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Undergraduate Studetns - February 2009

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


Articles in this edition

Scoring a Great Summer Position – Tips for Success!

Volunteering: The Experience You Need

New Resources Roundup


Scoring a Great Summer Position – Tips for Success!

by Jan Bottomer, CaPS Music and Arts Career Advisor

If you’re like the vast majority of McGill students, you’re currently in the process of looking for a job or an internship this summer…or at least thinking about doing so! Maybe this is your first time searching for a summer job and you’re looking to gain some general work experience. Maybe you’re close to graduation and hoping to increase your experience and contacts in your field of interest. Maybe you just need to make as much money as possible in four months to finance your schooling. Maybe you just want to do something different, work outdoors, experience something new, travel, live in a new city or region, have some fun…

Whatever your priorities are for this summer, one of the first steps in a successful search is figuring them out! It’s key to have a sense of what you’d like to get out of your summer job, what’s really important to you, and what you’d love to do.

Other tips and points to consider:

  • What are you good at? What skills and experiences do you have to offer a potential employer? Can you articulate these? Does your CV reflect them?
  • Remember that employers are often looking for people with transferable skills like leadership, creativity, enthusiasm, analytical abilities, communication and organizational skills. Remember that all sorts of experiences contribute to the development of these skills, including academic, volunteer, work, and extracurricular experiences.
  • Narrow down your search, at least to give yourself somewhere to start. Are you looking in a certain city or geographic area? Which industries/fields interest you? Is there a particular type of job or experience you’re aiming for?
  • Make sure you have an up-to-date CV/resume. Have you added in your extracurriculars from this year? Any additional volunteer work that needs to be mentioned? Relevant courses, projects or research to include? Before you apply, come to CV drop in to have it checked or make an appointment to see a career advisor at CaPS.
  • Be PROACTIVE in your search!!! I cannot emphasize this enough! Many students look at online sites like My Future, monster, yahoo and workopolis for job opportunities. While these are great places to start your search, don’t stop there! The vast majority of available jobs (at least 80%) are not advertised online. In order to start tapping into this “hidden” job market you must be proactive. Make sure that everyone you know is aware that you’re looking for a summer position and give them a sense of the work you’d like to do. Ask if they know anyone working in your field(s) of interest and contact these people to find out more about the field and potential opportunities. Also focus on researching and directly targeting companies and organizations of interest to you. (CaPS has lots of resources to help you out with this!) Make contact and apply to these organizations even if they don’t have a position advertised. Consider setting up your own internship at an organization you’d like to get experience with.
  • Above all be persistent and keep trying – like any job search, finding a summer position takes time and effort – and don’t hesitate to come into CaPS for help and support along the way!

For additional information, attend one of the Summer Jobs workshops offered at CaPS:

  • Wednesday, February 4th, 14h00 – 15h30
  • Monday, February 16th, 10h30 – 12h00
  • Friday, March 27th, 10h00 – 11h30

Volunteering: The Experience You Need

by Riccardo Cordi, CaPS Career Advisor Intern

With graduation just a couple of months away for some, you might be looking ahead to your lives post-McGill. While this is certainly a time to celebrate your academic achievements, for many it is also a time of uncertainty. The prospect of heading out into the workforce can be an anxiety-provoking endeavor; particularly for those who are looking for work for the first time.

Regardless of whether you are in U1 or U3, it is never too early (or too late for that matter) to start gaining valuable experience that can help you land that first job. Often times, students find themselves in a Catch-22; they cannot get the job they want because they lack the experience necessary, and they cannot get the experience necessary if they don’t land the job. However, there is a way of getting that much needed experience; volunteering.

Volunteering is one of the most effective and (relatively) simple ways for students to develop that sometimes elusive experience. As university students, there is no better time to volunteer and try different things. Whether it is during the summer break or the Christmas holidays, there is ample time for you to spend some of your time volunteering with an organization or a cause you believe in. Furthermore, unlike paid employment, volunteer organizations are generally much more flexible with their scheduling allowing you to dedicate only the amount of time you can (i.e. 4 hours per week). In short, you might even be able to find time to volunteer during the semester.

The benefits of volunteering are numerous. For some, it is an opportunity to develop practical experience and the skills related to your field of study and your (possible) future line of work. It will bolster your CV and help you land that first job. For others, it is something that might help you get into grad school. Often times, grad school admission committees look for candidates with well-rounded experiences. Also, volunteering will allow you to find out firsthand if you are in the right field or line of work. It is not uncommon for students to have an idea of what a job might be like, only to find out that in reality it is not at all what they expected (good or bad). Finally, volunteering is an opportunity to explore new experiences; something you have always wanted to try but were maybe too afraid to. It might help you discover what you want – or don’t want – to do for a living.

Now that you’re ready to try your hand at volunteering, where do you start your search? Do you want to spend part of your summer doing community and medical work in Ecuador? How about teaching in Europe? In many ways, when it comes to volunteering the sky is the limit; there are as many different volunteer organizations out there as there are interests. For those of you wishing not to venture too far, there are a number of established organizations rights here in Montreal and on-campus. Come see an advisor at CaPS for more information on volunteer organizations and to start getting the experience you need!


For further information on volunteering, check out the resources located on the Volunteering page of our website.

New Resources Roundup

by Vanessa Franco, CaPS Career Resource Consultant

The CaPS Career Resource Centre has many new resources for you!

The latest issues of digital and print serials, such as International Career Employment Weekly, Canada Employment Weekly, the Chronicle of Higher Education, University Affairs, Artsboard and Verge Magazine, are available for download or on-site consultation. These are accessible in PDF format via myFuture and/or in print on the periodicals rack next to the front desk. Take advantage of these comprehensive career resources that offer, among other things, job listings in Canada and abroad, in industry and academia.

We have just added the Vault Online Career Library to our vast collection of resources at McGill University. Vault is the world’s leading source of career information. It will make your efforts at researching employers, industries, and career subjects infinitely easier and more efficient. Check out this new online resource available through CaPS myFuture in your career resource section from the document tab. We also have the latest editions of the most popular Vault guide titles in print for those who prefer old-fashioned books to PDFs. Titles include the Vault Guide to the Case Interview, the Vault Career Guide to International Careers, the Vault Guide to Environmental Careers, to name just a few.

Other new items available for you to borrow overnight:

  • SEL- Test du français écrit
  • Arrival Survival Canada: A Handbook for New Immigrants
  • How to Find a Job in Canada: Common Problems and Effective Solutions
  • The Joys of Much Too Much: Go for the Big Life--The Great Career, The Perfect Guy, and Everything Else You've Ever Wanted
  • Qui Fait Quoi guide source 2009 (Québec media and culture industry directory)
  • Perspectives on Labour and Income, Winter 2008 (by Statistics Canada- provides information on employment and wage trends, skilled trades employment, etc.)

Latest issues of free publications are now available on the shelves in the hallway outside of our office. Titles include MyCareer, Job Postings, Job Postings- Disabilities Edition, and the Graduate School Planning Guide. Come peruse and take home some of these great, free resources.

There are more items on the way! For questions, more information or purchasing suggestions, visit us or e-mail %20caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca.


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