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Undergraduate Students - September 2009

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


Articles in this edition

Fall Career Checklist for Final Year Students

Falling into Fashion

Resources to Help You Settle In

Tyndale St. Georges Community Centre: Grow and Gain Experience!

Finding That Elusive On-Campus Job


Fall Career Checklist for Final Year Students

by Jan Bottomer, Music and Arts Career Advisor

Welcome back! If you are about to enter your final year at McGill you are likely happily anticipating the year to come and looking forward to the satisfaction and pride you will feel upon successful completion of your degree. However, you may also have a vague sense of uncertainty in the pit of your stomach when you think about what happens after graduation. Whether you have concrete career plans, a few general ideas, or absolutely no clue what life holds for you post-graduation, read on for 10 tips on how you can make the most of this fall career-wise and set yourself up well for life after McGill.

  1. Visit CaPS and make an appointment with a Career Advisor. The staff, advisors and counsellors at McGill’s Career Planning Service are here to meet with you to discuss career goals and options, to provide job search guidance, point you towards useful resources, review your C.V.’s, cover letters and applications and more. Especially if you’ve never set foot in our office and resource centre before, this fall is the time to do so!
  2. Get to know our website (www.mcgill.ca/caps). Our website is chock-full of career, job search and grad school information, useful tips and resources and detailed information about our services and programs. You will also find links to our comprehensive How-to-Guides, on C.V. and Cover Letter Writing, Interviews and Networking.
  3. Login to myFuture – our job search and career tools suite. Search our database of job listings, upload your C.V., familiarize yourself with our online resources and check out our comprehensive events and workshop calendar. https://csm-caps.mcgill.ca/students/
  4. Meet potential employers. You can start right here on campus! Fall is the perfect time to research organizations and employers in the areas of IT, business and consulting, as many companies are in town as part of On-Campus Recruitment. Even if you are not participating in the recruitment process, consider attending some of the many company presentations at and around McGill to find out more about the kinds of opportunities offered. The list of information sessions and career fairs can be found on myFuture.
  5. Attend a Career Fair. Career Fairs are also useful forums in which to meet employers and learn more about potential employment opportunities. For more information and a list of upcoming fairs at McGill and in Montreal, see: http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/services/careerfairs/.
  6. Start talking (about your career plans/ideas/goals/dreams)! It can be intimidating to discuss these topics with others (family, friends, neighbours etc.), but if you don’t start, you’re missing out on one of the most valuable career resources around. Discuss your ideas and questions, solicit feedback on your strengths, and ask your network if they know of anyone working in your field(s) of interest whom you could talk to in order to find out more information. Such meetings are called information interviews, and the fall of your final year is a great time to conduct them. For more details see: http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/job-search/networking/.
  7. Get to know a Prof (or two!). McGill professors can be a great source of information, referrals and ideas. Especially, but not only if, you are considering applying to graduate or professional school or wondering about a career in academia or research, building a relationship with a professor to find out more about what they do is time well spent.
  8. Get involved outside of classes. Employers consider much more than academics when evaluating candidates. Getting involved – be it in student politics and leadership, volunteering, athletics, part-time work, internships, research etc. – is a fantastic way to try out different fields and activities, to demonstrate your interest and commitment, and to learn valuable soft skills. Check out Activities Night and the SSMU Volunteer Fair, visit the Montreal Volunteer Bureau’s comprehensive website (www.cabm.net) or ask at CaPS for more ideas.
  9. Register for P.A.C.E. If you’re feeling unsure and confused about what to do post-graduation, this interactive four-workshop program is for you. P.A.C.E. is a collaboration between CaPS and McGill’s Counselling Service, designed to help you explore career options and preferences, personal goals, values, interests and skills as well as develop job search strategies. The first series starts Sept. 16th! For more, see: http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/services/pace/.
  10. Seek out Mentoring Relationships. You may come across potential mentors as you discuss your career ideas with family, friends, CaPS advisors and profs, and you can also learn about different career paths and seek advice from McGill Alumni through the Mentor Program. To learn more, see: http://caps.mcgill.ca/ci2/.

