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Undergraduate Students - December 2008

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


Articles in this edition

Notes from the CAPS Career Resource Centre: Finding an Internship

Career planning…over the holidays?!?!

Breaking Into Journalism: Words of Wisdom from the Field

Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity McGill


Notes from the CAPS Career Resource Centre: Finding an Internship

by Vanessa Franco, Career Resource Consultant, CAPS

The CAPS Career Resource Centre offers many tools and resources to help you find an external internship. Before we go further, however, let us examine what is meant by internship as the word has many different meanings.

In general, an internship is a short-term, supervised opportunity to obtain practical work experience. There are different types of internships:

  • paid vs. unpaid
  • in association with McGill vs. external to the university
  • summer only vs. longer than one summer (can be up to 16 months)
  • in-study vs. post-graduation
  • for credit vs. no credit

Once you have identified the type of internship that interests you, follow the guidelines below.

If you are interested in doing an in-study internship, contact your faculty’s internship office. A list of internship offices at McGill is available from the Internship Offices Network . Generally, engineering and science students tend to have no-credit/paid internships while Arts students mostly have for credit/unpaid internships. The Faculty of Arts maintains a searchable database of internship organizations at http://www.mcgill.ca/internships/opportunities/database.

At CAPS we concentrate on internships that students get AFTER they graduate – which we call external internships. Below, you wll see the various resources available to help identify such opportunities.

The McGill myFuture job listings include internships. Sign in with your standard McGill username and password at https://csm-caps.mcgill.ca/students. In addition, CAPS maintains a searchable database of internship organizations at: CaPS Internships.

In the Career Resource Centre, Section 5.4 ‘Internships’ includes general and industry-specific internship directories. In this section you will also find guides that explain how to find or create your own internship and how to maximize the experience.

For those with wanderlust, Going Global provides an excellent international job and internship database at http://online.goinglobal.com. To access, you must be connected to the McGill network via an on-campus computer, wi-fi or VPN. You will be logged in automatically as an organizational user. From there you may create a personal account for remote access.

External internships are usually not paid and, unfortunately, funding for external internships is rare. However, there are some resources available that may help you finance your internship.

The CAPS web page on internships links to funding sources: http://caps.mcgill.ca/tools/internships/#financing.

In Section 1.2 of the Resource Centre, The Canadian Subsidy Directory 2003: Subsidies, Grants, Loans, General help - Federal & Provincial Governments Associations & Foundations and the Répertoire des programmes jeunesse du gouvernement du Québec may help you identify sources of funding.

Transitions Abroad magazine lists organizations that may have funding options for international internships. This Queens University page on funding international internships might also be helpful: http://www.queensu.ca/quic/wsa/funding/funding.htm.

Of course, don’t forget that you can always make an appointment with a CaPS Career Advisor to talk about your search for an internship. We can help you find what you’re looking for.

For more information, please come see the Career Resource Consultant, Vanessa, call 398-3304 ext. 00950 or e-mail caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

Career planning…over the holidays?!?!

by Jan Bottomer, CAPS Career Advisor

I know what you’re thinking – you’ve worked and played hard all term and you definitely need the break that the end of classes and exams represents – career planning is not foremost in your mind at this point! But the holiday period can be an excellent time to take stock, research options and proactively launch yourself into the New Year career-wise – read on!

Practically every aspect of a successful job search, from researching employers to writing a great cover letter and interviewing well, hinges on an often overlooked step, a thorough self-assessment. If you don’t know who you are and what you want, career planning and applying for jobs becomes much more haphazard and challenging. The relative downtime over the holidays offers a great chance to take stock; of the completed term, the year, yourself, and where you’re at. Take the time to think about your skills, interests, values, and career goals. What are you good at? What would you like to improve on? What have you enjoyed doing this year? When you picture yourself working, what do you see? What activities, topics, ideas really make your heart sing? Where would you like to be this time next year?

These questions often lack straightforward answers, but while some can only truly be answered by you, you can get valuable input on others from trusted friends, family and mentors. Ask for feedback on your strengths and accomplishments, and spend some time brainstorming career options and areas of interest together. At some point over the holidays, those of you graduating next month or in May will very likely be asked, if you haven’t already, “What are you going to do after you graduate?!” Instead of treating this question, and the well-meaning friends and relatives who ask it, as a major stressor to be actively avoided, treat it as an opportunity. Even if you don’t have a concrete plan just yet, share what you do know – the fields/subjects you are interested in, types of jobs you might like to try out, professionals you would be interested in meeting and the remaining areas of uncertainty for you. Get feedback on your strengths as mentioned above and ask your questioner to let you know if they hear of any relevant opportunities, or know of anyone working in your fields of interest. If possible, go one step further and set up some informal information interviews with family friends and acquaintances. This involves meeting with an individual in a field, organization, or position of interest to gain current “insider” career information, ideas and potential referrals. An information interview is NOT you asking for a job or trying to overtly sell yourself, but instead an opportunity to meet people working in areas you could see yourself in and want more information about.

