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Undergraduate Students - November 2009

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


Articles in this edition

“Test Driving” Your Career Ideas: The Importance of Experiential Learning

NEW - Introducing The BIG Guide to Living and Working Overseas Online

Worldwide Careers Week

Consider the Jet Programme - be a teacher's assistant in a Japanese school


“Test Driving” Your Career Ideas: The Importance of Experiential Learning

by Jan Bottomer, CaPS Career Advisor

Lavalife. eHarmony. Yahoo! Personals. JDate. Match.com. Online dating is now both mainstream and easily accessible with sites like those listed above, and many others, providing singles with forums to learn about each other, chat and send messages. Some sites require users to complete in-depth questionnaires before providing a list of likely “matches,” while others allow subscribers to browse and search all available profiles. Through detailed profiles and photos, site subscribers can learn a great deal about possible matches before they ever meet in person, but the idea of committing to any particular match prior to meeting them (usually many, many times!) rarely occurs to most. Before making such an important long-term commitment to a relationship most couples go on tens if not hundreds of dates, meet each other's family and close friends, and observe each other in a variety of contexts. It just makes intuitive sense to “try out” the relationship before making any big decisions.

One's career is an important relationship. Most of us will spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with our careers for several decades, often more than we spend with family and friends. Thus it makes sense not only to research possible career options thoroughly, but also to “try out” different career paths, to “date” a little, before making a long-term commitment to a particular occupation.

Of the many useful online resources available through CaPS, one of the most comprehensive is CareerCruising.com, a fantastic Canadian career information site. In addition to job descriptions, information on working conditions, salaries and educational levels needed, and sample career paths, Career Cruising provides in-depth interviews with people working in the occupation who discuss their likes and dislikes, advice and what a typical day on the job looks like. There are links to further resources such as professional associations and a “related careers” tab which allows you to view careers which overlap with your current choice. It is an excellent site, and provides visitors with both an overview of the range of careers available as well as a wealth of specific information on individual careers of interest.**

Career Cruising is just the first step however. Once you have narrowed down your career options to some likely prospects, why not “test drive” some of them through direct experience? This will allow you to get a sense of what the career looks like in the real world, to expand your self knowledge and skills, and to make valuable contacts in your fields of interest.

“Test Driving” potential careers can take many forms: from Information Interviewing, Shadowing and Mentoring to more hands-on experiences such as Internships, Volunteering and Part-Time/Summer Jobs.

Information Interviews and Shadowing may often go hand in hand. Think about the careers of people you already know, from family and friends to neighbours, professors, and those you know from extracurricular activities. Is there anyone you would like to talk to further? Find out a bit more about them through an information interview (see below) and also consider asking if you can shadow them for a morning, day, week etc. to observe what they do on a daily basis. Ask those you already know for additional referrals, and consider contacting individuals at companies of interest as well.

Information Interviews: Information interviews involve meeting with an individual in a field or occupation of interest for the purpose of gaining current, regional and/or specialized information about a particular career path. They are a great way of making new contacts and finding out more about the position, organization and industry you are interested in. They can also help you explore possibilities if you are in the process of choosing a major, narrowing down career options or beginning a job hunt. The goal of an informational interview is to find out real world career information from your contact, not necessarily to ask about job openings.

Mentoring: Did you know that CaPS and the McGill Alumni Association run a Mentor Program? The program is offered as a tool for students seeking career path advice from successful and experienced McGill alumni and staff. For more information about the program and to browse available mentors, please visit http://caps.mcgill.ca/ci2/

Hands-on Experience: With regards to more hands-on experiences such as volunteering, internships and part-time/summer jobs, there are a few points to consider:

  1. Experience is key! Employers look at the whole package when hiring: your academic background, skills, interests and related experiences. If you are interested in a particular field or type of work it is extremely important to get some experience in that realm. This experience can take many forms, and be paid or unpaid, but the main idea is to get involved and develop your skills.
  2. That said it is not always possible to get “direct” experience in a particular career, especially many professional careers such as teaching or medicine or law (i.e. you can’t work as a lawyer…until you’re a lawyer!). If you are faced with this kind of situation, try and break down your career goal into its component parts, such as working environment, target population and working activities, and get some experience in each of the relevant areas (see example below).

