Undergraduate Students - December 2011
The full version of the December CAPSScoop can be found by clicking here.
Articles in this edition
Alexandra Sojo, CaPS Student Coordinator
Are you thinking about applying to Medical school? The CaPS office has some wonderful resources to help you along the demanding process. Besides your GPA (which unfortunately, we cannot help you with) there are several key points to your Med School application that need to be in prime condition.
The Personal Statement: Yes, you have all heard of this letter that you are supposed to write about why you want to go to med school and why you are the best applicant. Articulating your skills, personality and goals can be difficult and it is always best to get someone who does not know you to give you some objective feedback and constructive criticism on what you have written. Well guess what?! CaPS can help! Pass by our office or call to book an appointment with one of our Career Advisors who would be happy to read your personal statement and give you some constructive feedback.
General Mock Med Interview: Some of you may or may not have previous interviewing experience, but a general Med School interview can be a little bit different. That is why the CaPS office offers the opportunity to book a mock general med school interview, to help prepare you for the kinds of questions that will be asked and to articulate your answers well and with confidence.
MMI’s: The Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI’s) are a series of interviews that evaluate different qualities and skills that many medical schools now use. The CaPS office also offers Mock MMI sessions, so that you can get a feel for how the rotational interviews work and also get feedback to improve your performance. The mock MMI’s are fun and a great way to practice your “on the spot” skills. We also have sample MMI questions and lots of other fun resources in our library.
Thomas Dalton, Bachelor of Law, McGill University
Interviewer: Heather McTavish, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science U3
So I had the chance to sit down with Thomas Dalton, a current third year law student at McGill, and get some inside information on what law school is really like. Here are some of the things he had to say:
Thomas, why did you decide to apply to law school?
For me it was a career change. I was a high performance coach for a few years after completing MY undergraduate degree. And after achieving some goals that I set out to accomplish, I started looking at other options. I had taken a couple of law courses during my undergrad and had really enjoyed the material.
Can you tell me a bit about what a typical day of a law student looks like?
It is very similar to a student’s schedule in any other faculty. You wake up and go to class; if you have an afternoon off some students will work at the McGill Legal Aid Clinic or at the McGill Student Advocacy Programme, or participate in student clubs or journals.
What do course assessments typically look like?
Course evaluations are generally a paper and a final. Examinations are often open book, so it is imperative to compile the material, such as cases, readings, lecture notes and summarize it. For myself, I often spend the evening summarizing that day’s or week’s material.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of law school?
Law school is an amazing experience, it is truly enriching and the people are incredible. There is such a great diversity of students, coming from completely different backgrounds and very different career goals.
This being said I think that the most challenging aspect is the workload, and not so much that it is more, but you’re learning a whole new language. For me at least, it is a completely new way of thinking and a whole new vocabulary, and it can take a while to kind of get your bearings.
Another aspect that can be challenging is the competitive nature of law school. You are putting a lot of pressure on yourself to get good marks, have a presence in the faculty, and find employment with a firm. One thing that the economic downturn has affected is the number of articling positions available to recent law graduates, which can make the process even more competitive. That being said, I think it is really important to really just focus on yourself and try not to compare you to other students in your program (and more holistically, enjoy the opportunity to learn something new and spend time with some interesting characters!).
Do you have any advice for students planning on attending law school?
The number one thing is to have an interest in the subject of law itself and have a good idea as to what you want to do with a law degree (or degrees in the case of McGill). Law school is a fairly intensive 3 years, 3.5 years if you are at McGill, and if you do not have a genuine interest in law, it can make law school a very trying and difficult experience.
If students are looking to get a better idea of what law school or practicing law is like, I would definitely recommend speaking to some professors in the Faculty of Law, and perhaps even sitting in on a class. If you are fortunate enough to have a contact in a law firm, speak with them about what they do and perhaps even try spending a day at their office. The McGill Faculty of Law also offers several open houses a year for prospective students, so I would definitely recommend checking those out.
Cassandra Ma, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology U2 & VP Education Outreach, Peer Educator Executive Board
So, you’re confident about your GPA standing, as well as the whole of your academic experiences thus far, and you’ve decided that you want to apply to law school. Fantastic! But wait, there’s one element standing in your way: a certain four-and-a-half hour test with the potential to make or break your career dreams.
Although it is stressful to think that your score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) holds so much sway over the course of your future, I can tell you from my own experience that it doesn’t have to be so bad. Unlike most tests that you’ve encountered throughout your academic career, the LSAT is not a content-based test, but rather assesses your skills in logical thinking—skills that, as a student at McGill University, you already possess. Here are some things I would suggest in sufficiently preparing yourself for test day:
- During the month prior to your test date, practice solving questions from past tests. The more questions you look at, the more familiar you’ll be with the language and structure of the LSAT, and you won’t be thrown off by any surprises later. I personally found that, by doing this, I could gauge what areas composed my strengths and identify what elements tended to trip me up, and thus strategize how to go about completing each section.
