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Undergraduate Students - January 2010

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


Articles in this edition

Helicopter Parents

Do you have a Mentor yet?

Your Choices Define You


Helicopter Parents

by Alysha Kassem, U3, IDS major

Are you attending university away from home? Do your parents call several times a day, just to check up on you? Do they remember what time you had your last meal at and constantly know your whereabouts? Do they persistently remind you of your pressing to-do list? These questions can go on if you answered yes to all or most of the previous questions, then you may be experiencing some serious helicopter parenting.

Not familiar with the expression “helicopter parents”? This term designates parents who are ever-present and strongly involved in their children’s lives.

Just a quick look at the implication of demographics...

Our parents are from the Baby Boom Generation and we are the Generation Y, also known as Millennials, born in the eighties and nineties. Baby Boomers have usually had closer and solid relationships with their children, as opposed to with their own parents. This is one of the reasons why parents provide a great deal of support to Millennials. The same way, Millennials may greatly rely on their parents for help and advice on a host of topics. This does not only occur when a student is away, but also while still living with their parents. It may also be one parent more than another who hovers above you. In addition to being implicated in their kids’ education, helicopter parents can also be engaged in their children’s careers. Whether you are a drive away or an eighteen hour flight from home, parents seem closer, despite the distance.

One of the benefits of going away to university is gaining more independence. However, the prospect of being away from familiar people and territory can seem daunting, not only for you, but for mom and as well as dad. Indeed, students may be homesick and struggle at the beginning, but eventually they settle in to their new environment and adapt to the circumstances. Additional parental attention is key during the early months, but then we need our space as we learn to adapt.

They’re so into us…

Naturally, our parents are always concerned about our well-being, particularly if we no longer live in the same household. Our parents could be making choices for us because they think it is in our best interest. They do not always take opinions and desires into account. Sometimes it is just because our parents don’t want us to make the same mistakes they did. It could also possibly be that they want us to realize their past aspirations. Their engagement in our lives could be a way to befriend us and try to make up for lost time. In any case, their intentions are undoubtedly good, but too much involvement may be harmful because it can put too much pressure on us. Some of us might worry about disappointing our parents, while the rest of us may become too dependent on our parents which could result in lacking independence. While the rest of us may feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities. However, if your parents are not persistently questioning you, worry not, this does not mean they do not care for your well-being. They are just giving you your space.

It can be tricky to find the happy medium between seeking our parent’s involvement and feeling equipped to face challenges by ourselves.

If you feel like your parents are too implicated in your life, or you are uncomfortable with your family dynamics, you can talk to someone about it. You can speak with a friend or you can go to the free and confidential counselling services, located in the Brown Building, available to McGill students.

Do you have a Mentor yet?

by Carrie Armistead, CaPS Mentor Program Coordinator

McGill has one of the best kept secrets! It doesn’t have to be that way any longer, now is your chance to learn how to get a mentor and get connected with McGill Alumni. Currently we have mentors from very diverse industries such as accounting, biotechnology, government administration and relations, international affairs, law, media, medicine, pharmaceuticals and many more. McGill mentors are past graduates and they volunteer their time to help students make the transition into the workplace. They are friendly and informative and genuinely want to see their mentees succeed.

The Mentor Program began in the late 90’ and was founded by the Student Organization for Alumni Relations (SOAR) to help students in their search for advice, direction and a slice of reality of what the future has in store. Since its establishment it has helped hundreds of students meet alumni who either graduated from the same program or who have gone into careers that are similar to the students’ interests. The McGill Mentorship program has undergone some changes, the most significant of which being the new tri-partnership in the management and administration of the program between the McGill Alumni Association (MAA), Career Planning Service (CaPS) and the Student Organization for Alumni Relation (SOAR). This promising partnership has allowed the Mentor Program to reach even more students and enlist a wider variety of Alumni as mentors.

Getting matched with a mentor is not difficult and the fun part is that the main objective is for you to be matched with someone that you admire and would like to learn from. In order to see the list of available mentors, please go to http://caps.mcgill.ca/ci2/. When you are filling-out the application, you will be asked to put down your top three dream jobs. Be honest so that you can be matched with your most ideal mentor. You will also be asked to pick your first and second choice mentor. You will be given information concerning their degree, job title and name of their organization. You will also see where the mentor is located geographically. After you have submitted your application you will be contacted and informed about what your next steps are concerning being matched with your mentor.