By way of illustration, let’s imagine that you are interested in becoming a high school guidance counsellor. Some of the many ways you could “test drive” this career include:

  • conducting an information interview with the guidance counsellor at your former high school or CEGEP
  • shadowing the counsellor or a teacher for a day (target environment)
  • gaining experience with adolescents (target population)
    • volunteering at a community center for at-risk youth
    • leading a youth group at your religious institution
  • building your counselling, active listening, presenting and educating skills (just some of the many activities guidance counsellors take part in)
    • acting as a mentor to an adolescent
    • tutoring teenagers at an educational after school program
    • volunteering for a local listening and referral service
  • gaining experience with some of many issues counsellors need to be familiar with
    • introducing students at an outreach high school to different career options
    • giving presentations on peaceful conflict resolution

* To obtain the username and password for Career Cruising, please contact our office at 514-398-3304.

For more information and ideas about engaging in new experiences, and a wealth of useful links, please visit http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/job-search/experience/.

NEW - Introducing The BIG Guide to Living and Working Overseas Online

On behalf of the McGill Career Planning Service (CaPS) and the McGill Library, CaPS is delighted to announce that the The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas On-Line has been added to our vast collection of career resources at McGill University.

Jean-Marc Hachey, the renowned author of The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas will be our keynote speaker on Monday, November 23, 2009 from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm in Leacock 232 which is part of Worldwide Career Week from November 23rd to 27th, 2009. Registration is required through myFuture: from your homepage click on the events tab followed by the workshop tab and keyword search WWCW.

About The BIG Guide

Based on the classic book The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas by Jean-Marc Hachey, The BIG Guide Online is a comprehensive and interactive website designed to help you prepare for an international career. With over 800 resources, including over 2,200 international organisation profiles, The BIG Guide gives practical advice on how to start an international career and acquire international work experience.

How to access The BIG Guide

To access The BIG Guide, log in to myFuture using your McGill e-mail and password. Under the Documents tab, choose Career Resources and do a keyword search for The BIG Guide. Create your individual account, which will give you unlimited access to The BIG Guide and its most useful features, such as creating private notes, highlighting text and bookmarking pages.

Main features and tools

MyGuide: This feature will allow you to stay organised in your research through private notes, highlights and bookmarks. The My Learning Path tool will help you focus your research by helping you identify one or several international career goals and then recommending readings from The BIG Guide. This should be your starting point on The BIG Guide.

Within MyGuide you will also find 14 self-assessment quizzes to evaluate your preparation level in areas such as personality, experience and ‘International IQ’. Quiz tips will help you along and you can add private notes to your quiz results to track progress.

Job boards and volunteer/internship listings: The BIG Guide lists over 100 professional-level job boards across a range of industries. It also lists dozens of internship and volunteer websites, including short-term and working vacation programs.

Quick Guides: Available in English and French, in HTML or PDF, the Quick Guides are summaries of main strategies and topics. Use these for quick reference and to keep you focussed. Are you really pressed for time? Check out the Quick Guides marked ‘Essential Reading’.

Country Guides: The Country Guides link you to resources that will help you explore a country or region of interest. Use these resources to educate yourself before applying for positions overseas.

Search: Search The BIG Guide Online through a basic keyword search or an advanced search using the AND operator. You can also browse/search by organisation profile, resources, job category, country/region, and cities in the U.S. and Canada with international contacts.

Ask the Expert: Submit a question to author Jean-Marc Hachey and perhaps it will be answered on the website!

Reader comments and contributions: As part of the notes feature, you can leave comments on any of the resources and organisation profiles listed in The BIG Guide. Users are also encouraged to submit their own essays for viewing and rating by other subscribers.

Other features: Other features include newsletters, videos by Jean-Marc Hachey, and YouTube favourites that capture The BIG Guide philosophy. Finally, check out ‘The World Online’ under the Tools menu. This collection of irreverent, educational and fun links will inspire you!

For more information or to send us feedback, %20caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca (e-mail), call 514-398-3304 x00950, or visit us in room 2200 of the Brown building, Monday through Friday, 9h – 17h.

Worldwide Careers Week

by Janice Tester, CaPS Career Advisor

For the second time at McGill, we are organizing for you the Worldwide Careers Week from November 23rd to 27th, 2009. If you are dreaming of having a positive international experience, this is the week to attend. To kick off the week, Jean-Marc Hachey, the renowned author of The Big Guide to Living And Working Overseas will be our keynote speaker. We will host many events including a “Worldwide Organizations Day”, a “Cultural Awareness Poster Presentation”, a Panel on “Teaching English Abroad for All”, a Workshop on “Going Global: a Country Specific Jobs Resource”, and a presentation on “U.S. Working Visas”.

Do you want to live of your dream of having international experience? We are confident that you will find the events useful and interesting and that you will gain insight on some of the resources available to you. 

