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Undergraduate Students - April 2013

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

Articles in this edition

Come and Knock on Our Door

What are you waiting for? – The Advantages of Studying Abroad  

Tackling the Gap Year Question

Alumni Interviews with Winnie Hu: Our Dean of Arts, Christopher Manfredi

Labour Market Information


Come and Knock on Our Door

By Stephanie Gutnik, Bachelor of Arts (2011) and CaPSScoop Journalist

April typically means one thing to university students: finals season.  The libraries become 24-hour museums (or zoos, depending how one looks at it) where students perch themselves in a comfortable position and stay put for long lengths of time, armed with blankets, slippers, and snacks.  Yet for the rest of society, life continues.  The Yellow Door is no exception, as this door is always open.

Founded in 1904 by McGill students, the Yellow Door gives people within the community a chance to expand their horizons by promoting exposure, expression, dialogue, and personal growth.  With a close link to the McGill student body, the organization attempts to burst the McGill bubble by enabling student activity within the larger Montreal environment.  The Yellow Door hosts a variety of projects for which students can volunteer:

  • YD Generation

This service allows students to develop personalized relationships with senior citizens in the neighborhood, through visits at home and/or accompaniment to appointments (at a maximum of 2-3 hours each).  A program, Access Internet, has also been established to familiarize the elderly with computers and the Web.  The goals of YD Generation are to prevent seniors from feeling isolated or being prematurely institutionalized, as well as to accommodate a mutual understanding between today's youth and older generations; as such, YD Generation requires a three-month commitment to give enough time for partners to develop a true friendship. 

  • The Rabbit Hole Café

Did you know that there is a vegan collective close to campus that offers donation-based lunches on Fridays?  Funds raised from these weekly lunches go to the Food for Thought initiative, which provides food assistance to students facing financial difficulties.  Volunteers are needed to raise awareness, research for the resource bank (where students can find recipes, as well as local restaurants and markets that sell meals and groceries on the cheap), and organize anti-poverty workshops.

  • Coffee House

As one of the longest running coffee houses of its kind in North America, the Yellow Door Coffee House features amateur musicians in an acoustic, open-stage setting on Fridays, and professional performances on Saturdays.  The alcohol-free environment is open to all ages.

  • Internships

Fieldwork placements are available for students in Nursing, Social Work, Religious Studies, Physiotherapy, and Occupational Therapy.  To apply to these internships, please contact your program advisor.

  • Summer Employment

Looking for a job this summer?  For a span of 10-12 weeks, the Yellow Door hires several employees-at-large, depending on funding received.  Summer workers have a YD Generation focus and are often hired from the volunteer pool.


A candidate for the above positions may possess any academic background; yet those interested in the YD Generation program must be patient, responsible, and speak English and/or French in order to best communicate with their match.  More information is available on the organization's website, www.yellowdoor.org, and further inquiries can be sent to Pietro Bozzo at pietro [dot] bozzo [at] mcgill [dot] ca.  It's hard to ignore the impact of the Yellow Door!

What are you waiting for? – The Advantages of Studying Abroad   

By Wei Chang, U2 Bachelor of Arts (Political Science), VP Finance of the German Students’ Association & VP Events of the European Union Society

The precious, sun-kissed, four-month summer is on its way! In addition to finding an internship or a part-time job, taking summer courses abroad is definitely another charming option one should consider. After all, what can be more enjoyable than listening to a lecture about the history of the European Union, at a lovely outdoor beer garden in the heart of Berlin, with a refreshing German beer in your hand?

Taking summer courses in another country is one of the best ways to travel, while also continuing academic learning. As a Political Science major and German minor, I completed my first two summer courses during a six-week long summer program at the Free University of Berlin. Most of the summer programs there are designed for foreign students to have the most academically- and culturally-rewarding experience; therefore, the host universities and their professors often use very interesting and creative approaches to teaching (such as organizing excursions to historical sites and museum visits). Moreover, the duration of summer courses are, on average, between 6 to 8 weeks in length, which provides the perfect opportunity for one to stay in a new country or continent for volunteering, interning, or travelling.

When planning to study abroad, always choose the location of the host institution carefully. It would be a good idea to start your research with the list of McGill’s partner universities, since almost all the courses provided by these institutions be credited by McGill. In addition to considering the cost of the program and associated living factors, choose a city that is important to your field of study. For instance, Berlin, one of the most important political hubs in the world, proved to be the perfect location for my Political Science major and German minor combination. Along with taking us to the Berlin Wall, my professor even brought us to visit many prominent think tanks and embassies in Berlin, in which we got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pose our questions and receive answers from the officials (and build contacts with them as well!).

