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Undergraduate Students - March 2012

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

Articles in this edition

Why Volunteer?

The McGill Rotaract Club

Timeraiser 101

HCPP: Planting the seeds of hope, one lesson at a time

Labour Market Information


Why Volunteer?

Andrew Tozer, Bachelor of Science, Earth & Planetary Sciences, U2

Don't you wish there was something that was free, entertaining, helpful to others, and looked great on your CV? Lucky for you, I just invented this new event. Wait for it - it'll be on Facebook any minute now - it's called volunteering.

Volunteering? Yes, volunteering. That ancient thing you had to do in high school to graduate, remember it? Not only is it a great experience within itself, it's the best and easiest way to build up your CV. Lacking experience? Volunteer. Can't find a job? Volunteer. Trying to enter a new industry? Volunteer. 

For a long time this was a foreign concept to me. I thought volunteering was only invented to either: a) help seniors; or b) keep convicts busy. While helping seniors is all well and good, they aren't the be-all-end-all of my life; and becoming a convict just to volunteer requires far too much planning. Fortunately, it can be so much more than those things - you can do it virtually anywhere, it’s easy to start, and it may even lead to a better job in the future. It has been shown that the return to volunteering amounts to 6-7% of annual earnings (Day and Devlin, 2001). If you do the math, that’s already worth more than your part-time job during the term. 

Where can I volunteer?

  • You can volunteer almost anywhere you could get a job (plus some). It’s that simple. Pick something you love or something you’ve always wanted to learn about but never had the time. First-hand experiences are often the best way to learn so just jump in!

But how do I start?

  • McGill is a great place to start with an eclectic source of clubs to join. But don’t stop there! You’re lucky enough to be in one of the largest cities in Canada, the opportunities are endless. 
  • Take this chance to practice your job-searching skills. Networking works just as well with volunteering.

What if I still need the income from a job?

  • One of the main advantages to volunteer-work is the flexible hours. Companies understand that you’re trading your time for experience so many are lenient when it comes to day-to-day office hours and the amount of time you put in. 
  • Take a part-time job without the pressure of working in an unrelated field. The volunteer work will give you the relevant experience for your CV so you don’t have to worry which job you get!

I found the perfect place to volunteer but it isn’t in Montreal, what can I do?

  • There are many opportunities to work with great people and businesses, but what if those opportunities don’t fit geographically? Don’t sweat it. A lot of businesses - especially entrepreneurial and smaller businesses - will let you work away from the office. Be creative, a lot of work can be done over the internet and phone these days.
  • Let your potential employer know that you’re very interested in volunteering for them but can’t meet with them on a daily basis. Most will still appreciate the help!

Currently, I’m volunteering for two companies in Toronto but very seldom need to take the trip from Montreal. In addition to avoiding the hoop-jumping associated with the hiring process or the commitment of a part-time job, it has been proven that volunteering enhances and motivates several aspects of your personal well-being - and conversely, that people with a greater well-being spend more time in volunteer service (Thoits and Hewitt, 2001).

As it goes, research is a great area to start in - not lab research, mind you - but a lot of companies are always looking for help looking into case studies to see how other people achieved failure and success in the past, what currently is in the market, and how they can expand their business in the future. There is no reason you need to go into an office every day to do that work. In fact, it’s more efficient to do it all from where you are right now. 

If you want to build a more impressive CV while keeping your current job then this is my advice to you: join a club, intern for a business, offer your time and ideas to those who are more than happy to take them. If networking is the key to success, then volunteering is the key to networking. 

The McGill Rotaract Club: “Rotaract can change your life. Rotaractors can change the world!”

Paula Zalba, Bachelor of Commerce U1

I joined the McGill Rotaract Club in 2010, a year before actually attending McGill University, and I have been involved in it ever since! Rotaract is the Youth division of the organization Rotary International. The organization consists of 1.2 million members, making up to 34,000 service clubs scattered in over 200 countries. Rotary’s goal is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. With a “Service Above Self” motto, Rotary focuses on service in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the globe. Rotary International works closely with several governments and the United Nations in order to respond to improve health as well as education and reduce poverty in both their communities and the world. The organization’s most ambitious project is “End Polio Now”, an initiative to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.

Rotaract focuses on the development of young adults as leaders in their communities and workplaces. Clubs take part in international service projects to promote peace and international understanding either through Rotary or by working directly with other charities. For instance, every Rotaract Club organizes at least one Polio fundraiser every year to be a part of Rotary’s commitment to polio eradication.

When I contacted the president of the McGill Rotaract Club, now called the Rotaract Club of Downtown Montreal, he warmly welcomed me and invited me to volunteer in one of their upcoming fundraising events. This activity allowed me to meet other McGill students from different faculties as well as young professionals interested in giving back to our community.

The great thing about Rotaract is that everyone is there for the same reasons: service and fellowship, allowing members to enlarge their local and international network. For instance, while still in Cegep at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, I decided to open a Rotaract Club. The amount of help and support I received from international, but mostly McGill Rotaractors, was simply unbelievable!