Falling into Fashion

by Marguerite Bravay, U1, Economics and German

It’s funny how participating in a single event can unleash an array of opportunities. When I signed up to volunteer for Montreal’s Fashion and Design Festival last June, I thought I would make friends and watch runway shows close-up. I never imagined that the experience could open my eyes to a whole new world, filled with diverse career possibilities.

I’ve always loved fashion, but I didn’t think this interest could turn into a dream job. The Festival, and the reaction it set in motion, led me to believe otherwise.

My first job as a volunteer was to distribute programs to passers-by. I was slightly disgruntled, for I had hoped to do something even remotely related to fashion and I knew that I could do better.

I started asking around for other volunteer options, until I landed a spot assisting with private runway shows. It was there that I met a photographer whose mother turned out to be in charge of running the Festival! When I emailed her shortly thereafter, she suggested that I become involved in Montreal’s Fashion Week in October, a more exclusive event.

This was only my first contact.

My photographer friend had to leave early on the last day of the Festival and gave me his VIP access pass. At first, I was hesitant to enter the red-carpet zone, the mounted terrace overlooking the main runway. But then, curiosity got the best of me.

While watching Guido and Mary’s show from the upper level of the terrace, I started talking to the fashion editor of the New York Lifestyle Magazine Me, who was as passionate about luxury fashion as I am. She told me about Masters programs in the field and suggested that I look up the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. When she first started working in the industry, she told me, the three coworkers hired with her were all graduates of FIT.

I did some research and found exactly what I was looking for, not at FIT, but at one of their partner schools. The Polimoda International Institute of Fashion, Design and Marketing in Florence, Italy, offers a one-year program that could have been tailored just for me. Their Masters in Luxury Management is exactly what I need.

Polimoda’s course is the only one in the world that focuses primarily on fashion. It is taught entirely in English and includes a three-month internship in the industry.

With such a degree, combined with my BA in Economics and German from McGill, I can work in high-end fashion on an international level. My career objective is to become a brand manager, the person responsible for a luxury brand’s image.

Thanks to Montreal’s Fashion and Design Festival, I now have a goal to work towards and it merely begins at Polimoda, with McGill as a launching pad.

Resources to Help You Settle In

by Vanessa Franco, CaPS Career Resource Consultant

It’s the start of another school year here at McGill, and for many of you it will be your first. Here at the CaPS Resource Centre we have over 3000 items to help you develop your study and work skills, perform your best as a student, and start acquiring experience in the world of work, in addition to resources to help you apply for jobs, prepare for interviews and explore occupations. Below are some titles from our collection to help you succeed this school year and prepare for your future.

Study Skills

  • Doing Honest Work in College
    Discusses academic honesty and shows you how to prepare citations and avoid plagiarism.
  • Test-Taking Strategies & Study Skills for the Utterly Confused
    Banish test panic and learn how to take tests with confidence.
  • College Success Strategies
    Techniques for time and stress management, note taking, strategic reading, and more.
  • Learning to Learn: The Skill and Will of College Success
    Improve your learning through quizzes, activities and effective strategies.

Career Preparation Guides

  • Don't Wait 'til You Graduate, 2nd ed.
    CVs, cover letters, interviews, networking, research, business etiquette and negotiations for the Canadian job market.
  • Student's Guide to On-Campus Job Recruitment
    Prepare for upcoming OCR opportunities. Learn how to stand out from the crowd, interview, and much more.

Self-Assessment and Personality Type

  • What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers 2008
    This beloved classic is full of exercises to help you uncover your career path.
  • Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type, 3rd ed.
    Determine your personality type and find occupations suited for you.
  • I Could Do Anything - If Only I Knew What It Was
    Are you a diver or a scanner? This book will guide you around obstacles to your career happiness.

