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Undergraduate Students - April 2007

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


Articles in this edition

19th Century Job

Votre appel est important pour nous

The Job Finding Club

Finding that Elusive Summer Job


19th Century Job

by Amber Grant

It’s not every day your work clothes consist of a 19th-century royal blue gown, complete with lace frills, a blouse buttoned to the collar, a hoop skirt, and a matching parasol. Then again, it’s not every day that the floors of your work place crack with use and age, that the main locks are opened with two hundred year-old keys, that your desk is an antique, and that the building you work in is so draped in history, it can be directly linked to Quebec and Canada’s pasts.

I began seriously job-hunting in March, and before long it became a task I took on with wholehearted devotion. The difficulty lay in pinpointing my ideal summer job. I considered everything from waitressing, to office work, to retail- incapable of picturing myself satisfied with any of them. I scanned the CAPS job postings daily, along with the Classifieds section of various local and Montreal-based newspapers. The search was long and tedious, but I didn’t give up. I plumped up my résumé, learned how to write a proper cover letter, translated both into French, and began the loathsome task of hand-delivering them. Days passed, weeks passed, and I grew frustrated. A small comfort was that peers and friends I spoke with all seemed to be in the same boat. However, my anticipation grew to fear, and I had nightmares of a jobless summer, one during which I’d be forced to assume the dreaded title of unemployed.

About the time I identified that my ideal job would be to become a tour guide, the outlook held more promise. Having heard of a student job fair through CAPS, I schlepped to UQAM to try my luck. There I spoke with representatives of both the provincial and federal student job organizations (emploi Québec and FSWEP). Armed with pamphlets that would guide me through the not so simple task of setting up an account, I headed home encouraged. The next day, I set to work on my computer, and within the hour I had found matches to the job criteria I had outlined. With renewed enthusiasm, I applied to a few jobs that peaked my interest.

By the end of the week, I had two interviews lined up, one of which led to my current job. Presently, I work as a tour guide in a small museum situated along the Lachine Canal. In the afternoons, I swap my identity for a woman who lived over a hundred years ago, becoming Lady Hopkins. What I enjoy most about the work I do is that it combines my main interests and allows me to put what I study to use (I major in North American History and minor in World Religions).

Each afternoon as I step into my gown, I think back to the hard work involved in finding my job, and I welcome the frilled cuffs and sashaying skirt. It’s no ordinary summer job, but then again, I wasn’t looking for ordinary work.

Votre appel est important pour nous

by Vickey Habel

De bons emplois nous entourent, dont ceux qui se trouvent dans les nombreux centres d’appels. Il y a plusieurs sortes de centres tels que ceux qui accueillent des appels entrants et sortants. On retrouve des postes d’agent de service à la clientèle, de télémarketing, ventes internes, préposé aux collections, préposés à l’information, ainsi que des consultants en tourisme, agent de réservations et autres.

Le travail téléphonique peut être bénéfique comme il peut être un malencontreux. Il y a de merveilleuses raisons pour lesquelles envisager un poste en centre d’appels, celles-ci comprennent une bonne rémunération et une formation fournie. Souvent les employés sont syndiqués ou le deviennent après un certain temps et les opportunités d’avancement se montrent fréquemment. Une fois l’expérience acquise on peut se voir offrir des postes de superviseur, gérant, et plus encore.

Par contre, puisqu’un agent en centre d’appels est à la merci du volume d’appels, l’agent peut être appelé à travailler les quarts de soirs, nuits, fins de semaine et/ou jours fériés. En plus, un poste auprès du publique nécessite une patience phénoménale et de la diplomatie surtout quand le client qui se cache derrière son téléphone n’est pas indisposé par la gêne. Un appel n’est jamais la source d’un simple bonjour mais d’un problème à régler qu’on doit résoudre… rapidement. En outre, la performance des agents est évaluée constamment grâce à des mesures de contrôle de qualité.

Tout de même une journée typique dans un centre d’appels est généralement très agréable et les bienfaits sont plus nombreux que les désagréments. Un bon employeur offrira un salaire compétitif de base (entre 11$ et 18$ de l’heure à Montréal), des avantages sociaux ainsi qu’un service syndical après un temps déterminé, et sans pression de ventes si ce ne fait pas partie de votre description de tâches.

