demand all over the world.

For native English speakers this provides a unique opportunity to find paid work abroad in places where they do not necessarily need to be able to speak the local language before they depart, as long as they have some training in teaching English as a second language. When beginning your research, it is a good idea to know exactly what you are looking for. It is important to consider where you would like to use your qualifications and why. If you are not prepared beforehand, the weight of information you will find may seem daunting. Googling the acronym TEFL produces over a million search results in a mere 0.04 seconds!

Be cautious of the programs you research. There are numerous scam companies who claim to offer approved courses. Teaching English is an industry full of acronyms with websites claiming to train teachers in TESOL, TESL, TEFL all of which are essentially the same thing. The important acronyms to remember are:

  • TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) – This is a widely used, non-specific term for the profession. It is interchangeable with TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). Lots of courses call themselves TEFL’s but it is important to note that anything can call itself a TEFL and it is never a mark of guaranteed quality.
  • CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) – one of the most widely recognised qualifications.
  • Trinity Cert-TESOL (Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages) – another highly respected and quality monitored qualification.

Both the CELTA and the Trinity Cert-TESOL usually take about a month to complete. More importantly, they offer 100 hours of thorough training in teaching methods and 6-10 hours of supervised practice teaching a class of real students. . Predictably, these are also the most expensive courses with the CELTA costing around $2300 CDN – if you are interested in taking a CELTA in Montreal you should look at www.celta.ilsc.ca.

Most teaching jobs in Europe require teachers to have a CELTA or a TESOL but other parts of the world are less strict. For many positions a short introduction course is sufficient and there are many of these available. Most short courses take about 5 days and cover the basic theory of language teaching but without any of the practical experience. Some courses can even be done on-line or over a weekend.

There are four main factors to consider when choosing a :

  • Course format. What does the course propose to teach you and how big are the classes?
  • Recognition. Will your qualification be recognised in the place you want to use it?
  • Duration. How many hours are involved with the course? How much time are you able to devote?
  • Expenses. What are you getting for your money?.. Take note that a more respected qualification might have certain benefits including a higher paid job.

It is also important to think about where you want to do your course. The cost of a CELTA in Montreal is a lot more than the cost of taking one in Cairo. You do not necessarily have to study and then travel, you can travel and then travel some more!

Whatever you decide to do, teaching English abroad offers a unique travelling experience. It gives you the opportunity to really get involved in a community and to have a point of access to the local culture. It gives you a chance to meet the people who live there as opposed to meeting a bunch of other Western travellers and speaking English together. You are able to transgress the role of the tourist and have an active, as opposed to a passive, experience of another culture whilst hopefully earning a living at the same time.

Related Resources and Websites:

Young Entrepreneurs: Starting your own Business

by Bhavna Patel

Are you tired of seeing your wearisome job search turn into a full time job? Let’s face it, landing an ideal job after graduation is difficult for most students to accomplish. Unemployment is a painful phase and great patience and persistence is required when applying within the competitive job market. Why not take advantage of the wealth of time you have to spare during the disheartening moments to ponder more about your true inner passions. For many people, that passion lies in starting up a new business.

For young adults, aged between 18 and 34, there is no better time to start up a small business than now. According to the Government of Canada’s “Minding your own Business-Becoming an Entrepreneur” brochure, small companies have an advantage over larger enterprises. “Small businesses are creating most of the new jobs in Canada,” not only do they have more flexibility than large businesses, but they “can respond more quickly to changes in the economy and take advantage of new opportunities” (Brochure 2).

Canadians are encouraged to start small businesses and will find aid from all levels of the government. There are also several non-governmental organisations available for future entrepreneurs to choose from for helpful information and guidance. Numerous business loans are available for young adults to apply for and it will not take long to find the right professional support group.

From information on the start-up process to effectively running your own business, Six Steps to Self-Employment by Kevin Hood et al. offers some excellent guidelines for future entrepreneurs to abide byFor instance, it is necessary to first realise your own self-employment profile. A questionnaire is available in the book to discover your unique entrepreneurial qualities.

Your self-employment profile can help you determine whether or not you want to start a business with other partners. Ekta Khurana, a young engineer, Master’s Degree student and small business co-owner of Volansa Tecnologies Inc., believes there are pros and cons to both starting a business solo or with other partners. She advises, “In a partnership, you must have a sound understanding of the people you are working with, and identify the roles each member will play within the company from the very beginning.” As being a team player is essential in today’s market, Khurana enjoys working with her own fellow business partners. “If all members of the team can identify their plus and minus points and work effectively with one another, then I recommend being in a partnership”.

Once you have formed your own business team, create a list of small business owners you know of and keep them as your contacts; networking is key to getting your business started. Explains Hood, talking to other small business owners “could help you better understand the requirements of each [business] option, and help you decide whether or not you are interested in pursuing that option further (10).”

Certainly, there is the risk factor to consider when starting up your own business, but that risk can be minimized by using a few simple precautions. First, “research the potential and profitability of a self-employed opportunity before investing your time, effort, and money in it. Only pursue opportunities that your research indicates will be in demand!” (Hood et al, 51). Do make sure to explore the wealth of information and resources available to you.

Also, take a good look around you. Hood states, “knowing who your competition is and what they are doing is invaluable in assessing self-employment opportunities” (Hood et al. 59).

Most importantly, be sure to know yourself inside out. By doing something you truly enjoy, the chances of obtaining success will be greater.

If you land your dream job in the midst of starting your own business, properly consider your options. Whatever you decide, avoid the unemployment rut by doing something positive for yourself.

For further information and assistance, please visit www.yesmontreal.com, http://strategis.ic.gc.ca or www.bdc.ca.


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