- In the weeks before your actual LSAT date, take at least one full-length practice test. This will help build your stamina, and prevent you from burning out before the test ends. I also found that, from these practice scores, I knew what score I was capable of attaining, and that knowledge gave me more confidence walking into the test center. These practice tests can be found in a wide array of prep materials, and if you’re short on cash, they are free on the LSAT website.
- The day before you take the LSAT, give yourself a break and relax. No amount of last minute preparation will help you out more than stress you out, and you will definitely want to clear your head of any test-related anxieties. So take the day off, get out of the house, and do something you enjoy!
- On test day, wake up early! You will want to have an appropriate amount of time to get ready, arrive punctually at your test center, and eliminate any early morning grogginess. One of the things I found most helpful to my own experience back in October was to print out a practice question set from the Logic Games section, and bring it to the test center; this helped me to warm-up my brain before going into the LSAT, as well as prevented me from being psyched out by other high-strung test-takers. Just remember to throw out the paper before entering your test room!
In the end, if you approach the LSAT with the right attitude—as a challenge where you can showcase your skills, rather than an obstacle—you will fare well on test day. Confidence in your abilities will lead you to finding answers quickly (and with certainty) while keeping you energized and focused; all it takes to establish this sense of confidence is a little practice. Best of luck!
Check out our overview of Program Guides and Standardized Testing here.
Lisa Lin, Resource Consultant CaPS
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
- US unemployment benefits claims fell to the lowest level since April 2011
- Canada’s employment rate has thumped back to earth in October, losing 54,000 jobs
- 88 percent of people believe “special efforts” are required when applying for jobs
- Occupational highlight: Lawyers and Quebec Notaries
- And more!
The good news
Applications for U.S. jobless claims fall
The Globe and Mail, 10 November 2011
The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest level since April, a sign that employers could be stepping up hiring.
Clean energy will generate much needed jobs for B.C
The Star Phoenix, 20 October 2011
In a throne speech, the government of BC is committed to create new jobs in the clean-technology sector, one of the sectors that they largely overlooked in the past.
The bad news
Europe’s lost generation: no jobs or hope for the young
The Globe and Mail, 07 November 2011
Young Europeans are slipping into the ranks of the long-term unemployed, a situation that threatens to produce lasting economic and social problems.
Canada's job outlook is tied to United States
Montreal Gazette, 05 November 2011
After a year in which employment growth remained inexplicably strong through thick and thin, it came thumping back to earth in October with the loss of 54,000 jobs.
Steep decline in manufacturing mars employment outlook
The Globe and Mail, 04 November 2011
Factory employment hit a 35-year low in October, the weakest point since Statistics Canada began collecting the data in 1976.
Job seekers finding creative ways to apply
Montreal Gazette, 31 October 2011
A survey finds 88 percent of people believe “special efforts” are required to get the attention of hiring managers.
Recruiters call Johnson, not Singh, study shows
The Records, 14 October 2011
Researchers found that employers in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal “significantly discriminate” against applicants with Chinese and Indian names compared to those with English names.
Statistics Canada – Study: Delayed retirement
A 50-year-old worker in 2008 could expect to stay in the labour force 3.5 years longer than in the mid-1990s, according to an indicator that tracks the retirement behaviour of Canadians.
Statistics Canada – Labour Force Survey
Following an increase in September, employment declined by 54,000 in October, all in full time. October's loss pushed the unemployment rate up 0.2 percentage points to 7.3%. Over the last year, total employment has risen by 237,000 (+1.4%).
Statistics Canada - Payroll employment, earnings and hours
August 2011 (preliminary)
Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees increased 0.8% from July to $877.28 in August, following two months of small declines. On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings rose 1.9%, the lowest growth rate since November 2009.
Lawyers and Quebec Notaries (4112)
Lawyers and Quebec notaries advise clients on legal matters, represent clients before administration boards and draw up legal documents such as contracts and wills. Lawyers also plead cases, represent clients before tribunals and conduct prosecutions in courts of law. Lawyers are employed in law firms and prosecutor's offices. Quebec notaries are employed in notary offices. Both lawyers and Quebec notaries are employed by federal, provincial and municipal governments and various business establishments or they may be self-employed. Articling students are included in this group.
Job prospects are good. Job opportunities will arise primarily from lawyers and notaries who are retiring and, to a lesser degree, from employment increase. Numerous other positions will become vacant because of career path advancements among lawyers and notaries. In fact, experience and education in this field provide access to a multitude of occupations that may or may not be related to the law. Namely, they allow people to access positions as university professors (see 4121) and financial planners (see 1114), and to be promoted to management positions and become judges (see 4111).
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/index.php and search for Career Cruising under the tab View Career Resources.