Gaining experience

  • Internship Success
    Offers advice on every aspect of the internship process.
  • WetFeet Insider Guide: Getting Your Ideal Internship 2nd ed.
    Find or create an internship and maximize your chances of getting a permanent job offer.
  • Montreal Volunteer Opportunities
    This binder, on reserve at the front desk, contains information about volunteer opportunities in the Montréal area.
  • International Voluntary Work, 9th ed.
    This directory contains listings of organizations by location and area of interest.
  • Green Volunteers: The World Guide to Voluntary Work in Nature Conservation, 5th ed.
    Lists almost 200 volunteer projects and organizations.

Productivity and Self-Improvement

  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    Outlines a productivity system to help you free up your time while remaining productive and efficient.
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
    This best-seller outlines seven principles of productivity to help you move towards ‘interdependence’.
  • Put Your Rear into Gear: Understanding and Breaking Free from Procrastination
    Discover why you’re procrastinating and learn ways to break through to action.
  • Everything Stress Management Book
    Learn relaxation techniques for maximum health.
  • 7 Steps to Fearless Speaking
    Learn how to find your voice, structure your thoughts, persuade and much more.

For more books, periodicals, and multimedia, search or browse our full catalogue. You can also search the collections at Macdonald Campus and at the Engineering Career Centre.

Take the time to explore our website, which is full of book and website recommendations covering every aspect of the career exploration and job search process.

If you should have any questions, contact me via caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca (e-mail), call 3304 x00950 or pay me a visit at the Career Planning Service (Brown Building, Suite 2200).

Tyndale St. Georges Community Centre: Grow and Gain Experience!

by Irmeli Vastamaa, Volunteer Department Director, Tyndale St. Georges Community Centre

It is the beginning of the semester and you are running around tying up loose ends, shopping for classes and settling back into the semester. The last thing that you are thinking about is how you are going to beef up your C.V. in order to make yourself more employable in the job market. Well, believe it or not, now is the perfect time to do just that! Volunteering is one of the best extracurricular activities to do to help you develop as a person as well as gain valuable experience. Knowing that, the next question is where do you go? There are numerous community organizations around town to explore in order to determine where you fit in. One organization worth discovering is Tyndale St. Georges.

Tyndale St. Georges Community Centre has been in existence since 1927 and has worked hard to support the Community of Little Burgundy which is located below Rene-Levesque and Guy St. Little Burgundy is a diverse, beautiful community that faces a variety of challenges with many members living below the poverty line. Our organization is recognized as a leader and we provide educational, social, employment and recreational programs for both families and individuals. There is a high unemployment rate as well as a great influx of recent immigrants and refugees who have made their home there. Based on the high needs of the community, innovative and enduring programs are implemented in order to meet the complex needs of the community that resides there.

In order to do this, the following programs have been developed and implemented. They are run by a full-time staff of 25 people and with approximately 400 volunteers to support the staff. Here are some of the fantastic programs that are offered at Tyndale:

  • Early Childhood which offers activities for young children and their parents.
  • Adult Development which offers Employment training programs, including French and Computer classes.
  • English Language which provides high-quality English Language instruction at low cost.
  • School Age Children, Youth and Families provides academic and socio-recreational programs for 6 to 12 year olds including homework support.
  • Volunteers are an important component as out programs would not be able to function without our almost 400 volunteers.

As a student, you are given a lot of room to be creative as well as showcase your talents by helping to create new programs or lending your own skills and talents to already existing programs. Some examples of activities that students have been involved with in the past are fashion shows, art workshops, acting/ drama clubs, literacy programs and evening recreation programs.

Summer Camp provides activities for youth aged to 12. Teens are encouraged to take on leadership roles by becoming CITs (Counselors in Training) Saturday Youth Program provides academic and recreational programs to youth aged 8 to 15.

Tyndale St. Georges is a good place to gain work experience, strengthen leadership skills and make community contacts. We are flexible and offer volunteers an opportunity to learn to develop skills and build self-esteem and confidence as they overcome challenges and meet new people. Last but not least, we give reference letters as requested and volunteering at Tyndale St. Georges looks great on your CV!