The Club’s format is very flexible, allowing each member to get as involved as they can or wish. Every year the executive team changes, giving every member the opportunity to try different positions and gain experience in different fields. In addition, all members can propose the causes they look forward to supporting and vote to choose the activities they intend to do.

As a Rotaract member, I have attended two international conventions, one in Montreal and another one in New Orleans. Rotary conventions are an opportunity for members to share knowledge and experience as well as to improve their leadership and public speaking skills through different workshops. Also, different social and volunteering events are organized for members to network with individuals from all over the globe committed to making a difference in the world! The New Orleans 2011 Convention even featured guest speakers such as Bill Gates, making the experience extremely enriching and, most of all, unforgettable.

Getting involved in Rotaract at McGill has changed my life! It allowed me to make new friends worldwide and grow both professionally and personally. Most importantly, it has helped me contribute positively to my local and the global community!

“Rotaract can change your life. Rotaractors can change the world!”

For more information about Rotary International visit: http://www.rotary.org/

And to join the Rotaract Club at McGill visit: http://ssmu.mcgill.ca/rotaract/
Or: http://www.facebook.com/mcgillrotaract

MMcGill Rotaract members at the Club’s 4th annual cocktail party, raising   funds for the Tyndale Community Center in Little Burgundy in Montreal

Timeraiser 101

Jan Bottomer, CaPS Career Advisor

Interested in volunteering in the Montreal community, but don’t know how to get started?
Check out Timeraiser, an innovative event that’s part volunteer fair, part silent art auction and part “night on the town”. It’s kind of like speed dating for volunteerism!
Intrigued? Read on for further details…

Getting involved in your community isn’t always easy, so we’ve made it simple for you to find relevant and meaningful opportunities that fit your busy lifestyle.  The Timeraiser is part volunteer fair, part silent art auction and part night on the town. Throughout the evening, meet with different local agencies and match your skills to their needs. Once you have made your matches, you are eligible to bid on artwork. The big twist is that rather than bidding money, you bid volunteer hours! If you have the winning bid, you have 12 months to complete your pledge before bringing the artwork home as a reminder of your good will.
At the end of the night, everyone wins! Participants are helped to find meaningful volunteer opportunities, and agencies are introduced to skilled volunteers. Local artists are supported and paid fair market value for their work, and sponsors have the satisfaction of knowing that their funding both invested in the arts community, and helped inspire volunteerism.

Timeraiser by the numbers To date:

  • 29 Timeraiser events have been hosted in cities across Canada
  • 100,000 volunteer hours have been generated
  • $500,000 has been invested in the careers of emerging artists
  • 400 charities have been supported in their search for volunteers
  • 6,043 Canadians have been encouraged to connect to a cause they care about

The 1st Montreal Timeraiser will take place at the Bonsecours Market, on the evening of Thursday April 12th, 2012.
Tickets will go on sale March 5th and will be provided at a discount to McGill students. If you are interested in participating, please contact Career Advisor Jan Bottomer jan [dot] bottomer [at] mcgill [dot] ca for additional details.
For further information and a list of participating organizations:
http://www.timeraiser.ca/index.html, http://www.benevotemps.ca/

HCPP: Planting the seeds of hope, one lesson at a time

Sarah Hanafi, Bachelor of Science, Neuroscience U2

The Heart of the City Piano Program (HCPP) is what you get when you combine a love for music, social justice, education, and children. Founded in 1995 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this grassroots organization has since sprouted up in cities across Canada: Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal. The Montreal chapter, composed entirely of McGill students, provides free piano lessons to kids in disadvantaged sectors of the city. In addition to sharing music, their mission is to build self-esteem and foster an interest in school in children who are all-too-often marginalized by society.

The chapter is currently set-up in four Montreal schools, three Anglophone and one Francophone. Each volunteer has between one and two students from September to April, to whom they provide piano lessons for a minimum of half an hour a week. Volunteers are free to design their own lesson plans, with the program offering much pedagogical flexibility, though lessons books are provided as a guide. Due to limited resources such as time, money, and space, teaching must be approached in an innovative way; schools are provided with multiple keyboards and headphone sets, allowing other children to practice while volunteers provide lessons. With the program’s mission statement in mind, students are selected by teachers from each school based on interest, potential, and need for character development. The hard work and effort of the year is honoured with the annual recital in mid-April, where each child is given the opportunity to perform for his/her family and friends. In so doing, the children are able to share their accomplishments with their peers and develop their self-esteem.

Within the past year the Montreal HCPP has grown enormously; the number of volunteers has more than doubled, and the program now serves close to 90 students. Voice lessons have just begun at St. John Bosco School, while tutoring programs are underway at St. Gabriel’s and St. John Bosco. The chapter has also undergone some reorganization with the creation of subcommittees for pedagogy and fundraising, as well as an external relations position. But the executive committee has even bigger plans for the future. The branch aims at expanding its volunteer base to other Montreal campuses, as well as widening its reach within the Montreal community, particularly to more disadvantaged Francophone sectors. The group is also working towards alternative funding sources until the organization has the means to apply for a registered charity status. This would include a performance troupe that could play at Montreal functions in exchange for donations to the cause.