Les bonnes compagnies peuvent offrir un horaire à temps plein ou partiel. De bons centres d’appels desservent les clients de banques, de télécommunications, ou d’hôtels 4 et 5 étoiles. Les lignes aériennes offrent aussi d’intéressantes opportunités.

Pour être un candidat retenu on doit être multilingue, ce qui est un atout redoutable, courtois, avoir de l’entregent, avoir de l’expérience dans un poste similaire, capable de performer sous pression, et le plus important est d’être PONCTUEL! De l’expérience en résolutions de problèmes et des connaissances informatiques sont fortement suggérés.

Quoique soyez averti du cercle vicieux. On doit avoir de l’expérience ultérieurement acquise pour obtenir les meilleurs postes. Si un poste en centre d’appels vous intéresse, faites ressortir vos responsabilités antérieures connexes aux tâches d’agent en centre d’appels dans votre CV et informez vous auprès de vos amis et votre famille qui sont déjà employés dans une centrale téléphonique pour des références.

Bonne Chance!

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Good jobs are all around us. One such position is found in call centers. There are many kinds of inbound and outbound contact centers. One can select from customer service, telemarketing, inbound sales, collections, information lines, hotel or travel reservations centers, and more.

Phone jobs can be a blessing like they can be quite a burden. The wonderful aspects about being a telephone agent range from an interesting pay check to the provided training. Many times call center officers are unionized or have the potential to become so and there are great opportunities to climb the ladder. Once one gains some phone experience, one can be promoted to supervisor, manager, and so on.

On the other hand, because a telephone agent relies on calls to remain at his/her post, shift work will more than likely be required. Often the hours of operation will be 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Another drawback to this line of work is the enormous amount of stress. The simple fact is that working with the public requires a lot of patience and diplomacy, but when people hide behind a phone, they no longer have inhibitions! It is important to realise that when people call you, it is not to say hello. They have a problem and you are there to solve it…quickly. In addition, many call centers now have quality control measures and time limits on their calls. Your performance is evaluated on nearly every contact.

Although it sounds scary, the majority of the time everything runs smoothly and enjoyably! If you are employed by a good call center, the benefits hugely outweigh the negative. To recognise a proper one, the position will most likely be well paid (in Montreal one can expect between $11 and $18 per hour), with health benefits and unionization after a set amount of time, and no sales pressures unless the position requires sales.

Good companies that treat their phone agents well and are great options for part time and full time call center employment are: banks in general, telecommunications, and 4 and 5 star hotels. Airlines reservation centers are also interesting choices because you get travel benefits such as FAM trips or other perks.

Employers look for specific skills: multilingualism is a huge asset, previous customer service or telephone experience, service oriented and team player attitudes, the gift of gab with professionalism and diplomacy, ability to handle stress, and #1 is PUNCTUALITY! Proven problem solving abilities and computer knowledge are strongly recommended.

Be warned that being hired in a call center can be a catch 22 situation. One must have experience to get the experience. If you are interested in being a telephone agent, ask around if you know anyone already in a contact center. At the same time, dig within your résumé for any customer contact experiences you can emphasise on! Go ahead, apply!

The Job Finding Club

by Sinoun Oun

While the name is pretty self-explanatory, the CAPS Job Finding Club is more than just a career-search resource. After all, finding a job isn’t only about sending out CVs and going for interviews, it requires thoughtful planning and research and most of all, valuable feedback and support, which are all fundamental features of the CAPS Job Finding Club.

Led by a facilitator, the program is made up of 10 to 15 graduating students, all of whom are seeking employment in their field. It is a two-week program tailored towards teaching students the most effective job-search techniques, based on the idea that job-hunting is in itself a full-time job and is best undertaken with a group of people.

Through a series of workshops, discussions and exercises, the CAPS Job Finding Club enables participants to not only learn, but more importantly to implement the knowledge as they acquire it. Networking, information gathering, interviewing and targeted searches are some of the key topics that are covered in the program and practice is encouraged on a daily basis. What makes it unique is that it is provided in the context of peer support and encouragement; thus the frustrations that usually accompany the job-search are minimized mainly because members don’t feel alone. Each member benefits from the mutual support and constructive feedback of the entire group, as well as the personalized assistance of the facilitator. During the two-week period, participants actively engage in processes such as self-assessment, cold-calling, creating customized CVs, cover letters, and business cards. They practice their interviewing skills and learn to be efficient communicators. In honing their own skills, students are able to help others where they excel, and receive help in the areas that require improvement. The sessions also feature guest speakers, generally past CAPS Job Finding Club participants, who impart further inspiration and encouragement. Participants also benefit from the available CAPS resources, including specialized directories and job leads, as well as the continual support from career advisors. In many ways then, the CAPS JFC acts as a forum for growth and exploration allowing one to step beyond the comfort zone so as to be more competitive in the job market.

