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Undergraduate Students - October 2006

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


Articles in this edition

Get Involved

The Art of Networking

Is Your Powder Blue Suit Going to Get You the Job?

JET Programme


Get Involved

by Adam Verwymeren

It is easy to burn through your three or four years at McGill, focusing only on your studies and social life. You don't want to make the mistake of graduating from McGill with merely a degree. An education will open a lot of doors for you, but it does not guarantee you your dream job after you graduate. An employer wants to see that a potential employee has practical experience in addition to an education. The things you do in your free time may end up being as valuable as that bachelors of whatever you are working your way towards. So get involved, volunteer, or apply for a part-time job. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your year.


Clubs can be a lot of fun, but they can also offer some invaluable experience that you can later use to help land a job. Joining a club offers students a chance to plan events, manage a budget, and network with people who hold similar interests. There are clubs for all interests, so whether you are an engineering student interested in the Concrete Tobaggon Team, or a political science student interested in signing up for IRSAM's Model UN conference, the key is to get as involved as possible. Don't like any of the clubs on campus? Then start your own. All you need is a few members, a constitution, and an executive. You can swing by the SSMU and speak to the Vice President of Clubs and Services for more information on how to make this happen.


The Student Society is not just for aspiring student politicos. Behind its political face, the SSMU is a fully functioning corporation with a $3 million operating budget. It offers a number of management positions, both paid and volunteer, for students looking to get real world business and leadership experience. Students looking to pitch in don't have to limit themselves to the SSMU- faculty associations like the Science Undergraduate Society or the Arts Undergraduate Society also offer plenty of opportunities to get involved. So stop by the SSMU office or check in with your faculty association and see what positions are available to you.

Get A Job

There are many opportunities for employment, both on and off campus. Some on-campus jobs require acceptance into the Work Study Program, so stop by the Student Aid Office to fill out an application form. There's no guarantee you'll be accepted, but it can't hurt to try. Many professors also have research budgets, so check in with your professors to see if they are looking for a research assistant; these plumb jobs aren't just limited to grad students. If you are hunting for an on or off-campus job stop by the CAPS office. You can search their great database of jobs to find one that suits your needs. Just stop by the CAPS office to register for access to the Job Postings. While there they can also lend a hand writing a great résumé or prepping you for a big (or small!) job interview.

However you choose to get involved, it is important to make the most of your time here. Remember, the more experience you rack up here, the more you can put on your résumé. You also never know when the folks you meet at McGill will come in handy when trying to land a job or internship later on in life.

The Art of Networking

by Angela He

When it comes to landing a job, it’s not surprising if you’ve heard the phrase “who you know is just as important as what you know.” As a matter of fact, more and more people are switching their focus from traditional means of locating jobs, like newspapers or the internet, to other means because of the existence of the large portion of “hidden” job market—the market that is only accessible based on “who you know.”

Networking is arguably the most proactive job search technique. Why? According to New York Times Survey 2002, 64% of people find jobs through networking. Employers do prefer to hire people they know over “mystery” candidates. The Wall Street Journal also reported in 2004 that 94% of successful job seekers claimed that networking had made all the difference for them.

So what is the definition of networking? Why is it so important? Is it a science or an art? What is the etiquette of networking? In other words, what are the do’s and don’ts in terms of professional networking?

In “A Foot in the Door – Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market,” author Katherine Hansen defines networking as “The process through which you get connected and build relationships with people who can help advance your career.” A strong and effective network can help you go through difficult career times with ease. It can play a vital role in your professional life when you need advice, guidance, and direction during the job search or job transition. There are two points to keep in mind.

Networking is a process

Networking is a long-term investment. It is not just based on collecting business cards, personal digital assistants, or computer programs. It requires dedication and commitment — admittedly, it should be a lifetime career goal. It does not end when you land the job. And it may result in long lasting connections.

Networking is about building relationships

Like any other healthy relationship, you need to find common denominators between you and your contacts to build rapport. You must be willing to give as much as you get. Remember, networking is a two-way street. It is imperative to have regular communication to nurture a relationship — and developing these relationships is key to having access to more opportunities.

