Undergraduate Students - May 2012
The full version of the May CAPSScoop can be found by clicking here.
Articles in this edition
Heather McTavish B.A Political Science ‘12, CaPS McGill Mentor & Peer Educator Program Coordinator with Evangeline Seganathy, B. Sc.’12
My final year at McGill has definitely been the most work and the most fun! Stepping into your final year can be overwhelming and stressful if you do not plan for it properly. Here are some tips for those of you entering your final year in September:
- Have a Plan: Whether you are thinking of applying to graduate school, taking a gap year, travelling or teaching English abroad after your final year, it is important to have a plan. Begin browsing websites over the summer months, take prep courses, stop by CaPS and dive into our resource library: http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/services/resource-centre/. Write down deadlines; make a list of cover letters, applications and personal statements you need to write. Having a plan will allow you to not feel overwhelmed once September begins. Book an appointment with a Career Advisor over the summer or the first day of classes to make sure you are on track!
- Manage your Time: Once classes start it can be so easy to let deadlines slip past you. So make sure you manage your time! Setting aside 2 hours a week to fill out applications, contact organizations and network can make a huge difference. Don’t put things off until the last minute; it will likely weaken your application. If you know that you have a deadline in 2 weeks and you need to have something reviewed book an appointment with a CaPS advisor early to ensure that you can be seen and have time edit your applications.
- Network: Networking can be intimidating and easy to brush off, but as a soon-to-be-graduate it is one of the most important things to do. I never would have gotten my internship for next year if I did not put myself out there and meet a lot of people! McGill is a great place to meet professionals and there are so many different ways it can be done! Get into the habit of checking events listings regularly and marking the ones that interest you down in your calendar. This will make you more likely to remember, and give yourself time to plan accordingly so that you can attend. List of events that McGill is hosting keeping tabs on it and planning to attend events can be a great way to meet people in your field of interest http://www.mcgill.ca/channels/events/
- List of career fairs, workshops and panels happening throughout the school year: https://csm-caps.mcgill.ca/students/
- Get a mentor! The McGill Mentor program matches McGill alumni with current students to offer career advice in the field of your interest http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/services/mentor/
- Have some fun! Enjoy your last year! Soak up the sun on lower field, Bixi to the old port and enjoy all of the scrumptious food this city has to offer! Best of luck!
Mandy Poon, digital insights specialist at Edelman Public Relations, McGill B.A 2009 and Mentor of the McGill Mentor Program
I didn’t always know I would have the job that I do now, but this career path serendipitously found me. While a part of all job-hunting involves luck, it always helps to be prepared and have a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way to my career. Some of these things I planned for… but most of these I only realized in retrospect.
- Know your transferrable skills.
Public relations is one of those industries that focuses recruitment on relevant work experience, rather than purely on academic achievements. What recruiters generally look for are transferrable skills, or evidence of how all your experiences (academic included) combined can or has been utilized to cultivate the skill set required for a PR professional. Ideally, they would want to see that you’ve exceled at job/internship before by combining your research and writing skills from your history courses, as well as your event planning skills from your work at a student club. If you haven’t had that kind of work experience yet, recruiters would want to see that at the very least, you understand how the skills you have would play into a career in public relations.
As previously mentioned, relevant work experience is always a top thing that PR recruiters look for. If you don’t have any work experience, or are finding it difficult to get paid work or an internship, a great place to start is with volunteer work.
You should look at your volunteer work in two ways. Firstly, you should see it as a position that you can transform and adjust to develop the experiences required for exactly what kind of PR work you want to do. When I was volunteering in a role that required me to maintain traditional communications, I took the initiative to get the organization to see the importance and relevance of social media in communications, as that was the particular specialty I wanted to work in. This was extremely well received and I had the opportunity to draft the organization’s first social media manual.
Secondly, you should look at a volunteer position as a stepping stone to more significant experiences as you move forward. Your volunteer position could be just the small bit of proven experience to get that internship or that first job. As well, no matter how small the position may seem, you never know who you may meet, and what kind of networking can take place.
- Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.
- Network your heart out.
There was a point in time when I was holding down a volunteer position, an internship, a part-time job and a full school load–and during that time, I met a lot of people. I feel that sometimes networking comes accidentally, but as I mentioned before, no matter how minor my positions seemed at the time, it was actually all leading me on a path to meet different people. From interning at a tiny organization, I was able to work closely with a producer at CBC (who just so happened to be on the board of directors). From volunteering at another very small not-for-profit, I was eventually voted to the executive council and nominated to represent the organization every year at events all across Canada, where I’ve met many more amazing individuals. And completing my Graduate Diploma in Public Relations Management at McGill introduced me to a large network of PR, events and communications professionals, many of whom I still keep in touch with. The key to networking is to simply keep an open heart and an open mind (and arrive prepared with business cards!).