The Montreal HCPP is hoping to diversify its volunteer set, which is overwhelmingly represented by the Faculty of Science. Despite a minimum requirement of grade 8 RCM, the group is looking for volunteers with more teaching experience that could assist the newly-created Pedagogy committee devise innovative teaching solutions. As well, with the creation of a performance troupe, the branch is searching for talented musicians, pianists and non-pianists alike, who are willing to donate their time.

The Schulich School of Music is particularly excited about this initiative. Sara Laimon, Associate Dean, sees the program as “a fantastic opportunity for [music] students to witness first-hand the role music can play in the lives of young children, and to give something back to the community.” Laimon also sees the HCPP as offering a “profound” and necessary experience “that all emerging professionals should have.” The Schulich School of Music has sponsored the initiative through the Alumni Office’s Seeds of Change program, which enables McGill’s alumni to support the HCPP via online donations.

How to get involved

Interested applicants are asked to submit an application form to the Executive Board, detailing why they want to be involved and describing their prior experiences working with children.  A Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 8 Level or equivalent on piano is required to be selected.  Volunteers must also provide references and undergo a mandatory police record check to participate in the program. More information can be found at the program’s website http://www.heartofthecity.ca/montreal/ or via email montrealheartofthecity [at] yahoo [dot] ca.

Labour Market Information Report

Lisa Lin, CaPS 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

  • U.S. jobless claims fall unexpectedly
  • Global companies cut jobs as they brace for EU recession
  • Immigrants struggle in finding jobs in Canada
  • Occupational highlight: Editors
  • And more!

The good news

U.S. jobless claims fall unexpectedly
The Globe and Mail, 09 February 2012
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, a government report showed on Thursday, further evidence the labor market was gaining traction.

Tapping into foreign-talent pool
Montreal Gazette, 04 February 2012
Recent changes to limited student visas allow post-grad students to find work off-campus in their respective fields while completing their postgraduate degrees.

The bad news

Job losses rise as multinationals brace for EU recession, China slowdown
Financial Post, 13 February 2012
Global companies are chopping jobs more than three times faster than in 2011 as they brace for recession in Europe and a slowdown in China.

Canada’s jobless rate hits 9-month high
The Globe and Mail, 03 February 2012
Canada’s job market is mirroring the country’s sharply divided economic landscape, as the resource-rich West hungers for workers while confidence falters among employers in the East.

Le marché du travail québécois est mal en point
La Presse Affairs, 04 February 2012
Despite some improvement in employment statistics, the situation of Quebec's labor market remains a concern.

Unemployed outnumber jobs more than 3 to 1: StatsCan
Financial Post, 24 January 2012
The national job vacancy rate was high in the three months ending in September 2011, but unemployment was more than three times higher.


Other news

Why new Canadians struggle to find jobs
The Globe and Mail, 10 February 2012
The challenges immigrants face in finding jobs has to do with not just the characteristics and skills they bring to the labour market, but also the state of our economy and the barriers put in their way.

Statistics Canada – Labour Force Survey
January 2012
Employment was virtually unchanged in January, and the unemployment rate edged up 0.1 percentage points to 7.6% as more people searched for work. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment rose by 129,000 (+0.7%), with most of the growth occurring in the first six months of this period.

Statistics Canada - Payroll employment, earnings and hours
November 2011 (preliminary)
In November, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $883.96, virtually unchanged from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, earnings rose 2.2%.

Statistics Canada – Study: Firm entry and exit in Canada
2000 to 2008
Firm entry and exit are important aspects of business dynamics. In every year from 2000 to 2008, roughly 1 firm in 10 had either just entered the Canadian business sector or was about to exit.

Statistics Canada – Job Vacancies
Three-month average ending in September 2011
Canadian businesses had, on average, 248,000 job vacancies in the three month period ending in September 2011. For all sectors combined, the ratio of unemployment to job vacancies was 3.3. In other words, there were 3.3 unemployed people in Canada for every job vacancy.


Occupational highlight

Editors (NOC 5122)
Editors review, evaluate and edit manuscripts, articles, news reports and other material for publication, broadcast or interactive media and co-ordinate the activities of writers, journalists and other staff. They are employed by publishing firms, magazines, journals, newspapers, radio and television networks and stations, and by companies and government departments that produce publications such as newsletters, handbooks, manuals and Web sites. Editors may also work on a freelance basis.

Job prospects in this occupation are fair. Career opportunities will arise not only from positions that become available from editors who are retiring or being promoted to director of information or other management positions, but also from employment increase. The turnover rate is generally low.

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.


Lisa’s Corner

Looking for internship résumés and cover letter samples?
Quintessential Careers Internship Resumes and Cover Letter Samples (http://www.quintcareers.com/internship-resume_cover-letter_samples.html) is a comprehensive career development website that provides resume and cover letter samples for students seeking internships.   Samples include: law, research positions, marketing, broadcasting, etc.  Also, explore the links on this webpage to view a list of professional resume samples and new graduate sample resumes to get more ideas on how to develop your own resume and cover letter.


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