For those who would like to learn or gain fluency in a language, a one-year long exchange or study-away program will probably be a better choice. I did a one-year exchange program in Germany before I came to McGill; arriving with a competency of less than 10 German words, I literally took at least three months to start talking to classmates in full sentences (although with still a couple English words mixed in). In other words, I was only able to start actively participating in social events and expanding networks after three months of getting myself familiar with the new city, and after endless nights of falling asleep with my translation dictionary. But also keep in mind that, if you haven't studied languages at all, many programs don't require any foreign language knowledge.

Studying abroad (both short-term and long-term) is an extremely rewarding experience every McGillian should consider before graduation. For interested students, financial aid is available from McGill and many other governmental organizations. Overall, I found this to be a unique opportunity to learn different perspectives, to explore new specializations, and to enrich cultural competencies. The experience of studying at an institution other than your own will not only become a corner stone of your  academic life; but it will also be a vehicle for you to acquire different abilities and have more clearly defined academic, career, and personal goals. Establishing new personal and specialist contacts will enhance your horizons and enable you to gain insight into the historical and cultural makeup of a different country. Furthermore, international experience is a critical and impressive part of any resume; after studying abroad, you may find your experience will give an edge on the competition. It is time to explore a new mode of education and make the world your living classroom!

Tackling the Gap Year Question

By Sarah Cameron, CaPS and MECC Career Advisor

Gap year, sabbatical, year out, drop year… No matter what you call it, taking a year off between major life stages can be a great way to reflect on previous experience and explore new possibilities. Typically, a gap year occurs with the transition between important life chapters (such as between high school and university, or after finishing university). This can be an opportunity for contemplating the correct next step to make in life, especially if you are unsure whether you want to pursue further education or begin professional employment, or still need to figure out what direction you want to take with your education or career.

However, it is important to realize that a gap year is not a lost year or a year off. It is a year away—away from your everyday routine and your familiar habits; and a chance to develop new skills through experiences that your old routine did not allow. Take some time to figure what kinds of experience you are craving, what skills you want to develop, and what life values you have; this will help you decide what form your exploration will take.

  • Travel:
    Hit the road! A gap year presents a unique opportunity to explore new places, cultures, and languages.  Spending your gap year travelling is a great option to develop your organizational, budgeting, time management and communication skills.
  • Volunteer:
    Not only will you develop strong skills as a volunteer, but you can also contribute positively to an organization or cause that is meaningful to you. Whether you volunteer at home or abroad, volunteering is a valuable way to spend your gap year.
  • Work:
    Work is a venue to develop your hard and soft skills, earn some money to pay for school, and to decipher what you do and don’t value in your professional life.

For more details, resources and information visit: http://www.mcgill.ca/caps/students/job/gapyear#faq or stop by to see a Career Advisor.

Alumni Interviews with Winnie Hu: Our Dean of Arts, Christopher Manfredi

By Winnie Hu, U3 Bachelor of Arts (Political Science and English Literature) & CaPSScoop Journalist

Decked out in a suit and tie, Christopher Manfredi lives up to his reputation as one of the best-dressed professors on campus. However, there’s no doubt that he is better known as an outspoken critic of judicial activism in the Supreme Court of Canada. Having caught his first break as a student at Claremont Graduate University, Professor Manfredi reminisces, “I could very well have gone to law school, had I not found the intersection between law and politics so interesting”.

He had picked up a book one day titled The Courts and Social Policy by Donald L. Horowitz. It changed his life. “Horowitz talked about how well do courts address complicated social questions in policy,” the Dean recalls, “ It made me realize that, yes, this is relevant. And afterwards, I wanted to delve deeper into effective policy-making through the courts”. Indeed, it seems that the case study Horowitz used regarding the American juvenile justice system paved the way for a young Chris Manfredi to begin his career as an academic. It sparked an interest that later allowed him to approach his professor, Ralph Rossum.

Dean Manfredi emphasizes, “It’s important to for students to have a mentor. I was very lucky to have found one in Ralph.” Back in 1985, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S Department of Justice had granted Mr. Rossum one million dollars to draft a model juvenile justice code, and to provide legislative training in selected states in a period of two years. As his research associate, Professor Manfredi was able to work with Mr. Rossum on juvenile justice reform, as well as conduct some of his own research. He continued to finish his PhD at Claremont, and stayed on to teach as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Government.