Successful networking is both a science and an art. There are some golden rules to keep in mind to facilitate networking activities. Here are the major do’s and don’ts:


  • Maintain a positive outlook throughout. Be prepared to put in time and effort to foster any contacts with whom you want to build a relationship. Be open minded and welcome opportunities
  • Join a professional organization related to your field or volunteer to make network contacts
  • Consider conducting informational interviews to gather as much information as possible about the person you will meet


  • Be afraid to ask for help. Contrary to what people think, many people actually like to be asked for assistance. They feel important when being asked for advice and most of them love to “show off” their expertise
  • Go anywhere unprepared. You should always equip yourself with the necessary tools, like your résumé and business card.. And remember to bring your interpersonal skills, communication skills, enthusiasm, confidence, and a positive outlook
  • Forget to thank everyone in your network. The more you show your appreciation for others, the more likely you will be to create a lasting positive impression on others and will be remembered when chances arise. Staying in touch with your contacts will help you stay connected to your profession

Networking can help you learn more and gain insight about your profession. It is a very big deal in the world of work, and worth careful planning and execution.

Is Your Powder Blue Suit Going to Get You the Job?

by Catherine Stace, Career Advisor

You have an interview with YourDreamJob inc. You don’t need to prepare, you have a degree and you know you would make a valuable contribution to the organization.

The morning of the interview you dust off your blue suit that you wore to your friend’s fancy dress Halloween party last year. Oops, you forgot that you had spilled some dip on the front, and wow the suits looks a little dated, uh oh does it smell funny?

You are at the interview, they have asked you the first question. Tell me about yourself? You launch into a 5 minute Leno monologue…STOP!

You need to prepare BEFORE the interview. Here are some tips:

  • Can you provide them an example about a time you took initiative on something? Why are they asking you this? Interviewers ask questions about your past experience to predict your future performance.
  • Will you panic if they ask you to provide them with 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses? Can you articulate what your skills are? Why you are the best candidate? Self-assessment is the key.
  • Dress for success, that includes making sure everything is clean & it fits. Remember business attire not evening wear, this isn’t a night club.
  • Don’t wear perfumes/colognes. Some companies have banned the use of perfumes. Imagine your chances to land this great job if the recruiter associates you with a migraine brought on your mysterious scent.
  • Not too much jewelry. You want to dazzle them with your competencies not your bling.
  • Don’t wait until you have the interview. CAPS can help! Attend an interview workshop. Make an appointment with a Career Advisor to talk about interview techniques and to conduct a mock interview. Call or drop in today to book your appointment!

JET Programme

by Laura Massé, Peer Educator Coordinator

Ever think about taking part in a wonderful experience on the other side of the world teaching English? Has the thought of leaving home for a year or so after you graduate intrigue you? Well then you should take a look at this!

The JET Programme allows for local school authorities in Japan to employ foreign youth to help improve foreign language education, as well to help promote international exchange at the local level. There are a few different endeavors that you can take on with this program. The biggest program is the Assistant Language Teacher (ALTs) where you would assist the regular Japanese teachers in teaching English in elementary, junior, and senior high schools. You also could have the chance to be a Coordinator for International Relations (CIRs) working in communities on international exchange activities (but, for this, you will need to be fluent in Japanese). These positions are all over Japan, covering large cities, small and medium-sized towns, and rural farming and fishing villages.

The program looks for students who love working with children, who have some appreciation for Japanese culture and are able to easily adapt to the “culture shock” of living in a new country. You must also have completed a Bachelors degree AND convocated. You do not need to be able to speak Japanese (except where otherwise noted).

The JET Programme is one of the world’s largest international exchange programs. Not only is this a great learning experience, but it encourages the increase of cross-cultural understanding. Participating in this program would be a great experience to expand your horizons, but you are also making an impact on all the lives you will touch while there in Japan by bringing your knowledge of Canada and Canadian culture to the Japanese.

If you are interested in this program there will be an information session held on October 24th at noon in Brown 5001. Click here to register.

For details of qualifications and application information, visit http://www.jetprogramme.org/


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