Finding That Elusive On-Campus Job

by Owen Ripley, CaPS Desktop Publisher

“How do I find a part-time on-campus job?” - probably the most frequently asked question at CaPS at this time of year - offers no simple answer. Like any job search, finding an on-campus job takes hard work and dedication, especially considering the majority of on-campus jobs at McGill are never posted anywhere.

Here are some tips to help you locate those elusive on-campus jobs:

  • Consult myFuture (caps.myfuture.mcgill.ca): CaPS’ job listing and career tools suite often lists a number of on-campus jobs. To view the current postings, click on the “Jobs” tab and select “On Campus Jobs” under “Job Function.” Keep in mind, that because these jobs are publicly posted, a great number of people apply for them. Therefore, you should apply early and submit a very strong application.
  • Determine if you are eligible for the McGill Work Study Program: The McGill Work Study Program provides students demonstrating financial need access to clerical, research, technical and library jobs on campus. Only students accepted to the Program can apply for Work Study jobs so your chances of success are much greater. To see if you are eligible, please visit: www.mcgill.ca/studentaid/workstudy.
  • Consider being a Teaching Assistant (TA): While the majority of TAships are reserved for graduate students, some departments will hire undergraduates in certain circumstances. Your chances are better if you already have a degree or if you are a solid A student. Ask your target department for further information and consult myFuture in October for listings about Winter positions.
  • Contact Area Personnel Officers (APO): McGill has designated HR professionals (known as APOs) responsible for hiring in each Faculty. You may wish to contact these individuals to inquire whether they are hiring any students as support staff for the upcoming year. For a list of APOs, please visit: www.mcgill.ca/hr/about/area/.
  • Network, network, network: By far, the students most successful in finding an on-campus job are those who network. Why? Because they hear about and secure a job even before it is publicly posted. Approach professors and managers and ask them if they will be hiring any students for the upcoming year. If you are looking for a research position and are in the Faculty of Science, you may wish to consult CaPS’ Research Opportunities Database (a listing of McGill professors who tend to hire students). Alternatively, consult the list of departments and offices below that tend to hire students on a regular basis.

Here are some McGill departments that consistently hire students:

  • Athletics: McGill Athletics requires students to referee and supervise sports facilities throughout the school year. The pay is decent and the hours are flexible. For more information, visit Client Services at the Currie Gym (475 ave. des Pins) or visit www.mcgill.ca/athletics/aboutathletics/jobs/ for current postings.
  • Cafeterias: BMH, RVC, New Rez and Douglas Hall require cafeteria workers to help serve and prepare meals. The job offers free meals and good pay. For more information, visit McGill Food and Dining Service (3425 University St.), or visit their website.
  • IT Customer Services (ICS): ICS hires students for reception and call desk support. For more information, inquire at ICS (688 Sherbrooke St., Room 285).
  • Alumni Phonathon: McGill Alumni hires students throughout the year to solicit donors. The pay is good and hours are flexible. For more information and to apply, email phonathon [dot] dev [at] mcgill [dot] ca.
  • SSMU: SSMU is always looking to employ students. While most hiring takes place in April and May for the following school year, you can check for any current postings at www.ssmu.mcgill.ca.
  • McGill Bookstore: The Bookstore hires armies of students in early September and early January as cashiers for the textbook rush. Apply in person at 3420 McTavish St. or visit www.mcgill.ca/bookstore/contact/ for more details.
  • Floor Fellows: If you loved your rez experience and want to give back, this job might be for you (next year though). Applications are due in January and perks include free room and board. For more information, visit www.mcgill.ca/residences/undergraduate/life/floorfellow/ or contact McGill Residences (3473 University St.).


CaPS’ career advisors and support staff are here to assist you in your job search. For information on how to prepare the strongest application possible visit www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/job-search/ or stop by our office.

Good luck!


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