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Undergraduate Students - September 2010

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


Articles in this edition

Everything you wanted to know about career fairs but were afraid to ask...

On Campus Jobs for International Students

Labour Market Information


Everything you wanted to know about career fairs but were afraid to ask...

by Catherine Stace, Career Advisor, CaPS

Career Fair season is coming up. Some students miss this valuable opportunity to take a peek into the world of work.

Should I go to a career fair?

  • You need to research employers! View a career fair as a step in researching potential employers and garnering career information. Take some time before to read which organizations are attending. Not all are companies; some are government agencies; non-profits; industry associations.
  • Determine if any match your career interests. If even only one does, then by all means go!

Why would I want to go?

  • To learn more about employers than the initial scan of their website. You learn about the culture of an organization when you meet their people, and you can ask questions that aren’t necessarily in the FAQ section of their website.
  • To see that the real world is not organized by major: you don't necessarily have to be a business major to go to the Management Fair, and you don't necessarily have to be an engineering major to go to Tech Fair.
  • Networking! Take advantage of any opportunity to meet employers face-to-face. Much of the job search process is not done in person. It involves employers screening CVs and cover letters, and you reading about employers and viewing their websites and print materials.  You need this opportunity to meet the real people that work at that company or in that industry.
  • Some fairs include interviews the day of the fair. That is an opportunity for you to shine and not just be another unknown applicant. You can usually find this out beforehand by checking the career fair information website.
  • Regardless of the extent to which technology makes it easier and faster to share information between candidates and employers, nothing replaces in-person contact for making an impression.

What you need to do before you go

  • Know which employers are attending. See the career fair / job fair website. Some fairs include a list of the attending employers with other relevant information — such as positions for which they are hiring and typical majors sought.
  • You DO have to look at the list of employers attending in advance (view each career fair's website), and see what kinds of jobs each employer has.
  • Research each organization adequately to create a targeted list of employers – prioritize the must see employers and which ones will be a bonus point if you can squeeze them in (you probably won’t have time to speak to every employer and not every employer will be of interest to you). When you create that list be open to new opportunities by including at least one employer that you would not normally look at. You need to do enough research on each employer to be able to articulate what they do.
  • Bring copies of your CV but be aware that some employers will refer you to their website instead of accepting hard copy applications. Also, you might need to prepare more than one version if your interests are varied. Take advantage of the CaPS CV drop-in clinics – visit our website for the times   http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/services/drop-in/ or view our podcast on CV Writing https://home.mcgill.ca/caps/publications/podcasts/writing_an_effective_cv/
  • Presentation cards are also an option at a fair. Follow this link for guidelines  http://www.mcgill.ca/files/caps/networking-businesscard.pdf
  • second value statement to use with employers. You want to sound like you thought about why you are there and not a telephone solicitor reading a script.  For more information check out this link: http://www.mcgill.ca/files/caps/networking-soundbite.pdf Keep in mind that some employer representatives may take control of the conversation quickly and you may do more listening than speaking, but you do want to be prepared to be proactive rather than passive.
  • Do some interview preparation beforehand to avoid being caught off guard if the hold a spontaneous interview on the spot.  CaPS offers mock interviews but beforehand attend a career education workshop  or view our interview podcast https://home.mcgill.ca/caps/publications/podcasts/interviewing/
  • Know the dress code. Some are business casual; some require business attire. Club/date wear is never appropriate. Still not sure what to wear? Drop into your career centre and ask!

When you get to the fair

  • Present yourself at the registration table. Make sure to clearly and neatly fill out your name tag at the registration table.
  • Carry a simple portfolio to keep your CVs and presentation cards organized and ready. Some fairs have you check your bags at the door because the event is crowded. Be ready to hand employers the appropriate CV. Be prepared for employers to give you literature and corporate give-away gadgets (stress balls, magnets, travel mugs, etc.) — some fairs have stopped this practice in an effort to be environmentally friendly. The end result is that you want to look like an organized professional.
  • Bring a pen and jot down a few notes of the conversation with the employer to act as a reminder of what was said. If you had an interesting conversation you might want to bring it up in a follow-up “it was a pleasure to meet you” email.
  • Be the polished you. Watch your manners and mannerisms — all those things your parents drilled into you when you were a child then add a few extra. Stand up straight, don’t slouch, don't fidget, speak up and speak clearly, don't chew gum or smell like smoke (yuck!). Make sure you have a good handshake and make eye contact. This isn’t the time to be shy!
  • Employers often send recently-hired new graduates to career fairs  but be warned this isn’t a social event no matter how friendly the employer representative seems to be – you are being pre-screened and you need to present a professional face.
  • Have an open mind. You may have targeted list of employers to speak to but if you have extra time, or have to wait to speak with an employer, take advantage of the opportunity to talk with other employers who are not busy. You might be surprised and learn something useful. Think of this as expanding your network and practicing your interpersonal communication skills. Sometimes our preconceptions to an organization blind us to interesting opportunities.

What if I am not looking for work at the moment?

  • Go to learn more about careers in that field. You might learn what experiences you should build to break into that industry.  Part of the point is to learn more about what employers have to offer. Fairs are rare opportunities to talk with lots of people and learn about careers straight from the source.

You still need to do some research before you go and present yourself in a professional fashion. The difference is that your goal is to get career information, not get a job (yet).