At no cost to the student, the CAPS Job Finding Club is committed to helping its members achieve their career goals by providing guidance and assistance each step of the way. It is important to keep in mind however, that while the aim of the JFC is to instill in its participants the necessary set of measures to facilitate and improve the chances of finding fulfilling employment - in no way does the program purport to find jobs for its members, for it is ultimately up to the individual to utilize and make the most of what they’ve learned.

The program’s success rates are very promising, as most students do end up finding work in their desired field. But even if job offers don’t come right away, participants will be equipped with a set of valuable skills that will continue to be useful at every stage of their career development.

To find out more about the Job Finding Program (including admission requirements) visit Job Finding Club

Finding that Elusive Summer Job

Are you at the point where you figure summer jobs are just a source of income? Well think again! In the long run, that summer job may help you to get a job after graduation. Not only can it give you skills and experience to highlight on your CV, but it also gets your name out there and builds you a network of contacts. Your summer job can also help make decisions about career options in your future.

Here are some things you may want to know to help you land that summer job:

  • 80% of jobs aren’t posted so networking is key. Meeting people and getting out there will help you to find out what is available. It will not only inform you of companies and possibilities, but it also allows the employer to learn about you! Some of the CAPS workshop can help you work on some of those skills. Check out:
    • Networking your way to the job you want
    • Cold calling as a job search skill
  • CAPS Job Listing Database is there for you! All it requires is a username and password attained from the CAPS office and jobs are at your fingertips. There are non-career jobs for students who aren’t sure of what they want, and for those who have yet to develop very much academic experience. You can also get an access code for Workopolis and search monstertrak.com.
  • Canada Summer Jobs is a new initiative of the Summer Work Experience program. It provides wage subsidies to help Canadian employers of not-for-profit, public sector, and smaller private sector organizations with 50 or fewer employees create career-related summer jobs for students between the ages of 15 and 30 at the start of employment. For more information check out Service Canada Centre (SCC) for a location near you.
  • I’m an International student…can I work anywhere? No need to worry, ISS is there for you. They have all the information of how to apply for an Off Campus work permit. Please apply as soon as possible, as some restrictions may apply.
  • Tree planting…not for everyone but a great experience! There are many organizations out there that will sign you to a contract for a part or the whole summer. If you are looking for more information CAPS is the place to be! * Check out our workshop: Tree Planting
  • Working on campus. There are a few options to find employment on campus:
  • One is offered through the Financial Aid department. The Work Study program provides on campus jobs during both semesters and the summer. A Work Study Authorization must be obtained first. You must be accepted either during the Winter or Spring Session, in order to apply to their Summer Jobs.
  • The CAPS office has a list of Area Personnel Officers around campus which you have access to. Just come and ask at the front desk. You can contact them to see what they have to offer. Ask the Administrative Assistant of your Department/Faculty is another source of job information.
  • The CAPS Job Listing database is another place to check- there is a section for On Campus Jobs.
  • Ask your professors! Often professors are looking for students to work for them over the summer. Whether it be to help with research, or just around the office, there is no harm in asking!

Here are some tips for looking for a summer job:

  • Start working on it early- if you haven’t, DON’T PANIC, there are still options available. Remember, you can still schedule two, or more, Part Time Jobs during the summer, to make a 40 hour, work week.
  • Try out a part time job during in semester that may become full time during the summer.
  • Get your CV and Cover Letter together. If you need help, CAPS has workshops and CV Drop In to check it over!
  • Decide what you want and do your research.
  • Ready-Set-Network! Get out there so people find out who you are!
  • APPLY! After you have found what you like, or at least what you think you like, get your CV and cover letter to them ASAP.
  • Make sure to dress appropriately and be on time for interviews. If you want to brush up on your interview skills register for the CAPS workshop called Successful Job Interview Skills.
  • Be persistent! It takes time and work but you can land that job!

You can always come by the CAPS office to get some advice or to talk to our Student Recruitment Coordinator for Non-Career Jobs, Nicholas Calamatas. We also have tons of books and magazines that can give you ideas or information! GET GOING!


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