Once you have been matched, it is important to be proactive so that your mentor can help you in your career development. Your first step when making contact with your mentor is to send them an introductory letter as well as an updated CV. CaPS offers multiple services that can help you to reach your career objectives. Some of the services that are offered are meeting with career advisors, CV drop-in, workshops and on campus recruitment, mock interviews, job listings and career education resources at the centre and on-line.

Now is the time to apply for a mentor and to start making contacts within your designated industry. Don’t be left in the dark any longer, if you don’t have a mentor, you should!

For more information please contact the Mentor Coordinator, Carrie Armistead at %20mentor [dot] caps [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

Your Choices Define You

by Doaa Farid, Peer Educator Program Coordinator

Waiting to board a flight, sitting beside the former plastic surgeon of Saddam Hussein, or losing your bags at the airport are all experiences that could be allegories for the human condition. Indeed, we are constantly experiencing new events that are unfamiliar to us and usually unexpected. Travelling for 20 hours continuously could make you realize how we are just mere strangers in this life. Nothing is stable or sure. Anything can happen. Making the decision to go to an exotic place for the holidays may alter the way you think of your own culture and possibly make you choose to shift your career goals 180 degrees. When exposed to a very different mentality and environment, you get to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and weight objectively your choices. Decisions shape you: in positive or negative ways. We make decisions, live with the consequences, experience a different condition, and then begin a new cycle over and over again. Hence, dropping out of school, applying for graduate studies, or venturing into the marketplace are all decisions that would shape you for the rest of your life. Therefore, you should choose wisely to avoid regret in the future.

On the plane flying from the Middle East to Canada, I was delighted to meet three beautiful human beings: a lawyer planning to be a US diplomat, a PhD political science student at Georgetown, and 15 year veteran female firefighter who travels the world. Upon asking them the same question: how do you define a right decision that leads you to success? They all agreed on one point: success is driven by the decisions you take that brings about joy, to yourself and your surroundings, and satisfies the accepted morality. Hence, when thinking of leaving your own mark and choosing your primary goal, don’t base it on materialistic and mere short-term gains because they fade away and leave behind pain and boredom. One of my friends pointed out that morality could indeed bring about the contentment you are looking for. Your goal to work in a bank shouldn’t be just for the money you make out of it. Even if you do enjoy the corporate world, try not to just get assimilated in a tight closed box but rather shape it in your own framework of morality.

How can we make the right choices?

Striving to make the best choices possible for you and resisting the pressures others place on you is a struggle. Here are some tools and services which you may find very useful to enable you to make choices that are best for you:

  • Construct a one year plan then proceed in how you see yourself in 5 years time. Some would argue that this approach failed to work for some being purely a Marxist approach following the Theory of Productive forces applied for social development. You don’t really know what can happen in the next minute or so. We can only really hope for an overall plan to work. However, it is still useful to have a vision in life and abide to it in order to construct the proper mission.
  • Visit the McGill’s Counseling Services for a personality test. It makes you realize what other career options exist out there and how they can fulfill your interests. You get to sit with an advisor and discuss the results which come with a detailed description of your own personality traits.
  • Join the P.A.C.E program for career exploration offered at the CaPS office for freshmen through PhD http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/services/pace/ . The P.A.C.E program exposes you to the various options in your field of study with a close follow-up with an advisor. This would help the student to make better choices that are right for them.
  • Pick a mentor in the field that appeal to you with the CaPS Mentor program. It enables you to get in contact with McGill alumni who are now working. You get hands-on advice to how achieve your goal: www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/services/mentor/
  • If you are still in your junior year, here is a great article for you to have a look at in terms of career exploration and making decisions: http://www.working.com/Start+planning+career+before+graduation/2344245/story.html

What next?

  • Set your goals and prioritize them, try http://www.mindtools.com/page6.html
  • Use the CARVER military method in determining the most important targets which stands for Criticality, Accessibility, Return, Vulnerability, Effect, and Recognizability.
  • Try the CNN’s “The Prioritizer” calculator . Very useful tool not only for money purposes but for life choices. It makes you weight what is indeed a priority by choosing between your choices. Then you get to view an organized list of priorities.

These are just some of the interesting tools that could help you in your career exploration. Further references are available in the CaPS office for your use such as the newest books. Also, don’t hesitate to talk to our advisors, they are here for you!


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