In hindsight, it seems that Professor Manfredi made the right choice when it came to picking grad schools. Between a choice of Duke University and Claremont, Professor Manfredi had chosen the latter based on a recommendation from one of his teachers. Plus, he says, “There were some interesting people there.” When asked if he had any advice for present and prospective grad students, Professor Manfredi laughs and gives one word: curiosity. “Be open to all possibilities when it comes to research topics. Inspiration may be found in places you least expect.”

In his chair as the Dean of Arts, Professor Manfredi proudly defends his students as some of the most versatile people in the job market. “The world needs people that can learn many skills. Because Arts students are trained in multiple subjects, they will not be limited to one mode of thinking. Their adaptability is what makes them hirable.” As for participating in the policy-making process, Professor Manfredi encourages students to start with NGO work or to get involved with a political party. “It’s a young person’s game,” he says, “not to mention good experience”.

Currently, Dean Manfredi is working with McGill alumni to enhance the learning experience outside the classroom. He is most happily preoccupied by conversations with his students and fellow peers, whose ideas often give him inspiration for research. In fact, Professor Manfredi has teamed up with Antonia Maioni for their upcoming book; spurred by the political implications of Chaoulli v. Québec, Professor Manfredi will be writing about using litigation as a means to advance healthcare policy.

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 mailto:caps [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

In this issue

  • Canada creates greater than expected jobs
  • U.S. jobless rate drops to lowest in 4 years
  • Montreal top employers 2013
  • Occupational highlight: Physiotherapists
  • Lisa’s Corner: Student Conservation Association

The good news

Canada creates greater than expected 50,700 jobs in February, StatsCan says

Toronto Star, 08 March 2013


Canada’s economy created a better than expected 50,700 jobs in February, 2013, with most of the gains in full-time work, the private sector and Ontario, according to Statistics Canada

U.S. jobless rate drops to lowest in four years

The Globe and Mail, 08 March 2013


U.S. employers stepped up hiring in February, pushing the unemployment rate to a four-year low and suggesting the economy has enough momentum to withstand the blow from higher taxes and deep government spending cuts.

Job growth for engineers strongest in Western Canada

Calgary Herald, 07 March 2013


The job market for engineers is strongest in Western Canada with Alberta in particular experiencing a strong demand.


Bad news

Youth, long-term unemployed worst off in stronger labour market – C.D. Howe Institute

Canada Newswire, 06 March 2013


While the Canadian labour market has shown great resilience since the last recession and is nearly back to normal, important weaknesses remain for youth and the long-term unemployed.

Other news

Montréal’s Top Employers 2013

Montreal Gazette, 06 February 2013


Older workers lift Canada’s job numbers, smashing expectations

Financial Post, 08 March 2013


Canada’s see-sawing labour force swung back into job-creation mode with most of new hires aged 55 or older.

Statistics Canada – Study: Worker Reallocation in Canada, 1976 to 2011


Despite numerous changes in the Canadian labour market over the last three decades, Canadian workers on average were no more likely to separate from their employers through quits, layoffs, or other reasons in the 2000s than they were in the late 1970s.

Statistics Canada – Labour Force Survey

February 2013


Employment rose by 51,000 in February, following a slight decline the previous month. This increase was spread between full- and part-time work. The unemployment rate remained at 7.0% as more people participated in the labour force.

Statistics Canada - Payroll employment, earnings and hours

December 2012


Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $908 in December, up 0.3% from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis earnings increased 2.8%.

Occupational highlight

Physiotherapists (3142)


Physiotherapists assess patients and plan and carry out individually designed treatment programs to maintain, improve or restore physical functioning, alleviate pain and prevent physical dysfunctioning in patients.

Job prospects in this occupation are good.  Over the last few years, the number of physiotherapists has increased sharply mainly as a result of physiotherapists in private practice. In light of the aging population, the projected increase in government spending on health and increased public awareness of health care, the number of physiotherapists should continue to increase sharply over 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 mailto: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 “Resources -> Career Resources”.

Lisa’s Corner

Student Conservation Association (SCA) http://www.thesca.org/ is an expense-paid internship provider.  Every year, the SCA offers up to 2000 internship opportunities to students to serve and protect national parks, forests and urban communities.  The internships last from 12 weeks to 12 months and cover many benefits - housing, round trip travel, weekly living stipend.  The internship database is searchable by skills and interests at http://mysca.force.com/member/MemberPositionsScout

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