Did you know there is an online resource based on Jean-Marc Hachey’s book exclusive to McGill users? Go to http://www.workingoverseas.com/user/issi/6857, register and you will instantly gain access to The Big Guide Online. It contains 41 Chapters of Expert Advice, Quick Guides, Profiles of International Employers and Annotated Resources. It includes great tools such as the Quick Guides (HOT), Self Assessment Quizzes (VERY HOT), Career Tip of the Week newsletter, Quick Tip Videos, YouTube Faves, Student Advisor tools.

The Worldwide Organizations Day will have many overseas organizations interested in recruiting students ready to take on an international adventure. Come and meet with them on the 5th floor of the Brown Building and do your networking part which is so important in this world of opportunities.

Did you want to find out more about a specific country or culture so you experience less of the cultural shock? You will also gain insight on some ideas and resources in those countries by visiting the Cultural Awareness Poster Presentation we will have on the second floor of the Brown building. International students will talk to you about their country of origin.

Since teaching English overseas provides many options for you, come and listen and network with a few representatives from several Worldwide organizations that hire students from ALL degrees. Not only will you make money and travel, but you will also learn about another culture and if you want, another language.

Interested in the U.S. but don’t know about the visa requirements? We have the session for you at the U.S. Working Visas presented by the U.S. Consulate.

And since we all want to know more specifics on several opportunities specific to a wide variety of countries, attend the session on Going Global: a Country Specific Jobs Resource.

This IS THE WEEK TO ATTEND! Mark it down on your calendars for the last week of November! To register for these events, log-in to myFuture. Click on the "Events" tab, followed by the "Workshops" tab. Keyword search "WWCW" to bring up a listing of events associated with the week.

Consider the Jet Programme - be a teacher's assistant in a Japanese school

by Carrie Armistead, CaPS Mentor Program Coordinator

Have you always wanted to visit Japan and see other parts of Asia? Are you interested in learning Japanese so that you can effectively communicate? Would you like to try some traditional Japanese arts such as ikebana (flower arranging), kendo (martial arts), koto (musical instrument) and taiko (musical instrument). Are you interested in learning how to become a team-player in a different workplace and society?

Being part of the JET Programme could possibly be one of the best experiences of your life; it depends on how much you put into it in order to help make it a memorable experience. Everyone’s experience is different, so I will share mine with you. I lived in a town of approximately 4000 people. Most of the people in my town were 50 years and older as well as some young families. I worked at the Board of Education where I was assigned to three Elementary Schools and 1 Junior High School. I also worked at the Community Centre where I taught two Elementary English and 1 Adult English class to children and adults who were interested in studying English afterschool or in the evenings. Other things that I participated within were writing a newsletter for the Board of Education in English and Japanese as well as giving presentations about Canada to interested groups within my community.

I participated in many different types of activities with my co-workers and people within my community. Some of these activities were hiking, participating in work retreats where we stayed in ryokans (Japanese-style hotels) and relaxed in onsens (baths/ hot springs), rice planting, as well as festivities that were happening around my town. Being an active member in my community helped to motivate me to both learn Japanese as well as develop a better appreciation for Japanese culture.

Hiroshima was only 2 hours away from where I was located so it was easy for me to be able to go there and visit cultural sites, shop, eat foreign foods, go out or just to meet-up with friends. If you decide to go with the JET Programme and you are accepted, you will also have the opportunity to travel around Asia. All participants will receive very important information concerning living; working and traveling within Japan, so you will be well prepared once you arrive there.

Before you leave, you are able to attend workshop that will provide you with various tips and strategies about how to apply your abroad experience back here at home. For example, a representative from the Canadian Embassy in Japan will explain what their job consists of as well as application procedures. Many JETs will get involved in a variety of volunteer activities such as Habitat for Humanity and help to build homes in various parts of Asia or Africa during their holidays, they love their experiences and it helps them to build up their CVs.

The most important thing to think about before you embark on this awesome experience is, why are you going in the first place and how will it help you to realize your goals and objectives. If you know these things then it makes it a lot easier for when you finish the JET Programme. If you don’t know, that’s okay; you can use the experience to grow and for self-exploration.

If you are interested in the Jet Programme, here are some things that you can do to get you started:

  • Go online to www.ca.emb-japan.go.jp/jetcanada.html.
  • Meet with an advisor and make appointments in order to receive help with your personal statement and to schedule a mock-interview.
  • Check-out the books in our resource library such as:
    • Jet Journal 2008
    • “Teaching English Abroad” by Susan Griffith
    • “Opportunities in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” by Blythe Camenson
    • “Teaching English Overseas: A Job Guide for Americans and Canadians” by Jeff Mohamed
    • “Teaching English in Asia” by Galen Harris Valle

For this year the deadline to apply is November 27, 2009 in order to leave either July 31st or August 1st. Good luck and drop by and see us if you have any questions!


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