I don’t think it needs to be said but I’ll say it anyway: social and digital media is the present and future of public relations. In public relations, we’re charged with maintaining a company’s public presence. Now, the “public” receives countless streams of information, communication and influence simply due to the digital space. Today, social media is fully integrated into almost all public relations strategies because its importance is the reality of the industry, and it has become a natural ask from clients. That’s why it’s important that you not only know what Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Quora, Pinterest are, you should also know how they work (because you’ve explored each platform), their purposes and the different audiences that they cater to. If you aren’t familiar, start investigating!
- Have a solid grasp on social media.
When recruiters receive a CV, Google is probably one of the first places they’ll hit to see what they can find out about you. A strong, positive online presence can work in your favour. It will give recruiters a sense not only of what you’ve done, but who you are. When you start working, clients may also be checking in on you online to see who they’re working with. Your online presence will clearly demonstrate that you understand social media platforms and how they can be used–perhaps even putting recruiters/clients at ease that they’re working with someone digital-savvy. It’s also a great place for you to put up a portfolio if desired. Just know that you’ll be searched for and if there’s cleaning up you need to do for your online platforms, this is a good time to start.
- Create and maintain a positive online presence.
- Understand where you’ll fit in.
PR (or even related fields such as marketing or communications) has many different facets, all of which come with different work environments, colleagues, clients and even potential career routes. A distinction as simple as working in a PR agency or working in a PR department in-house means a totally different feel and day-to-day. Other distinctions include specialization (corporate, media, digital), industry (consumer goods, technology, pharmaceuticals), and type of communication focus (internal, external). The best way to get to know where you could fit in would be to do some research, and find individuals with whom you could conduct information interviews with. You could find these individuals through networking at events or even through sites like LinkedIn. Don’t be shy to reach out; we’ve all been in the same position as you. You’ll be surprised with how open and generous people will be with their time.
Mandy works at Edelman Public Relations where she is a digital insights specialist. She obtained her B.A. at McGill in Political Science in 2009, and her Graduate Diploma in Public Relations Management in 2011. You can follow her on Twitter and ask for even more PR tips at @mmandyp.
Victor Lam, Bachelor of Arts & Science, Major in Sustainability, Science and Society U1
On Wednesday March 14 three professionals in environment-related fields offered career advice to students interested in pursuing similar careers after graduation. Green Careers Week is a three day annual event organized by the McGill Career Planning Service (CaPs). Growing each year, this year’s event featured over 15 different NGOs and over a dozen speakers from the field of environment.
Geneviève Paquin (B.Eng. ’11) and Sonia Voiceson (B.Sc. Ag.En.Sc. ‘11), both recent graduates from McGill, shared their experiences of being students and young professionals.
During her degree, Paquin’s exchange at the University of Western Australia shaped her interest in water stress and this led her to apply and complete multiple internships in that particular field. She thinks that students need to be more proactive in applying for internships by staying well-connected and having a good network of friends and family.
“Finding the first internship is very hard because you don’t have a lot of experience,” she said, “but you have to be aggressive and the main way to get internships is by contacts, get numbers and other information.” Paquin reminded students to not get discouraged when applying for internships.
“Once you have completed your first internship, even if it’s not the one you like, you can always take something away from it and use it when applying for your second internship.” She said, encouraging students to take the opportunity to gain important skills in their field.
Currently working as an intern at SUCO (Solitarité Union Coopération), Voiceson expressed her difficulty in deciding between the two opportunities that were offered at one time during her degree at McGill.
“I had the decision to make between having a stable government job and an internship for 6 months in Nicaragua and it was difficult,”
After explaining the kinds of challenges she faced in deciding, she said, “but how many times can you go to another country and work for 6 months? It is not an experience you could always get.”
Voiceson told the crowd of about 25 attendees how the internship in Nicaragua allowed her to apply the knowledge she gained from school and have face to face contact with the local population in attempting to solve their water problems.
Daubisse, as director of a local L’Autre Marché, a local organization focused on bridging the relationship of farmers to the consumers by coordinating farmers markets around Montreal, noted the importance of putting the skills you have to work.
“I think the new generation of students have amazing theoretical knowledge, but need to find and identify their skills to put into projects,” she said, “we need new ideas, new juice and that is exactly what my company is looking for.”