On Campus Jobs for International Students

by Isis Ortiz, Graduate of Political Science & Jewish Studies

I knew that coming to McGill as an International student would be quite a financial investment on my part.  The idea of working full-time while going to school was never appealing to me. Instead, I decided to find a part-time job that would supplement my student loans and still allow me the time to focus on my studies. Looking for an on-campus job at McGill, however, did prove to be more cumbersome than I had anticipated. On-campus jobs can be difficult to find because so many students need one yet the spots are limited. I only started my search in September soon after arriving. Starting earlier would have been much more beneficial!

Things became more defined my second semester after learning about, applying for and finally qualifying for the Work Study program. This was a great opportunity because Work Study positions on campus were clearly listed and applying was never a problem. I soon found a job at the Student Phonathon calling alumni for donations; I gladly stayed there until graduating.  The summer of my graduation came and I had decided to stay in Montreal for at least another year to explore the City and gain some Canadian work experience. Incidentally, a friend who worked at the Student Phonathon told me about a fundraising position at the Faculty of Engineering. It has been two years since my graduation and I am still working and enjoying life in Montreal.

The biggest advice I can give to students is not to shy away from working while they are still completing their studies. Working while still being a student can give you valuable time-management skills and a little work experience that will come in handy later on (such as in my case with the position at the Faculty of Engineering), and not mention extra income! Also, do get informed about work study and other possibilities for on-campus work. I was not very keen about working off-campus, but that is certainly an option for international students if they are willing to pay for the permit, have some time to wait for it and speak French. Another important thing to remember is to decide early in your last semester whether you are planning to stay or go back home.

Finally the Post-Graduate Work Permit is a generous option for students who wish to stay (for a limited number of years) after graduating to gain some Canadian work experience. Do not wait until May to get informed, there are certain restrictions depending on when your CAQ and student visa/ permit expires. If you would like more information, you can go and see International Student Services.

Labour Market Information

by Lisa Lin, CaPS Career Resource Consultant

This monthly bulletin aims to inform you of major news and trends in the Québec, Canada and U.S. labour markets. Your feedback is welcome caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

In this issue

  • Canada adds 93,000 jobs in June
  • Canada expected to follow U.S. in economic slowdown
  • Immigration is not a quick fix to fill labour shortages
  • Occupational highlight: Financial Auditors and Accountants
  • And more!

The good news

Health workers forecast to lead area job growth
Nanaimo Daily News, 20 July 2010
A recent provincial report predicts that nurses, paramedics and other health-related occupations will see the most growth in the central Vancouver Island area by 2014.

Les Québécois moins préoccupés et plus optimistes
La Presse Affaires, 18 July 2010
Quebecers (34%) are less anxious and more optimistic about the state of the economy than the rest of Canadians (39%).

Economy adds 93,000 jobs
Saskatoon Star Phoenix, 10 July 2010
Among a whopping 93,000 new jobs created, five sectors were the principal winners, with the gains split fairly evenly between retail and wholesale (22,000), business, building and other support services (20,000), health care and social assistance (20,000), automotive repair and personal care services (17,000), and construction (11,000).

Prospects for jobs looking up across Canada
Financial Post, 05 July 2010
The future looks bright for job-seekers in most of the country, though prospects in some of Canada’s major cities are disappointing in the near term.

Statistics Canada - Labour Force Survey
June 2010
Employment rose by 93,000 in June, pushing the unemployment rate down 0.2 percentage points to 7.9%. This is the first time the rate has been below the 8% mark since January 2009.


The bad news

Canada expected to follow U.S. in economic slowdown
Global and Mail, 18 July 2010
The rapidly cooling housing boom will affect jobs, retail spending and manufacturing.

The employment miracle
Financial Post, 10 July 2010
The benefits of rising employment were far from uniformly spread across the country – Ontario and Quebec had a total of 90,000 new created jobs while Newfoundland, Labrador and New Brunswick had job losses.
National job surge not seen in Calgary
Calgary Herald, 10 July 2010
Alberta lost 9,600 full-time jobs last month, but put in place 15,300 part-time positions for a net gain.

Travailleurs âgés: une main-d'oeuvre en demande
La Presse Affaires, 19 June 2010
In less than 5 years, workers age 15 to 64 will decrease while the increasing need for skilled workers and aging workforce are the new reality in the labor market in Quebec.


Other news

Immigration is not a quick fix to fill labour shortages
The Gazette, July 9 2010
Immigration is not a solution to a shortage of labour-market needs; Canada should aim to attract people who can adapt to market changes.

School’s out – now what?
Global and Mail, 06 July 2010
High-school students are finding out that the real work is getting a summer job, as tough economic times and competition from the university crowd are making opportunities scarce.

Statistics Canada – Payroll employment, earnings and hours
April 2010 (preliminary)
Non-farm payroll employment rose for the third consecutive month in April, increasing by 35,600. This brings total gains since the start of the upward trend in August 2009 to 166,900 (+1.2%).


Occupational highlight

Financial Auditors and Accountants (NOC code 1111)
Financial auditors examine and analyze the accounting and financial records of individuals and establishments to ensure accuracy and compliance with established accounting standards and procedures. Accountants plan, organize and administer accounting systems for individuals and establishments. Articling students in accounting firms are included in this unit group.

Employment in this occupation has been growing in recent years, particularly for financial auditors and accountants who are members of accounting associations. This trend should continue over the 2009-2011 forecast horizon.

For a complete profile of this and other occupations, visit Career Cruising http://www.careercruising.com/Default.aspx. Contact us at caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca for the username and password or login to myFuture https://csm-caps.mcgill.ca/students/ and search for Career Cruising under Documents - Career Resources.


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