If you’re planning on finding a job or internship over the summer or post-graduation, now is a great time to research potential opportunities, industries and organizations, and the CAPS Resource Centre has many links and publications to help you with this. If you haven’t updated your CV since you had to create it for that ninth grade school project, think about giving it a bit of a facelift over the holidays so that you’ll be better prepared to apply for the above-mentioned jobs and internships! For more details on information interviews, researching companies, CVs or any other aspect of career planning and job searching, or to talk with a career advisor about your options, come into CAPS or call 514 398 3304 to make an appointment. The CAPS offices and extensive resource centre are open up to and including the 24th of December, and then back on January 5th. We look forward to meeting you!

Breaking Into Journalism: Words of Wisdom from the Field

by Shea Sinnott, U3, Cultural Studies

For an aspiring writer, entering into the world of journalism can be a daunting and overwhelming prospect. In a recent panel discussion entitled “Breaking Into Journalism: Employment, Internships, and Freelancing” held during the Daily Publication Society’s “Student Journalism Week,” three young journalists chatted about the difficulties and opportunities they have encountered in their careers so far. They addressed a range of topics – including the advantages and disadvantages of going to graduate school, the process of applying to internships, and the reality of working within the industry.

Hannah Hoag, a medical-science freelancer based in Montreal, emphasized the importance of surrounding yourself with other journalists and making and maintaining relationships that can be useful for your career. She also claimed that one should always “aim high” and be ambitious when applying for internships and jobs. Kitra Cahana, a photographer and former intern for the New York Times, spoke about the value of traveling, learning from others, and finding a style (or “lens”!) through which to view the world.

And Daniel Goldbloom, a former Daily editor and now an associate-editor at The National Post, talked mostly about the office-dynamics at his paper, as well as the growth of new-media outlets (e.g. blogging) that are becoming more and more central to the industry. Moreover, as Goldbloom reluctantly admitted, success in journalism has a lot to do with connections and networking.

Though their experiences are all different, these three journalists have been successful due to the drive and perseverance they have managed to uphold through their work. So perhaps the best (and simplest) advice each of them put forth in their own way: one must develop and nurture a passion for journalism and work hard to get what you want. And reading your favourite media, exploring potential jobs, and writing as much and as frequently as possible is just the place to start. This means getting involved on campus with student papers, journals, and reviews, as well as coming into CAPS if you are feeling overwhelmed! Or as Goldbloom said emphatically: “Just start writing. Go home and start right now.”

Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity McGill

by by Alysha Kassam, U1, IDS

Early on a cloudy Saturday morning in late October, Habitat for Humanity McGill volunteered at Accueil Bonneau, a soup kitchen for the homeless, located in Old Montreal. Accueil Bonneau was founded in 1877 and is open year-round. We were given a tour of the historic establishment and learned the ins and outs of how it runs. Some of the products and services provided by the organization include clothes, blankets, shoes, haircuts, foot care, soap and other hygienic products. Since September 2007, it has been deemed illegal for anyone to sleep in parks or on benches in Montreal, causing the homeless spend their nights walking the city. Foot care is offered to treat their wounded feet. This community centre is efficiently run by numerous volunteers and is always looking for more help, from students and adults.

In 1998, an explosion occurred at the centre after a gas pipe was accidentally punctured. Three volunteers died as a result and others were injured. The building was reconstructed in an impressive four months after the incident, with improved facilities.

The beneficiaries come from various backgrounds and have experienced the hardships of life. We assisted with different tasks such as helping in the kitchen and serving food to the homeless. Once the meals had been polished off, we cleared dishes and cleaned the tables in the dining room. This was a perfect way to begin the day and no doubt a memorable experience. We were able to give back to people less fortunate and gain exposure to a population we may not always be aware of.

What is so appealing about volunteering? One of the benefits of volunteering is its flexibility - the time commitment can vary. Volunteering does not have to be extravagant; any little bit one can do is valued. The best part is undoubtedly the inner satisfaction at the end of the day. “I feel like I'm getting more than I'm giving when I volunteer,” said Emily Myles, VP External of Habitat for Humanity McGill. “Also, many of the places I have volunteered are very animated and even inspiring work environments, where you can work as part of a team to achieve something together,” she added.

Volunteering is a break away from routine and lets us explore something new and unfamiliar. Volunteering allows individuals to become engaged in causes they value and can devote time to. To make the experience even more enjoyable, you can volunteer with friends, or use the opportunity to meet new people.

Volunteer opportunities are easy to come by because a helping hand is more than appreciated and rarely turned away. Possible places include: a public library or community centre, an elderly home, NGOs, tutoring centres and of course, a soup kitchen!

Volunteering is also beneficial for future career endeavours. It demonstrates commitment, passion and time management. As a student, volunteering is a great opportunity to use any free time you might have while also learning more about the type of person you are and the kind of environment you work best in. If you would like to get involved with Habitat for Humanity McGill, you can get in touch via this address: habitatforhumanity [dot] mcgill [at] gmail [dot] com. To volunteer at Accueil Bonneau, make a donation or for additional information, you can visit their website.


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