As tough as dilemmas go in life, choosing to stay or go a few thousand kilometers away to a foreign country for an internship may be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding decision to make: the courage from Voiceson made me reflect on and realize the importance of being open to new experiences.
Usually, you want to go find that “perfect” internship, but you may end up spending more than you want just so you can settle with something you feel well suited for. In additional to what Paquin commented about internships, in the process of completing an internship in a less familiar environment, you may pick up skills or realize your capabilities in certain areas. You may even get something out of it that is completely unexpected.
Though Daubisse didn’t express it explicitly, I can see how she envisions her “perfect, employable worker”. Dedication, creativity, and self-development are not only essential job skills, but life skills that can carry you to whatever field path you enter.
All three speakers and their messages were highly motivational and inspired me to begin exploring internship options for next summer. Stay tuned for Green Careers week next year and the many other panels and career fairs CaPS has to offer throughout the year!
Ron McGowan is the author of the international bestseller “How to Find WORK in the 21st Century”, currently in use at over 400 colleges and universities worldwide.
Clean up your online presence.
The first thing employers will do is to see what they can find out about you on the Internet. Are you ready for that? They may look at your Facebook page during the interview. Are you ready for that?
Look for WORK, not a JOB.
Don’t scare off employers by communicating that you’re looking for a job and all the traditional benefits that go with it. Make it easy for them to hire you by making it clear that you are happy to accept part-time, temporary, or contract work. If you are equipped to work from home, tell them that too. It may appeal to them.
Ditch the resume.
EVERYBODY is using a resume. In your initial contact with employers, make yourself stand out in a positive way with more creative tools that are marketing oriented and focused on the employer’s needs. It’s OK to have a resume to take to the interview. But first you have to get there.
Put yourself in the shoes of any employer you plan to contact. Why would they be interested in you? What exactly do you have to offer them? Show them in your first contact with them that you know about them, the type of work they do and the industry they’re in. NEVER send out lots of resumes in a shotgun fashion.
Why should we hire you?
Assume you’ll be asked this question during the interview and be ready to answer it. Focus on the key points you made in the material you sent to them. Those are what got you the interview.
Bite your tongue.
Talking too much in the interview is among the biggest mistakes graduates make according to employers and recruiters. The more prepared you are for the interview, the less inclined you’ll be to ramble on.
Do your homework.
There’s a wealth of information available on the employer’s web site. Amazingly, many graduates never take the time to thoroughly analyze this information and be ready to answer questions about it in the interview. It will also help if you can talk about some of the key issues going on in their industry.
Create your own job.
Instead of waiting for someone to offer you a job, consider what millions of graduates around the world have been doing for years; i.e. operate as a freelancer. The following will give you an overview of the world of freelancing:
Candice Olson, Co-Founder of Fullbridge
As convocation approaches, many soon-to-be graduates and forward-thinking undergraduates are planning for the future by enrolling in summer business boot camps like The Fullbridge Program, an intensive, four-week business and professional education program. Designed to help bridge the gap between academics and the professional workplace, The Fullbridge Program can help McGill students develop professional skills and gain an edge as they launch their careers.
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted how corporate recruiters are increasingly seeking out liberal arts students for their sharp critical thinking skills and problem solving techniques, in addition to students with more traditional business majors. But despite earning degrees from top schools and a garnering a warm reception from recruiters, many of these students begin their careers without the professional skills and business intuition that can help them stand out from the rest of the pack, whether it’s nailing that first interview, exceeding the boss’ expectations on the first day, or proving yourself ready for the next big opportunity.
My husband Peter Olson, former Chairman and CEO of Random House, and I founded Fullbridge to address this missing step that we observed as we supported our own seven children through their transition to adulthood. As executives, Peter and I have hired thousands of college graduates between us, and spoken with managers who have hired thousands more. With Fullbridge, we want to help graduates successfully manage the inevitable twists, turns, and setbacks that often characterize young careers, while helping them develop the edge they need to succeed in today’s challenging professional environment.
Our professional education curriculum at Fullbridge builds on a valuable academic foundation, enhancing existing critical thinking skills and strengthening participants’ basic business knowledge in areas like finance and marketing, while sharpening career vision and encouraging professional confidence.
Russian major Keith Wine enrolled in our Program mid-way through his senior year at Amherst College to help accelerate his upcoming transition to the professional world. “I needed to demonstrate business skills and show that I am not only a competent team player, but I actually have a solid grasp of the fundamental skills needed to function and thrive in any business environment,” said Keith. “The Fullbridge Program did a really good job of providing that. Now I’m not just another liberal arts graduate with a degree in Russian, but I can bring value to an employer’s organization and hit the ground running.”
