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Undergraduate Students - March 2010

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


Articles in this edition

Different Roads Lead to Rome

Exploring the World of Teaching Abroad

Why Volunteer in Montreal?


Different Roads Lead to Rome

by Marguerite Bravay, U1 Psychology

At the end of the first Intergroup Relations lecture of the semester, I got out of my seat, amazed. I had just sat through the entire class without checking my emails, going on Facebook, or reading the Lifestyle section of the Wall Street Journal online. I had been so immersed in what the professor was saying that my attention hadn’t wandered to things that, let’s admit it, are generally more entertaining that being in class.

This had never happened to me at McGill before. I’m in my second year, and for the first three terms of my education, I was so intent on majoring in Economics that I ignored other options- and the fact that Econ really wasn’t the right program for me. Things pretty much had to come crashing down around me, academically speaking, for me to realize that I had to do something about it, lest I be miserable for my two remaining years of college.

Switching my major to Psychology was a difficult decision, for several reasons. The Econ classes were small and I knew a lot of people in them. Several of my friends were also majoring in Economics, in my year and in upper years, which gave me guidance and insight into what lay ahead of me. In contrast, I was aware that, in Psychology, I would end up in 600 person lecture halls where I didn’t have any close friends and, even if I knew people, chances are I wouldn’t run into them.

Not only was there a greater feeling of community in Econ, I was also persuaded that, upon graduation, I would get a fantastic job. I was under the impression that business was where all the money was, and that I could access a very comfortable lifestyle more quickly with a degree in Economics than through any other means.

Unfortunately, the fact remained that I didn’t like Econ, itself. The program was perfect, socially speaking, and it had a certain snob-appeal, but I could hardly spend more than twenty minutes in class without letting my mind wander. And I wanted more out of my university experience.

So I started thinking about what I actually enjoy doing and what I am naturally attracted to. I always analyze people and events ad infinitum, and I’ve always wanted to know why individuals act the way they do, so Psychology seemed like a natural fit. Once I opened my mind to new possibilities, everything fell into place. I had even taken some of the core Psych prerequisites in my freshman year, which eased the transition.

I was still a little suspicious about what future prospects the very popular Psych degree promised, job-wise, but through my work at CAPS and multiple talks with my friends and family, I discovered that a major doesn’t define a career. Or, as my dad, a real-estate entrepreneur who possesses a BA in Political Science, put it, “you don’t have to major in business to succeed in business.”

I’m now in the middle of my first Psych term, and I love what I’m doing. I’ve finally found stimulation in something related to academics. I also learned, really quickly, that 600 person lecture halls aren’t nearly as daunting as I thought they would be. Most people are looking to meet others, and now I have a whole new circle of Psych friends.

All this made me see my university experience in a new light. Psychology, like any Arts program, is a general degree designed to enhance skills such as analysis and critical thinking; skills essential to success in the real world. It’s not the degree I get that is going to make a difference, provided I do get a degree. It’s who I am, and what I’ve done with my time in college. And at the end of the day, a McGill degree is always a McGill degree.

Exploring the World of Teaching Abroad

by Lisa Trotto, U4 Secondary Education

The 19th Annual McGill Education Career Fair was a great way to put one’s professional networking skills to the test; however, preparation for this event is what remains crucial in ensuring ultimate success and evidently, a call-back. This exclusive event merges together both English and French boards, educational and camp-based organizations, along with various International school board recruiters, leaving candidates with enough assortment to suit a variety of tastes. Having partaken in this event, the opportunities offered to explore the wide world of teaching abroad undoubtedly drew the most attention and attracted the most candidates.

The International recruiters, specifically those from Kuwait, Korea, Japan and the U.K. are the major participants who willingly take Canadian Resumes into strong consideration. These recruiters are also the ones who you will most definitely receive a phone call, e-mail or interview from, almost instantaneously. While many future teachers jump at the idea of teaching abroad, much of the fascination is owed to the brilliant presentations that these boards arrange, some of which promise the unimaginable. For instance, Japan, Korea and Kuwait recruiters showered onlookers with video footage, photographs and testimonials of past participants, a great hook to attract prospective teachers to their schools. Many also stressed the fact that airfare, accommodation and meals were included in this package-deal. In certain cases, recruiters mentioned that taxation on ones pay check was virtually non-existent, leaving future teachers in awe of the potential sum of income that the opportunity prevailed. On the contrary, none of the U.K. recruiters were able to compete with these complimentary accommodations; they on the other hand, offered aid in finding housing and assistance in respect to living abroad. While all of the opportunities seemed fascinating, they each came with their advantages and disadvantages. Teaching in Kuwait, Korea or Japan usually means that you will be required to sign a two-year contract; whereas, the U.K. provides teachers with contracts for as little as three months. Depending on what you’re looking for and your future needs, the awe of teaching abroad never ceases to spark interest in countless education graduates.

While a multitude of career opportunities appear gripping and easily attainable at first glance, presenting oneself on paper and facing a vigorous interview-process are two very different things. Preparation for an interview, especially one with an International recruitment agency, can be an extremely stressful event. Visit McGill CAPS office to find extremely helpful resources, such as Interviewing Guides, C.V. Writing Guides and Cover Letter Writing Guide. These resources make all the difference and allow for the ideal preparation and guidance that will ensure your resilient come interview time. Additionally, asking questions, especially during an International recruitment session is highly recommended, getting down to the bare facts and essentials is key to uncovering whether this is the ideal job for you. A list of international recruiters can be found on the CAPS website, My Future. Don’t shy away from this amazing opportunity: embrace a new culture while exploring the wide world of teaching, living and working abroad, it could be the chance of a lifetime.

Why Volunteer in Montreal?

by Carrie Armistead, Mentor Program Coordinator

Would you like to meet new people, gain a new perspective, learn more about Montreal’s various cultures, try and learn new things? Volunteering is an excellent way to do all of these things while beefing up your CV at the same time. Where do you start?

At CaPS we have two very good resources that provide you with the location and contact information of a broad variety of hospital and community organizations. The first resource is a binder called Montreal Volunteer Opportunities and the second one is called the Directory of Community Services of Greater Montreal. You can obtain these by going to the front desk and requesting them.

How do you organize your time in order to volunteer? Knowing your schedule and only volunteering within reasonable limits is the best way to go about it. Let the organization know your schedule concerning when your mid-terms and final exams and include your study time. When organizations know your schedule in advance it helps them with their scheduling and it makes it easier for them to accommodate you.

Volunteer within an organization that interests you and have fun! Also make sure that the organization is not too far and out of the way. Choose a place that is central for you and that you really like going to. Take time to get to know the other volunteers and participate in activities that show appreciation for the volunteers. This will help you to expand your network by meeting new and interesting people.

Use your volunteering experience to try something new or to learn a new skill. In many non-profit organizations you can try your hand at fund-raising, grant writing, event planning, coordinating, creating and developing programs and web pages. As students, you have a lot of skills that are very useful, communicate them to the organization so that they can see how resourceful you can be.

According to Irmeli, Volunteer Director at Tyndale there are a variety of reasons why people volunteer. Some reasons why people volunteer are to make a favorable impact on a community, build self-esteem and confidence, enjoy cultural and educational opportunities, strengthen their leadership skills, gain recognition, make professional contacts, gain work experience, learn and develop new skills.

Good luck and come and check out our resources in CaPS in order to see what types of organizations you would be interested in volunteering at in Montreal.


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