The Fullbridge Program is offered in Boston, with an interactive learning curriculum that emulates professional workplace environments. Guided by a ‘learning by doing’ philosophy, we help participants build the necessary skills to handle complex business issues and professional situations. Challenged to solve problems pulled from real-world examples, our participants develop strategic thinking skills, build professional confidence, and clarify career goals. Top Fortune 500 executives and lauded business school professors from Harvard, Stanford, INSEAD, and MIT deliver virtual instruction via cutting-edge multi-media technology, while proven business mentors – professionals from top consulting firms, successful start-ups, and leading multinational corporations – help guide participants along the way.
In today’s demanding professional landscape, business skills are an essential requirement for success in any career: from medicine to non-profit to finance and everything in between. The Fullbridge Program provides a business edge, giving students the skills and confidence to navigate the job search and transition into successful careers.
Editor’s Note: The Fullbridge Program is offered twice in the summer (June and July) and during the semester break in January. Fullbridge is located in Boston. For more information or to apply, please visit www.fullbridge.com/summer
For more information please contact:
LaurenCapone [at] fullbridge [dot] com
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
- The city of Regina has the lowest unemployment rate and the fastest economy growth
- Canada’s youth jobless rate a staggering 14.7 per cent – almost double the national figure
- Occupational highlight: Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists
- And more!
The good news
Regina outpaces the rest of the country
The Globe and Mail, 06 April 2012
With the strongest economy and lowest unemployment, Regina enjoys an unprecedented job boom.
U.S. jobs claims fall to lowest since 2008
The Globe and Mail, 05 April 2012
The number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits fell to the lowest level since April 2008.
La création d'emplois a atteint un sommet en mars
La Presse, 05 April 2012
After months of stagnation and job loss, Canada welcomes 82,300 new workers in the workforce.
The bad news
60,000 jobs in all will be lost: union
Montreal Gazette, 05 April 2012
The federal government jobs on the chopping block are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall employment effect of the government's budget cuts.
Grim employment prospects for students
Montreal Gazette, 04 April 2012
Canada’s youth jobless rate is 14.7 per cent, almost double the national figure.
Euro zone unemployment spikes to record 10.8 per cent
The Globe and Mail, 02 April 2012
Unemployment in Euro zone hits its highest level since the currency introduced back in 1999, adding fears to recession.
Bryan: Huge March surge in jobs probably didn’t happen
Calgary Herald, 06 April 2012
A number of economists lose faith in the monthly figures produced by the Labour Force Survey.
Statistics Canada – Labour Force Survey
Following four months of little change, employment increased by 82,000 in March, mostly in full-time work. This brought the unemployment rate down 0.2 percentage points to 7.2%.
Statistics Canada – Payroll employment, earnings and hours
January 2011 (preliminary)
In January, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $888.89, up 0.6% from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, earnings rose 2.0%.
Statistics Canada – Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating
The vast majority of Canadians provided either time or money to charitable and non-profit organizations in 2010. Between 2007 and 2010, the total of money they donated and the total number of hours they volunteered remained stable.
Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists (NOC 2113)
Geologists, geochemists and geophysicists conduct programs of exploration and research to extend knowledge of the structure, composition and processes of the earth, to locate and identify hydrocarbon, mineral and groundwater resources, to plan and implement programs of hydrocarbon and mineral extraction and to assess and mitigate the effects of development and waste disposal projects on the environment.
Job prospects in this occupation are fair. The number of geologists has been up and down in recent years, although it has been more up than down until the beginning of the last recession. These movements depend on various factors, but especially trends influencing the mining sector. Although the mining sector suffered severely from the effects of the last recession, it is expected to rebound in the next few years. Consequently, the number of geologists is expected to increase significantly in the next few years.
For a complete profile of this and other occupations, visit Career Cruising http://public.careercruising.com/ca/en
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 “Documents/View Career Resources -> Career Resources”.
Are you looking for entry level jobs or summer jobs?
TalentEgg (http://talentegg.ca/) is Canada’s career hub for students and new graduates looking for student jobs, entry level jobs, summer jobs and internships. The site also provides resources for graduates to find courses or programs for further education, and career guides to help students to get from school to work. You may also scroll down to the bottom of the site to find jobs by type, by popular cities and provinces. The section “career incubator” (http://talentegg.ca/incubator/) is an online career magazine that contains many useful articles on topics such as summer jobs, resume help and more.